Do you love ordering the big, beautiful fried shrimp when you go to a restaurant? If so, you are going to be amazed and delighted at how easy it is to make your own fried shrimp in your air fryer! The most exciting part is they taste just as good, if not better! I know you are going to love this air fryer shrimp recipe. It's so easy to make!
This easy recipe is perfect for making shrimp tacos or serving just as they are as the main dish and can be made in any air fryer. I used the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper in this recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
Air Frying is different from deep frying and, because of the differences, it is difficult to get great results with a wet batter alone when cooking in an air fryer. I have done a lot of testing with wet battered chicken and, even when I freeze it and then air fry, the results are not as good as if you do a wet batter and then coat in breadcrumbs to set the wet batter.
Whether you use bread crumbs or panko breadcrumbs or a combination of the two, I do recommend using some sort of dry coating after dredging through a wet batter for any air fried food.
Yes, you can. I use jumbo or sometimes large shrimp, but if you wanted to make popcorn shrimp, you can certainly use the smaller size. My suggestion when using smaller shrimp is to bread them and freeze them, and then air fry from frozen so you have enough time to get crispy shrimp without overcooking the shrimp.
Yes, absolutely! Simply batter the shrimp and place them on a parchment-lined tray. Freeze them overnight, and then put into freezer containers or freezer bags until you want to air fry them. Air fry the frozen shrimp at 400°F/200°C for 6-8 minutes. Make sure to spritz them with oil either before you freeze them or before you air fry them for the best results.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Shrimp are the main ingredient in this recipe and I recommend using large to jumbo shrimp for the best results. When you get into the colossal size, they tend to be a little tough. The outside cooks too much before the center is done, resulting in a rubbery shrimp. I also recommend using wild caught shrimp instead of farm raised because the flesh of the shrimp is a little firmer. However, you can used farm raised or EZ peel shrimp, just make sure to use raw shrimp.
The breading technique is slightly different based on the type of food you are coating and air frying. If you want to make a different type of seafood or cut of meat, I would look for air fryer recipes for that specific ingredient. I have some of my favorites listed later on in this post.
I use eggs as the wet batter and the binder that holds the breadcrumbs onto the shrimp. I don't season the eggs, but you certainly can add some hot sauce or other seasonings, if you'd like. I found that the seasoning in the flour and in the breadcrumbs is enough to season the shrimp without overpowering the fried shrimp flavor.
If you can't have eggs, try using buttermilk instead. That should work just fine.
If you can't have eggs or dairy, there are a few options that will work just as well. You can mix a little sifted flour into water to create the consistency of pancake batter and use that to coat the shrimp or you can use water and add a very small amount of xanthan gum mixed with oil to create the consistency of pancake batter.
Seasonings & Flour
I like to lightly coat the shrimp in all purpose flour before dipping in the egg mixture because it helps the egg mixture adhere to the shrimp and will absorb any juices that are produced when the shrimp are being cooked.
The seasonings I use are very simple: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. However, you can add or omit whatever seasonings you want. If you want some spice, consider adding cayenne pepper. Old bay seasoning would be delicious in this recipe, but, if you use that, omit the salt.
I like to serve my air fryer fried shrimp with cocktail sauce, but you can certainly use your favorite dipping sauce. You could use this recipe and turn it into Buffalo fried shrimp by tossing the crispy fried shrimp in Buffalo sauce, or a sweet and sour sauce would be great. Even garlic parmesan sauce sounds great!
Homemade Cocktail Sauce for Fried Shrimp
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
- squeeze of lemon juice if desired (¼ teaspoon)
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.
*one thing I want to point out is that prepared horseradish is different from creamy horseradish and is usually kept in the refrigerated section by the seafood department at the grocery store. If your store doesn't have a seafood section, then it might be kept in the refrigerated dip section.
Homemade Tartar Sauce
Making your own tartar sauce is super easy. Here is my recipe:
- ½ cup good quality mayonnaise
- 1-2 Tablespoons of sweet pickle relish (dill relish can also be used)
- ½-1 teaspoon of lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve & enjoy.
How to Make Air Fryer Fried Shrimp
No matter which air fryer you are using, the process is the same for preparing and breading the shrimp. The only changes you may need to make, depending on what type of air fryer you have, is with the temperature, timing and, of course, how many you can make at once.
For the Ninja Foodi air fryers, Ninja Foodi indoor grills, and the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, the temp and timing will be the same.
In the Ninja Foodi Flip or dual heat oven, increase your temp by 25°F and the timing should be about the same.
In the Ninja Foodi XL oven, increase your temp by 50°F and you may need to cook the shrimp another minute or so. Go by the color of the breading and, when it's golden brown, they are done.
