There are downsides to these methods, however. With the pan fried, you need to stand there stirring the shrimp. Or at least be nearby since you’re using the stove top. It doesn’t take long, but monitoring it is critical because it’s very time-sensitive.
With the poaching method I use, you turn the heat off before adding the shrimp, so you can totally just walk away. And the amount of time is pretty forgiving – a few minutes extra is no big deal. However, you don’t get all that garlicky buttery goodness of pan fried.
So…how do you make delicious, buttery, garlicky shrimp but also not have to hover over them while they cook? The Air Fryer!
Using the Air Fryer
People often use the air fryer to cook breaded foods since it uses much less oil than deep frying. But you can also cook unbreaded foods and they turn out lovely. This is the air fryer one I use!
How’s that? Think of the air fryer as a mini oven. Or even as a new version of a toaster oven. It’s small so it heats up quickly and it’s perfect for cooking smaller amounts of food, breaded or not. This shrimp recipe is a great example of how to use the air fryer in this way.
What Kind of Shrimp to Use in the Air Fryer
In a nutshell, what you want are Medium Shrimp with a 51-60 Count that are Peeled and Deveined, with or without the tail on.
More details about the kind of shrimp to use:
For this recipe, I used 51-60 count shrimp. That means that there are 51-60 shrimp per pound. These would be considered “medium” shrimp. You can use larger or smaller shrimp but you would just need to adjust the cooking time a little bit (an extra minute or so for larger shrimp, one minute less for small shrimp).
For the air fryer, it is best to use shrimp that do not have a peel. The label or bag should say “peeled” shrimp. This means that the peels have been removed. It is fine if the shrimp still have their tails on though. This is personal preference. Some people don’t like having to take the tails off as they eat, while other people like having the tail on to use as a handle. I usually choose between tail or no tail based on whether one of them is on sale.
Make sure that the shrimp are deveined already as well. If you’re buying peeled shrimp though, they usually deveine them when they peel them so this won’t be an issue.
Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil, 1 clove of minced garlic, some red pepper flakes (optional), and salt. Then spread them out in the air fryer basket and cook for 3 minutes, or until opaque.
Then you remove the shrimp from the basket. I use a silicone spatula since my air fryer is non-stick – no metal tools allowed – and also because….because…after I take out the shrimp, I remove the basket and use the spatula to scrape out any garlic and butter that has fallen through the holes. That stuff is gold!
Shrimp come out plump and delicious in just a few minutes when you cook them in the air fryer. I use medium shrimp (51-60 shrimp per pound) that have already been peeled and deveined, tail removed. That is, use shrimp that no longer have their peels on them. The tails are fine to have on though.
24 medium (51-60 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
In a medium bowl toss together shrimp, olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
Lay shrimp in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer.
Cook until opaque, about 3 minutes.
Remove basket from air fryer. Use silicone spatula to transfer shrimp to a plate.
Use spatula to scrape oil and garlic onto the shrimp from the basket and from the pot that the basket was in.
I'm Christine Pittman, a cookbook author and busy mom of two. My recipes are made from scratch, they're quick, and they're fresh. I started this website over 10 years ago and I'm delighted that over a million people now come to visit every month to try my recipes. Thank you for visiting and for joining me on this delicious journey!Find out more about me here.
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