You’ll love easy shrimp tacos with zippy sautéed shrimp tucked into warm corn tortillas along with tangy cilantro sauce, cotija cheese, and crisp red cabbage. Ready in less than a half hour!
Why you’ll love it: With this recipe, you’ll find that it’s easy to make your own restaurant style fish tacos (and they’re delicious!).
How long it takes: less than a half hour
Equipment you’ll need: skillet
Servings: 4 (two tacos each)
Are you a fan of shrimp? I must admit, for a long time shrimp wasn’t on my list of fave foods. There’s something about the texture that sort of turned me off. I know most people just love shrimp and I get lots of requests for more shrimp recipes on my site.
So, I’ve been developing recipes, testing them in my kitchen, and guess what? I’m actually beginning to like shrimp. They’re really quite tasty and there are so many delicious ways to cook and enjoy them. Frozen shrimp is convenient and a healthy source of protein.
I really love these shrimp tacos, too. They’re fast and easy, and so flavorful. I can’t wait for you to try them! If you like them, be sure to try my shrimp tacos with avocado, mango and pineapple salsa, too.
About These Shrimp Tacos
- They’re easy to make. You can have shrimp tacos on the table in about a half hour. I think that’s pretty impressive, and they look (and taste) like something you’d order in a restaurant.
- Shrimp tacos are healthy. Shrimp are a good source of lean protein, with 19 grams of protein per 3 oz. serving, and important vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants (Healthline). Corn tortillas are made from ground corn; they are low calorie, gluten-free, and are lower in fat than flour tortillas. Red cabbage contains powerful antioxidants and vitamins. There’s a lot of healthy eating in a shrimp taco!
- They are super flavorful! Marinated shrimp, a flavorful creamy cilantro sauce, tangy cotija cheese, and crisp red cabbage combine to make a delicious taco. You can pile on additional toppings if you like.
Ingredients You’ll need
- Shrimp: I usually keep a bag of frozen shrimp on hand for meals like this. Small sized shrimp, 50/60 count per pound, are perfect for tacos. The shrimp should be peeled and deveined, with the tails removed.
- Marinade/Seasoning: A blend of seasonings is stirred into olive oil for a simple marinade. You’ll need chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Mayonnaise/Greek Yogurt: The taco sauce is made with a blend of mayo and yogurt to keep the tacos a little lighter. Make sure you buy plain yogurt without any added flavoring or sugar.
- Fresh Cilantro: A couple tablespoons of finely minced cilantro adds so much fresh flavor to the sauce. Additional cilantro garnishes the tacos.
- Lime Juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice is best. One lime should be enough.
- Honey: There’s just a teeny bit of honey to balance the sauce’s flavor. You could also use agave syrup or a pinch of sugar.
- Seasonings: Chili powder, garlic powder, and salt serve to lightly season the sauce.
- Corn Tortillas: Made with ground corn, most corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free. They taste best if they are lightly charred over a gas flame.
- Cotija Cheese: This Mexican cheese is white, dry, and crumbly. It has a salty flavor and is often used to top southwestern-style recipes. If you can’t find it, feta cheese is somewhat similar.
- Red Cabbage: Finely shredded red cabbage adds color, crunch, and nutrition. Green cabbage could be substituted, or even iceberg lettuce.
- Additional Toppings, optional: Pico de gallo, avocado or guacamole, fresh cilantro, sour cream, pickled red onions, or a squeeze of fresh lime juice are all good choices.
How to make Easy Shrimp Tacos
Marinate the shrimp. If your shrimp is still frozen, put it in a colander and thaw it under cool running water. It won’t take long because the shrimp are small. Once it’s thawed, pat off excess water with paper towels.
In a medium sized bowl (large enough to hold the shrimp), blend together olive oil and the seasonings for the shrimp. Add the shrimp to the bowl, toss lightly until coated. Let the shrimp marinate for 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
Make the sauce. In a small bowl, blend together the mayonnaise, yogurt, lime juice, honey, cilantro, and seasonings. Set it aside until you’re ready to serve the shrimp tacos.
