Coconut Shrimp

Coconut Shrimp that is restaurant delicious but Baked and not fried!

This Coconut Shrimp is irresistibly juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside and extra delicious all over because its coated in coconut AND cashews!  Baked Coconut Shrimp is super easy to make without all the mess and calories of frying or without the cost of takeout.  It make the perfect healthy, crowd pleasing appetizer that will disappear in minutes OR serve it with rice and salad and call it dinner.  The baked coconut shrimp is fabulous all on its own but becomes exponentially better dipped in Coconut Pineapple Chili Dip!  And did I mention cashews AND coconut already?!

Coconut Shrimp on a platter next to dipping sauce.

Coconut Shrimp Recipe

Few sights get me giddier than a heaping pile of golden, plump, juicy, crunchy Coconut Shrimp. I just see the name “Coconut Shrimp” on a restaurant menu and my heart skips a beat.  Does Coconut Shrimp make YOU giddy?

If you’ve never had the pleasure of devouring Coconut Shrimp before, it is essentially coconut coated in coconut and typically fried until golden – and it is everything.

I wanted to make beloved restaurant Coconut Shrimp at home without the fat of a deep fryer but with all the sweet, crispy taste and then I started to drool reflecting back on my Cashew Coconut Chicken Tenders and I knew what had to be done.

I used the same breading technique and created jumbo shrimp enveloped in a blend of roasted cashews, sweet coconut and panko spiced with cumin and ginger – the perfect harmony of nutty, roasted, sweet and spice – and baked to golden, crunchy succulent perfection – without the grease.

You will be shocked at how spectacularly delicious this healthy Coconut Shrimp recipe is – and how easy it is to make a home!   It is a simple 4 step process:  process breading, coat shrimp in flour, dunk shrimp in egg whites, coat shrimp in breading, bake.  That’s it for easy Coconut Shrimp!

Close up of Coconut Shrimp on a platter next to dipping sauce.

Where did Coconut Shrimp originate?

While we don’t know exactly where Coconut Shrimp originated, it is suspected to have evolved from the world’s tropical coasts of southeast Asia where there an abundance of both shrimp and coconuts Southeast Asian cuisine boasts lots of seafood and coconut flavors so it seemed like a match made in heaven – and it tastes like one!  It can now be found on menus across the world – and now in your kitchen!

What do you need to make Coconut Shrimp?

You only need a handful of ingredients to make this delightful finger appetizer:

  • Jumbo shrimp
  • Flour
  • Egg whites
  • Cooking spray
  • sweetened coconut flakes
  • roasted salted cashews
  • panko breadcrumbs

 What kind of coconut do you recommend?

I recommend sweetened coconut flakes found in the baking aisle and would stay clear of the unsweetened coconut flakes.  Sweetened coconut flakes are the only sweet aspect of this Coconut Shrimp recipe and therefore the sweet in the sweet and crispy and the ideal compliment to the salty cashews.

Why should I use Panko?

If you aren’t familiar with panko, it is a Japanese bread crumb that can be found next to traditional breadcrumbs at your grocery store.  If you can’t find it there, it might be in the Asian section.

Panko are large flakes that are made from crustless bread. They are larger and airier than normal breadcrumbs so they absorb less moisture which means your Coconut Shrimp gets crispier!

Showing how to make Coconut Shrimp by blending ingredients in a food processor.

WHAT SHRIMP is best for Coconut Shrimp?

For this baked Coconut Shrimp recipe, you are going to want to use shrimp that is:

  • 16-20 count/pound
  • Raw
  • Shelled
  • Deveined
  • Defrosted (if it’s been frozen)

Why use jumbo shrimp?

  1. We want the shrimp to cook in the same amount of time that it takes the coconut to get crispy. If you use small shrimp, then they will become overcooked and rubbery by the time the outside is done.
  2. The ratio of coconut breading is perfect with jumbo size shrimp. The taste of juicy shrimp would disappear by the dynamic coconut if the shrimp was any smaller.
  3. It is easy to eat large shrimp – just grab the tail and devour!

