Why you’ll love this recipe:
Sweet and salty coconut shrimp is a one-pot dish ready in just under 30 minutes. Serve it over a big scoop of fluffy white rice for a complete meal the entire family will love!
Tender, succulent pieces of shrimp and steamed white rice soak up a serious amount of coconut flavor. Then, lime juice and ginger give the cream sauce a zesty kick!
- Quick – There are minimal recipe steps, and shrimp cooks up in mere minutes!
- Easy – This is a no-fail recipe with practically zero chopping, slicing, or dicing. It’s truly fuss-free!
- Flavor – The sweet, nutty, and rich flavors from canned coconut milk balance out perfectly with tangy lime juice.
You’ll find this Asian-fusion dish at Chinese food buffets, but I recommend skipping the buffet and whipping it up at home instead.
Key Ingredient Notes:
- Coconut oil – This is a versatile, high-heat oil with a subtle coconut flavor. It’s solid at room temperature but will melt quickly when exposed to heat. Substitute coconut oil with avocado or vegetable oil if you don’t have it on hand.
- Shrimp – I recommend buying fresh shrimp that’s already peeled and deveined. This saves you a ton of prep work. I know that fresh shrimp can be pricey. So, frozen is fine, too. Just plan on the extra thawing time. You’ll need 2 lbs of large shrimp, roughly 26-30 pieces per pound.
- Coconut milk – Use full-fat canned coconut milk, not the refrigerated carton varieties. Canned coconut milk has a thick and creamy texture needed for this recipe.
- Garlic – This adds a tangy, savory boost to the cream sauce.
- Lime juice – Skip the bottled stuff. Fresh is always best! You’ll also need some lime zest. So, buying a few fresh limes to keep in the fridge is worth it. Lime brightens the sauce with a zesty, citrus taste.
- Ginger – Fresh ginger root is warm, slightly spicy, and adds an authentic Asian flavor.
- Sugar – Adding one tablespoon of sugar slightly sweetens the sauce and balances out the savory coconut milk. I used granulated white sugar, but coconut sugar would work as well.
- Salt – Use kosher salt, and adjust to taste. Adding salt is really important in this recipe, because it enhances the flavors of the coconut sugar, creating a bolder, sweeter dish.
- White rice and lime wedges are optional but recommended for serving.
How to make this recipe:
The coconut shrimp will come together in minutes. So, don’t forget to start a pot of rice before you begin cooking!
- Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the shrimp, and sauté for about 2-3 minutes or until they’re cooked through. Then, remove the shrimp from the skillet, and set them aside.
Tip – Shrimp cooks incredibly fast, which causes it to become tough and rubbery! To avoid this, keep a close eye on it, and remove it from the heat as soon as it is firm and turns opaque (white with pink streaks).
- Add the coconut milk, garlic, lime juice, ginger, lime zest, sugar, and salt to the skillet, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and let the mixture simmer for 5-8 minutes to thicken.
- Add the shrimp back to the skillet, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve creamy coconut shrimp over steamed white rice with a few lime wedges on the side!
How to peel and devein shrimp:
It’s easy to peel and devein shrimp yourself, you just need a little patience!
- To peel shrimp, simply pinch the shell and twist it off. The soft shell will crack easily and slide right off. Pull the tail off at this time as well.
- To devein shrimp, make a shallow cut down the back of the shrimp using a sharp knife. Open the cut portion, locate the dark string, and gently pull it out.
What sides can I serve with coconut shrimp?
Rice will soak up the creamy, zesty coconut sauce the best! Stick with plain white rice (like this super fluffy Instant Pot rice). Or, serve it over cilantro lime rice, saffron rice, or garlic butter rice.
Or, if you’re looking for something different, try serving your creamy coconut shrimp over quinoa, kelp noodles, rice noodles, or soba noodles instead. Don’t forget to add a side of air fryer Brussels sprouts or oven roasted mixed vegetables for a pop of color and nutrients, too!
- It’s worth it to purchase peeled and deveined shrimp. You’ll find packages of frozen shrimp labeled as such. Or, you can check with the seafood counter at your local grocery store. They might do it for you!
- Buy ready-to-use squeeze tubes of minced garlic and ginger (found in the produce section at your local grocery store) or frozen herb cubes.
- Use microwaveable rice pouches, or make a big batch of rice at the beginning of the week to have on hand for easy dinners.
- Fully cook the shrimp, and make the rice up to 24 hours in advance.
- Complete the remaining recipe steps when you’re ready to prepare dinner.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Place the creamy coconut shrimp sauce and cooked rice in separate containers if possible.
- Coconut shrimp will reheat quickly. Warm leftovers on the stove over low heat for a few minutes, or in one-minute intervals in the microwave.
- Thanks to the lack of dairy in the coconut shrimp recipe, it freezes very well! Let the dish cool completely, transfer it to a plastic freezer bag, and freeze for up to 3 months.
Creamy Coconut Shrimp FAQs:
Frozen shrimp is perfectly fine to use! Just factor in the additional time needed to thaw the shrimp. It’s safest to thaw shrimp overnight in the refrigerator in a colander with a bowl underneath to catch excess water. Plan for at least 12 hours in the fridge for the shrimp to fully defrost.
If you’re in a pinch, thaw frozen shrimp quickly in a large bowl filled with cold tap water. Change the water every 5 minutes until the shrimp have thawed. After 5-7 minutes, you should be able to peel the shrimp, which will speed up the time it takes for them to thaw.
Coconut milk is made by soaking grated coconut meat in water. The water becomes “milk” after it’s soaked for about an hour and strained. This results in a low-fat, thin, watery milk product. Coconut cream is made in a similar way, except with less water, and the water isn’t strained. Instead, the soaking water is blended with the coconut meat into a cream. The biggest difference between coconut milk and coconut cream is the consistency and the fat content.
Coconut shrimp is popular in Southeast Asian and tropical cuisines. Variations of coconut shrimp recipes are commonly served in the Caribbean, Thailand, and Indonesia. You’ll find coconut shrimp in restaurants across the United States as well.
Creamy Coconut Shrimp
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or olive oil
- 2 lbs large shrimp (26-30 per lb, peeled and deveined) Note 1
- 1 (14oz) can coconut milk Note 2
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Cooked white rice
- Lime wedges
- In a large skillet, heat coconut oil over medium high heat.1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Add shrimp and sauté, stirring frequently, until opaque and cooked through, 2-3 minutes.2 lbs large shrimp
- Transfer the shrimp onto a plate.
- Add coconut milk, garlic, ginger, lime juice, ginger, lime zest, sugar and salt into the skillet.1 (14oz) can coconut milk, 3 tablespoons minced garlic, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest, 1 tablespoon sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt
- Bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer to thicken, 5-8 minutes.
- Add shrimp back into the skillet and cook another 2-3 minutes.
- Serve over steamed rice with lime wedges on the side.Cooked white rice, Lime wedges
– Leftover creamy coconut shrimp can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. For the best results, store the shrimp and rice separately.
– Creamy coconut shrimp can be frozen! Once cool, transfer it to a freezer-safe container, and keep it frozen for up to 3 months.
– To reheat, allow leftovers to thaw in the fridge overnight. Then, warm them over low heat on the stove or in one-minute intervals in the microwave.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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