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Shrimp Tacos

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Calories: 351
shrimp tacos with taco seasoning on corn tortillas with cilantro jalapeño slaw

Fresh and delicious, this easy shrimp taco recipe comes complete with a slightly spicy avocado crema and topped with a crispy cabbage slaw that’s totally irresistible.

Fast, Easy Shrimp Tacos are the Healthy, Speedy Dinner of Your Dreams

We don’t pull any punches about how much we love shrimp. And shrimp tacos are way up there as one of our favorite recipes with shrimp! Why? Because they remind us of Mexico—beachy breezes, warm sunshine, and some of our favorite flavors on earth. What’s not to love? Like all of the best food, this shrimp taco recipe is really pretty darn simple. Good shrimp, given a quick dip in a 3-ingredient marinade, then cooked in a pan until they’re just pink and piled into a warm, tender corn tortilla. All the other stuff—the avocado crema and the crunchy cabbage slaw—well, they’re just icing on what’s already a really good cake. Er, taco. You get the idea—a few simple ingredients, and a little quick work with a knife and skillet, and you’ve got a healthy, easy dinner that’ll really please the whole crew. And if you feel like whipping up some guacamole and margaritas to go with your shrimp tacos, then you could even build a pretty terrific dinner party around this recipe!

Ingredients for shrimp tacos. Shrimp, taco seasoning, limes, sour cream, jalapeño, avocado, shredded cabbage, onion, garlic

Shrimp Taco Seasoning

Our favorite shrimp taco seasoning is so, so simple. Like with all seafood, less is more here. And, like with all seafood, you want to keep the marinade very quick—acid (in this case from the lime juice) will break down the shrimp really fast and can even begin to “cook” it (accidental ceviche-style). Our goal with the shrimp seasonings is just to enhance the natural deliciousness of shrimp, and carry it into Mexico with just a hint of brightness and spice. Three simple ingredients make one perfect marinade:

  • Fresh lime juice

  • Olive oil

  • Taco seasoning. (Yes, it’s OK to use store-bought if it’s all you’ve got. But homemade is way better!)

jalapeno, avocado, sour cream, lime juice and cilantro in a food processor.
jalapeño cilantro crema blended in a food processor with avocado, sour cream and lime juice.

The Best Ever Shrimp Taco Sauce: Homemade Avocado Crema

Avocado crema is a lighter, slightly healthier riff on traditional Mexican crema, and is delicious drizzled over just about any of your favorite Mexican dishes—you can even use it as a dip or salad dressing. For our easy shrimp taco recipe, we’ll ask it to do double duty! First, you use it to dress the cabbage slaw, and then you’ll use it on the finished shrimp tacos. It adds a cooling, garlic-tinged creaminess and a little hint of jalapeño heat to this recipe, and we cannot get enough of it. To make it, you’ll just dump all of the crema ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth—easy peasy! Here’s what’s in it:

  • Avocado

  • Garlic

  • Sour cream

  • Salt

  • Fresh lime juice

  • Jalapeño

  • Cilantro (but, if you’re someone for whom cilantro tastes soapy, go ahead and skip it!)

cilantro, green cabbage, thinly sliced white onion, and jalapeño crema in a bowl.
cilantro, green cabbage, thinly sliced white onion, and jalapeño crema tossed together in a bowl.
raw shrimp in a bowl tossed together with taco seasoning and lime juice.
shrimp with taco seasoning and lime juice cooked up in a cast iron skillet

How to Make Shrimp Tacos

  1. Marinate the shrimp in olive oil, lime juice and taco seasoning while you do make the slaw and crema. Don’t leave the shrimp in the marinade for more than 15-20 minutes—it’ll start to “cook” and get tough.

