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.

Now Let’s Get Cooking
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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.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Peel and Devein Shrimp

It's true that shrimp cooked in their shells have more flavor than peeled shrimp, but unless you're having a casual...View Technique

Air Frying 101

An introduction into Air Frying so that you can feel comfortable and confident making the recipes you find on my...View Technique

Air Fryer Cooking Charts

All times and temperatures below assume that the food is flipped over halfway through the cooking time or the basket...View Technique

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Air-Fried Salt and Pepper Shrimp

  • Prep Time: 20 m
  • Cook Time: 30 m
  • Total Time: 50 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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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