Air Fryer Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Panko

Ready to shake up taco night? These air fryer shrimp tacos will do the trick. Spicy panko breading gives your seafood an extra kick and crunch, making each bite exciting. Dressing up these spicy shrimp tacos couldn’t be easier. A creamy avocado lime sauce, crisp slaw, and tangy pickled onions are all easy to make and the perfect complements to these light and fresh tacos.

grey plate with two tacos filled with breaded seafood, avocado, and pickled onions

Reasons to Love This Recipe

If you’re bored with your usual taco night options, it’s time to switch things up.


These shrimp tacos are crispy and spicy, thanks to my secret weapon — sriracha panko. Yep, that is a real product and it’s life-changing. (If you can’t find it at your local grocery store, don’t worry! I have a modification for you in the recipe notes.)

A creamy avocado cilantro sauce, simple slaw, and pickled onions are just the toppings you need to balance out the heat from the shrimp and add color and texture to the dish.

This recipe is sure to impress everyone at the dinner table, but it’s actually very easy to make.

grey plate with two tacos filled with breaded seafood, avocado, and pickled onions

Cultural Notes

Tacos are an important food in Mexican culture. Countless adaptations exist, but they’re all lovely in their own ways.

Shrimp and fish tacos are thought to originate from costal regions, particularly Baja California, Mexico. It is common to serve seafood tacos with a fresh slaw, similar to the one in this recipe.

breading station with containers filled with flour, beaten egg, and panko breadcrumbs

Preparation Tips

What to prep ahead

Shrimp cook quickly, so these tacos are ready in a snap! Just make sure you have your sauces and toppings ready in advance.

The pickled shallots or onions (if using) are very easy to make, but they need about 4 hours to cool in the refrigerator.

The green sauce for these shrimp tacos should also be prepared first. This one’s easy too — just toss all of the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Once the green sauce is prepared, add the coleslaw mix to a large bowl, pour in half of the green sauce, and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate. Reserve the other half of the green sauce for drizzling on your tacos. 

Breading the shrimp

If you’re using frozen shrimp, make sure to thaw and thoroughly pat them dry first so the breading sticks and doesn’t get soggy.

Set up a breading station with three shallow containers. You’ll need one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the seasoned breadcrumbs.

Dredge each shrimp in flour, followed by egg, then breadcrumbs, being sure to shake off any excess during each step. (I use tongs for this and it makes the process a lot less messy!)

How to get crispy air fried shrimp

Place the breaded shrimp in a single layer in an air fryer basket lined with parchment paper. (This helps catch any crumbs.) I use a Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer, which is basically like an air fryer/toaster oven combo. It has a wide, vented basket for air frying, which lets you handle large batches in a single layer.

Air fry for 10 minutes, turning each shrimp at 5 minutes. (The parchment paper makes the bottom of the shrimp less crispy, so it’s important to turn them.)

cooked breaded shrimp in a shallow air fryer basket lined with parchment paper

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you put frozen shrimp in the air fryer?

You sure can! Shrimp can be cooked from frozen in the air fryer, but they will drip a bit and won’t hold seasoning. If using frozen shrimp for this recipe, thaw them before breading. (My favorite method — place the shrimp in a strainer, then place that strainer in a bowl. Run cool water over the shrimp until thawed, then pat dry.)

How long should you air fry shrimp?

Shrimp cook very quickly! Usually, you can tell that shrimp are “done” when they are fully opaque. This visual method doesn’t work with breaded shrimp, so cook for about 10 minutes or until their internal temp reads 145°F.

Which kind of tortillas are best for shrimp tacos?

Street taco-sized corn tortillas the traditional choice (and superior one, in my opinion). Compared to wheat tortillas, lightly charred or toasted corn tortillas hold up better, add slight sweetness, and are naturally gluten-free.

grey plate with two tacos filled with breaded seafood, avocado, and pickled onions

Recipe Modifications

  • For frozen shrimp: If using frozen shrimp for this recipe, thaw them before breading so the breading sticks. Place the shrimp in a strainer, then place that strainer in a bowl. Run cool water over the shrimp until thawed, then pat dry.
  • Gluten-free: Use gluten-free flour and gluten-free panko. If using plain gluten-free panko, see the notes in the recipe card for seasoning.
  • Dairy-free: This recipe is dairy-free without the green sauce!  When making the sauce, substitute Greek yogurt for plain non-dairy yogurt (this is one of my favorites).
  • Oven version: If you don’t have an air fryer, use the same temperature and time in a standard oven. Be sure to flip the shrimp halfway through cooking to ensure consistent crispiness.
  • Use different toppings: Other yummy options include: plain slaw, shredded lettuce, arugula, microgreens, shredded carrots, lettuce, bell peppers, jalapeños, jicama, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and/or thinly sliced radishes.
  • Make without the slaw or green sauce: No time to make the green sauce? No problem. You can quickly dress a bag of coleslaw mix with lime juice, a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Make without pickled shallots: Use thinly sliced raw onions or replace with another topping option like sliced radishes for color.
placing a breaded shrimp onto a bed of slaw inside a corn tortilla
two shrimp tacos on a grey plate
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Air Fryer Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Panko

Spice up taco night with these air fryer shrimp tacos! Special spicy panko breading, crisp slaw, and a magical green sauce will make your tastebuds dance with each bite.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: seafood, street tacos, tacos
Servings: 4
Calories: 353kcal
Author: Chelsea Jackle, RDN

Equipment

  • air fryer or oven (see notes)

Ingredients

Make ahead

Tacos

  • 14 oz bagged coleslaw mix
  • 8 oz raw shrimp peeled and tails removed, patted dry
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 cup sriracha panko *see notes for modifications
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • ½ avocado sliced, optional for garnish

Instructions

  • Make sure you've prepared the pickled shallots or onions (if using), because they need about 4 hours to cool in the refrigerator.
  • Prepare the green sauce. (See link in the ingredient list for the recipe.)
  • Prepare the slaw. In a large bowl, add the coleslaw mix, pour in half of the green sauce, and toss to coat. Set aside. Reserve the other half of the green sauce for drizzling on your tacos.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Line the bottom of the air fryer basket with parchment paper.
  • Set up a breading station with three shallow containers – one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the seasoned breadcrumbs. Dredge each shrimp in flour, followed by egg, then breadcrumbs, being sure to shake off any excess during each step. Place in a single layer in the prepared air fryer basket.
  • Air fry for 10 minutes, turning each shrimp at 5 minutes.
  • Lightly char your tortillas. I recommend popping them in the air fryer or oven for a few minutes at 400°F.
  • Assemble your tacos! Start with a bit of the slaw, top with 2-3 shrimp, more slaw, pickled shallots or onions, avocado slices, and a drizzle of green sauce.

Notes

  • Please note that nutrition facts are an estimate and can vary widely based on amounts and specific types used. The nutrition facts here are calculated without green sauce or pickled shallots.
  • DIY seasoned breadcrumbs – If you can’t find sriracha breadcrumbs at the store, you can make your own! To 1 cup of plain panko breadcrumbs, add 2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cayenne, and 1 tsp garlic powder.
  • Oven version – If you don’t have an air fryer, use the same temperature and time in a standard oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tacos | Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 492mg | Potassium: 515mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 305IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 3mg

What to serve with shrimp tacos

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