  2. Make the avocado crema!

  3. Make the slaw! Toss the cabbage, onion, and fresh cilantro with some of the avocado crema.

  4. Warm the tortillas in a skillet.

  5. Use the same skillet to sauté the shrimp. It should be done in just a few minutes.

  6. Assemble your tacos and tuck in!

jalapeño, cilantro, avocado crema in a food processor
cilantro, green cabbage, thinly sliced white onion, and jalapeño crema in a bowl.

Buying Shrimp 101

We’ve gone over this before, but let’s cover the basics really quickly because shopping for fish—and shrimp in particular—can feel really overwhelming!

  • Shrimp size. We’re calling for “large” shrimp here, but what does that mean exactly? Large compared to what? Well, the shrimp industry defines shrimp size by how many shrimp it takes to make a pound. So, a label that says “16/20” means that those shrimp are big enough that it only takes 16-20 shrimp to make a pound. For this recipe you want large, and “large” shrimp are defined by the industry 26-40 shrimp per pound.

  • Should I buy fresh or frozen shrimp? The perennial conundrum. The “fresh” shrimp on display at the fish counter are not actually “fresh” in the sense that they’ve never been frozen. Almost all shrimp is flash frozen when harvested, and delivered to stores in its frozen state—if you see it “fresh” in the case, that’s just because the fishmonger has defrosted those shrimp. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but buying good-quality frozen shrimp is usually a safer bet.

  • But! Frozen shrimp can still be tricky—check the label and make sure that the only ingredient is “shrimp”. Many brands of frozen shrimp have processed the crustaceans with preservatives to extend their shelf-life. Not only are they not great for your health, these chemical preservatives will dull the flavor of the shrimp.

  • How to buy good-quality shrimp: this is pretty important! And it is not as straightforward as it sounds. It’s always a good idea to consider sustainability when you’re shopping for seafood and especially something super-popular like shrimp. There are a couple of organization that certify seafood as sustainable, like the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, so you can look for labels that carry a seal from either of these organizations and if you see one, you can feel really good about your purchase! When in doubt, you can always cross-reference your options with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's excelled “Seafood Watch” site.

shrimp tacos on a plate with slaw, limes and avocado, jalapeño crema.

Tools You’ll Need:

More Quick, Easy Shrimp Recipes to Try

shrimp tacos on a plate with slaw, limes and avocado, jalapeño crema.
shrimp tacos on a plate with slaw, limes and avocado, jalapeño crema.

More Beachy Dinners Please!

When the not-on-vacation blahs hit, we hit the kitchen and whip up these dreamy shrimp tacos. They always taste like vacation, which is not quite as good as being on vacation, but is still pretty great. If you make them, let us know how you like them! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Shrimp Tacos

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 10 min
  • Calories: 351

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Lime juice, from 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp Taco seasoning
  • 1 lbs Large shrimp peeled, deveined and tails removed, about 30
  • 8 (6-inch) Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Mexican hot sauce, for serving (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Avocado Crema

  • 1 Small avocado
  • 1 Large garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup Sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp Sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp Lime juice, from 1-2 limes
  • 1/4 cup Cilantro, lightly packed
  • 1 Small jalapeño, seeded

Cabbage Slaw

  • 3 cups Thinly shredded green cabbage
  • 1/3 cup Sliced white onion, paper thin (1/2 medium onion)
  • 1/3 cup Chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Method

  1. In a large bowl mix together the olive oil, lime juice and taco seasoning. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.

  2. Make the crema: Add the avocado, garlic, sour cream, salt, lime juice, cilantro and jalapeño to the base of a food processor. Blend until smooth.

  3. Make the slaw: In a large bowl toss together the cabbage, raw onion and cilantro with 1/2 cup of avocado crema until fully incorporated.

  4. Heat a large skillet over medium. Warm the tortillas, using a little bit of olive oil if desired. Once warmed/toasted, place them on a plate and cover them with a tea towel so that they stay warm. Add the shrimp to the pan and cook until pink and fully cooked through about 2 minutes each side.

  5. Place 3-4 shrimp on each tortilla and top with the slaw. Serve with hot sauce if desired.