Note: This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
This easy and healthy recipe for air fryer shrimp is tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned with two variations: Mexican or Indian. Make up a batch of delicious shrimp tacos, or serve them with your favorite rice dish. Ready in under 15 minutes!
One of my meal prep hacks is to use fresh or frozen shrimp (or prawns) whenever you need to plan a quick and easy meal.
Shrimp cooks very quickly, and is very low in fat while being big on flavor. It’s always a hit when I serve it to my family, and I love the ease of preparation.
This air fryer shrimp is even easier than cooking it in a skillet or the oven since it’s basically a hands-free recipe. You just add the seasoned shrimp to your air fryer, turn halfway through cooking, and you’re ready to serve in less than 15 minutes total (including preparation and preheating).
This is even quicker than waiting in line at the drive-thru!
You can even make air fryer frozen shrimp by adding just 2-3 minutes to the total cooking time. It’s for this reason I always like to keep a bag of frozen shrimp in my freezer, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Reasons to love this recipe
- Cooking shrimp in the air fryer is almost entirely hands-off, meaning you can take care of other meal preparation tasks while it cooks.
- Air fryer fried shrimp is much healthier for you than traditionally fried shrimp. You get great results with very little oil.
- It’s perfectly seasoned, and a flavorful addition to all of your favorite side dishes.
- You can even cook frozen shrimp in the air fryer, meaning you do not need to plan ahead. Air fryer frozen shrimp is an easy and healthy last-minute dinner, saving you from having to get take-out.
Here’s what you need to make the recipe
- Shrimp (or prawns) – purchase them peeled and deveined to save you time and to make dinner prep easier. Prawns in the air fryer should take the same amount of time as shrimp, provided they are a similar size. If they are small prawns, reduce the cooking time by 1-2 minutes.
- Olive oil – this coats the shrimp and allows the seasonings to cling to the shrimp during cooking.
- For Mexican style: taco seasoning and salt.
- For Indian style: cumin powder, salt, coriander powder, Kashmiri chili powder, and turmeric powder.
- For serving: chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice.
You’ll need an air fryer to make this recipe. Here are the two that I recommend
- Basket style (Phillips 7 QT, 1725W) – easier to flip food but cooks a smaller amount (2-3 servings).
- Oven-style (Ninja Dual Heat Air Fryer – 1800W) – The oven-style ones usually take more space but what’s unique about this Ninja one is that it flips vertically for easy storage on the countertop. Most importantly, it allows you to cook six chicken breasts, 2 lbs roast, or 4 lbs of fries – perfect for families of 4 or more.
- Using frozen shrimp – To thaw the shrimp let it sit overnight in a refrigerator. Another option is to transfer it into a big bowl and add water until the shrimp is completely submerged. The shrimp should be completely thawed out in 15-20 minutes.
- Pat dry the shrimp before adding seasonings otherwise they won’t stick to it.
- Tails on or off – I use peeled shrimp with tails off, but you can leave the tails on if you are serving it as an appetizer.
- No overcrowding – Always arrange the shrimp in a single layer and cook in batches if needed.
- Even cooking – Toss or flip the shrimp halfway during cooking to make sure the food is cooked evenly.
- Checking for doneness – If using a food thermometer, cook until the internal temperature reaches 120F or cook until the shrimp turns opaque.
Variations to try
Breaded shrimp: Coat the shrimp in an egg wash, and then roll in Panko bread crumbs. Spray with cooking spray and cook in the air fryer for 7-9 minutes.
Coconut shrimp: You can follow this recipe from Sally’s baking addiction to prep for coconut shrimp and then use an air fryer to cook it. Spray the shrimp with cooking spray and cook in the air fryer for 7-9 minutes.
Garlic shrimp: Toss your shrimp with 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper. Cook in the air fryer for 7-9 minutes, turning halfway through.
How to prep ahead
If you would like to prepare your air fryer shrimp ahead of time, you can do so 1-2 days in advance.
