If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, it’s time to test out these delicious shrimp tacos! All you need are a few simple ingredients like fresh shrimp, lime, corn tortillas, and smoky spices. Throw on your favorite garnishes for a quick, easy, flavor-packed dinner!
Shrimp tacos are a Mexican recipe that’s always a hit in our house! Thanks to the ease of making them and the incredible taste, this coastal dish is ready in just 20 minutes and is a weeknight staple.
The shrimp are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, adding bursts of juicy flavors and textures. Our favorite toppings consist of crunchy shredded cabbage, creamy avocado, herbaceous cilantro, and a quick shrimp taco sauce, making each bite more satisfying than the last.
Serve them as-is or with a side of rice, refried beans, and tortilla chips.
If you are a taco fan, you need to try our fish tacos, shredded chicken tacos, chicken street tacos, and steak tacos.
Why You’ll Love Shrimp Tacos
- Juicy: This shrimp taco recipe is bursting with flavors, thanks to the perfect combination of smoky, spicy seasonings and tangy lime juice.
- Easy to make: In just a few straightforward steps, you can have a delicious and satisfying meal on the table. It’s the perfect option for busy weeknights!
- Crowd-pleasing: Tacos are always a crowd-pleaser! This recipe is great for casual meals with family and friends. Make shrimp tacos, bowls, lettuce wraps, and more.
- Healthy: These shrimp tacos are a great source of lean protein, fiber, antioxidants from the cabbage and lime, and healthy fats from the avocado.
We also love these spicier Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Slaw for an easy weeknight meal with a bit more kick.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make these delicious tacos.
- Shrimp: You will need a pound of raw shrimp. Typically, we use medium (26-30 per pound), but you can use smaller (31-40 count) or larger (21-25 count). Just remember the cooking time will vary based on the size.
- Olive oil: To season and cook the shrimp. Olive oil is our preferred choice, but you can use other options, like sunflower or canola oil.
- Lime juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice provides a bright, acidic, and slightly sweet element. Lemon juice will work if you don’t have limes on hand.
- Spices: We like to create a smoky, earthy, and spicy combination with chili powder (ancho or regular), cumin, paprika (smoked or hot), salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. You can also use homemade taco seasoning or fish taco seasoning for more convenience.
- Corn tortillas: Corn tortillas will give you the most authentic taste, but flour tortillas work in a pinch! Just make sure they are small-medium sized. You can make your own or use store-bought tortillas.
- Cabbage: Adds the perfect crunch and a slight bite. Use shredded red or green cabbage, or try a mixture of both! You can also try sliced red onions in place of or in addition to the cabbage.
- Avocado: For a creamy and buttery smooth topping to complement the spicy and juicy shrimp, sliced avocado is a must!
- Cilantro: Garnish your shrimp tacos with fresh cilantro for a pop of color and herbaceous flavor. If cilantro isn’t your thing, try some fresh parsley or basil.
How to Make Shrimp Tacos
Follow these steps to make these tacos in less than 20 minutes!
1. Season the shrimp
Adding seasonings beforehand helps evenly coat the shrimp in oil and infuses the spices. Just toss them with olive oil, lime juice, and the spice mixture of your choice in a bowl.
2. Sauté the shrimp
Cook the shrimp in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Keeping them in a single layer is essential to achieve a nice char and prevent steaming. Sauté them until they are just pink. We’re going for tender and juicy, not tough and rubbery!
3. Heat the tortillas
If possible, toast the corn tortillas over an open flame for the best results. You can also toast them in a cast-iron skillet or comal over medium-high heat or in the microwave.
Remember to keep them warm in a tea towel or a tortilla warmer while you cook the rest. This will keep them tender and pliable so they don’t break apart when you go to eat!
4. Assemble the tacos
Make your shrimp tacos by adding a layer of cooked shrimp to a warm corn tortilla. Top the shrimp with shredded cabbage, avocado, cilantro, and a drizzle of shrimp taco sauce. You can also try other options like creamy chipotle sauce and homemade ranchero sauce.
What to serve with shrimp tacos
Shrimp tacos are a versatile dish that can be served with a variety of sides, toppings, and drinks.
