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Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

5 stars based on 7 votes

Coconut shrimp 1

I’ve had Coconut Shrimp at many restaurants, but this homemade version beats them all. It’s remarkably easy to make—so easy, in fact, that my kids have made almost the entire thing by themselves. 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.

Kids cooking 3

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 an Asian-style slaw.

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Depending on where you buy your shrimp (I like the brand shown above from Whole Foods), you might be able to find it already peeled and deveined. If not, start by peeling the shrimp. Leave the last section and the tail on; this makes it easier to work with and prettier to serve. To devein, take a small paring knife and cut down the center of the shrimp’s back, about 1/4-inch deep.  If you can see a dark vein, remove and discard it; if not, don’t bother with it.

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Next, set up an assembly line. (This is where the kids come in.) Mix the cornstarch and seasoning in a zip-lock bag; whisk the egg whites in a small bowl; and combine the unsweetened coconut and sugar in a shallow dish. Add all the shrimp to the zip-lock bag and shake to coat. Dip each shrimp in the egg whites and then dredge in the coconut.

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It’s a messy job, so kids love to do it.

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Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. This can be done several hours ahead of time.

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When you’re ready to eat, heat about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. Fry the shrimp until golden brown on both sides.

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Drain on papertowels (though you’ll notice it’s not greasy at all)…

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Arrange on a plate and serve with bottled Sweet Red Chili Sauce, which you can find in the Asian section of most supermarkets. These are the brands I like and am most familiar with:

March pics 20111

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Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

Servings: 4 - 6


  • 2 pounds raw extra large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled and deveined with tails left intact
  • 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)


  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.

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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, 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.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    Great Crispy Coconut Shrimp. It was amazing.

    - Suzanne on August 13, 2017 Reply
  • I love coconut shrimp and have tried many recipes but this one is by far the best. I just used Asian general taos sauce for dipping. Will make this again and again.

    - Carol Hagan on June 13, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Everyone loved these!

    - Julie on January 11, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Fantastic! I was preparing to do a skewer version and was distracted by this recipe…so glad I had all the ingredients lurking nearby. It was intoxicatingly delish.

    - elizabeth on January 7, 2016 Reply
  • Can these be made ahead and reheated?

    - Alexa Moss on January 2, 2016 Reply
    • Hi Alexa, While these are best right out of the pan, I think you could get away with it. I would suggest undercooking them a bit initially though, so they don’t get overcooked/tough when you reheat them.

      - Jenn on January 4, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I rarely cook shrimp for dinner. Well, that’s going to change now that I’ve tried this recipe. This will be part of my rotating meals. Peeling the shrimp was the most time consuming, but I’ve since found raw, frozen, deveined, peeled, tail-on, sweet shrimp at Costco. Yay!

    I’m still figuring out how hot to get the oil in the pan before frying. My first batch came out to light, then the second was too dark and the third was perfect. Any additional frying tips would be helpful!

    - Janice R. on August 31, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these tonight and they are delicious. My husband loved them. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Thank you.

    - Kathleen on July 24, 2015 Reply
  • Hi

    I’ve had coconut shrimp at many restaurants, and it is too sweet for me. You had me with unsweetened coconut but then you added sugar to it. Is your reciepe sweet.

    - J on June 30, 2015 Reply
    • Hi J, The shrimp are a touch sweet but not nearly as sweet as they would be if made with sweetened flaked coconut. You can always cut back on the added sugar if you like. Please let me know how they turn out.

      - Jenn on July 1, 2015 Reply
    • 5 stars

      I left out the sugar and added some stevia. They were delicious.

      - Kathleen on August 31, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    These shrimp are amazing. My whole family loved them. Followed recipe exactly, no changes necessary. It was a bit tedious to bread & fry up 2 lbs of shrimp but well worth the end result. Thanks again!

    - Loretta on June 25, 2015 Reply
  • Oh my goodness these were so good! I didn’t have any unsweetened coconut so I used sweetened coconut but left out the sugar, and they were so good. I also cooked them in my deep fryer. Although I’m glad the oil needed to be changed. The shrimp was rather messy to cook even though the coating stayed on the shrimp.

    Mine had a lot more coating then your pictures do, maybe the sweetened coconut was fluffier?

    - Donna on November 8, 2014 Reply
  • What could be better? I like the unsweetened coconut…I always think these are too sweet at restaurants

    - Charlene Wheeler on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • So simple to make yet always delicious

    - MIKE K. on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • Tried this recipe tonight and it was delicious! I can’t wait to make them for a party this Saturday! Thank you so much!

    - Grace on February 26, 2013 Reply
  • What a treat! Bunco ladies begged me to make again!

    - Cherie on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • These were delicious! They took forever to make, but definitely worth it. Can’t wait to make them again.

    - Jessica on June 27, 2012 Reply
  • Great recipe for shrimp. Easy to make and better than the typical coconut shrimp that you would get in a restaurant. YUM!