Prep red cabbage and optional toppings. Everything should be pretty much ready to go before you cook the shrimp because it cooks in less than five minutes.
Sauté the shrimp. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add the shrimp with the marinade to the pan. Cook for a minute or two, until the shrimp begins to curl and is pink on the bottom side.
Flip or stir, cooking for another minute or two until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
How long should you cook shrimp?
Shrimp come in many sizes ranging from colossal, jumbo, large, medium, small, and tiny. Obviously, large shrimp take longer to cook than small shrimp, but how do you know when they’re done?
Raw shrimp are gray, somewhat translucent, and limp, almost mushy. When a shrimp is perfectly cooked, it will be firm, opaque, and pinkish white in color. The shrimp will curl, with the head turning toward the tail into a C-shape.
The internal temperature should be 120°F according to ThermoWorks.
Assemble the tacos. Spread a little sauce on each tortilla. Next, add a generous teaspoonful of cotija cheese, and then evenly divide the shrimp between the 8 tortillas. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of red cabbage and cilantro leaves, along with other toppings of your choice. Serve immediately.
What to serve with shrimp tacos
Changes You Can Make
- Make it a salad. Omit the corn tortillas and make a double batch of the sauce. Serve the cooked shrimp on a bed of greens mixed with shredded red cabbage and cilantro, drizzled with the sauce. Top the salad with cotija cheese crumbles and crispy tortilla strips.
- Top the tacos with mango salsa. This fruity salsa with avocados is so delicious and goes well with any type of seafood taco. It’s wonderful with tortilla chips, too, and you may just find yourself eating it out of the bowl with a spoon.
- Substitute green cabbage. If you’re not fond of red cabbage, feel free to use green cabbage or iceberg lettuce, whatever you like best.
- Vegetarian options: Try my mushroom tacos or cauliflower tacos with chickpeas. We really love these sweet potato tacos, too. The sweet potatoes are marinated in beer and roasted to crisp perfection.
Make Ahead Ideas
The sauce can be made up to a day ahead; the red cabbage can be shredded so it’s ready to use. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
The shrimp can marinate for an hour or more. Cover and refrigerate the bowl until you’re ready to cook the shrimp.
Storage & Reheating Tips
The tacos are best eaten immediately. If you have extras, store the shrimp, sauce, toppings, and tortillas separately. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To serve, reheat the shrimp briefly in the microwave or in a small skillet just until warmed through. Assemble tacos as directed.
Interested in a weekly meal plan (it’s free!) that includes this easy shrimp taco recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #29. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week!
We’ll be adding a new meal plan weekly. If you’re interested, browse all of our meal plans.
- 8 small corn tortillas
- ½ cup crumbled cotija cheese
- ½ cup finely shredded red cabbage
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Additional toppings such as: pico de gallo, avocado or guacamole, fresh cilantro, sour cream, pickled red onions, squeeze of fresh lime juice
- If shrimp is frozen, thaw as directed on package. Pat thawed shrimp dry with paper towels.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Let the shrimp marinate for 15 minutes (or refrigerate for up to an hour).
- In the meantime, make the sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, honey, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 3 minutes per side, or until pink and curled.
- If desired, lightly char tortillas over gas burner (see note) or microwave them briefly to soften them.
- To assemble the tacos, spread about a tablespoon of the sauce on tortilla. Sprinkle on crumbled queso fresco, and divide the shrimp among the tortillas. Top with cilantro and shredded red cabbage. Serve immediately.
- Nutrition information is calculated for 2 tacos on corn tortillas, not including toppings.
- Flour tortillas may be substituted for corn tortillas, if desired. Shredded green cabbage or head lettuce could be substituted for the red cabbage.
- To char corn tortillas, put them directly on a gas burner over medium low heat. When lightly charred (about 2 minutes), use tongs to flip the tortilla over and char the other side (about 1 minute).
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.