Crunchy Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp with Plum Chili Sauce [Gluten-Free]

Air fried to golden perfection, these crowd-pleasing Butterflied Coconut shrimp are drenched in sweet coconut and crunchy panko and paired with an easy Plum Chili Dipping Sauce for a restaurant quality dish.

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Crunchy coconut shrimp platter on a blue marbleized plate.
White platter with a blue marbleized plate of crunchy coconut shrimp with a little bowl of plum chili sauce.
A butterflied shrimp dipped into a little bowl of plum chili sauce.

Crunchy Butterflied Coconut Shrimp

These Butterflied Coconut Shrimp are easy to make and super delicious. Just drench in a simple batter, pop them in the air fryer, and you have a restaurant quality dish in less than half an hour! The Plum Chili Sauce is only five simple ingredients, and is required for mandatory dipping. Whether you serve coconut shrimp as an appetizer or with rice and a vegetable as a weekend meal, this recipe is always a crowd pleaser.

Preparing the Shrimp

Butterflying the shrimp for this recipe is a key step. Not only does it help the shrimp cook through properly, it creates more surface area to cover with delicious, crunchy coconut coating.

Start with jumbo-sized raw shrimp with the tails on. You can purchase them pre-cleaned like this at the store, but if you have time and want to save a bit of money, you can clean them yourself.

Using a sharp paring knife, carefully slice along the outside curve of the shrimp from the tail to where the head would have been. Leave about one-third to one-fourth of the flesh intact (you will be cutting along the same line that was cut to remove the digestive tract of the shrimp). You can leave the blue vein on the opposite side – it doesn’t effect the flavor or texture.

Open up the two halves of shrimp you created like a book so that it lies flat. This creates the “butterfly” effect, with the halves being the wings. You now have space for twice as much crunch on every shrimp! Still a little confused? Here is a step-by-step slide show over on Southern Living.

Large platter of coconut shrimp and tiny bowl of dipping sauce.
Close-up of a single crunchy coconut shrimp.

Crunchy Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp with Plum Chili Sauce

Air fried to golden perfection, these crowd-pleasing Butterflied Coconut shrimp are drenched in sweet coconut and crunchy panko and paired with an easy Plum Chili Dipping Sauce.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Chill Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings (24 shrimp total)


  • Air fryer


Coconut Shrimp

  • 24 (1 pound) large shrimp (tails on, cleaned, and butterflied)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (gluten free)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon coconut rum
  • 1 cup sweet coconut flakes
  • 1 cup panko (gluten free)
  • Coconut oil

Plum Chili Sauce

  • ½ cup plum jam
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon water (optional)


  • Clean and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Set up a three-bowl station for battering the shrimp. In the first bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and black pepper. In the second bowl, whisk together the egg and the rum. In the third bowl, whisk together the coconut flakes and the panko.
  • Dip the shrimp in the flour mixture and then the egg mixture. Press the coated shrimp into the panko coconut mixture, coating thoroughly. Spread out onto a baking sheet and chill in the freezer for around 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F. Spray with coconut oil.
  • Spread out the battered shrimp in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Air fry for 8 minutes, shaking halfway through.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the dipping sauce ingredients. Add the water if the mixture seems too thick a little at a time until the consistency of loose honey.
  • Serve shrimp alongside dipping sauce as an appetizer or with a vegetable or rice if a main meal.


Verify All Gluten Free Ingredients:
This may seem obvious, but if making this recipe completely gluten-free, verify that all of your ingredients are labeled gluten-free – especially the panko. 
As a note, this recipe can be made with regular or gluten-free ingredients to delicious effect. 
Keyword air fry, coconut, gluten free, panko, seafood, shrimp
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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