Quick & Easy Shrimp Tacos
What if I told you that you can make this gorgeous platter of Quick & Easy Shrimp Tacos for dinner in less than 30 minutes? With my tried and true foolproof recipe, you can! Trust me: this tasty, healthy, slightly spicy, Lenten-friendly meal is about to become your new weeknight favorite.
Why I Love This Recipe
When it comes to speedy weeknight dinners, these healthy shrimp tacos are one of my favorites. Made with fewer than 10 ingredients (most of which are pantry staples), they’re an easy choice when you’re tired and frazzled. You can have a big ol’ taco feast ready in less than 30 minutes — less time than it’d take to get takeout from your favorite restaurant.
Making these spicy shrimp tacos is also quite affordable. Frozen shrimp are consistently among the most inexpensive protein options available! Even with the crazy grocery prices lately, you can easily feed a 4-person family plenty of taco goodness for under $15.
Oh, and don’t worry if you forgot to defrost your shrimp the night before, as they can easily be defrosted in just 15 minutes or less. I can’t think of any other frozen meats you can do THAT with!
The tangy and slightly spicy marinade adds a little oomph to the succulent and buttery shrimp. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top for extra zip and be transported to the taco town of your dreams. 🤩
Ingredients & Substitutions
As promised, you only need a handful of ingredients to make my cilantro lime shrimp tacos:
- Crema Mexicana – Feel free to swap in sour cream or greek yogurt if needed.
- Chipotles in Adobo Sauce – When swirled into Mexican crema, these spicy, smoky beauties make for the perfect shrimp accompaniment. If you have any leftover, divvy them up into an ice cube tray and freeze them for up to 6 months!
- Argentinean Red Shrimp – I selected raw, extra-large, wild-caught Argentinean shrimp. You can find this shrimp in the freezer aisle at most well-stocked grocery stores. It has an amazing lobster-like taste and texture, with a distinctly rich flavor. Feel free to swap in any large shrimp of your choosing.
- Lime – I always have a bowl of fresh limes in the fridge because they can add bright, zesty acidity to anything they touch. If you simply MUST use bottled lime juice, reach for Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice for the closest substitute.
- Garlic – Fresh is best, but you’re welcome to swap in a teaspoon of minced jarred garlic or 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Creole Seasoning – I have a soft spot for Tony Chachere’s, but feel free to use Slap Yo’ Mama or any other brand you have lingering in the spice cabinet.
- Chili Powder – Contrary to what you may think, chili powder is actually a blend of several types of chilis and other spices like cumin. If you’re looking to make a swap, I suggest reaching for a mild option like paprika so you don’t go too spicy.
- Olive Oil – Feel free to swap in your favorite cooking oil.
- Corn Tortillas – Making homemade corn tortillas using masa harina is a snap, but you’re welcome to use store-bought as well.
As with all taco recipes, the best part is how easy these homemade shrimp tacos are to customize with your choice of toppings. Here are our favorites:
- Cherry Tomatoes – For bursts of juicy acidity.
- Jalapeño – Go with fresh slices for more heat or pickled slices for a milder flavor with more tang.
- Red Onion – Plain or pickled, they add color, crunch, and a bit of piquancy. Feel free to use green onions instead.
- Avocado – Sliced avocado adds a lovely complimentary richness. You can also feel free to use guacamole if you prefer.
- Queso Fresco – For a hit of salty, creamy goodness.
- Cilantro – For yummy herbaceousness.
- Lime Wedges – A bit of extra acidity helps to wake up all the delicate flavors of the shrimp. Feel free to use a vinegar based hot sauce for a similar (but spicier) effect.
Why I Like To Buy Frozen Shrimp
While fresh shrimp are delicious, I usually purchase raw, frozen shrimp. Unless you live in a shrimping town, frozen shrimp is often the freshest you can get, as most is frozen for transport and then defrosted to display at the counter.
In addition, frozen is usually less expensive and more convenient because you can buy them peeled and deveined. You can also find shrimp in the shell, but why make more work for yourself? The name of the weeknight dinner game is SIMPLICITY & EASE. 😉
How To Make Shrimp Tacos
You’ll be amazed how quickly dinner gets on the table with these tasty seafood tacos. Here’s how to make them:
Step 1: Prep. Defrost shrimp in the refrigerator overnight or rinse in cold water for 10-15 minutes until pliable. Chop any produce you plan on using while you wait.
Step 2: Make Chipotle Crema. Combine crema and chipotle peppers. Season with salt to taste.
Step 3: Marinate Shrimp. In a small bowl combine lime juice, garlic, Creole seasoning, and chili powder. Place shrimp in a large resalable bag and pour the marinade over shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Step 4: Cook Shrimp. Heat a cast iron skillet on high. Drizzle olive oil and lower heat to medium-high. Cook shrimp until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes each side.
