Coconut Shrimp with Dipping Sauce —An Outback Steakhouse copycat recipe! It’s fast, easy, and guaranteed to trump restaurant and take-out versions! Perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and full of coconut flavor without being heavy or greasy.
Easy Recipe for Coconut Shrimp
We recently were on a little road trip, and the nearest restaurant to our hotel was an Outback Steakhouse. My daughter fell in love with their coconut shrimp, and I could put the orange dipping sauce on everything in sight.
I made a copycat version of the Outback coconut shrimp and sauce, and the recipe is fast, easy, and trumps the restaurant shrimp, if I do say so. Perfectly crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and full of coconut flavor without being heavy or greasy.
The Thai chili sauce adds savoriness and heat to the sweet orange marmalade and the spicy-sweetness of the dipping sauce for the coconut shrimp is addictively good.
Even if you don’t love coconut, this easy shrimp recipe could make you change your mind! My family was fighting over the last shrimp.
Coconut Shrimp Ingredients
To make the coconut shrimp, you’ll need:
- Raw shrimp
- All-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Canola oil (for frying)
To make the coconut shrimp dipping sauce, you’ll need:
- Orange marmalade
- Sweet Thai chili sauce
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
How to Make Coconut Shrimp
The shrimp and the coconut shrimp sauce are both easy to make, but the process does involve deep frying. If you’ve never fried anything before, this is a great recipe to start with!
Here’s an overview of how the coconut shrimp and dipping sauce are made:
- Prep the shrimp: First, dip the shrimp into one bowl containing flour, then dunk into a bowl with beaten eggs, and then dredge in bowl containing a coconut and Panko breadcrumbs.
- Fry the shrimp: I fry in canola oil because it’s less expensive than coconut oil, but coconut oil will give you an extra pop of coconut flavor.
- Make the coconut shrimp sauce: Simply whisk together orange marmalade, sweet Thai chili sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper.
Tip: The dipping sauce for the coconut shrimp pairs well with pretty much everything — grilled chicken, pork chops, you name it!
What Temperature Should You Fry Shrimp At?
It’s very important that your oil is at the right temperature before frying the shrimp. The oil should be between 325 and 350 degrees F.
Use a thermometer to test the oil temperature, if possible.
Otherwise, you should stick the end of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. If small bubbles immediately form around the spoon, the oil is likely hot enough.
How to Reheat Coconut Shrimp
Avoid reheating shrimp in the microwave at all costs! Microwaved shrimp are often rubbery, and the coconut-Panko coating loses its crispness.
Instead, I recommend reheating the coconut shrimp in a 350 degree F oven. The shrimp will only need to be baked for a few minutes until they’re heated through.
Can I Air Fry the Coconut Shrimp?
I’m sure you could, but I don’t own an air fryer (yet!) so I can’t speak to precise cook times.
However, one reader commented that air frying the shrimp at 350F for 9 to 10 minutes worked well for her. She also turned them halfway through.
If you try this recipe for coconut shrimp in an air fryer, please leave me a comment below letting me know how it turned out!
Can I Bake the Coconut Shrimp?
In theory, yes. However, I’ve only made this recipe as written.
I’d like to experiment more with the baking vs. frying method, but I haven’t because, well, shrimp are expensive and I didn’t want to waste them if they didn’t turn out so well via baking!
But I’ve seen some blog posts with ‘fried’ shrimp that were actually baked and they didn’t look super crispy and so I was just resigned to frying.
Tips for the Best Coconut Shrimp
Breadcrumbs: Use Panko breadcrumbs for the best results. Panko breadcrumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs used for tempura because they get much crispier than traditional breadcrumbs. They’re usually found next to traditional breadcrumbs at your grocery store.
Frying the shrimp: You want to fry the shrimp in batches so the temperature of the oil stays consistent. If the oil becomes too cool, the coconut shrimp will begin soaking up the oil instead of frying in it.
Once you’ve fried the shrimp, place them on a paper towel-lined plate to soak up the excess oil while you finish frying the rest.
What to Serve with Coconut Shrimp
Obviously, the sweet-spicy coconut shrimp dipping sauce is a must! But besides that, you can serve a variety of dishes alongside the coconut shrimp.
It just depends if you’re making a meal out of the shrimp or are serving them alongside other appetizers.
Either way, here are some sides that pair well with coconut shrimp:
- Mandarin Orange Pasta Salad (omit the chicken from this recipe)
- Thai Peanut Salad (omit the chicken from this recipe)
- Twelve Superfoods Salad
- Asian Pasta Salad (omit the chicken from this recipe)
Pin This Recipe
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- about 2 cups canola, vegetable, or coconut oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup orange marmalade
- 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
- pinch salt, optional and to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
Make the Shrimp
- Clean the shrimp; set aside.
- To a small bowl, add the flour, salt and pepper, stir to combine; set aside.
- To a separate small bowl, add the eggs and beat; set aside.
- To a separate medium bowl, add the coconut, Panko, stir to combine; set aside.
- To a Dutch oven or large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat. While oil heats up, begin the battering process.
- Dip 1 shrimp in flour, dunk in egg, and dredge very well in the coconut-Panko mixture pressing it on as needed to ensure shrimp is very well coated (I re-drege some of the more skimpy-coated shrimp if I have extra coating mixture after they’ve all been coated once); set aside on a platter while you repeat battering process with all remaining shrimp.
- After all shrimp have been battered, begin frying. I take the temperature of the oil and between 325F to 350F is recommended for best results; wait to fry until your oil is hot enough to ensure a crispy coating.
- Add the shrimp in small batches (4 to 6 at a time) to the hot oil, frying for about 2 to 4 minutes, flipping as necessary, and frying until as dark and crispy as desired. Frying time will vary based on pan size, size of shrimp, and personal preference. Frying in small batches helps the oil stay at a hotter temperature, which ensures a crispy crust.
- After frying, remove from oil, place on paper towels, and continue the frying process until all shrimp have been fried.
Make the Sauce
- To a small bowl, add the marmalade, Thai chili sauce, optional salt, optional cayenne pepper, stir to combine, taste, and adjust ratios if desired.
- Serve shrimp and sauce immediately. Shrimp are best warm and fresh.
Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Reheating in a 350F oven is better than microwaving to help coating stay as crispy as possible.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 192Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 590mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 12g
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Originally posted 2015, reposted May 8, 2019 and reposted March 18, 2022 with updated text.