Best Toppings for Shrimp Tacos
- Pickled Red Onions
- Avocado or Guacamole
- Corn salsa or pineapple salsa
- Mexican coleslaw
- Mango black bean salsa
- Habanero salsa
- Shredded cabbage (red or green)
- Cilantro and fresh lime juice
- Mexican crema, sour cream, or Greek yogurt
Side Dish Ideas
- Slow Cooker Black Beans
- Mexican Cauliflower Rice
- Borracho Beans
- Skinny Margaritas
- Mexican rice
- Pinto beans
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftover shrimp tacos, follow these simple storage and reheating tips:
- Fridge: You can store the cooked shrimp in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Keep the tortillas, cabbage, avocado, and cilantro separate in their own containers to prevent sogginess.
- Freezer: The cooked shrimp can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag. It's best to thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating.
- Reheating: Quickly sauté the shrimp in a nonstick pan over medium until heated through, or microwave them in 30-second intervals until warm. It’s best to reheat tortillas on a comal or skillet for 20 seconds per side, then wrap them in a towel so they steam and soften up again.
Variations and Recipe Ideas
There are lots of ways to customize these tacos and make them your own. Here are some favorites:
- Grilled shrimp tacos: Instead of sautéing the shrimp, marinate them in the spice mixture and grill them for a smokier flavor. Grilling them on skewers or in a girl basket helps ensure they don’t fall through the grill grates.
- Fish tacos: Swap in your favorite fish, like cod or halibut, for a twist on a classic dish. Or make fish and shrimp tacos for double the seafood flavor.
- Bread the shrimp: If you like a crispy fried shrimp taco, consider lightly breading the shrimp in egg wash and Panko breadcrumbs and then baking them or lightly frying them until they are golden brown. Tossing the with about one tablespoon of cornstarch before cooking them in a skillet is another great way to add some crunch.
- Switch up the spice blend: Make blackened shrimp tacos, Cajun shrimp tacos, lemon pepper shrimp tacos, or try fajita seasoned shrimp tacos with fajita veggies.
Expert Tips for Making Shrimp Tacos
Follow these tips for perfect tacos every time.
- Use medium shrimp: To ensure even cooking, use shrimp that are about the same size as one another and medium-sized so they are easy to bite. Large shrimp are usually more expensive and aren’t necessary for tacos.
- Cook in a single layer: Avoid overcrowding the pan by cooking the shrimp in a single layer. You want a nice sear on each side rather than steaming them.
- Season liberally: Make sure to add a generous amount of spices to achieve maximum flavor. Of course, you can adjust it based on your personal preference.
- Don’t overcook: The shrimp only needs about 1-2 minutes per side in the pan, so keep an eye out to prevent overcooking them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to the most common questions about making these tacos.
Can I use frozen shrimp for this recipe?
Yes, you can use frozen shrimp in this recipe. Just thaw them completely and pat them dry to remove excess moisture before cooking. Do not cook frozen shrimp since they will overcook on the outside and remain raw in the center.
Can I use flour tortillas instead of corn tortillas?
Yes, you can use flour tortillas if you prefer or have better access to them. Just note that corn tortillas are traditionally used for shrimp tacos.
Can I use a different type of seafood?
Yes, you can use any type of seafood, like scallops, crab, lobster, or other types of white fish, for this taco recipe.
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- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 8 corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (red or green)
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
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- Nutritional Information
Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 1-3 minutes per side (depending on size) until cooked through. Shrimp are cooked through when they begin to curl and are opaque. These shrimp can also be cooked on the grill for about 2 minutes per side. Or cooked under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.
To make the shrimp taco sauce: Blend 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or sour cream), 1 lime, juice and zest (2 if small or not juicy), 1/2 cup cilantro, 2 green onions, 1 clove garlic, 1 jalapeno (seeded for less spice), salt, and pepper. If possible make the sauce at least 1 hour before serving the tacos.
* 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.
Spicy Shrimp Tacos: For a spicier shrimp taco, double the chili powder or swap in ancho chili powder, which is spicier. Then add a pinch of cayenne powder, adjusting to taste.
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