    - Mary on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Despite not being able to find unsweetened coconut at my local Jewel, these turned out beautiful and delicious! I have had problems with fried batter falling apart in the oil before, but these held together perfectly! Crowd pleaser!

    - Michelle on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • Oh my gosh! Delicious and really very easy and fun to make.

    - Lisa on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This has become my favorite app. My family used to say they didn’t like coconut. Not any more.

    - Mike on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • Made these yesterday and share with neighbors – got a call from them wanting to know when we are making them again! They taste terrific and are easy to make! I served with the Sweet Chili Sauce and I also made an Aioli sauce too. A repeat performance will be necessary soon. Love your website and recipes….keep them coming!

    - Pat Brady-Rice on April 18, 2012 Reply
    • Thank you, Pat!

      - Jenn on April 18, 2012 Reply
  • My family absolutely loves your crispy coconut shrimp. This is so easy to prepare and I love that I can make ahead of time and pull out of the frig when I am ready to cook. I have to hit the local natural foods market for the unsweetened cocunut which is not always the most convenient so I did try making once with the sweetened coconut found in most grocery stores. Unfortunately this did not turn out too well so I have been sure to use the unsweetened ever since.

    - Linda on March 28, 2012 Reply
  • I’ve tried several different recipes for coconut shrimp. This one looks the best so far.

    - Brecken on March 8, 2012 Reply
  • Great recipe. My wife and daughter claim they don’t like coconut. Got them to try one. They loved them.

    - Mike on March 2, 2012 Reply
  • My husband and I order this often when we are out at a restaurant, this recipe was as good as the best we’ve tried out 🙂 Restaurant quality at home!

    - Renee E on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Unsweetened coconut?!

    I thought I hated coconut shrimp. This recipe has the men in my house (hubby and grown sons) bowing down to me in adoration. I love ’em when they’re on their knees 🙂

    - Lisa S. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This first time I made this my husband went crazy and stuffed himself! This is one of our favorites and we’ve even cooked them in the oven and they turned out just as delicious. Thank you!

    - Terri on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • These look great!!!!!

    - Lori O. on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • All of your recipes look so delicious!! I’m excited to try this shrimp recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    - Angela on January 31, 2012 Reply
  • Yay! Gluten Fee coconut shrimp!!!

    - lois on January 26, 2012 Reply
  • I might have made my egg whites frothier than what was necessary. The sauce would also be nicer when you put more chili in it.

    - kershaw leek on December 9, 2011 Reply
  • OMG! This recipe is unreal!! So easy to make and SO DELICIOUS!! It will be part of my New Year’s Eve menu!!

    - Maria on October 11, 2011 Reply
  • mmm… love this stuff!! I made a baked version too. Check it out!

    - Kelly on April 12, 2011 Reply
  • Wow this looks sooo good! Will be making soon!

    - Curlykmommy on April 5, 2011 Reply
  • Wow, these Crispy Coconut Shrimps look divine! Love your photography and I couldn’t wait to try your recipe! Thanks for sharing.

    - Amy on April 1, 2011 Reply
  • You can make the dipping sauce yourself.

    2 oz caster sugar
    2 fl oz rice vinegar
    2 tbs water
    2 fresh red chillies, seeded and finely chopped.

    Place sugar, vinegar and water in a pot. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves, then boil rapidly until it forms a light syrup. Stir in the chillies and leave to cool.

    - Brian Gifford on March 21, 2011 Reply
  • Thank you for your comment, Teri. I think the discrepancy might have to do with the fact that you purchased your shrimp already peeled, so the weight was off. I’ve made a note to the recipe to clarify. If you’re buying shrimp already peeled and deveined, you only need 1 pound 10 ounces instead of 2 pounds. I’ve also added an additional 1/4 cup coconut to the recipe — better to have too much than too little. As always, thanks for the feedback and so glad you enjoyed it!

    - Jennifer on March 20, 2011 Reply
  • These were incredible! I only made one pound, but made the mixture for two pounds. This was a good thing because somehow I used the whole mixture on one pound. No worries they were YUMMY!!!!

    The directions were simple and easy to follow. I might have made my egg whites frothier than what was necessary. I also used a regular chili sauce which was a nice compliment to the sweetness. The Tropical Pepper Co. makes a mango coconut sauce that went well with it. I bought this in Shop n Bag in the Ketchup section.

    We had the shrimp as a main course with just a tossed salad. I’m already thinking of the events and occasions that I can serve these again. Delicious!

    - Teri McGann on March 18, 2011 Reply
  • This is one of my most favorite things in the world! Thanks for the great looking recipe! I’d love for you to submit this to the M&T Spotlight at

    - Laurel on March 17, 2011 Reply
    • These look great! Will try these tonight for sure

      - Darleen on October 2, 2012 Reply

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