This spicy shrimp taco recipe is everything you’ve ever wanted in a taco. Marinated shrimp topped with a homemade avocado crema recipe and delicious cabbage slaw… are you drooling yet? These are the best shrimp tacos you’ll ever eat, and a must-make every taco Tuesday!
What are spicy shrimp tacos?
Large deveined shrimp are marinated in a smoky and spicy marinade. Then, they are placed on a bed of purple cabbage slaw inside flour or corn tortillas. It is all topped with spicy avocado crema.
These are tacos you might find at a popular food truck, but you can make them right in your kitchen!
Why this shrimp taco recipe works
- Shrimp is a great protein to use in tacos. Shrimp marinate quickly to take on and enhance the flavor of the shrimp.
- Shrimp also cooks very fast. They only take about 4-6 minutes minutes to cook, depending on size. You know shrimp are done when they form a “c”, for “cooked.”
- The avocado crema doubles as a sauce on top and a sauce to toss the shredded cabbage in.
- The avocado crema is easy to assemble and so versatile to use as a dip, a sauce, or spread!
What type of tortillas to use for shrimp tacos
The best kind of tortillas to use for these spicy shrimp tacos is completely up to you!
Flour tortillas are easier to use because you don’t have to bake them first. they also hold a bit more if you stuff them too much.
If you use corn tortillas, you will need to warm them up before assembling the tacos so they are easier to handle. This is also the best option for those with a gluten allergy!
No matter which kind of tortillas you use, I suggest making sure they are small. Don’t accidentally use burrito tortillas!
What is avocado crema?
Crema is a Mexican condiment that is a creamy sauce similar to sour cream consistency with a slightly tangy flavor. For this avocado crema recipe, I used greek yogurt, but you can substitute sour cream as well!
Shrimp marinade ingredients
Besides shrimp, these are the seasonings you need to make the marinade:
- Dark chili powder
- Smoked paprika
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Minced garlic (or garlic powder)
- Red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- Lime juice
- Avocado oil
If you use any kind of citrus to marinate shrimp, you only need to marinate the shrimp for 30 minutes or less.
If you leave the shrimp marinating over 30 minutes, the protein begins to break down, and it will begin ‘cooking’ the shrimp the same way it cooks in ceviche. This will affect the texture of the shrimp for this recipe!
How to prepare raw shrimp
For this spicy shrimp tacos recipe, I purchase raw peeled shrimp from the seafood counter. You can purchase shell-on shrimp, but they will take longer to prep for your spicy shrimp tacos.
To clean the shrimp:
- Remove the shrimp tail by pinching the shell all the way to the back. This will allow the tail to free itself from the shrimp, and you won’t lose any delicious shrimp meat.
- Using a small paring knife, make sure the shrimp is deveined along the back of the shrimp.
Marinating the shrimp
Whisk the shrimp marinade ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.
Add the prepped shrimp to the marinade, and stir with a spoon or spatula until all shrimp are fully coated in the spicy marinade.
Cover and refrigerate for a max of 30 minutes.
How to make avocado crema
Whenever you make this avocado crema, make sure to use the freshest ingredients for the best flavor!
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- Greek yogurt
- Garlic cloves
- Lime juice
- Avocado oil
- Kosher salt
Puree all of the ingredients in a food processor. Store in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
This is really easy and mixes everything together perfectly!
For the base, a ripe avocado adds healthy fats and the perfect rich texture. Plain Greek yogurt adds a tangy taste and more protein.
To make it spicy, add a few jalapeno slices and squeeze some fresh lime juice on top. The fresh garlic makes the crema even bolder!
Adding cilantro to crema
When using cilantro, you can actually use the stems as well! The cilantro stems have the same taste as the leaves and are perfect to use especially when blending and making a sauce.
Even when chopped, cilantro stems give a great crunch to a dish as well.
Taste test the crema and adjust as needed
After the crema is processed, taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency as necessary. If it’s too thick, thin it with 1 tbsp of water at a time, then blend and test again.
Note: You can always add more water, but you cannot take it away if it becomes too watery.
How to make cabbage slaw
Now for a quick cabbage slaw to top your spicy shrimp tacos!
Using a purple cabbage and a green cabbage, I sliced them on my mandoline (here is my be careful note, always use the guard or a protective cutting glove when using).