Combine the oil and seasonings of choice in a small bowl and add the shrimp. Toss to coat, and then cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for 1-2 days. When ready to prepare, add the seasoned shrimp to a preheated air fryer.
You can also cook the shrimp in advance if you prefer. When done this way, the cooked shrimp will last 3-4 days when covered tightly and stored in the fridge. To reheat, cook in an air fryer preheated to 375º for 3-4 minutes, or until warmed through.
Refrigerator: Allow the shrimp to cool to room temperature. Add to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.
Freezer: Once the shrimp has cooled to room temperature, store in an airtight freezer-safe container OR a freezer bag. Remove any excess air, label, and freeze for up to 2 months.
Reheat: To reheat your cooked shrimp, preheat the air fryer to 375ºF and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until completed warmed through.
Serve it with
Since this air-fried shrimp is SO versatile, you can serve it with a variety of side dishes with a variety of flavors. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Basmati rice – I have both stovetop and Instant Pot instructions for this popular side dish.
- Burrito bowl – Omit the chicken and use the Mexican-style version of this air fryer shrimp as a topping.
- Air fryer roasted broccoli – This roasted air fryer broccoli recipe is flavorful, crisp, and just as delicious as oven-roasted broccoli, but ready in half the time!
- Lemon rice – a popular and flavorful South Indian dish that you can make in less than 15 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
When cooked at 400ºF, regular-sized shrimp takes approximately 8 minutes to cook in the air fryer. This may vary based on the particular model you’re using or the size of the shrimp. Smaller shrimp or prawns will take less time than jumbo shrimp.
Shrimp does not need to be thawed before air frying, but if you are using seasonings it is better if it is thawed and patted dry so the spices stick to the shrimp. If you’re cooking your shrimp from frozen, be sure to add an additional 2-3 minutes to the cooking time if the shrimp is frozen and raw.
In order to prevent overcooking shrimp, it’s important to watch them closely. As soon as they turn opaque, they are fully cooked and can be removed from the heat.
Since the air fryer cooks so rapidly, the shrimp will not thaw before cooking. Instead, the shrimp will cook from frozen with just an additional 2-3 minutes needed for frozen shrimp versus raw shrimp. They will be fully cooked, no thawing needed.
Other air fryer side dishes to try
- Air fryer-roasted sweet potatoes – even more delicious when roasted in the air fryer; sweet potatoes are an easy healthy side dish.
- Air fryer cauliflower – This crispy recipe for air fryer cauliflower is an easy side dish with no breading. Ready in just 25 minutes, this will become your new favorite way to eat cauliflower!
- Air fryer buffalo cauliflower – With a little kick of heat, these are the perfect veggie side dish for those who love all things spicy.
- Asian style sauteed green beans – served with ginger, garlic, and soy sauce; this recipe is a flavorful take on plain green beans.
Air fryer Shrimp Recipe
Air Fryer Shrimp
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp/prawns
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Rinse the peeled and deveined shrimp. Pat it dry.
- To a large bowl, add shrimp along with oil, taco seasoning and salt. Mix well to combine.
- Add shrimp. Stir gently to coat shrimp with the marinade.
- To a large bowl, add shrimp along with oil, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well.
- Add shrimp. Stir gently to coat shrimp with the marinade.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Place parchment paper in the air frying basket.
- Arrange the shrimp in a single layer – don't overcrowd. Depending on the capacity of your air-fryer, you may need two or more batches. [Note: If you are using a basket-style air fryer, you can coat the basket with a cooking spray instead of using parchment paper]
- Air fry for about 8 minutes at 400°F. Pause the air frying at around 4 minutes and rotate the tray to ensure even cooking. If using a basket-style air fryer, shake the basket to toss the shrimp.
- Sprinkle lime juice and cilantro. Mix well. Serve with cilantro lime sauce in a taco or with a side of rice.
- Buy peeled, deveined shrimp to save you time.
- Taco seasoning substitution – a teaspoon of chili powder along with a teaspoon of cumin powder + 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder + 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.