Air Fryer Frozen Popcorn Shrimp Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide

This air fryer popcorn shrimp dish is easy to make when you need something quick from the freezer. The air fryer will do the rest. All you need is your favorite brand of frozen popcorn shrimp and a few minutes.

I love breaded popcorn shrimp and I remember always ordering them at restaurants when I was younger. As an adult with a family of my own, it’s easier for me to just take them out of the freezer and put them in the air fryer. You get that same fresh crispy taste as you do at your favorite restaurants!.

The air fryer is great for cooking frozen foods because of how it moves and works. This Air Fryer Frozen Shrimp dish is one of my quick and easy go-to recipes. Its perfect for college students, too.

For instance, a deep fryer needs a lot of oil and heat, and the food you make with it has more fats and calories.

A fan moves hot air from a heating element around the air fryer while it’s in use. This helps cook and crisp food evenly. Its a much healthier choice than deep frying.

Plus, air-frying takes less time than baking, so you won’t have to warm up the oven for this popcorn shrimp recipe.

This article has over 15 of our favorite air fryer shrimp recipes that you might like if you like this shrimp recipe.

Popcorn shrimp is a favorite appetizer for many. The crispy breading enclosing tender bite-sized shrimp is hard to resist! While deep frying yields the ultimate crunch air frying makes enjoying this tasty snack simpler and healthier. Read on to learn my proven method for making mouthwatering air fryer frozen popcorn shrimp right at home.

Why Make Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp?

Air frying frozen popcorn shrimp offers several advantages

  • Speed – No need to thaw. Air fry straight from the freezer for meals in minutes.

  • Simplicity – Toss shrimp in the basket and walk away. The air fryer does the work.

  • Convenience – Keep bags of frozen shrimp on hand for instant appetizers anytime.

  • Healthier – Enjoy all the flavor and crunch minus the oil of deep frying.

  • Versatility – Use pre-breaded shrimp or bread your own. Lots of flavor options!

For fast, fuss-free shrimp with great texture, the air fryer can’t be beat. Now let’s discuss how to nail this recipe.

Tips for Air Frying Frozen Popcorn Shrimp

Follow these tips for optimal results:

  • Choose thick, evenly breaded shrimp – Thin, patchy breading leads to spots that don’t crisp well.

  • Don’t overcrowd – Air flow is key. Leave space between shrimp for best texture.

  • Preheat properly – Wait until fully preheated before adding shrimp.

  • Flip halfway – Turning ensures even browning and crisping.

  • Don’t peek! – Resist opening the basket too much. It releases heat and moisture.

  • Pat off excess oil – Dab shrimp with paper towels before serving for less greasy result.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Ready to fry up some flawless popcorn shrimp? Just follow these simple steps:


  • 1 lb frozen popcorn shrimp

  • Nonstick spray


  • Air fryer (3-5 quart size recommended)

  • Cooking spray or oil mister


  1. Preheat air fryer to 400°F. This takes around 3-5 minutes.

  2. Spray basket lightly with cooking oil to prevent sticking.

  3. Add frozen shrimp in a single layer, leaving space between pieces. Do not overcrowd.

  4. Air fry for 5 minutes. Open basket and flip shrimp with tongs.

  5. Air fry 5 more minutes until crisp and golden brown.

  6. Transfer shrimp to a paper towel lined plate. Blot gently to absorb excess oil.

  7. Serve hot with your desired dipping sauces. Enjoy!

That’s all it takes for irresistible air fried popcorn shrimp! The prep work is minimal and the air fryer does the hard part.

Handy Tips and Tricks

Try these variations for customizing your air fried popcorn shrimp:

  • For spicier shrimp, sprinkle with Cajun seasoning before air frying.

  • For deeper flavor, mist shrimp with garlic flavored oil or lemon pepper before cooking.

  • If reheating leftover shrimp, spray again with oil and air fry at 350°F for 4 minutes only.

  • Make bang bang shrimp by tossing cooked shrimp in a spicy mayo sauce. Divine!

  • For a healthier option, remove breading from a portion of the shrimp before air frying.

  • Double the recipe by cooking two batches back-to-back for larger gatherings.

Purchasing and Storing Popcorn Shrimp

When selecting and storing your shrimp, keep these tips in mind:

  • Inspect bagged shrimp carefully. Avoid bags with excessive ice crystallization or foul odors.

  • For best quality, use frozen shrimp within 3 months of purchase. Discard if freezer burned.

  • Store unopened bags flat in coldest part of freezer, 0°F or below. Once opened, reseal tightly.

  • Allow shrimp to thaw 5 minutes before breaking up if frozen solid. Do not microwave thaw.

Proper selection and storage prevents wasting money on poor quality shrimp. Now let’s explore some serving suggestions.

Creative Ways to Serve Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp

The applications for air fried popcorn shrimp are nearly endless! Here are some fun ways to serve it up:

  • Appetizer with cocktail and tartar sauces for dipping

  • Slider or taco filling topped with cabbage slaw

  • Over garden salad or wedge salad with blue cheese dressing

  • Stirred into seafood pasta or rice dishes

  • In shrimp po’ boy sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and remoulade

  • Sprinkle over pizza, nachos, baked potatoes, or avocado toast

  • Fold into omelets, frittatas, or breakfast burritos

  • Top soups like seafood chowder or gumbo for extra richness

  • For dessert, dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate sauce

Get creative with flavors and presentations! Popcorn shrimp is very versatile.