Tip: If you do not have a mandoline, a knife will do the trick. Just try to be consistent with your size of cuts.
Add a few spoons of avocado crema and toss with tongs to coat. The rest of the sauce will be used to top the tacos!
Cooking spicy shrimp in a skillet
To cook the shrimp, you can either grill them or cook them on a cast-iron skillet. I have done them both ways!
Tip: If you are going to grill them, skewer them on either soaked bamboo sticks or metal skewers.
Shrimp cooks fast!
If you are cooking them on the stovetop (depending on the size of the shrimp), they will cook in about 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. A great way to know if shrimp are cooked is if they make a “c” shape. (Easy to remember because “c” is for cooked!)
Assembling shrimp tacos
- Warm corn or flour tortillas according to package instructions.
- Spread a layer of the shredded cabbage tossed in avocado crema.
- Add a few pieces of shrimp on top of the bed of cabbage.
- Using a food storage bag, pour the avocado crema inside. Seal the bag, and push all the crema to one bottom corner. Using scissors, cut the corner of the bag to use as a piping bag.
- Squeeze avocado crema over the top of the shrimp.
- Serve with lime wedges!
How to eat spicy shrimp tacos
Serve these spicy shrimp tacos with your favorite Mexican side dishes!
Mexican garden chicken salad will add a fresh burst of flavor to the table. Or, add some cheesy queso fundido to the table.
These tacos will taste delicious with some southwestern stuffed poblano peppers too. Add your favorite Mexican rice and chips and salsa, and you are ready for an epic taco Tuesday!
The flavors of the spicy grilled shrimp paired with the creamy avocado crema are a match made for Cinco De Mayo or any day of the week.
Love Mexican? Check out these other recipes:
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Shredded Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Verde Enchiladas
For the web story version of this recipe, click here!
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Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Crema
- 1 lb shrimp uncooked, peeled, deveined, tails removed (see note on shrimp prep)
- 1 tsp [dark chili powder]
- 1 tsp [smoked paprika]
- ½ tsp [ground cumin]
- ½ tsp [dried oregano]
- 1 tsp garlic minced (or ½ tsp [garlic powder])
- ½ tsp [red pepper flakes]
- ½ tsp [kosher salt]
- Juice of 1 lime about 2 tsp
- 3 tbsp [avocado oil]
- 1 medium avocado seed removed and flesh scooped out
- ½ cup cilantro
- 1 jalapeño seeds removed
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 limes juiced (3 tbsp)
- ½ cup plain greek yogurt
- 3 tbsp [avocado oil]
- 3 tbsp water
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
- 8-10 small flour or corn tortillas lightly toasted
- Fresh Cilantro
- Lime Wedges
- In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients: 3 tbsp avocado oil, lime juice, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt. Add in prepped shrimp, stir to coat all the shrimp with marinade. Place in refrigerator and marinate for max 30 minutes.
- While the shrimp is marinating, in a food processor add the avocado crema ingredients: avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, yogurt, olive oil, water and kosher salt. Pulse until all the ingredients are smooth. If the consistency is too thick, add another tbsp of water. Set aside.
- Using a mandoline or knife, shred the cabbages. Place in a small bowl, add a few spoons of the avocado crema and toss to combine. Save the rest of the crema to drizzle over the tacos at the end.
- You can either cook the shrimp in a cast iron skillet or grill them. Over medium/high heat place the shrimp into the skillet. Ensure they are all laid flat into the pan and not on top of each other, this will allow for even cooking. Depending on the size of the shrimp, they will cook in about 4-6 minutes. Flip halfway through to get a nice char/color on each side. If grilling, skewer them so they do not fall through the grates (see note on cooking shrimp).
- Assemble the tacos: Place the tortilla down, add a few spoons of the cabbage slaw, add a few shrimp, drizzle avocado crema over the top (see note on crema drizzle), garnish with fresh cilantro, serve with lime wedges!
Prepping the shrimp:
- If your shrimp are whole, remove the head first, then the legs, and then proceed to peel off the outer shell
- Make sure the shrimp are deveined: you can ask them to do it at the seafood counter or if doing yourself, cut a shallow slit in back of shrimp where the dark line is and lift it out with a pairing knife
- When removing the tail, pinch all the way at the back so you do not break off any of the tail meat
Marinating the shrimp:
- Due to the citrus in the marinade, do not marinate the shrimp for more than 30 minutes. The citrus will begin to break down the proteins in the shrimp affecting the texture and causing it to 'cook' similar to ceviche.
