This Air Fryer Brown Sugar Buffalo Shrimp recipe is the perfect appetizer for the Big Game! Coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and slathered in a sweet and spicy buffalo sauce, you will be licking your fingers clean in UNDER 15 MINUTES!
I partnered with Instant Pot and Franks RedHot to bring you this delicious Game Day appetizer everyone is going to love!
Let's be real. What's a proper tailgate, or should I say, "homegate", without something buffalo flavored and finger food friendly? Here I have the best of BOTH worlds.
But instead of making buffalo wings as we usually do, I decided to go a different route. Buffalo SHRIMP! Yes. Shrimp. In my opinion, they are better than wings. That might be because I am obsessed with shrimp in any form but these are that good.
And no matter how you plan on celebrating the Big Game this year, this fun finger food is ideal for any size celebration! If you lay these out on a clean white plate with skewers, they turn into a fancy, delicious hors d'oeuvres!
- Shrimp- I recommend using JUMBO shrimp. They look fancier and are simply more efficient when you need to clean and peel 12 jumbos as opposed to 24 medium-sized shrimp.
- Panko breadcrumbs- I love panko for this recipe. The crumbs are larger and will give a much crunchier texture to your shrimp. I used plain since the seasoned kind typically comes Italian-style which is not what we're going for.
- Cooking Spray- The main benefit of using an air fryer is the ability to get crispy food while using LESS fat. You could air fry your shrimp without any oil but a little fat helps the breadcrumbs crisp up and brown nicely and a spray is the perfect way to do that.
- Frank's® RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce- When it comes to hot sauce, Franks is America's favorite. Their pre-mixed wings sauce makes this recipe quick, easy and so delicious.
- Make sure to preheat your air fryer to ensure your shrimp cooks through.
- If you want super crunchy shrimp, I highly recommend panko breadcrumbs as opposed to regular breadcrumbs.
- Leave the tails on your shrimp! This allows you to coat your shrimp without a mess (since you use the looks fancier and allows guests to hold onto it while dipping!
- Air fry your shrimp in batches. This will ensure your shrimp brown evenly and crispy up nicely.
- Spray both sides of your breaded shrimp generously with cooking spray. This helps the exterior get golden brown.
- Purchase shrimp that are already peeled and deveined to speed up this recipe.
Make sure to check out these 73 Shrimp Appetizer Ideas!
Using Your Air Fryer
Using your air fryer is very simple so if this is your first air fryer recipe, have no fear! Air fryers are not difficult to use. You just need to get your cooking times down and the rest is a piece of cake.
To cook these buffalo shrimp, I used my Instant Brand's Instant™ Vortex™ 6 Quart Air Fryer. It is my new favorite "toy" and I have to admit...I am slightly obsessed. It is sleek, SUPER fast, and couldn't be more versatile.
Normally, when I want to get crispy results, the cooking method I would resort to would be deep frying. It was the only way I could get that super crispy exterior on food.
But I despise deep frying. You use a ton of oil and end up making your entire house smell of a fast food joint. Plus it's not healthy.
When I use my Instant™ Vortex™ Air Fryer, all I need to do is spray a touch of oil on the exterior of my food and voila! Crispy, tender results EVERY single time.
Air Frying Steps
- Make sure to allow your air fryer to pre-heat. To do this, select the air fry function, set timer, set temperature and press start. Your Instant™ Vortex™ Air Fryer will automatically start to pre-heat.
- Once it's ready to add food, it will tell you to do so. Simply pull out the basket and add in your breaded shrimp onto the tray.
- Push the basket back in and it will automatically start air frying.
- Halfway through, the Instant™ Vortex™ Air Fryer will instruct you to flip your food. This is something we will not need to do for our buffalo shrimp so skip this step.
- Once time is up, your air fryer will beep letting you know it's ready. Remove the shrimp immediately to prevent from overcooking.
- Then douse those bad boys with that deliciously sweet n' spicy buffalo sauce.
- Most people over cook shrimp which results in a tough, rubbery bite. Because shrimp normally cooks very quickly, it will cook EXTRA fast in your air fryer so make sure to remove it immediately once the time is up. The internal temperature for cooked shrimp should be 145 degrees F. This will ensure you have plump, juicy shrimp.
- The panko breading is what makes these shrimp extra crunchy while giving that delicious buffalo sauce something to grab on to. These shrimp are best served warm. If you prepare them too early, they will become soggy and be tough to reheat.
- Do not crowd your air fryer basket. This rule applies anytime we want crispy food. Allowing space in between food lets the hot air circulate around it better resulting in a crispy exterior. Working in batches is best.
- Preheat your air fryer so they begin cooking right when you put them in. Do not leave the tray open for too long or it will have to reheat again.
- You do not need to flip your shrimp since we are air frying our shrimp in small batches so we will skip this step.
Buffalo Brown Sugar Sauce
This sauce was inspired by my Frank's RedHot Buffalo Chicken Meatballs. I used Frank's® RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce because it is already mixed and ready-to-pour! But because I love my sweet and spicy foods, I added brown sugar to the buffalo sauce to kick it up a level. The combination is AMAZING.
I serve any leftover sauce on the side with my buffalo shrimp so people can make it extra saucy if they wish.
Yes! I use frozen shrimp all the time. Just make sure to fully defrost your shrimp and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Yes. I recommend air frying your shrimp for 5 minutes. Then when you're ready to serve, pop them back in the air fryer for the last 3 minutes or so until they finish cooking and crisping up.
I don't recommend freezing them. The texture will be lost when they thaw.
No! You will end up with dry, rubbery shrimp.
Other game day appetizers:
Air Fryer Brown Sugar Buffalo Shrimp (Crispy)
- Instant™ Vortex™ Air Fryer
- ½ lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used jumbo) ((about 8 jumbo shrimp))
- ½ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs + 1 tbsp milk
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives
Brown Sugar Buffalo Sauce
- ½ cup Frank's® RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Make sure your shrimp are fully thawed, peeled and deveined. You can leave the tails on if you like this presentation. Pat them dry with a paper towel if they are very wet.
- Add ½ flour to a shallow bowl or plate along with 1 tsp. of garlic powder, 1 tsp. of onion powder, and 1 tsp. of salt. Mix together.
- Add your panko breadcrumbs to another shallow bowl or plate.
- Whisk your eggs and 1 tbsp. of milk to another bowl.
- Take your shrimp and dredge them in the flour mixture so they are fully coated. Then dip each into the egg wash allowing excess egg to drip off before place into the panko. Press down your shrimp on all sides so they are coated WELL with the breadcrumbs. Set shrimp aside.
- Turn on your Instant™ Vortex™ Air Fryer° and set the temperature to 400°F and the time to 7 minutes. Press start and wait for it to preheat. After 2 minutes, it should be ready.
- Before you add your shrimp to the air fryer, spray BOTH sides of your breaded shrimp generously with cooking spray. This will allow them to crisp up and brown nicely.
- Add your shrimp in a single layer on the tray in your air fryer basket. They should barely be touching. In a 6 qt. air fryer, I was able to add between 8-10 shrimp. Push the basket back into the air fryer and it should start on its own. If not, press start.
- You do not need to flip your shrimp. If your air fryer tells you to flip your food, ignore it.
- While waiting for your shrimp, add ½ cup of Frank's® RedHot® Buffalo Wings Sauce, ¼ cup brown sugar and ¼ tsp of garlic powder to a large bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
- When time is up, take out your shrimp immediately so they do not overcook. Transfer shrimp to your buffalo sauce bowl and toss to coat.
- Transfer to a dish and garnish with chopped chives. Serve warm with ranch or blue cheese on the side.