Complementary Side Dishes

What goes well with popcorn shrimp? Here are some tasty sides to consider:

  • French fries or tater tots

  • Hushpuppies

  • Coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salad

  • Corn on the cob, roasted corn salsa

  • Baked beans, collard greens

  • Macaroni and cheese, scalloped potatoes

  • Rice pilaf or cheesy grits

  • Biscuits, cornbread, or garlic bread

Pick sides that balance the richness of the shrimp. Southern-inspired classics make natural pairings.

Make a Complete Meal

You can expand popcorn shrimp into a full meal by including:

Protein: Grilled chicken breasts, fish fillets

Vegetable: Roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or broccoli

Starch: Mashed sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, or wild rice

Salad: Mixed greens, classic Caesar, or Greek salad

Bread: Baked rolls, biscuits, or sliced baguette

Add a dessert like fruit crisp or cupcakes and you have an entire air fryer meal featuring popcorn shrimp as the star appetizer.

Fun Sauces for Dunking or Dipping

Every batch of popcorn shrimp deserves a good sauce! Whip up a batch of:

  • Classic cocktail sauce

  • Tangy remoulade sauce

  • Herbed ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing

  • Honey mustard dipping sauce

  • Sweet and sour sauce

  • Maple sriracha mayonnaise

  • Lemon garlic aioli

  • Quick marinara sauce for shrimp “pizzas”

Homemade sauces take air fried shrimp to new heights. Get creative with sauces to match the main meal theme.

Switch It Up with Homemade Popcorn Shrimp

While frozen pre-breaded shrimp is crazy convenient, you can also prep your own from scratch.

Buy peeled, deveined raw shrimp and coat with:

  • Flour, egg wash, breadcrumbs or panko

  • Flour, egg wash, crushed potato chips, crackers, or cornflakes

  • Flour, cornstarch and baking soda batter, panko

Experiment with spices in the coatings like paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried herbs. Refrigerate coated shrimp on a baking sheet until ready to air fry. Adjust cook times as needed. Homemade lets you control ingredients and flavors.

Troubleshooting Air Fryer Popcorn Shrimp

Having trouble getting ideal results? Check out these troubleshooting tips:

Shrimp sticks to basket – Ensure basket is well sprayed and not overcrowded.

Breading falls off – Make sure shrimp is evenly coated. Bread and fry small batches.

Uneven cooking – Flip shrimp halfway through cook time. Don’t overfill basket.

Not crisp enough – Increase air fryer temperature to 410-420°F. Spray with oil before cooking.

Too greasy – Blot cooked shrimp with paper towels. Mist basket instead of heavily oiling.

Burnt breading – Lower temperature 25 degrees. Don’t exceed recommended cook times.

With a few minor adjustments, you’ll be churning out perfect air fryer popcorn shrimp consistently.

Satisfy That Popcorn Shrimp Craving

I hope these tips have demystified the process for making mouthwatering popcorn shrimp quickly and easily with your air fryer. From purchasing and prep to seasoning and serving, you now have all the knowledge needed to enjoy this tasty appetizer anytime.

Popcorn shrimp is a crowd pleaser that’s perfect for gatherings or nights when you just need a little something crispy and delicious

how to air fry frozen popcorn shrimp

How to Make Frozen Breaded Popcorn Shrimp in the Air Fryer

  • Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once the air fryer is hot, wipe down the basket with nonstick cooking spray or parchment paper if you need to.
  • On a baking sheet, spread out the frozen popcorn shrimp in a single layer.
  • Toss the popcorn shrimp around once during the 10 minutes that they are cooking in the air fryer.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.

TIP: To make the frozen popcorn shrimp a little more crispy, spray them with a little oil before air-frying them.

There are also different brands of frozen breaded shrimp to choose from. I love to use Seapak shrimp, Gortons popcorn shrimp, and my grocery store brand as well.

NOTE: This recipe was made using a basket style 5. 8 qt Cosori Air Fryer. If you’re using a different brand of air fryer, you might need to change the cooking time to match the wattage of your machine. All air fryers cook a little differently. It is always a good idea to cook a small test batch to see how your air fryer might cook differently and if you need to make any small changes to the way you cook.

How do I serve air fryer frozen popcorn shrimp?

Popcorn shrimp can be served in several different ways. Use your favorite cocktail or dipping sauce to serve it. You can eat it as an appetizer or as a main dish with french fries. You can also make them as yummy shrimp tacos. Or you can serve them on a bed of lettuce as a salad with your favorite salad dressing. I love having popcorn shrimp on a hoagie bun with fresh lettuce, tomato, and tartar or remoulade sauce. It’s called a “Shrimp Po Boy.”

Air Fryer Frozen Popcorn Shrimp – How To Cook Frozen Popcorn Shrimp In Air Fryer – So Crispy!

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