Aguachile

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Learn how to make Aguachile, a spicy cold shrimp dish from Mexico! Raw shrimp is marinated in fresh lime juice, cilantro, and jalapenos and then served cold. Jump to Recipe

116 CALORIES 6g CARBS 1g FAT 24g PROTEIN
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This delicious Aguachile recipe is light, refreshing, and exploding with fresh flavors. Made simply with ingredients like shrimp, lime juice, jalapenos, and cilantro, this is the perfect healthy recipe to kick off your summer with.

I would like to start by issuing a gigantic thank you to Mexico for creating some of my absolute favorite dishes on the planet. From hot dishes like tacos and enchiladas to cold dishes like ceviche and aguachile, I simply can never get enough.

I’m not sure why, but I always seem to equate Mexican food to summertime. Something about the bright and bold flavors just seems so perfect for days filled with sunshine and heat. This rings especially true for refreshing dishes like this one that help to cool you down on a hot day.

Aguachile, fondly referred to by many as the spicier ceviche, is super easy to make and beyond delicious. Shrimp pairs beautifully with the fresh lime juice and cilantro, with a touch of heat from the jalapeno peppers. I fell in love with this dish the first time I tasted it and have been hooked ever since. Everyone who I’ve served it for has also fallen in love, so get ready to have a major crowd-pleaser on your hands.

Whether you’re looking for a healthy and quick snack to munch on or the perfect appetizer to bring to your next backyard barbecue or pool party, this vibrant dish is guaranteed to have you running back for seconds and thirds. It tends to go quickly, so I highly recommend making more than you think you need! You’ll thank me later. 

Mexican shrimp aguachile in a glass bow, with shrimp, lime juice, cilantro, and cucumbers.

What is Aguachile?

Aguachile basically translates to “chili water.” It’s a traditional Mexican dish made with raw shrimp. This shrimp dish is thought to be from the Mexican state of Sinaloa. It is served cold and made with raw shrimp, fresh lime juice, jalapeno peppers (or serrano chiles for extra spice), onions, fresh cilantro, and sliced cucumbers. Additional ingredients like fresh cilantro and garlic are also commonly added.

Many people think of this dish as a spicier version of Ceviche, but there are actually quite a few key differences. The two biggest differences are the consistency and the marinating time. Aguachile has more of a soup-like consistency and is typically served right away with raw shrimp. Ceviche has less liquid and is generally marinated in the fridge for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

It's also important to point out that this is also a different dish than Coctel de Camarones, which is a Mexican shrimp cocktail made with cooked shrimp served in a spicy tomato broth.

Key Ingredients for Making Aguachile

The key ingredients you will need to bring this flavorful dish to life include:

  • Raw Shrimp: Any size of shrimp will work for this dish. If using frozen shrimp, make sure to buy raw shrimp and defrost it fully. The shell should be removed and shrimp should be deveined.
  • Lime juice: The acidity in the lime juice not only brightens up all of the other flavors, but it also cooks the shrimp by breaking down the proteins.
  • Cilantro: Fresh herbs like cilantro add a ton of flavor and brightness to the dish. Not to mention, it gives it a gorgeous green hue. That's also why this dish is sometimes called aguachile verde.
  • Jalapenos: I remove the seeds so the dish isn’t too spicy, but if you prefer more heat feel free to leave them in. You can also sub this out for serrano chilies or habanero peppers for a serious kick.
  • Garlic: I prefer to use fresh garlic in this recipe for more of a bite, but you can sub this out for garlic powder for a more mild garlic flavor.
  • Cucumbers: I like to add sliced cucumbers at the end just before serving. They soak up the delicious flavors of the dish and add a super refreshing crunch. 

How to Make Shrimp Aguachile

The key to making this Mexican dish is the sauce. It serves to both flavor the shrimp and also cook the shrimp, similar to shrimp ceviche.

The first step is cutting the shrimp in half. Although this step isn’t necessary, it helps the shrimp to cook in the lime juice more quickly and evenly. It also makes the shrimp easier to eat when it’s time to serve.

Now it’s time to make the sauce. Aguachile sauce is made with lots of lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, and garlic. Blend the lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, and garlic in a blender or food processor. Taste and adjust it to the level of spice you like, tasting along the way.  For a spicier option, add more jalapenos or swap in serrano chilies. If you find it is too spicy, you can blend in a touch of sugar or extra lime juice.

