One-Pan Coconut Shrimp Pasta

published Jun 24, 2024
One-Pot Coconut Shrimp Pasta Recipe

All of the flavor, none of the fuss.

Serves4

Prep5 minutes

Cook15 minutes to 20 minutes

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overhead shot of coconut shrimp pasta, in a metal pan, topped with lime wedges, coconut flakes and herbs
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Spencer Richards

My love of shrimp is well-documented — you can see my shrimp tattoo featured in my shrimp cocktail recipe. One thing I’ve learned over the years is, if you have a shrimp tattoo on your hand then people will ask you about your favorite ways to eat shrimp. For me, coconut shrimp is hands-down in my top five. 

How could you not love coconut shrimp? They’re sweet, salty, and perfectly crispy-crunchy. It’s a truly perfect bite. You know what’s not perfect, though? Making coconut shrimp. It’s actually kind of annoying. That’s where this one-pot pasta comes in.

Instead of breading and frying the little guys, I toast the breadcrumbs and sweetened coconut flakes in a skillet until they’re golden and smell exactly like the real deal. Then I sauté shrimp — it only takes a couple of minutes. I finish by dumping the pasta, tomatoes, garlic, and coconut milk (I love a theme) in the same skillet and cook until the pasta is ready to go. Stir in some spinach and lime juice at the end, top with your shrimp and crunchy topping, and do a little coconut shrimp dance because dinner is served.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s speedy! Get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes with almost no chopping and minimal dishes.
  • It has all of the flavor and none of the fuss. The crunchy topping gives big coconut shrimp flavor without any of the breading and frying.

Key Ingredients in Coconut Shrimp Pasta

  • Shrimp. Use some bigger shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), as they are the star of the show.
  • Shredded coconut. Toasting sweetened shredded coconut gives the dish a robust coconutty flavor.
  • Panko. Crunchy breadcrumbs mimic the texture of breaded and fried shrimp. 
  • Pasta. Use spaghetti or linguine; they’re thick enough to hold up to the sauce, but thin enough to cook evenly and quickly.
  • Coconut milk. Full-fat coconut milk adds creamy richness to the sauce, boosts the coconut flavor, and keeps this meal dairy-free.
  • Vegetables. Simmer cherry tomatoes and garlic with the pasta, then stir in spinach at the end to round out the one-pan meal.
  • Lime. A squeeze of fresh lime juice, along with a sprinkle of cilantro, adds a pop of freshness and acidity to cut through the creamy sauce.

How to Make Coconut Shrimp Pasta

  1. Make the coconut topping. Toast panko and sweetened coconut flakes until golden and fragrant, then season with a little salt and sugar and set aside for serving.
  2. Cook the shrimp. Sauté the shrimp in the same skillet until just cooked through, then set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta. In the same skillet, combine coconut milk, water, spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, and grated garlic. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente.
  4. Finish the pasta. Remove from heat and stir in lime zest, lime juice, and baby spinach. Top the pasta with shrimp, some of the breadcrumb topping, and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and more breadcrumbs for spooning over as you eat.

Helpful Swaps

  • Add sliced fresno or jalapeño peppers for some heat.
  • Make things a little fancier by using chopped lobster meat instead of shrimp.
  • Swap cilantro for fresh mint.
  • Make the shrimp and coconut topping for a rice bowl topped with a little sweet chili sauce.

More Delicious Shrimp Recipes

One-Pot Coconut Shrimp Pasta Recipe

All of the flavor, none of the fuss.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons

    neutral oil, such as grapeseed, vegetable or canola, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 cup

    sweetened coconut flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1 pound

    raw peeled and deveined extra-jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), thawed if frozen

  • 1

    (about 13-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk

  • 3 cups

    water

  • 12 ounces

    dried spaghetti or linguine

  • 1

    pint cherry or grape tomatoes (about 10 ounces)

  • 2

    cloves garlic

  • 6

    sprigs fresh cilantro

  • 3 ounces

    baby spinach (about 3 packed cups)

  • 1

    medium lime

Instructions

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the neutral oil in a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon of the granulated sugar and 1 pinch kosher salt, and toss to combine.

  2. Pat 1 pound raw extra-jumbo shrimp dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon neutral oil in the same skillet (no need to clean) over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until starting to brown on the bottom and they release easily from the pan, about 2 minutes. Flip the shrimp and cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl or plate.

  3. Add 1 (about 13-ounce) can coconut milk, 3 cups water, 12 ounces dried spaghetti or linguine, 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar to the skillet. Finely grate 2 garlic cloves directly on top.

  4. Bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil, turning the pasta frequently with tongs, until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has nearly evaporated, 8 to 11 minutes. Meanwhile, pick the leaves and tender stems from 6 fresh cilantro sprigs and finely chop (about 1 tablespoon).

  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add 3 ounces baby spinach and toss until wilted. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lime directly into the skillet. Halve the zested lime; squeeze the juice from one half into the skillet and cut the remaining half into wedges. Toss the pasta to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  6. Top the pasta with the shrimp, then sprinkle with half of the panko mixture. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with lime wedges and the remaining panko mixture on the side to add as you eat.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.