Have you been craving Endless Shrimp at the restaurant with the Cheddar Bay biscuits? (Those in the U.S. likely know where I am talking about here.) Instead of putting yourself in an all-you-can-eat situation, why not recreate the flavors you love at home? These air fryer coconut shrimp are crusted in coconut and pistachios and served with a sweet pineapple dipping sauce.
Is there anything that air fryers cannot do? My Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven has been put to work once again, this time for this air fryer coconut shrimp recipe.
Back before I became more health-conscious, we used to visit buffets and all-you-can-eat venues on a semi-regular basis. One of our favorite stops was Endless Shrimp night at the place that serves all-you-can-eat Cheddar Bay biscuits.
The biscuits are 160 calories each. It would not have been uncommon for me to eat 3-4 of them before the meal was served. That means I pretty much ate a meal’s worth of calories in biscuits before receiving my meal.
And because we wanted to get the most food possible for our money, the fun did not end there. We would usually plan to go on the nights when they had unlimited shrimp for one price. So, after eating a meal’s worth of biscuits, I’d follow up with a couple of thousand calories in shrimp.
Shrimp is a low-calorie food but not after drowning it in butter and/or frying it. We’re skipping the frying in oil entirely here by using the air fryer.
Also, by making the food at home, you are circumventing the whole all-you-can-eat/buffet situation. I found it very helpful to avoid all-you-can-eat restaurants early in my weight loss journey. Even after all of these years, I still keep my visits to buffets pretty rare.
Perfecting the air fryer coconut shrimp took some trial-and-error
I’ve tried several versions of this recipe to get everything just right. My initial trial was a shrimp that was entirely crusted in coconut. It photographed beautifully…
However, we thought it was too coconutty, if that is possible. Also, using 100% coconut for the “breading” sent the saturated fat of this dish through the roof. With the side of coconut rice, I felt it was too much.
What I ended up settling on was a mix of coconut and ground pistachios for the coating. Substituting some pistachios for the coconut brought the saturated fat in the dish down. This change also helped bring the coconut flavor from overpowering to pleasant.
The downside of using the pistachio mix is that it gives the shrimp a slight greenish tinge. We didn’t think this shrimp had that photogenic golden glow that the all-coconut version did.
Then again, you might welcome the unusual color on holidays with a green color scheme, such as St. Patrick’s Day. We’re still using mostly coconut here, so I don’t think the color is going to be so odd as to be off-putting. (To most people, anyway.)
Some additional tips to help you have success with this dish
Another change I made, as you may notice from the pictures, is using tail-on shrimp rather than tail-off. Having the tail on the shrimp makes the shrimp so much easier to coat.
I had to wash my hands every few shrimp when I tried to coat the tail-off version. It was messy and took quite a bit more coating to get everything covered. So, I definitely recommend getting yourself some tail-on shrimp for this one.
I adjusted the pineapple dipping sauce as well, so it is really loaded with sweet and delicious pineapple. The pineapple:yogurt ratio is high here, and you may question it while you are cooking.
No worries, though. Since we aren’t using added sugars, the pineapple is needed to keep things on the sweeter side.
In fact, you may be surprised at how much less sweet this dish is compared to the coconut shrimp at your favorite restaurant. It’s shocking sometimes how much sugar some places use to provide the tastes we’ve become accustomed to. Cooking more at home is one way to help your palate adjust to appreciate the natural sweetness in foods. Bon appetit!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
For the coconut shrimp:
- 1 lb. shrimp, 21-30 count, peeled, tail-on (454 grams; thawed from frozen)
- ¼ cup whole wheat or spelt flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 13 tablespoons unsweetened, shredded coconut flakes (¾ cup plus 1 tablespoons)
- ½ cup pistachios (unsalted, if possible)
- cooking oil spray of choice
For the coconut rice:
- 1 cup brown rice, dry
- 1¾ cups light coconut milk
- 1¼ cups water
For the pineapple dipping sauce:
- ⅓ cup plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt (I used whole milk, but non-fat works too)
- ¼ cup light coconut milk
- ½ cup crushed pineapple, drained (from a can)
For the broccoli:
- 1 lb. frozen broccoli (454 grams)
To make the coconut rice:
- Combine the rice, coconut milk, and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low, and cook it covered for approximately 45 minutes. You can add a little water towards the end of the cooking time if the rice is getting too dry.
To make the coconut shrimp:
- Pulverize the coconut flakes in a food processor until they become crumbs. Put them in a large bowl.
- Grind the pistachios in the food processor until they are ground into a flour. Don't grind them too long or you'll have pistachio butter! Put them in the same bowl that you put the coconut in, and mix them together.
- Put the whole wheat or spelt flour in a separate bowl. Put the beaten eggs in another small bowl.
- You now have three filled bowls. Line them up in this order: wheat/spelt flour, eggs, coconut/pistachio mixture. Mist your air fryer racks with the cooking oil spray.
- Grab one of your thawed shrimp by the tail. Dredge it in the flour, dip it in the egg, then coat it in the coconut/pistachio mixture. Put it on the air fryer rack.
- Repeat this dredging and coating process for all of the shrimp. Lay them in a single layer on your air fryer racks. Try to space them out so they are not touching much.
- Lightly mist the shrimp with the cooking oil spray. Air fry at 400°F (200°C) for 6 minutes. Switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven and cook an additional 6 minutes.
- Flip all of the shrimp over and switch the position of the trays in the fryer one final time. Cook for 6 more minutes. (The total cooking time in the air fryer is 18 minutes.)
To make the pineapple dipping sauce and the broccoli:
- Whisk all of the ingredients in the "for the pineapple dipping sauce" list together. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Cook the broccoli in the microwave or on the stove top, as fits your preference.
- Each plate gets ¼ of the rice, ¼ of the shrimp, ¼ of the broccoli, and ¼ of the pineapple dipping sauce. Enjoy!
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). I’ve given this one a slight bump to level 3 because of the flour. In addition, coconut and pistachios are energy-dense, high-fat foods that bring up the calories on this one. However, using an air fryer instead of frying with oil does help to lighten up this dish. If you need to lower the calories here further, I recommend cooking the rice with water instead of coconut milk. Another strategy is to replace the rice with a non-starchy veggie. You could either double up on your portion of the broccoli or add another vegetable for a broader range of phytonutrients.
If you are as air fryer-obsessed as I am, here are some other posts that you might want to check out:
If you gave this air fryer coconut shrimp a go and loved it, please leave a 5-star rating below. Your feedback will help others to find the recipe and share in the deliciousness!