With an irresistible crunch on the outside and a soft texture on the inside, breaded shrimp is a versatile dish. Used as a topping for salads, a simple appetizer or the main protein in a meal, frozen breaded shrimp is a fixture in the frozen foods sections of supermarkets. You usually have two healthy options for cooking breaded shrimp: air-frying or baking. Both will result in the same satisfying crunch and a meal low in fat and calories, avoiding the fat from either deep-frying or pan- frying.
Preparing the Shrimp
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tinfoil. This will prevent the shrimp from sticking as they cook. Place the frozen shrimp on the prepared baking sheet in one layer, leaving space between each piece. This allows the shrimp to cook evenly and keeps them from sticking to one another. For extra browning and crunch, drizzle a little vegetable oil over the layer of shrimp, tossing them to evenly coat the breading.
Set the oven to a high temperature. The small size of the shrimp requires a high temperature that will brown the outside and cook the pieces without drying them out. A lower temperature will take longer to brown the shrimp, which can cause the seafood to overcook and become chewy. The average cooking temperature is between 425 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Set the baking rack in the middle position.
Place the tray of shrimp in the preheated oven. Do not allow the shrimp to defrost before placing them in the oven, as this can result in the breading falling off and change the cooking time of the pieces themselves. Do not cover the shrimp as they cook, as this can keep too much moisture around the pieces and cause the breading to fall off or get soggy. Flip the shrimp halfway through the cooking process to help brown them evenly. Cook for the amount of time indicated on the package, generally 8 to 10 minutes on each side.
Seasonings, Dips and Air-Frying
Sprinkle herbs or spices on the breaded shrimp before you put them in the oven, if you're cooking a plain breaded version. Oregano and basil work well because they do not overpower the flavor of the breading. Consider using a gluten-free breading such as crushed rice cakes or a gluten-free commercial breading product, and consider investing in an air-fryer, a countertop appliance that cooks shrimp in as little time as pan-frying or deep-frying. Serve the shrimp alongside a dipping sauce that is either tomato- or cream-based for a delicious finger food.