How to Cook Shrimp in the Air Fryer

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Shrimp come out plump and delicious in just a few minutes when you cook them in the air fryer.

Shrimp come out plump and delicious in just a few minutes when you cook them in the air fryer.

There are a lot of ways to prepare shrimp. Two of my favorites are a basic pan fried version (with garlic and butter, of course), and directly from frozen  yes, really – this is the easiest and tastiest way to poach shrimp ever. It’s especially perfect for shrimp cocktail). 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 a couple 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?

Cook the shrimp in 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. 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 you do is to preheat the air fryer to 400°F. This takes 3-4 minutes. While it’s preheating, get out your shrimp (they should already be defrosted. If not, use my quick method for defrosting shrimp over here). Toss them 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!


How to Cook Shrimp in the Air Fryer

  • Author: Christine Pittman


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. Don’t use unpeeled shrimp for this method, but you can use shrimp that still have their tails on, no worries.


  • 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)


  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400F.
  2. In a medium bowl toss together shrimp, olive oil, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Lay shrimp in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer.
  4. Cook until opaque, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove basket from air fryer. Use silicone spatula to transfer shrimp to a plate.
  6. Use spatula to scrape oil and garlic onto the shrimp from the basket and from the pot that the basket was in.