Cooking popcorn shrimp in the air fryer is so easy, and gets such great results, I’ll never cook it any other way again! With this method, you’ll have perfectly crispy, golden, juicy popcorn shrimp in just 6 minutes – you don’t even need to defrost them! I also included my super simple homemade tartar sauce recipe for an easy dipping sauce.
🍤 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Popcorn shrimp is so delicious. Tender, juicy shrimp coated in a crispy breading? Yes, please. Add a little tartar sauce or even some bang bang shrimp sauce or sriracha mayo and you’ve got the perfect combo of crispy and creamy. Unbelievable.
- The key to getting really perfect popcorn shrimp is all in how you cook it. Frying the shrimp gets them really crispy, but requires a lot of oil and more cleanup. The oven’s fine for a lighter option, but cooking takes longer and the breading never gets as “done” as I like it. Popcorn shrimp in the air fryer, though, is magic. It’s fast – only 6 minutes of cooking. Cleanup’s a breeze since everything’s done in the air fryer. And the texture? Amazingly crispy but still light, and the shrimp inside the breading is tender and juicy, never dry or rubbery.
- You might be used to snacking on popcorn shrimp by itself, but it’s honestly really versatile. Use it on salads or in tacos or on nachos. Stuff it inside crusty bread for an easy fried shrimp po-boy (use a little remoulade sauce for this one, you won’t regret it). Toss it into pasta. The options are endless!
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- When it comes to popcorn shrimp in the air fryer, it’s really important that you shake the basket halfway through the cook time, to toss the shrimp around. Just like with air fryer frozen french fries, shaking the basket flips the shrimp and moves them around so they cook evenly and completely. Since the basket is pretty full, it’s easy for the air inside the fryer to be blocked from reaching some spots on the shrimp. If you didn’t shake the basket, those spots wouldn’t cook, leaving you with soft breading or underdone shrimp.
- No need to defrost the shrimp first! You can take them straight out of the freezer and put them straight into the air fryer. If you’ve already defrosted the popcorn shrimp, or you’re reheating leftovers, you’ll follow the same general steps below. You’ll just need to lower the cook time.
🔥 Check Out These Air Fryer Recipes
- Frozen Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets
- 5-Ingredient Air Fryer Flautas
- Air Fryer Jalapeño Poppers
For the Popcorn Shrimp
- 1 18-ounce box frozen popcorn shrimp
For the Tartar Sauce (Optional)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup diced dill pickles
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon capers chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Air fryer
- neutral spray oil safe for air fryers
- Small bowl optional, for tartar sauce
- small whisk optional, for tartar sauce
- Preheat air fryer to 400° Fahrenheit.
- When air fryer is preheated, remove basket and lightly spray with neutral spray oil. Pour frozen popcorn shrimp into air fryer and spread out into one even layer.
- Return basket to air fryer. Cook 3 minutes, then pause air fryer and remove basket. Shake basket to toss and flip popcorn shrimp, then return basket to air fryer and cook 3 minutes more.
- Optional: While shrimp is cooking, add mayonnaise, pickles, lemon juice, capers, dill, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper to small bowl. Whisk well until all ingredients are combined to create tartar sauce.
- After 6 minutes total cook time, check doneness of popcorn shrimp. For extra crispy breading, shake basket again, then return basket to air fryer and cook shrimp 1 to 2 minutes more.
- When satisfied with doneness of shrimp, remove basket and carefully transfer shrimp to serving bowl or plate. Serve immediately with tartar sauce or other dipping sauce of choice.
- This method works for any brand and any type of popcorn shrimp. If your air fryer is smaller, you may need to cook the shrimp in multiple batches to ensure everything cooks throughly evenly and completely.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.