This spicy shrimp taco recipe is everything you’ve ever wanted in a taco. Spicy marinated shrimp topped with a homemade avocado crema recipe and delicious cabbage slaw… are you drooling yet? These spicy shrimp tacos with avocado crema are the best shrimp tacos you’ll eat and a must make every taco Tuesday.
Why this 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 cook very fast. Shrimp 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.
Shrimp marinade ingredients
If using citrus to marinate shrimp, you only need to marinade the shrimp for 30 minutes or less. If you marinate the shrimp with citrus for over 30 minutes, the protein begins to break down and it will begin ‘cooking’ the shrimp like in ceviche. This will affect the texture of the shrimp for this recipe.
How to remove shrimp tails: For this shrimp taco recipe, I purchase raw peeled shrimp. You can purchase shell-on shrimp, but it will take longer to prep the shrimp for the recipe. Remove the shrimp tail by pinching the shell all the way at the back. This will allow the tail to free itself from the shrimp and you won’t lose any delicious shrimp meat.
How to marinate the shrimp: Whisk the shrimp marinade ingredients together: dark chili powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, dried oregano, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, lime juice, and avocado oil. Add the prepped shrimp in the marinade, and stir with a spoon or spatula until all shrimp are fully coated in the spicy marinade. Cover and refrigerate for max 30 minutes.
What is crema? Crema is a Mexican condiment that is a creamy sauce similar to sour cream consistency with a slight tangy flavor. For this avocado crema recipe I use greek yogurt, but you can substitute sour cream as well.
Cilantro tip: 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.
Add all the avocado crema ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning and consistency as necessary. If the crema is too thick, thin it with 1 tbsp of water at a time, then blend and test again (you can add more water, but you cannot take it away if it becomes too watery).
Now for a quick cabbage slaw. 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). 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.
To cook the shrimp, you can either grill them or cook them in a cast iron. I have done them both ways! If you are going to grill them, skewer them on either soaked bamboo sticks or using metal skewers.
How-to cook shrimp: Shrimp cook 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
To assemble the 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 ziplock, 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
The flavors of the spicy grilled shrimp paired with the creamy avocado crema are a match made for your taco Tuesday or any day of the week! These spicy shrimp tacos with avocado crema are a must make!
Love Mexican? Check out these other recipes:
- Carne Asada Tacos
- Chicken Tinga Tacos
- Shredded Chicken Fajitas
- Chicken Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Verde Enchiladas
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- 1lb 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.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 950Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 935mgCarbohydrates: 173gFiber: 10gSugar: 4gProtein: 43g
*Note: Nutrition information is an estimate. Values vary based on different brands and ingredients* *Nutrition also does not take into account marinades*