Is my shrimp cooked?
- Shrimp cook fast, there are a few things to look for to know that your shrimp is cooked.
- Shrimp will turn from translucent to opaque when cooked through
- They will also form a "c" shape, easy to remember because "c" stands for cooked!
Avocado crema drizzle:
- You can spoon the crema over the tacos, or you can make a pipping bag to squeeze over the shrimp for presentation. In a ziplock bag, add the avocado crema, seal the bag, push all the crema to one corner, using scissors, cut the corner of the bag, then you can squeeze the crema out to top the shrimp.
I made this one evening and my Husband Loved it !
So easy to make ,colorful on the plate , ring from Lima-Peru , this meal was delicious 😋 Muchas gracias 😊
I substituted chicken for the shrimp and marinated it for a few hours. It was fantastic! My husband loved these.
This recipe is AMAZING!!!!🤩 All the ingredients paired perfectly. This will be one of my go-to recipes when tacos are on the menu.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe Dee! Thanks for making it
These are excellent!! I used home grown lettuce blend and cut up tomatoes and green onions rather than cabbage. Also, we didn’t have any jalepenos, but the flavor was excellent without them. This is definitely a new favorite. Oh I also used fresh carolina shrimp with mini tacos. 3 shrimp per tacos. FABULOUS!!
Great flavor! Didn’t have avocado oil so used olive instead. Will definitely be making these again.
Delicious! Heated the tortillas in a dry frying pan for about a min on each side. Used some frozen avocado slices I had in the freezer. Used bag of cole slaw cabbage and chopped it up real fine. Excellent!
These were SO good! Super quick and easy. I found bags of already shredded cabbage in the pre-packaged lettuce aisle. If you like more spice (like we do in Texas) leave the jalapeño seeds in the créma!
So, do you warm the tortillas or fry them. Just use them cold does not sound like a good thing.
I either warm them in the oven or toast them in a skillet, up to you!
Very tasty! Perfectly balanced spice, sweetness and acidity. I really enjoyed it, as did my husband! Thanks for a great recipe!
Hi Sabina, I am so glad you and your husband enjoyed the dish! Thank you for making it!
This is a keeper. The marinade and crema are delicious. Next time I will figure out something for more kick (I just like more heat) but the flavor is spot on!
I have made these for almost everyone. When I have a gathering with my girlfriends they always want the shrimp tacos. The crème just makes it! Highly recommend.
Can you use chicken instead of shrimp for the marinade?
Hi Shana, I haven’t tried it with chicken, but I don’t see why not!
Can you use chicken for this marinade?
The rest of my family is fine with heat but I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy food. I know, I know, it’s a spicy shrimp taco recipe but it sounded so good I want to make a version of it! In your opinion is it the chili powder or pepper flakes (or something else) that really gives it the spice?
The entire recipe, especially the avocado crema sounds delicious. Do you think if I modify the “heat” it will still be tasty?
Hi! It isn’t that spicy, but I would omit the chili flakes and the jalapeños from the crema if you want zero heat. I still think everything is pretty mild in heat, but it will still be tasty even without the above!
Thank you so much. I made the recipe exactly as written and it was delicious! And you were right, it wasn’t that spicy (even for me). It had a great flavor. The whole family loved it and that creama sauce is out of this world. Definitely a keeper for our dinner rotation.
I’m so glad it ended up working out! Thanks for making it!
I cant wait to make these. I’m confused on the carbs. 173? thats alot of carbs and trying to figure out why so high besides the shells. Can you help?
Hi Marsha, unfortunately the nutrition calculator isn’t always very accurate. It is pulling such a high carb number from the tortillas it uses to calculate.
Made these tonight for dinner. Bf said this is the best meal I’ve ever made him; thank you!
Loved it! Made it for my son and I and we devoured it. Next time I will increase the spices a bit and even add a little more lime juice. Great recipe, thanks!
Can you use already cooked shrimp?
Hi Cas, unfortunately you can’t put the spices or marinade on the already cooked shrimp without re-cooking it leading to over cooking it. You can however use already cooked shrimp and make the rest of the recipe, but you will not get the same flavor combinations as the recipe intends.
