Tacos are one of our mainstay lunches. Sometimes I use leftover roast chicken, but our favorite is grilled spicy shrimp tacos. Truthfully, if I am not home to make these, my husband will head to take out to get his spicy shrimp tacos fix, but these are infinitely better. Plus at home I use organic corn tortillas (so they are not GMO).
Spicy Shrimp Tacos: Buy Small Shrimp
Use small shrimp that are peeled and deveined to save time. If the tails are still on, remove them. The 26-30 size are great for tacos and more budget friendly than bigger shrimp. Marinate the shrimp with olive oil, lime juice and a homemade taco spice blend for 20-30 minutes. After marinating, they take just minutes to cook.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
While you can use a pre-made taco seasoning, making your own is more fun and adjustable for your taste preferences. This recipe makes about 6 tablespoons, so you will have extra to use with grilled chicken or fish. I use cumin, coriander, ancho chili powder, sea salt, black pepper, dried Mexican oregano, granulated garlic and just a little dried chipotle powder. Yes, I am a heat wimp.
If you like it hot, add a little more chipotle but be careful as chipotle is ground from dried, smoked jalapeños. The smoked paprika adds more smoky flavor, but you can use regular paprika.
To Grill or Not to Grill
If you have a gas grill, these shrimp cook in just 3-4 minutes. Use a grill basket or grill skillet that has holes. You can find them at cooking stores and stores like Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon. Just about everywhere in spring and summer. The one I use is like this one. They are inexpensive and last for years – a terrific tool for grilling small items like shrimp and vegetables.
No grill? No problem. Place the shrimp on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet and broil in your oven until the shrimp turn pink, turning them over after about 2 minutes. You can also cook them in a large cast iron skillet.
Finishing Touches for Tacos
To serve the tacos, warm up the tortillas and ready cool, thinly sliced red and green cabbage, chopped tomatoes and cilantro. If you are one of those cilantro haters (yes Michelle, this is for you), use flat leaf, Italian parsley. Herbs bring so much flavor and freshness. And don’t forget wedges of tart lime to squeeze over the top.
Creamy Avocado Sauce
The first thing I smear on my tortillas is a combination of plain Greek yogurt pureed with avocado, lime juice, a little cumin and salt. Make it ahead of time and keep refrigerated until you assemble your tacos. Find the recipe here.
Build Your Own Tacos: Family Taco Night
For family taco night, let everyone build their own. Place all of the ingredients in bowls on the table and let the family have at it. Try a tortilla warmer to keep tortillas warm at the table, like this one. If you are serving tacos for dinner instead of lunch, round out the meal with a tossed green salad and some spiced pinto or black beans.
Spicy Shrimp Tacos
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika or regular
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/16 teaspoon chipotle powder skip for no heat or more for higher heat
- 1 1/4 pounds small wild raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off 26-30 size
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 lime juiced
- 2 tomatoes seeded and diced
- 1/4 green cabbage thinly sliced
- 1/4 red cabbage thinly slices
- 1/2 bunch cilantro or use Italian parsley
- 2-3 limes quartered
- 1 jalapeno optional
- 1 recipe creamy avocado dip
- 8 organic corn tortillas
- Grill basket or grilling skillet with holes
- Place all of the spice blend ingredients into a jar with a tight lid and shake to blend. Be sure to label it with the name and date you made it. Spices last about 6 months in the panty.
- Place the shrimp in a medium bowl, toss with the olive oil and lime juice, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the taco spice blend and mix to coat throughly. Allow the shrimp to stand and marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- While the shrimp are marinating, prep your veggie add-ins and make the creamy avocado dip to be used as a sauce for the tacos. Chop the tomatoes, slice the cabbage very thin, chop the cilantro fine and quarter the limes to squeeze on the tacos. Slice the jalapeño crosswise into thin rings, if using.
- When shrimp are almost done marinating, place the grilling basket or skillet on the grill and heat up the grill over high for 7-10 minutes. When the grill is hot, add the shrimp to the basket and grill, stirring or shaking occasionally. It will take about 3-4 minutes for the shrimp to cook. Alternatively you can broil the shrimp in the oven, use a grill pan, or cook them in a non-stick fry pan.
- Warm the tortillas, then lay them flat on plates, two per person. Top with the avocado dip, then layer on shrimp, tomato, cabbage, and cilantro. Serve tacos with lime wedges to squeeze over the top. Add jalapeños, if using.