Is eating shrimp veins bad?

If you purchase shrimp that does not specify it is “deveined” then it will still have the dark, sandy intestinal tract running along the back of the shrimp just beneath the surface. Sometimes it will be very dark and sometimes it will be harder to spot.  It simply depends on when the shrimp ate last before it was caught.

While eating the shrimp with the veins won’t harm you, it can add grittiness and distract from the clean shrimp taste. The shrimp will taste far superior if they are removed and therefore your Coconut Shrimp will taste far superior!

Is frozen shrimp deveined?

The shrimp bag at the grocery store will indicate if the shrimp is deveined or not. I purchase my shrimp at Costco and always look for the bag that says “deveined.”  You want to purchase deveined if possible because then its one less thing you have to do!

How do you clean shrimp before cooking?

Although purchasing deveined shrimp is preferable, deveining shrimp is easy to do, so don’t be afraid if you have never done it before.

  1. First, locate the vein in the shrimp running along its back.
  2. Make a shallow cut with and use the tip of the knife to lift it out.
  3. The veins and shells can then be thrown away.
  4. Rinse the shrimp and lay on a paper towel to dry.
  5. Before cooking, breading, make sure the shrimp is very dry so the flour will stick.

HOW DO I DEFROST SHRIMP? 

I am a huge fan of frozen shrimp and use it often in my recipes, but I don’t often use jumbo shrimp, so I prefer to purchase my shrimp from the seafood counter at the grocery store that is raw, fresh, shelled and deveined and all ready to go.  You can, however, use frozen shrimp but you will need to defrost it first.

To defrost shrimp:

  • Quick Defrost: Place the frozen shrimp in a colander then place the colander in a large bowl.  Fill the bowl with cold tap water and let it sit for 10 minutes.   After 10 minutes, replace the water with new cold tap water and submerge the shrimp again.  Let shrimp sit an additional 10- 20 minutes.  If the shrimp isn’t completely defrosted, then repeat.
  • Easy Defrost: The easiest way to defrost your shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
Close up of Coconut Shrimp on a platter next to dipping sauce and green onions on top.
 

SHRIMP TAILS ON OR OFF?

I definitely recommend leaving the tails on for this healthy Coconut Shrimp Recipe.  The tail creates a built-in handle to grab creating the ideal finger food or appetizer.

Is it okay to eat shrimp tails?

Absolutely, but it doesn’t mean they taste good!  Shrimp tails that are boiled or baked are not as desirable as deep-fried shrimp tails because those emerge crispy – so it’s your call.

CAN I PREP COCONUT SHRIMP IN ADVANCE?

You can prep part of your Coconut Shrimp recipe in advance, but I don’t recommend cooking them because the shrimp won’t be quite as crispy when reheated.

To prep in advance, whisk together the Coconut Shrimp sauce, cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

You can also make the breading in advance by processing the cashews, panko and coconut flakes, mixing together and storing in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Holding a large Coconut Shrimp over a platter next to dipping sauce.

How to Make Coconut Shrimp

You can make Coconut Shrimp in as little as 30 minutes if you use deveined shrimp. To make, you will create three breading stations:  the breading, the flour and the egg whites.

STATION 1:  To the first bag, add ¾ cup flour.  Flour ensures he egg whites will stick to the shrimp.

STATION 2:  Next, beat the egg whites until frothy in a separate medium bowl.  Egg whites are the glue that ensure the breading will stick to the shrimp.  Egg whites also produce a lighter product than adding all the protein of a whole egg.

STATION 3:  Make the breading by processing cashews, coconut flakes and panko until they are all uniform size.  I use my food processor and it literally takes a couple pulses.  Place the breading in a freezer size bag.

BREAD:  Add shrimp to the flour, shake until evenly coated. Working one by one, remove shrimp from the flour, shake off any excess and dip in egg whites, remove dab off any excess off with paper towels, then coat in the Cashew Coconut.  Make sure you press the mixture firmly to adhere but don’t worry about them looking perfect.

