What is the best way to cook frozen raw shrimp? Air frying, of course! You’ll love frozen shrimp in the air fryer for an easy weeknight dinner. You don’t have to thaw air fryer shrimp before cooking. All you need is shrimp (and your favorite dipping sauce) for this high protein entrée that is keto, low calorie, and gluten free.
Making air fried raw frozen shrimp is such a simple idea, I wondered if it were even worth posting. I mean, with one ingredient, this is barely a recipe.
However, I’ve learned that it’s the easy ideas, like air fryer frozen shrimp, that tend to be most popular. We might not have 1-2 hours to make a complicated dinner recipe (except maybe on the weekends). Taking 10-20 minutes to air fry shrimp might be much more manageable Monday through Friday.
Think of this tutorial on how to cook frozen raw shrimp as an idea as much as a recipe. If you’re at the store after work, looking for a healthy dinner idea that’s not another rotisserie chicken, try shrimp! Add some bagged salad or other veggies, and you’ve got yourself a nutritious meal.
Ever get stuck in a dinner rut, falling back on the same handful of recipes again and again? I know I do on occasion! I hope this easy air fryer frozen recipe gives you a little meal inspiration when life is busy.
- 📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp
- ⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
- 🦐 How to tell if shrimp is undercooked?
- 🌡️ Leftovers
- 🧂 Dipping Sauces
- 🥗 Side Dishes
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 Other Shrimp Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
📋 What are the calories, net carbs, and protein?
One serving of extra-large air fryer shrimp (¼ pound) provides 80 calories, 0 grams net carbs, and 19 grams protein. This does not include any dipping sauces you use.
Why make frozen shrimp in an air fryer? Here are a few of my reasons:
- Lean protein: Shrimp is a very lean source of high-quality protein. In fact, it’s practically all protein, with negligible carbs and fat.
- Low in saturated fat: Shrimp is rather high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat. If you want to lower your LDL cholesterol levels, it’s actually saturated fat that has a larger impact, not dietary cholesterol. Shrimp can be considered a heart-healthy seafood option.
- Low calorie: You can generally enjoy 3-4 ounces of shrimp for under 100 calories. Shrimp is a super option for those with a weight loss goal. Think of how much more filling it is compared to a 100-calorie snack pack of cookies!
- No oil added: We’re air frying shrimp with no breading. That means there’s no deep frying or shrimp breading that contains added oil.
- Special diets: Air fryer frozen shrimp aligns well with many ways of eating. This includes gluten-free, keto, low-carb, pescatarian, dairy-free, and soy-free diets.
- Easy recipe: With this recipe, there’s no preheating the oven. Also, it cooks quickly and you only need the shrimp to make it!
- Delicious: If shrimp weren’t so expensive, I’d happily eat them every day! Isn’t it wonderful when something that’s good for you is so tasty too?
What do you need to make this frozen shrimp air fryer recipe? Not much at all:
- A bag of frozen shrimp
- Dipping sauce of choice
You don’t even need cooking oil spray! I used peeled, deveined, tail-on, raw shrimp for this recipe. I prefer peeled shrimp, but you can air fry shell-on shrimp if you’d prefer.
The size of your shrimp will impact the cooking times in the air fryer. Frozen shrimp are generally sold with two numbers indicating how many shrimps per pound. For example, with “26/30” shrimp you get 26-30 shrimp per pound.
Here's a chart with the names and counts for frozen shrimp that are common in stores (source):
|Shrimp Name||Shrimp Count|
|Colossal||U/15 (under 15)|
I air fried a bag of 11/15 shrimp (colossal, sometimes labeled jumbo) and a bag of 26/30 shrimp (extra large). Both sizes are super for dipping! I will update this post in the future with cook times for other frozen shrimp sizes.
Between the two sizes, I prefer the extra large shrimp for air frying. Extra large shrimp cook more evenly in the air fryer than larger shrimp. (The smaller the shrimp size, the less expensive they tend to be too!)
If you’re making shrimp cocktail, I recommend air frying shrimp that are medium, large, or extra large. Small and tiny shrimp are too “shrimpy” for dipping, IMVHO. (Pun intended, har har)
To air fry frozen shrimp, you’ll need an air fryer. My 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven can cook 1-1½ pounds of shrimp at once.
The Ninja Foodi, Pampered Chef, Cuisinart, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Philips, Cosori, Power Air Fryer, etc. are all great for air frying shrimp too. However, if your air fryer has a smaller capacity than mine, you may have to air fry shrimp in multiple batches.