Step 5: Serve tacos with chipotle crema and garnish with the toppings of your choice.
Prefer live-action learning? Watch this video to see how simple these easy shrimp tacos are to make.
My Creole-lime shrimp tastes especially amazing when wrapped in warm, soft corn tortillas, smothered in a chipotle crema, and topped with cherry tomatoes, jalapeño, red onion, avocado, queso fresco, and cilantro.
Don’t have the energy or produce on hand to get quite so fancy? Use any toppings that you please! Sometimes we go super simple and use nothing more than the spicy crema, shrimp, and cilantro in our tacos.
You’re also welcome to turn them into Chipotle-style burrito bowls using some Cilantro Lime Rice, Instant Pot Black Beans, and/or Classic Guacamole. YUM!
- How to defrost frozen shrimp. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge, or for faster thawing, take the shrimp out of its package, put it in a strainer, and rinse in cold water. The shrimp should be ready to cook in about 15 minutes.
- Do not overcook shrimp. Shrimp cooks much faster than meat and poultry. They are also small, so it doesn’t take much time for heat to penetrate them. Large shrimp will cook in 6 to 8 minutes. Once they are pink and opaque, they’re done! If they curl up into tight little O’s, they’re overcooked.
- Roll your limes firmly on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting them into wedges — this helps to get all the juicy goodness out.
- Corn tortillas can be frozen for up to 2 months, so stock yourself up for future quick meals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Of course! I like warming tortillas (corn or flour) on a comal (cast iron griddle), but this time, I heated the tortillas in the same cast iron pan after cooking the shrimp for added flavor. YUM.
Refrigerate cooked shrimp for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing this dish because shrimp become rubbery when reheated.
It depends on the size of the shrimp, but generally speaking, shrimp cooks in less than 10 minutes which makes it a very convenient choice on a busy weeknight.
Make these spicy shrimp tacos anytime of the year for a quick weeknight meal. They are a favorite of our family during Lent when meat is off the table, but we enjoy them anytime I’m pressed for time and need dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
You can also make them to celebrate Hispanic holidays like Cinco de Mayo or Mexican Independence Day (September 16). Or make a batch to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated nationally from September 15 through October 15. They’re also a stellar choice for October 4, National Taco Day.
I guess the real question is: when shouldn’t you make them?? The answer is never. 😉
More Taco Tuesday Favorites:
Have you made these ridiculously easy shrimp tacos? Rate the recipe and leave me a comment below to let me know how it turned out! To get more Muy Bueno recipes delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for my email newsletter.
Quick & Easy Shrimp Tacos
- 1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas
- chipotle crema
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 jalapeño, sliced
- chopped red onion
- 1 avocado, chopped
- crumbled queso fresco
- Lime wedges
- Defrost shrimp in the refrigerator or rinse frozen shrimp in cold water.
- In a small bowl combine lime juice, garlic, Creole seasoning, and chili powder.
- Place shrimp in a large resalable bag and pour the marinade over shrimp and toss to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Heat a cast iron skillet on high. Drizzle olive oil and lower heat to medium-high.
- Cook shrimp until cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes each side.
- Serve tacos with chipotle crema and garnish with toppings of your choice.
- Shortcut: Purchase frozen, peeled, and deveined shrimp.
- How to defrost frozen shrimp: Let it thaw overnight in the fridge, or for faster thawing, take the shrimp out of its package, put it in a strainer, and rinse in cold water. The shrimp should be ready to cook in about 15 minutes.
- Do not overcook shrimp: The shrimp will cook in 6 to 8 minutes. If they curl up into tight little O’s, they’re overcooked.
- How to store leftovers: Refrigerate cooked shrimp for up to 3 days. I do not recommend freezing this dish because shrimp becomes rubbery when reheated.
Photography by Raemi Vermiglio / Video by Pure Cinematography
Originally published: September 2018.
8 Comments on “Quick & Easy Shrimp Tacos”
What is crema mexicana? Is there a good substitute? These look delicious, but I MUST have the sauce! -)
I don’t eat shrimp. But the family loved it. Thank you for the inspiration.
Can’t wait to try these. Looks sooo bueno
What can you subsitute for six chili powder? We don’t have Kroger’s in SoCal.
Hi Cathi, it’s basically a combo of chili powders. I would recommend replacing with your favorite chili powder(s).
This recipe is delicious! I plan to make it again tonight. Shrimp tacos aren’t usually my go-to, but these knock any shrimp tacos I’ve ever had, out of the water. Definitely recommend!
I’ve never seen tacos come together so fast, YUM, they are delicious