Can you bake frozen Coconut Shrimp instead of frying them?

Yes! That is my preferred method and how we are going to cook the shrimp in this Coconut Shrimp recipe. The shrimp doesn’t emerge quite as golden, but it still tastes wonderfully sweet, crunchy and crispy.  The addition of cashews also makes up for some of the crunch lost by baking instead of frying.

How To bake Coconut Shrimp:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray 2 baking racks with nonstick cooking spray and place on top of 2 foil lined baking sheets for easy cleanup.
  2. Line breaded shrimp on the prepared baking racks in a single layer and lightly spray with nonstick baking spray.
  3. Bake until lightly golden on the outside and opaque in the center, approximately 8 to 10 minutes then broil until slightly golden.
Coconut Shrimp being dipped in sauce on a platter.

Coconut Shrimp Sauce

My favorite Sauce for Coconut Shrimp is Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip. It’s a sweet and spicy and blend of pineapple yogurt, Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, honey and mayonnaise to create a tangy, sweet and spicy tropical heavenly dip.

If you aren’t familiar with Asian Sweet Chili Sauce, it can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store and is sometimes calls Thai Sweet Chili Sauce (I use Mae Ploy brand), and I am obsessed! Asian Sweet Chili Sauce is made of chilies, sugar, vinegar and garlic and is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.

It is the secret ingredient in my Mongolian Beef and the star of my Sesame Chicken, so if you don’t think you have room in your refrigerator for one more condiment – I promise it is SO worth it!

Now go dip your Cashew Coconut Shrimp one-by-one into the velvety palate pleasing Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip.   And get giddy.

What other sauces can I serve with Coconut Shrimp?

  • Asian Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Apricot, peach or pineapple preserves mixed with chili sauce
  • Dijon mustard plus mayonnaise
  • Sriracha aioli dip (if you like it spicy)

What Should I serve with Coconut Shrimp?

Coconut Shrimp can be served as an appetizer or a main dish.  For an appetizer you can pair it with other irresistible appetizers of Pineapple Cream Cheese Wontons, Potstickers, or Chinese Chicken Egg Rolls.

For a main course, you can serve Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Rice, Cilantro Lime Rice, Pina Colada Salad, a big green salad or add it to Asian Salad or Chinese Salad to make the best salad EVER!

Side view of jumbo Coconut Shrimp being dipped.

How long will my leftovers last?

Coconut Shrimp should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  When stored correctly, your shrimp should last for up to three days.

How can I reheat leftover Coconut Shrimp?

You can reheat Coconut Shrimp but they taste far superior freshly baked because once refrigerated or frozen, the shrimp will lose much of its crunch.  You may want to half the recipe and bake just what your family can eat.

If you do have leftover Coconut Shrimp, I recommend reheating it in the oven to preserve the texture.  To reheat in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake until warmed through, about 5-8 minutes with a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F.

Can you bake frozen coconut shrimp?

For the crunchiest shrimp, I recommend consuming them freshly baked but yes, you can freeze Coconut Shrimp then bake to reheat.  To freeze:

  1. Once baked, let Coconut Shrimp cool on the baking sheet.
  2. Once cool, place baking sheet in the freezer and flash freeze shrimp until solid, about 1 hour.
  3. Transfer Coconut Shrimp to an airtight container or freezer bag.
  4. Squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn, seal and label.
  5. Freeze for up to 2 months.
  6. When ready to eat, bake from frozen at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until warmed through.
Close up texture of crispy Coconut Shrimp.

Now go dip your Cashew Coconut Shrimp one-by-one into the velvety palate pleasing Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip.   And get giddy.

