Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These restaurant-style coconut shrimp are remarkably easy to make: you can do all of the prep ahead and the sauce comes straight out of a bottle.

coconut shrimp

I’ve had Coconut Shrimp at many restaurants, but this homemade version beats them all. It’s remarkably easy to make and you can do all of the preparation in advance, so all that’s left to do at dinnertime is quickly fry the shrimp. And the sauce comes straight out of a bottle! If you were eating out, you’d probably share this dish as an appetizer. You could do the same at home — it also makes fabulous finger food for a party — but I usually serve it as a light dinner with my Asian-style slaw.

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Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

These restaurant-style coconut shrimp are remarkably easy to make: you can do all of the prep ahead and the sauce comes straight out of a bottle.

Servings: 4 - 6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds raw extra large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined with tails left intact, thawed if frozen
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 2 cups unsweetened medium shredded coconut (available at Whole Foods or natural food markets - see note below)
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Thai Sweet Red Chili Sauce (available in Asian section of most supermarkets)

Instructions

  1. Place the cornstarch, salt and cayenne pepper in a large zip-lock bag and mix well. Add the shrimp to the bag, seal shut and shake to coat evenly. Set aside.
  2. Using a fork, beat the egg whites in a small bowl until frothy. Place the coconut and sugar in a large shallow bowl or pie dish and mix well.
  3. Holding each shrimp by the tail, shake off excess cornstarch, dip into the egg whites (let the excess drip off), then dredge in the coconut mixture, turning to coat evenly (if the sugar drops to the bottom of the dish a bit, move the shrimp around so it gets coated with both the sugar and coconut.) Place the shrimp on foil-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done several hours ahead of time.
  4. Pour enough oil into a large nonstick pan to reach a depth of ½-inch; heat over high heat until hot. To test if the oil is hot enough, use tongs to hold one shrimp by the tail and submerge it in oil; if it sizzles and crackles, it’s ready. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, add the shrimp to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until golden brown. It should take between 40-60 seconds per side; if the shrimp are browning too quickly, turn the heat down a bit. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Arrange the shrimp on a platter and serve with the Sweet Red Chili Sauce.
  5. Note: I like to use unsweetened shredded coconut and add sugar to it, as opposed to sweetened flaked coconut, because it's healthier, much easier to work with, and adds great texture to the dish.
  6. Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately 1/4 cup of the oil is absorbed into the shrimp when frying.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 447
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated fat: 17 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 8 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 24 g
  • Sodium: 1140 mg
  • Cholesterol: 191 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Thanks for another great recipe Jenn. I didn’t have cornstarch thus substituted with flour and it worked fine. I was having a hard time getting the egg whites to froth thus I used my hand held blender, which I normally use to purée soup and it worked great. This was super easy and delicious. I will definitely make them again.

    • — Chandra on February 3, 2021
    • Reply
  • I tried this recipe, it was very easy to make. The coconut shrimp turned out delicious! I would definitely make this again. I am going to tell my friends about this recipe so they can make it!

    • — Amanda McElhinny on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I’ve made these many times and they are delicious. I’d like to make them for company, but one guest isn’t fond of coconut. What could I use to substitute for the coconut on a portion of the shrimp? Thanks, Sharon

    • — Sharon on January 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, Because coconut plays such a large part in this recipe, I don’t think it would be wise to replace it with another ingredient. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • Made these last last weekend for company and they were delicious. Everyone loved them.
    The only thing is mine weren’t as brown as yours and yet they were fully cooked. Did I do something wrong and if I wanted to use colossal shrimp (10 to 15 per pound) how would I adjust? P.S. love ALL your recipes. You are my go to chef!

    • — Marylu Bernstein on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes! You’ll need to cook colossal shrimp a touch longer. And if they weren’t as browned as you’d like, maybe I’d turn up the heat for the last 30 seconds or so just to toast that outer coating a bit more.

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made these last nite and they were delicious! Followed your directions and they didn’t quite brown as much as yours, but still delicious. How would you change the recipe if I wanted to use colossal shrimp (12 to 15 per pound). Thanks again Jen for a wonderful recipe.

    • — Marylu Bernstein on October 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Marylu, Glad you liked them! For colossal shrimp, they’ll just need to cook a touch longer.

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was amazing. Always looking for great gluten free recipes and this one will be made repeatedly for everyone. Your recipes never disappoint. Thank you!

    • — Shelley Moreau on July 18, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Have you ever experimented with aquafaba instead of eggs? I will making this substitution for this recipe in a couple of weeks, and wondered if you have any feedback for me before I dive in? (FYI I have had beautiful results with aquafaba in baking, even made a perfect pavlova, but have not tried with a breaded/fried recipe yet.)

    By the way, yours is my most referred-to-friends cooking site, and your book is my go-to gift to give. So many of your recipes are among our most cooked and asked for 🙂

    Karen

    • — Karen A LaPrairie on January 31, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the blog and have gifted the cookbook to others! 💗
      I can’t say I’ve ever used aquafaba. Please let me know how it works in this recipe.

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is by far one of the best shrimp dishes I’ve ever had.

    • — EJ Ogenyi on December 31, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, can this be made with pre cooked shrimp ? Thanks!

    • — Sheetal on December 29, 2019
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it; I’m afraid that the shrimp would get overcooked – sorry!

      • — Jenn on December 30, 2019
      • Reply
      • So I made it with the raw shrimp and it turned out awesome! My guests loved it so will be making again. Thanks a ton Jen for this one and all your recipes that I have tried so far. Sometimes I feel how will I do without your website 😊

        • — Sheetal on January 7, 2020
        • Reply
        • So glad they turned out well — thanks for following up! 🙂

          • — Jenn on January 7, 2020
          • Reply
      • What a good recipe to make! I love coconut shrimp and now I can make at home. So easy, and so good! I made the Asian slaw with peanut dressing & my wife went back for more! She wants me to make more Asian slaw so she can take to work for her lunches. Perfect pairing…

        • — Michael Martin on March 24, 2020
        • Reply
  • This recipe is outstanding! As is true for all of Jenn’s dishes, this one too is restaurant-quality. I made them for a dinner party and my kids kept wanting to steal them before we even left. Now everyone at the dinner party knows about Once Upon a Chef.

    • — Monique on December 18, 2019
    • Reply

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