I used cooked shrimp since that is what I had. I marinated it as planned then heated it in a skillet briefly before serving. Everyone agreed the recipe is a keeper!
I am so glad the cooked shrimp worked out and everyone enjoyed it!
These are amazing and easy to make. I didn’t measure the ingredients and only eyeballed them and they were perfect! We topped ours with some crumbled feta cheese since that’s what we had on hand and they tasted wonderful. Definitely making again (and again) and sharing this recipe. Thank you for bringing this into my life!!
Laura, I’m so glad you loved the tacos! Glad the feta worked out too!
I made these about 4 days ago and they were amazing! They are so good that I am making them again tonight! Thanks for the recipe and I am sure I will keep these in rotation.
I’m new on the keto diet. I want to make these but it shows 173g of carbs. I was gonna swap out the tortilla and use romaine instead. Are the carbs showing 173 because of the tortillas?
One of the best recipes out there. I will keep coming back to this one again and again. Thank you for sharing
Thank you SO much to whoever made this recipe. And so easy at that! You made a beginner look like a rockstar!
These shrimp taco’s are amazing! I doubled the recipe and made them for my family of 7. Everyone raved about them, especially the avocado crema and everyone wanted more! I found the avocado crema to be a little to thin at first and added another avocado and it was perfect! Will definitely use this recipe again, thank you!
I’m so glad the whole family loved them, that makes me so happy!
I made this tonight for Cinco de Mayo, and they were outstanding. I also made a home made mango salsa to go on top which took it to another level. Thanks for this wonderful recipe. The avocado crema will be a staple in my fridge from now on I think!
I’m so glad you loved it Kathleen! Mango salsa sounds so amazing to go along side as well.
Does the nutrition breakdown include the shell and all toppings??
Hi Jaime, it does however nutrition information can vary based on different brands of each ingredient.
Delicious and super easy to make! Made exactly as the recipe instructed and I wouldn’t change a thing. Family LOVED it! This recipe is definitely a keeper.
Amber Da Ponte
Can the cilantro be substituted? My husband and I are not fans of cilantro 🙁
I have only tried this recipe with cilantro, so I cannot verify the taste, but I would try basil in its place.
This was amazing! Especially the avocado creme, do you know if the leftover avocado creme could be frozen? I have a ton left over and hate to waste it!
Hi Melissa, I’m so glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t tried myself to freeze the crema, but if you do try, once thawed you may have to re-blend if there is separation.
So refreshing and light. Hosted this for dinner. Loved loved loved this recipe!! Will def make again.
Hi Kristina! I am so glad you loved the recipe, thanks for making it.
I forgot to add that I used lime juice with the cabbage mix as well! Thanks for sharing your recipe, these are amazing!
I made these exactly as the recipe calls for the shrimp marinade. I used spicy guacamole for the sauce. I mixed 2 Tbls of Mayo, a splash of jalapeño juice, a tsp of avacado oil, minced garlic, sea salt, and ground pepper with pre-packaged cabbage mix. These were amazing!
I’m so glad you loved it Ashley!
Trying tonight! Let’s see how it goes
Delicious, we made this recipe twice ounce with shrimp and one time with mahi-mahi both times deliciousness
The avocado crema was delicious!!!
So glad you enjoyed it Rachelle!
Hi can I use a different type of oil?
Hi Vanessa, yes you can
Made these shrimp tacos one night and they turned out better than imagined!! Very flavorful and delicious.
The avocado cream and slaw was delicious with it and now use on a lot of different tacos.
Highly recommend doing the pickled red onions and adding those to the tacos. Definitely a 10 star Tacos Tuesday meal!
I thought the avocado crema called for way too much of a lime juice. Was a little disappointed by that.
Hi Rachel, thank you for making the tacos. I’m sorry you got too much of a lime taste, there are different sized limes so I will add a measurement for the liquid in the recipe.
It can never be too much lime juice. And if that’s such a dealbreaker for you, use less 🙄
How long does the avocado crema last in the fridge? By the way, it is amazing on sandwiches too!
Hi T! I usually only keep it 48 hours in the fridge, but you might get away with 3, it might begin to separate so you might have to re-blend. Such a great idea to use on sandwiches! I’ll have to try!