Some air fryers cook food a little more quickly than others. You may need to make slight adjustments to the cooking times provided here depending on your air fryer brand.
One more thing you may want to have on hand is a meat thermometer. I’ll cover more on safe temperatures for shrimp and other shellfish below.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp
Let’s learn how to cook frozen shrimp in the air fryer! Start by gently separating any frozen shrimp that are sticking together. If you can’t pull them apart with your fingers, put them in a bowl of cool water to release them. Pat them dry.
Put the shrimp in a non-touching, single layer on your air fryer trays. I needed two trays to cook a whole bag of shrimp. (That would be 1½ lbs of colossal shrimp, or 1 lb of extra-large shrimp.)
Make sure the drip tray is in place in the air fryer. Lots of water will collect on the bottom as the shrimp cook!
Place the shrimp-filled air fryer trays in your air fryer. You’re ready to get cooking!
⏲️ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to air fry frozen shrimp? The time needed to air fry shrimp depends on the size of the shrimp you start with! It’s important not to overcook shrimp, as overcooked shrimp becomes quite rubbery in texture.
For colossal shrimp (11/15), cook for 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then flip them over and switch the tray positions in the air fryer. Air fry at 400F for 7-9 minutes more.
If the shrimp on the bottom rack haven’t finished cooking, put them on the top rack and air fry 2-4 more minutes. If you are using an air fryer basket or just one air fryer tray, the air frying times should be shorter. Check your colossal shrimp often the first time you air fry them, as they can get overcooked very easily.
For extra large shrimp (26/30), cook for 9 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then flip the shrimp and switch the tray positions in the air fryer oven. Air fry for 3 more minutes at 400F.
If you’re only air frying one tray of shrimp, put it in the top rack position of the air fryer. Air fry for 10 minutes at 400F.
🦐 How to tell if shrimp is undercooked?
The way I learned it is both fish and shellfish should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This recommendation is right on the USDA website.
In truth, it’s difficult to get thick shellfish (think colossal shrimp and big scallops) to 145 internally in the air fryer without overcooking them. I’ve seen some bloggers recommend cooking shellfish to lower temps (generally in the 120-130F range) to work around this.
But is it safe? If you look on FoodSafety.gov, the rules are a little different. There, the recommendation to cook finfish to 145F still stands.
However, they recommend that shellfish like shrimp be cooked until “flesh is pearly or white, and opaque.” No safe minimum internal temperature is given.
If you’re air frying frozen shrimp, it can be difficult to determine doneness simply by looking at the exterior. You could end up with a pink outside with an inside that is still raw.
So, what should you do? For extra large shrimp and smaller, you should be able to get the shrimp to 145F without overcooking. You can use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of your shrimp if you’re unsure whether they're done.
For colossal shrimp, I would try cutting a shrimp open after cooking to ensure the middle is “pearly or white and opaque.” Trying to get shrimp that large to 145F may lead to overcooked shrimp.
Cooked shrimp can be refrigerated for 2-3 days in a closed food-safe container. Chilled shrimp is delicious with dipping sauces. To reheat shrimp, try air frying at 350F for 2-3 minutes on the top rack of your air fryer oven.
🧂 Dipping Sauces
What are some dipping sauces for shrimp? Here are a few popular shrimp dips to try:
- Cocktail sauce
- Sweet chili sauce
- Peanut sauce
- Tartar sauce
- Ponzu sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Sweet and sour sauce
They’re also great sprinkled with a little Old Bay seasoning, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning, chipotle chili powder, or Cajun spice. Don’t forget the lemon slices so you can squeeze on some lemon juice!
🥗 Side Dishes
What to serve with frozen shrimp? My favorite way to serve shrimp is as the protein in my Butcher Block Dinner formula. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I highly recommend it if you're looking for endless easy dinner ideas! Here’s my plate:
You could also cook up some pasta and toss them with shrimp and seasonings. Air fryer shrimp scampi or air fryer garlic shrimp are some of the many possibilities.
Shrimp are also wonderful in tacos, fajita, or you can use them in these Fresh Spring Rolls with Shrimp. They’re also super as a light snack or appetizer.
Here are some delicious sides that would be great with frozen shrimp:
- Air Fryer Garlic Bread
- Keto Air Fryer Frozen Onion Rings
- Kale Apple Slaw with Brussels Sprouts, Tahini, and Dates
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries
- Smoked Mac and Cheese with Gouda and Caramelized Onions
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Shrimp is a lean protein that is low calorie, low carb, and delicious. Additionally, many of us aren’t getting the recommended amount of seafood in our diets. Including a little shrimp in our week can help get us closer to that goal.
