Wondering if you can use the air fryer to cook frozen shrimp? The answer is yes!
From freezer to your dinner plate in under 20 minutes, these air fryer frozen shrimp coated in a delicious garlic ginger sesame sauce make for a flavor-packed yet incredibly simple meal.
No matter how empty my fridge may be, I always have a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer on hand for quick and easy meals.
It’s the best solution to an “omg, what should I make for dinner?” situation especially when you don’t have time to thaw or defrost.
And guess what, the trusty air fryer now makes this dinner dilemma even easier!
I was firmly of the conviction it would be only marginally useful for crispy vegetables at best.
Well, it’s far better than marginally useful for vegetables (check out this air fryer okra for my thoughts on that!) but not only that, it’s an excellent appliance for the main dish too.
Like these frozen shrimp.
If you’re as surprised as me that the air fryer can turn shrimp from a completely frozen solid state into plump, tender, moist and perfectly cooked crustaceans, I don’t blame you.
It is kind of mind-blowing.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE FROZEN SHRIMP IN THE AIR FRYER
The best part about this recipe is just how simple it is. All that’s truly needed is the frozen shrimp themselves!
But, since we’re turning this into a flavor packed easy shrimp recipe, there’s a garlic ginger sesame sauce that truly takes these air fryer frozen shrimp to the next level.
- 1 pound frozen raw shrimp
- tamari (can substitute soy sauce or coconut aminos if preferred)
- avocado oil
- rice vinegar
- minced garlic
- minced ginger
- sesame oil
HOW TO MAKE AIR FRYER FROZEN SHRIMP
There’s no need to thaw the shrimp for this recipe, just take the frozen shrimp straight from the freezer and place them in a medium bowl.
Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and pour 2/3 of the sauce on top of the shrimp.
Toss to combine then transfer the shrimp to either the air fryer basket or the air fryer trays depending on which model air fryer you have making sure they’re arranged in a single layer.
Note – you may want to line the bottom of your air fryer with aluminum foil so that the moisture and sauce that drips off the shrimp as they cook doesn’t create a mess.
Air fry at 400° degrees F for 10-12 minutes, shaking the basket or rotating the trays halfway through air frying.
The shrimp are fully cooked when they’ve turned pink and opaque or the internal temperature has reached 120°F.
Remove the shrimp from the air fryer and brush them with the remaining garlic ginger sauce before serving.
Garnish with freshly chopped green onions and sesame seeds and serve with your favorite sides.
I recommend some white rice and a simple sautéed green like the baby bok choy show here or a bok choy salad if preferred.
WHAT KIND OF SHRIMP SHOULD I USE?
The air fryer doesn’t discriminate when it comes to cooking frozen shrimp. Use whatever kind you have in your freezer or can find in the freezer section of the grocery store.
FROZEN RAW SHRIMP
This recipe assumes you’re starting with raw frozen shrimp which will take about 10-12 minutes to cook. I tend to buy raw frozen shrimp as I prefer to manage the cooking time myself.
FROZEN COOKED SHRIMP
If your frozen shrimp are already cooked, you’ll need to adjust the time in the air fryer accordingly. Cooked frozen shrimp will only take 5-6 minutes.
UNPEELED VS. PEELED SHRIMP
This distinction is completely up to personal preference. I prioritize wild-caught frozen shrimp so I end up buying whichever kind is wild. That’s often unpeeled (as shown here) vs. the more convenient peeled shrimp.
Side note – if you often buy unpeeled fresh shrimp and don’t have one of these handy little shrimp cleaning tools, I highly recommend getting one!
Either type will work for this easy air fryer recipe but if you’re using unpeeled shrimp, the cooking time will likely be closer to 12 minutes than 10.
TAIL ON VS. TAIL OFF
This is another distinction frozen shrimp may have. Sometimes the shrimp are peeled but the tails are still on while other times, they’ve been peeled completely including taking the tail off.