Cashew Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip

Coconut Shrimp that is restaurant delicious but Baked and not fried! This Coconut Shrimp is irresistibly juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside and extra delicious all over because its coated in coconut AND cashews!  Baked Coconut Shrimp is super easy to make without all the mess and calories of frying or without the cost of takeout.  It make the perfect healthy, crowd pleasing appetizer that will disappear in minutes OR serve it with rice and salad and call it dinner.  The baked coconut shrimp is fabulous all on its own but becomes exponentially better dipped in Coconut Pineapple Chili Dip!  And did I mention cashews AND coconut already?!
Servings: 6 servings
Total Time: 30 mins
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (21/25 count) peeled, deveined, tail on, patted dry
  • 2 large egg whites
  • nonstick baking spray

Cashew Coconut Breading

  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp EACH garlic pwdr, salt, cumin, ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip

  • 1 5.3 oz. container pineapple yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons Asian sweet chili sauce (like Mae Ploy)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray 2 baking racks with nonstick cooking spray and place on top of 2 foil lined baking sheets (for easy cleanup).
  • Add Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until smooth OR for extra silky Dip, add ingredients to your blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Add cashews to food processor and process until the size of panko breadcrumbs. Add coconut flakes and panko and pulse a few times until evenly mixed. Add to a large bowl. Set aside. Beat the egg whites until frothy in a separate medium bowl. Add ¾ cup flour to a large ziploc freezer bag and mix in garlic powder, salt, cumin, ground gingers and pepper.
  • Add shrimp to flour in bag and shake until evenly coated. Working one by one, add each shrimp to the egg whites, then remove, dabbing any excess off with paper towels, then coat in the Cashew Coconut mixture, pressing firmly to adhere. (they don’t need to look perfect!)
  • Line shrimp on the prepared baking racks in a single layer and lightly spray with nonstick baking spray. Bake until lightly golden on the outside and opaque in the center, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Serve with Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip.

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Baked crunchy, juicy Coconut Cashew Shrimp with Pineapple Sweet Chili Dip way better than takeout without the extra fat or cost!

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18 Comments

  1. Dorothy Dunton says

    Hi Jen! Coconut shrimp is one of my very favorites! The first time I made them years ago they came out looking like sea urchins! And, yes, to the Asian sweet chili sauce! It’s hard to find where I live, so I make my own (which is better – no preservatives).

    • Jen says

      I bet your sweet chili sauce is simply divine and would take the dip to a whole new level!! I hope you can make these soon! Thanks Dorothy!

    • Jen says

      I love your comments Kevin, thank you! I seem to always be ready for dinner :)!

  2. Lynn | The Road to Honey says

    Coconut? Cashews? Pineapple? Shrimp? Can a dish get anymore heavenly than this. This is definitely making it into my dinner rotation. P.S. Loving that it is baked versus fried.

    • Jen says

      All my favorites too! We must be foodie kindred spirits! I am excited for you to make it! Thanks so much Lynn!

    • Jen says

      Thank so much Jenna! It really takes this shrimp to a whole new level of YUM!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Whitni! If you love coconut shrimp, you are going to love these that much more! Enjoy!

  3. Dan says

    Made these last night for some friends and they were a huge hit! Love the combo of the cashews and coconut. I can’t wait to make them again!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I am so happy you and your friends loved this shrimp! Thanks so much Dan!

  4. CMA says

    This recipe was amazing! I used coconut yogurt for the sauce and it was super yummy. Thanks!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I’m so pleased it was a winner!

  5. Tracey says

    This recipe sounds amazing and I can’t wait to try it! The instructions don’t say where to add the spices (garlic powder, salt, cumin, ginger and pepper). Do you add them to the breading mixture or the flour?

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for pointing that out Tracey! Add the spices with the flour. Enjoy!

  6. Sherie Dracup says

    Hi Jen, This recipe looks so yummy. However, I am a little confused. The ingredients say 2 tablespoons of flour, but the directions say 3/4 cup flour. Am I missing something? Thanks.

    • Jen says

      Hi Sherie, I don’t know where those 2 tablespoons came from – sorry! It is 3/4 cup flour per step 3.

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