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Lightened-up coconut-crusted shrimp is the ultimate healthy dinner

All hail the coconut shrimp! Let’s face it, tender shrimp, nestled under sweet and nutty coconut, is one of the greatest items on earth (or at least on restaurant menus). Unfortunately, the yummy dish is also crammed with calories and fat, thanks to thick egg batters and the deep fryer.

Don’t blame the coconut; it’s actually pretty nutritious (when it’s not deep fried). The “meat” of the fruit is rich in medium-chain fatty acids, which, unlike long-chain fatty acids, have no negative effect on cholesterol levels and may protect against heart disease. Plus, coconut is high in fiber and has a low glycemic index, so it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar.

Here’s the best news: I created a coconut-crusted shrimp recipe that slashes calories and fat. The crust is light and delicious, the shrimp are moist and sweet and the mildly spicy pineapple-mango salsa takes the dish over the top.

Coconut shrimp with spicy pineapple-mango salsa

It may seem odd that I’m using cooked shrimp, but I find that they hold their shape better when baking. Also, the coconut doesn’t take very long to get golden brown in the oven so this ensures the shrimp are perfectly cooked through. To minimize clean-up, instead of 3=three shallow dishes for the flour, egg whites and coconut, use three freezer bags.

Serves 4


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound cooked extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (leave the tails on for presentation)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup diced pineapple, fresh or canned in 100 percent juice
  • 1 cup diced fresh mango
  • 2 tablespoons minced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray.

Place the flour in a shallow dish, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and stir to combine. Place the egg whites in a separate shallow dish. Place the coconut in a third shallow dish.

Dip the shrimp into the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides.

Image: Robin Miller

Transfer the flour-coated shrimp to the egg whites and turn to coat both sides.

Image: Robin Miller

Transfer the shrimp to the coconut and turn to coat both sides.

Image: Robin Miller

Transfer the coconut-crusted shrimp to the prepared baking sheet.

Image: Robin Miller

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the pineapple, mango, onion, cilantro, hot sauce, and cumin. Mix to combine.

Image: Robin Miller
Image: Robin Miller

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the shrimp with the salsa on the side.

Image: Robin Miller

Nutrition Info Per Serving

Calories: 231
Total Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 6 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 24 grams
Sugars: 17 grams
Protein: 18 grams
Sodium: 702 milligrams
Cholesterol: 143 milligrams
Fiber: 2 grams

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