Preparing the Shrimp for Air Fryer Fried Shrimp
Completely thaw the shrimp and remove the shell, leaving the tail on. You can remove the tail, but I leave it on as a handle to use for dipping!
Next, make a slit in the back of the shrimp to expose the black vein. Remove the vein (it sometimes is orange or opaque) and discard.
Holding the shrimp firmly between your fingers, make the slit deeper to butterfly the shrimp.
Here is a quick video showing you how I butterfly the shrimp. You do not have to butterfly the shrimp, but they do cook faster that way. If you skip this step, you may want to cook the shrimp an additional minute or two.
Do this with the remaining shrimp and set them on paper towels while you get the breading ready.
Battering the Shrimp for Air Fryer Fried Shrimp
This is a good time to preheat the air fryer. On the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker & Air Crisper, I preheat on broil (grill on some models) with the air fryer basket inside.
In a medium size bowl combine the flour and the seasonings, stir to incorporate the spices into the flour mixture. Whisk two eggs in a separate bowl. I like to use a bowl and not a flat breading pan for the flour and the eggs because it's easier to get the shrimp coated.
In a third container (I use these breading trays from Pampered Chef) combine the bread crumbs and seasonings.
Dip each shrimp into the seasoned flour, lightly coating the shrimp up to the tail.
Dip the shrimp into the egg mixture and let the excess drip off.
Dredge the shrimp through the breading mixture, making sure it covers all of the shrimp up to the tail. Pay attention to the shrimp where it was butterflied and make sure the breadcrumbs get into and crevices.
Repeat this process for all of the shrimp. I like to set them on a cooling rack until I am ready to air fry them. If you aren't going to air fry them right away, put them in the fridge or individually freeze them on a parchment-lined tray. Once they are completely frozen, you can bag them up in a freezer bag or air tight container and freeze until you are ready to air fry them.
Once the air fryer is preheated, spritz the basket or cooking surface with a little oil. I used avocado oil, but you can use any neutral flavored oil you like. Place the shrimp in a single layer and spritz the top of the shrimp with oil.
Air fry at 375℉/190℃ for 6-8 minutes. You can flip them if needed, but it isn't necessary.
Remove the shrimp and place them on a cooling rack so they have good air flow and don't steam on the bottom.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce & Enjoy!
More Air Fryer Recipes
I love using my air fryer to make delicious, restaurant-quality foods that are usually deep fried. Through tons of testing, I have found that each food does better with slightly different breading techniques and the temperatures and times vary.
Here are some of my well tested favorites!
- Air Fryer Crab Rangoon ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Air Fryer Hush Puppies in the Ninja Foodi
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets in the Ninja Foodi
- Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp in the Ninja Foodi (or any Air Fryer)
- The BEST Air Fryer Onion Rings
- Air Fryer Fried Mushrooms
- Air-Fryer Scotch Eggs in the Ninja Foodi
- Air Fryer Fish & Chips
Air Fryer Fried Shrimp
- Air Fryer
- 24 Jumbo shrimp about 15 per pound count
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil for spritzing
Seasoning Blend for Flour
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Prepare the shrimp for breading by thawing, removing the shell and leaving the tail shell intact, deveining the shrimp and then making a slit down the back of the shrimp to butterfly them. *Video in post on how to do this.
- Preheat the air fryer with the air fryer basket inside on the hottest setting. On the Ninja Foodi, use broil/grill and preheat for a full 10 minutes.
- In a medium size bowl, add the flour and seasonings (½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder) and mix together.
- In a second bowl, whisk the eggs.
- In a third bowl, plate, or breading container, add the bread crumbs and seasoning blend (½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1-2 teaspoons of paprika) and mix well.
- Toss each shrimp in the flour to lightly coat. Dip in the egg wash and let the extra egg wash drip off. Dredge in the breadcrumbs, making sure to get a good coating all over and let the bread shrimp sit in the container or place them on a cooling rack or parchment lined tray. Repeat for all of the shrimp.
- When the air fryer has preheated, spritz the basket with a neutral oil like avocado oil and lay the shrimp in a single layer. The number of shrimp you can fit is based on the size of your air fryer. The Ninja Foodi air fryer basket will hold 12 shrimp. Spritz the top of the shrimp with oil.
- Air Fry on 375°F/190°C for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and place on cooling rack until ready to serve. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Seeing the need for easy, delicious, and high quality recipes, she is focusing all of her efforts creating recipes specifically for the Ninja Foodi. Her recipes are easy for the home cook to follow and provide step-by-step instructions.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can.
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