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Air Fry Your Frozen Shrimp Without Thawing Them First

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Shrimp is an incredible source of weeknight protein. It cooks fast, tastes great, and can be served alongside pretty much any carb or vegetable your throw at it. It also takes well to a wide variety of seasonings—Cajun shrimp, Old Bay shrimp, garlic shrimp, soy-ginger shrimp—and can be cooked in five-to-10 minutes from completely frozen, right in your air fryer.

The main concern with cooking proteins from frozen is that “the seasoning won’t stick,” but guess what? They stick just fine, as does any oil you drizzle on top of the frozen sea bugs. (The oil is actually slowed by the coldness of the shrimp, causing it to stick even harder.) Cooking shrimp this way is so fast, so easy, and so delicious, it has replaced both sautéing and broiling as my favorite shrimp-cooking method (at least when I’m cooking for just myself, or myself and my partner). There’s no flipping, only a little basket shaking, and they come out hot, plump, and juicy, with a subtle snap—perfect for tossing into tacos, onto pasta, or over a bed of greens for a quick, protein-packed salad.

It’s a method so simple that you don’t even need a recipe. Set your air fryer to 400℉ and, while it’s heating, grab the amount of (frozen) shrimp you want and place them in a big mixing bowl. (Peeled, or at least deveined shrimp work best, as you cannot devein a frozen shrimp.) Drizzle on enough oil to coat, then shake on your favorite seasoning (or a blend of your favorites). That’s the entirety of the prep work.

Once your air fryer is heated to 400℉, dump the shrimp in there. The amount of time they need to cook will depend on the size of your shrimp and the amount you have crammed into your air fryer basket (try to keep them in a single layer). I was able to cook eight medium-sized peeled and deveined shrimp from frozen in a mere five minutes, so start checking around the three-minute mark and give the shrimp a little shake to make sure the seasonings are evenly dispersed.

Cook your shrimp until they are just firm and opaque. I always add a few extra “test shrimp” to the air fryer so I can slice them open and take a peek to check for doneness. Once they reach that point, take them out and consume happily. (I ate them directly from the basket just now, and I don’t regret a single thing.)

 

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