Once the shrimp is cut in half, then it's time to marinate it in the aguachile sauce. This “cooks” the shrimp and you will notice the shrimp turns from greyish in color to opaque and pink. It’s ready once it is cooked through.

Then it’s time to serve the dish with some sliced cucumbers. You can also add some sliced red onions, avocado, and fresh cilantro. Serve it alongside some baked chips or tostada shells.

How to make aguachile verde with shrimp marinated in cilantro lime sauce in a bowl.

Serving Styles and Variations

These are some of my favorite serving styles and substitutions for this dish:

  • Cutting the shrimp in half allows for easier eating and also shortens the necessary marinating time.
  • For a sweet and fruity twist, add chopped mango to the dish.
  • While this dish is famously made with shrimp, you can also switch this out for another type of seafood. Some common choices include scallops, octopus, snapper, white fish like cod or halibut, clams, and tuna. Basically, any raw seafood you might use for a ceviche will work in this dish as well.
  • If you prefer more heat, you can leave the seeds in the jalapenos and/or use a combination of jalapenos and serrano peppers.
  • This dish can be served on its own, alongside avocado slices, as a dip for tortilla chips, or atop crispy tostadas.
  • For an eye-catching presentation, garnish with more fresh cilantro just before serving.
  • If you find that the dish is too spicy for your liking, you can temper it with avocado slices or more lime juice.

How to Store This Dish

This dish should be eaten within 24 hours of being prepared but it is best eaten immediately. The dish is soaked in lime juice, which is highly acidic and breaks down the proteins in the other ingredients. After a few days the ingredients will start to get mushy, so it’s best to enjoy the dish while it’s fresh. Don’t worry, this dish is so good that it probably won’t last in the fridge for long.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this vibrant dish:

What is the difference between Aguachile and Ceviche?

The main differences between the two dishes are the consistency and the marinating time. While Ceviche is typically marinated for anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour, Aguachile is served pretty much immediately. The latter is also more of a soup, whereas Ceviche is composed of solid chunks of food.

What do you serve with this dish?

This dish can be served on its own or as an accompaniment with crispy tostadas, tortilla chips, and/or fresh avocado slices. I personally love enjoying it on top of my Homemade Tostada Shells!

How long does Aguachile stay fresh?

This dish stays fresh and delicious for up to 48 hours after being prepared.

Can I freeze this dish?

No. Because of the way the acidic lime juice breaks down the rest of the ingredients, this dish would not keep well in the freezer.

Mexican aguachile in a glass with with raw shrimp marinated in cilantro lime sauce with radishes and cucumbers.

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The Recipe
Aguachile with raw shrimp in a lime and cilantro sauce in a bowl with sliced cucumbers.

Aguachile

PREP TIME: 10 Min
COOK TIME: 20 Min
TOTAL TIME: 30 Min
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Ingredients

US METRICS
  • 2/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 U garlic clove
  • 1 cup cilantro (large stems removed)
  • 2 U jalapenos (seeded for less heat, this is spicy)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and devined
  • 2 U Persian cucumbers, sliced

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Instructions

(Hide Photos)
1

Slice the shrimp in half lengthwise. Remove the vein if needed from the back of the shrimp.

Shrimp being sliced in half with a sharp knife.
2

Add the lime juice, garlic cilantro, jalapenos, and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth

Aguachile sauce being poured from a blender into a shallow dish.
3

Add the shrimp and red onion to a shallow dish. Refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes until shrimp begin to turn pink. Flip over and refrigerate for an additional 10-15 minutes until pink and “cooked” through. This "cooking" step is optional since traditionally aguachile is served immediately with fully raw shrimp. However, we find the shrimp is more flavorful after it cooks and marinates in the lime juice.

Shrimp marinating in aguachile verde sauce in a white dish.
4

Serve shrimp with sliced cucumber, extra cilantro, and lime slices. If desired, add sliced radishes, avocado, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Aguachile being served with cucumbers, radishes, and cilantro.
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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 116
Calories from Fat 6
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
1%
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
0%
Cholesterol 183mg
61%
Sodium 727mg
32%
Total Carbohydrate 6g
2%
Dietary Fiber 1g
6%
Sugars 1g
Protein 24g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

Notes

The photographs of this recipe used rwild ed shrimp (from Argentina), which is why the raw shrimp look pink. Standard shrimp will be gray when raw and turn pink as it cooks.
Homemade aguachile in a glass dish with shrimp, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, and cucumbers.
† SmartPoints™ calculated by Slender Kitchen; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc.
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