Here, we’ve air fried raw frozen shrimp with no breading. In general, shrimp without breading is a healthier choice than breaded shrimp or beer battered shrimp. (I can think of exceptions to this “rule,” but in dietetics there are usually exceptions to general nutrition statements.)
But why are plain shrimp so much better? Breaded or battered shrimp are often made with white flour. This can add a lot of calories without also adding much in the way of protein or essential vitamins and minerals.
Additionally, battered or breaded shrimp from the store is often loaded with highly refined added oils. Many of these breaded seafood products also contain added sugar.
When you skip the breading, you also remove all the white flour, sugar, and oil. All you’re left with is the delicious shrimp, and that’s a good thing. While store-bought breaded and battered shrimps count as ultra-processed foods, plain shrimp does not.
Shrimp without breading also happens to be keto and low carb friendly. (This is yet another case where going keto eliminates the highly processed, high calorie option. It happens a lot!)
Serve your shrimp with lots of non-starchy vegetables (without a lot of oil) to keep the meal low carb and low cal. Add veggies, plus crackers and cheese alongside the shrimp for a higher calorie meal.
You can also make air fryer frozen breaded shrimp! Preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees Fahrenheit. Air fry breaded shrimp (frozen) for 5-8 minutes on the top rack of your air fryer oven.
Gorton’s frozen breaded shrimp can be cooked using the air fryer directions for breaded shrimp above. Air fry for 5-8 minutes on the top rack in an air fryer preheated to 390F. Cook them a little longer if they are not done to your liking.
Seapak recommends cooking their butterfly shrimp for 8 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 390F. Seapak popcorn shrimp should be cooked for 7 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 390F.
In general, frozen shrimp can be stored in the freezer for 3-6 months. They may last longer depending on how they were packaged. As with all things regarding food safety, when in doubt, throw it out if you have suspicions your shrimp has spoiled.
In the U.S., “prawns” is sometimes used to refer to big shrimp, a usage that is not correct. That said, prawns do tend to be larger than even colossal shrimp, at 4-8 per pound. Because they are so large, I don’t recommend cooking frozen prawns in the air fryer. It’s too easy to overcook them.
Try cooking the shrimp for half of the time listed in this recipe. For example, raw frozen 26/30 shrimp should air fry for 10 minutes on the top rack. Try air frying cooked frozen 26/30 shrimp for only 5 minutes.
👩🏻🍳 Other Shrimp Recipes
Looking for other recipes that use shrimp? Here are some shrimp dishes to make next:
- Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Dipping Sauce
- Shrimp Chowder (New England Style)
- Easy Shrimp Fajita Bowls
- Smoked Cheese Frittata with Brown Butter Shrimp
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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 nutrition 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 my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Frozen Shrimp in Air Fryer
- 1-1½ lbs raw frozen shrimp (454-680 grams; peeled, tail-on)
- dipping sauce of choice (optional)
- lemon wedges (optional)
- Place frozen shrimp (do not thaw!) in a single, non-touching layer on two air fryer trays. I was able to fit 1 lb. (454 grams) of 26/30 frozen shrimp on two trays or 1½ lbs. (680 grams) of 11/15 frozen shrimp. Put trays into air fryer oven.
To air fry extra large (26/30) shrimp:
- Air fry for 9 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Flip the shrimp, and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer. Air fry 3 more minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- Check to ensure the internal temperature of the shrimp has reached at least 145°F (63°C) with the meat thermometer, if you want to be extra cautious.
- Small batch: If cooking a smaller batch of shrimp (½ lb./227 grams or less) on one tray (or in an air fryer basket), place the tray in the top rack position of the air fryer oven. Air fry for 10 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
To air fry colossal (11/15) shrimp:
- Note: Jumbo and colossal shrimp overcook very easily in the air fryer! Cooking smaller-sized shrimp is recommended because they cook more evenly.
- Air fry for 10 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Flip the shrimp, and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer. Air fry 7-9 more minutes at 400°F (200°C). My shrimp on the top rack were finished cooking at this point.
- If the shrimp on the bottom rack are not fully cooked yet, flip them once more and put them in the top rack position. Air fry for 2-4 more minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- To be extra safe, use a kitchen thermometer to ensure the shrimp reached a minimum safe internal temp of 145°F (63°C). Unfortunately, your colossal shrimp may be overcooked at this point. A better way to check for doneness with shrimp this size is to cut one through at the thickest part. Fully cooked shrimp should have white, opaque flesh.
- Serve your shrimp with dipping sauce and lemon wedges (if desired).