Salt and Pepper Shrimp

Making salt and pepper shrimp might be the absolute easiest way to prepare shrimp - well seasoned, peppery shrimp with a crispy texture. Traditionally, shrimp prepared this way would be deep-fried, but air-frying does the trick and delivers the results you want without a greasy finish.

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The first step to making this simple dish is to peel and devein the shrimp. Now, I know you can buy already peeled and deveined shrimp in the grocery store, but I’m a big believer in getting shrimp with the shells on for a couple of reasons. First of all, the shrimp tend to be in better shape than the ones that have been man-handled by workers in a rush to get a job done. Secondly, there’s a ton of flavor in those shrimp shells and they are perfect for a shrimp or seafood stock or just to flavor a soup or stew. If you haven’t peeled or deveined shrimp before, it’s not hard and you can read all about how to do it in the cooking school here

Shrimp on brown paper with  a bowl of cornstarch, salt and pepper on a wooden counter.

The next step is to set up a dredging station and in this recipe, the easiest way to do that is to use two zipper sealable plastic bags. By dividing the flour and cornstarch mixture into two bags, you can easily toss the shrimp in one bag, shaking it around like shake-and-bake-chicken, and then dip it in the egg before sending it to the second bag to shake again. The shrimp get perfectly  coated this way.

Salt and pepper shrimp in an air fryer basket.

Once the shrimp are in the air fryer basket, don’t be shy with the oil. It’s the oil that will help crisp up the shrimp and give it nice color, so give it a good spray. Don’t feel guilty about this – you’re not submerging the shrimp in oil, so you’re saving a ton of calories right there. 

Salt and  pepper shrimp on a marble surface with black peppercorns scattered about.

You will have to cook the shrimp in batches because over-crowding the air fryer basket will just result in unevenly cooked and soggy shrimp. So, be patient, cook in batches and then re-heat all the cooked shrimp for just a minute or two in the air fryer before tossing them with the scallions and sliced cherry peppers (or any other pepper you like). Look what a fancy appetizer you made!

Salt and pepper  shrimp in black dishes with sliced scallions  and cherry peppers on marble with red napkins.

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Air-Fried Salt and Pepper Shrimp

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 pound extra-large shrimp peeled and deveined with tails left on
  • 2 eggs
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 1 inch ginger thinly sliced
  • 4 cherry peppers sliced
  • 3 scallions chopped


  1. Set up a dredging station. Combine the flour, cornstarch, salt and black pepper and divide the mixture between two zipper sealable plastic bags. Beat the eggs together in a bowl. Add the shrimp to one bag of flour and shake them around to coat. Working in batches, remove the shrimp from the bag of flour, shaking off any excess and dip each shrimp in the beaten eggs before placing them in the second bag of flour and shaking to coat again. Set the coated shrimp aside.
  2. Pre-heat air fryer to 400°F.
  3. Transfer the coated shrimp to the air fryer basket and spritz generously with oil.
  4. Air-fry the shrimp in batches for 6 minutes. Flip the shrimp over, spritz with oil again and air-fry for an additional 2 minutes.
  5. While the shrimp is cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan. Add the garlic, ginger and cherry peppers and sauté for three minutes, until the peppers have softened slightly.
  6. When the last batch of shrimp has finished cooking. Load all the shrimp back into the air fryer and air-fry at 370°F 1 to 2 minutes, until all the shrimp is heated through.
  7. Toss with cherry peppers and scallions before serving.
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Comments (9)Post a Reply

  1. Thanks for the recipe for salt and pepper shrimp. We love shrimp and was glad to see a different way to prepare them

    1. Hi Deborah. These shrimp don’t actually have a batter. You combine the dry ingredients in a bag – don’t add the eggs to the dry ingredients, but beat them separately in a dish. Then, you’ll dredge the shrimp in the dry ingredients, THEN dip them in the egg, then back into the dry ingredients to coat a second time.

  2. 1 star
    The coating was heavy and kinda chalky, inedible without a dipping sauce. Followed recipe exactly. Didn’t taste much like salt and pepper shrimp to my family, either. Won’t do again.

    1. The coating is intended to by a little heaver and more like a battered coating. You can always use a little less cornstarch to thin it out. When air-frying, rather than deep frying, spritzing the shrimp with oil during the cooking process will eliminate the chalky taste from the flour.

    1. Hi Terri. You could try them in a convection oven, but I fear that you really need the intensity of an air fryer so that the shrimp don’t over-cook in the time it needs to get a nice crispy exterior. The alternative would be to pan fry them in oil on the stovetop quickly.

  3. 5 stars
    Another winner! I make such a mess when dredging with the flour, but making sure to shake excess flour off is important. So is making sure you spray with oil to cover the flour coating.
    Messy for sure, but very good. I just did the shrimp alone, to have with a steak. Thanks again!

    1. Well, dredging can be a bit of a mess sometimes. It helps to use one utensil or hand for the dry ingredients and another utensil or the other hand for the wet ingredients. You can also use plastic bags to shake flour or breadcrumbs on shrimp or other small items to coat everything and keep it a bit tidier. Check out Meredith’s cooking school lesson on How to Dredge and Bread Foods for more tips.

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