These Air Fryer Shrimp are juicy and tender with a light garlic, butter, fresh lemon juice, and fresh thyme flavor. Only 7 minutes cook time! No preheating or marinating required. Great as an appetizer, main dish or in so many dishes!
The best way to make delicious meals (especially for busy weeknights) is to use an easy recipe. This delicious recipe makes perfect shrimp every time. We've kept the flavors light so you can enjoy it in many different ways. And you can change up the flavors to have any kind of shrimp you are in the mood for (see Variations below).
This easy shrimp recipe is an air fryer is on of our favorite ways to make cooked shrimp for good reason. The shrimp is tender every single time!
What makes this skinny?
- Shrimp is a lean protein that is lower in calories
- Air frying allows using less oil or other fats for cooking. It's a great alternative to deep frying. This recipe uses no bread crumbs or extra fats for a healthy dish.
- It does have a light garlic butter sauce using only 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter for the entire recipe.
- Seven minute air fryer shrimp is a great option for a main dish, in a side dish, served warm or cold.
Recipe Ingredient Notes
Complete list of ingredients in the printable recipe card below.
Shrimp. You'll need 1 pound of jumbo size peeled and deveined raw shrimp. The tail can be on or off, your choice. You can use fresh shrimp or frozen shrimp that has been completely thawed. Large size shrimp can be substituted but the cooking time will be slightly faster. Do not use smaller shrimp as they can easily overcook and become rubbery.
Unsalted butter. We use just 1 tablespoon of melted unsalted butter in the sauce that will be brushed onto the shrimp. This helps convey the flavors to adhere to the shrimp and keep it moist.
Lemon juice. The juice of half a lemon are used and fresh juice has the best flavor.
Garlic. Grated garlic is used. Grating the garlic cloves makes very thin pieces that better stick to the shrimp giving more flavor.
Fresh thyme. We love chopped fresh thyme leaves for a delicious flavor. You'll use 1 ½ teaspoons. If you want to substitute dry thyme use ½ teaspoon.
How to make Air Fryer Shrimp
Do not preheat the air fryer for the best results.
STEP 1. Prepare the shrimp
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Place in a large bowl. Lightly spritz with olive oil spray and toss to coat.
Lightly add kosher salt and black pepper to the deveined shrimp and toss to coat.
STEP 2. Cook
Place shrimp in the air fryer basket in a single layer (they can be close to each other). Cook at 400 degrees for 5 minutes (photo 1).
STEP 3. Make brush on sauce
While the shrimp is cooking make the sauce by combining the melted butter, fresh lemon juice, grated garlic and fresh chopped thyme. Whisk to combine (photo 2).
STEP 4. Brush on sauce
After 5 minutes (photo 3) brush the butter-lemon sauce on the shrimp (photo 4) and cook 1-2 minutes longer until the shrimp are opaque (you can no longer see through them) (photo 5).
See ideas for how to serve below!
These shrimp have a light lemon and thyme flavor. This makes them work with many different dishes. The ingredients in the brush on sauce can be changed to use other fresh or dried herbs and give a stronger flavor.
Here are some seasoning ideas: minced Italian parsley, cilantro, granulated garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, Old Bay seasoning, taco seasoning, chili seasoning, smoked paprika, Sriracha or hot sauce for spicy shrimp, Cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, Italian seasoning. Use the same method of cooking the shrimp and brushing on the flavoring to keep shrimp moist.
Shrimp has a very light flavor so adding stronger flavored spices will taste more like the spices than the shrimp (which isn't a bad thing depending on how you'll eat them).
How to use the Air Fryer Shrimp
- In shrimp tacos or lettuce wraps
- Serve with cocktail sauce for a shrimp cocktail
- On salads
- Serve with as a main dish with rice or cauliflower rice
Air Fryer variations. Each brand of air fryer cooks slightly differently based on their size and wattage. Always monitor food for doneness and adjust cooking time as needed. If using an air fryer with a smaller basket it may be necessary to cook in batches.
Do not preheat the air fryer. Shrimp cook very quickly and preheating the air fryer can lead to cooking too fast and drying the shrimp out. For juicy shrimp start with an un preheated air fryer.
Do not use small shrimp. We use jumbo shrimp for this recipe and the cooking time is based on that. You can use large size shrimp and shorten the cooking time. We do not recommend using any shrimp smaller than large size.
How to Store
The cooked leftover shrimp can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unlike other proteins that have a specific internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer to see if they are done FoodSafety.gov recommends cooking until "Cook until flesh is pearly or white, and opaque". Shrimp start out light gray and transparent. As they cook they will become opaque, and white or light pink. It's important not to overcook shrimp or it will become dry and rubbery. They should still be slightly soft and only need 6-7 minutes total to cook in the air fryer.
Yes! This easy air fryer shrimp recipe can use raw or frozen shrimp. Just be sure it's completely thawed before starting the recipe.