This restaurant-quality dish has all the flavor with a fraction of the fat and calories!
Who doesn’t love the Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Fried Shrimp at Red Lobster? Between that crunchy, coconut-flavored shell and the cooling pina colada dipping sauce, this dish is practically irresistible. Unfortunately, you should probably resist, because the shrimp alone has a whopping 39 grams of fat, 11 grams saturated fat, and 52 carbs. Not to mention the 95mg of cholesterol and an unbelievable 990mg sodium. That’s nearly 60 percent of your daily value of fat and over 40 percent of your daily intake of sodium, and it doesn’t even include the dipping sauce. Unacceptable!
Luckily, we figured out a healthier way to make these flakey, crunchy shrimp at home. Instead of deep frying our shrimp, we bake them in a high-temperature oven to get all the crispiness you love without all the extra fat. All you need is a handful of ingredients, and you’re ready to get started!
Oven Baked is Better Than Frying
Some people will argue that fried food isn’t that bad for you. “If the oil is hot enough, it doesn’t get absorbed into the food,” they say. I’d beg to differ; I’ve worked in enough restaurants to tell you that the oil definitely does make its way into the food. Not only do you have to add oil to the fryer a few times a shift, but anyone who has eaten a plate of fried food can tell you how much it weighs you down.
It’s true that fried food tastes crispy and delicious, but we know a way to make oven fried food taste just as good. It starts with a super hot oven, like 450 degrees F. You want to make sure your oven is clean before you do this, otherwise you might smoke-out the house! This super-high temperature mimics the conditions of the 375-degree oil, crisping up the food quickly and efficiently.
You might also notice that we tell you to line a baking sheet with an oven-safe wire rack (like this one from Checkered Chef). This step is strictly necessary if you want the crispiest shrimp. If you place the shrimp directly on the baking sheet, they will crisp up on one side and become soggy on the other side. Using the rack elevates the shrimp, keeping them off the baking sheet. That allows the air to circulate around them, crisping them up on both sides.
Replicating the Sauce
You’ll find a lot of copycat recipes out there for Red Lobster’s Parrot Isle Jumbo Coconut Fried Shrimp, but ours is unique because it’s actually healthy. Not only do we bake our shrimp instead of frying them, but we also made some ingredient swaps for the pina colada dipping sauce.
Most recipes use sour cream, powdered pina colada mix, and sugar to make their dipping sauce. We don’t love the contents of the pina colada mix, and we didn’t like the thought of adding extra sugar, either. To make our dipping sauce taste super-tropical, we swapped out the sour cream for dairy-free coconut yogurt. It’s thick, it’s creamy, and it already tastes like a pina colada! Then, all we need to do is add some crushed pineapple and some lime juice, and we’re ready to go.
We think you’ll love the result of this healthier Coconut Fried Shrimp recipe. If you give it a try, let us know what you think in the comments!
Coconut Fried Shrimp, Red Lobster Style | Copycat Recipe
For the Sauce
- 1/2 cup coconut yogurt
- 1/4 cup crushed pineapple well drained
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice from the crushed pineapple
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice freshly squeezed
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Shrimp
- cooking spray nonstick
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut unsweetened
- 1 pound shrimp large, peeled and deveined (16 to 20 count)
- Make the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Keep the sauce in the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with an oven-safe wire rack. Spray it with nonstick cooking oil and set aside.
- In a small bowl, make an egg wash by combining the egg and coconut milk. Whisk until the mixture is well combined.
- In a large bowl, mix together the whole wheat panko bread crumbs and the unsweetened shredded coconut.
- Working one at a time, dip a shrimp into the egg wash before coating it with the bread crumb mixture. Gently press the shrimp into the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere.
- Place the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet and continue dredging until all the shrimp are coated. When all the shrimp are on the sheet, lightly spray them with the nonstick cooking oil.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the shrimp are golden brown.
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