Again, this is just a matter of preference. The tail on or off doesn’t change anything about the recipe or how you air fry the shrimp.
If you’re planning to toss the air fried shrimp in a pasta or combine with other ingredients, you may prefer the tail already off.
If you don’t mind picking the shrimp up with your fingers or plan to serve them as an appetizer, then tail-on might be appropriate.
FROZEN BREADED SHRIMP
While you can definitely buy breaded frozen shrimp, this recipe is for un-breaded frozen shrimp because of the delicious garlic ginger sesame sauce!
Breaded frozen shrimp can be made in the air fryer as well using the same cooking method but you’d just eat those plain with maybe a squeeze of lemon juice, with your favorite dipping sauce or cocktail sauce rather than making the ginger garlic sauce that coat these shrimp.
Although, I’d recommend just making your own air fryer fish sticks if you want to go the breaded route!
CAN I THAW THE SHRIMP BEFORE AIR FRYING?
You can absolutely thaw the shrimp if you have the time or prefer to but this recipe is all about saving time and showing you the easiest way to cook frozen shrimp in an air fryer. I love this air fryer frozen salmon recipe for the same reason!
If you’d rather thaw the shrimp, you can do so in cold water. Just make sure to pat them dry with a paper towel before air frying.
You’ll also need to reduce the cooking time to about 6-8 minutes if they’re thawed vs. frozen.
WHAT SIZE SHRIMP SHOULD I USE IN THE AIR FRYER?
I recommend air frying with the largest frozen shrimp you can find.
Large shrimp usually come in a 16-21 count per pound and are what you see here.
Jumbo shrimp, if you can find them frozen, are even better!
Remember, the size of the shrimp reduce substantially as they cook so even though medium raw shrimp look decent in size when frozen, once cooked, they end up being quite small.
The size of shrimp used will also vary depending on your intention.
For a quick meal on busy weeknights, I prefer to cook larger shrimp where everyone gets 4 or 5.
If you’re making these for a party appetizer, however, you may prefer medium shrimp for easier handling.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS AIR FRYER SHRIMP RECIPE
This has become one of my favorite recipes because of how well simple side dishes go along with it.
For a delicious healthy meal all that’s needed is some cooked rice and a vegetable. Since the ginger garlic sesame sauce has a distinctive Asian tone to it, I like to mimic that in the side dishes to carry the theme through.
Thai pineapple fried rice is a great option if you want something more interesting than plain white rice.
Grilled baby bok choy is another easy cooking method for enjoying this delicious Asian cruciferous vegetable.
Of course, since the air fryer is already out and ready – you can also do some simple air fryer frozen broccoli!
Another way to enjoy the tender shrimp is in shrimp tacos.
BEST WAY TO STORE AIR FRYER SHRIMP
The crisp yet tender bite to these perfect shrimp is really best enjoyed immediately but if you happen to have leftover shrimp, they can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
I don’t suggest freezing leftovers as the shrimp have already come from a frozen state.
MORE SHRIMP RECIPES TO TRY:
- 1 pound large (16-21ct) wild-caught frozen raw shrimp
- 3 tablespoons tamari (substitute soy sauce or coconut aminos)
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- sesame seeds
- chopped green onions
- Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place the frozen shrimp in a separate medium bowl and pour 2/3 of the marinade over the shrimp. Toss to combine then transfer the shrimp to trays or basket of an air fryer depending on model.
- Air fry the frozen shrimp for 10-12 minutes either rotating the trays or shaking the basket halfway through cooking.
- Remove the shrimp from the air fryer once done and brush with the remaining marinade before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds and chopped green onions.
*Shrimp can be frozen with or without tails, peeled or unpeeled. Cooking time will be slightly longer (1-2 minutes) for unpeeled shrimp.
*If using cooked frozen shrimp, reduce time in the air fryer by half. The shrimp simply need to warm up, not cook.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 213Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 1398mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 18g
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.