Grilled Shrimp Tacos are a real summertime staple! These tacos feature shrimp marinated in a sweet and spicy lime marinade and grilled to a smoky perfection. On top, add your favorite toppings like avocado, jalapenos, red onion, tomato, queso fresco, and fresh lime juice.
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There’s a lot to love about summer. Pool parties, backyard barbecues, and picnics are happening every weekend – and that means there are plenty of occasions to fire up the grill! While I love a good classic hamburger or hot dog fresh off the grill, shaking things up with Grilled Shrimp Tacos is a must.
Great thing about shrimp tacos is that everyone can customize their tacos with toppings they love. Some popular toppings that will go together perfectly with these shrimp are tomatoes, onions, queso fresco, avocados, and freshly squeezed lime juice.
While these tacos are definitely a huge hit at parties, they also double as an easy weeknight dinner. If you’re serving shrimp tacos as an entrée you’ll want to pair them with an equally as summer-ready side dish like Coconut Rice, Creamy Corn Salad, or Grilled Corn on the Cob.
For the shrimp:
Shrimp – They’ll need to be peeled and deveined. You can use frozen shrimp if you’d like, but they’ll need to be thawed prior to marinating and grilling.
Lime – You’ll need both the zest and juice of one ripe lime.
Olive Oil – olive oil or avocado oil will be good. You can also use another neutral oil with high heat point.
Chipotle Chili Powder – This delicious chili powder is mildly spicy. It adds more flavor to the shrimp than it does heat, so don’t worry – your shrimp won’t be too spicy!
Garlic – Use fresh garlic cloves in your marinade, not pre-minced garlic.
Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is used to balance the chipotle chili powder. Both ingredients mix with the lime juice to create a marinade that’s tangy, spicy, and also slightly sweet!
For the tacos:
Tortillas – Use flour tortillas or corn tortillas, if you need to make them gluten free!
Toppings – The best toppings for these tacos include tomatoes, red onions, queso fresco, avocados, and fresh lime juice.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
Marinate the shrimp:
Make sure that prior to marinating the shrimp, they are cleaned and deveined. Once they’re ready to go, rinse the shrimp and place them into a small mixing bowl.
Add the freshly squeezed lime juice, zest, pressed garlic, olive oil, cilantro, brown sugar, and seasoning to the shrimp and toss everything together. Set the bowl aside for about 15-20 minutes (1).
Grill the shrimp:
PRO TIP: Note that if you’re using wooden skewers, they’ll need to be soaked in water for about 30-45 minutes prior to grilling!
Make sure the grate of your grill is clean and preheat the grill to medium high heat. While the grill is preheating, skewer the shrimp and drizzle a little marinade onto each shrimp skewer (2).
Spray the shrimp skewers on each side with a little oil, then place them on the grill. Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes per side (4). This varies depending on the size of the shrimp, so keep your eye on them as they cook! Once the shrimp are totally opaque, they’re fully cooked.
At the same time as grilling the shrimp, grill tortillas for just about a minute per side (3). You want to make sure they’re warmed and a little toasted but not burned.
Assemble the tacos.
As soon as you remove the tortillas and shrimp from the grill, assemble your tacos! Add your shrimp to the tortillas, then top them off with all of your favorite toppings.
Shrimp does not take long to marinate at all. 15-30 minutes is enough time, but you can keep the shrimp in a marinade for up to an hour. Don’t marinate shrimp for longer than 1 hour. There is fresh lime juice in the marinade, and the acid in the lime juice will slowly cook (or at least par-cook depending on how long it sits) the shrimp.
These tacos pair beautifully with some avocado corn salad, bean and corn salad, or creamy corn salad. Serve some fresh guacamole and salsa as a side or a topping too!
As far as drinks, pair these tacos with an nice cold Michelada, spicy margarita, or refreshing Cadillac Margarita.
Make Ahead and Reheating Instructions
If you have any leftover shrimp, make sure to store it in an airtight food storage container, in the refrigerator. Leftovers should be good for 2-3 days.
While I don’t usually recommend cooking seafood ahead of time, technically it can be done. You can marinade the shrimp a couple of hour before you need to cook them, but I don’t recommend any longer. You can cook the shrimp the day before too and reheat them but remember, it will not be nearly as good reheated.
Do NOT reheat shrimp in the microwave! It almost always overcooks the shrimp and turns them into a tough, rubbery mess.
The best way to reheat shrimp is in a pan over medium to medium high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan and let it preheat. Once it’s hot, add the shrimp and flip them after a few seconds. Remove them from the pan as soon as they’re warmed through. Once warmed, use the shrimp to make more shrimp tacos or shrimp tostadas.
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Grilled Shrimp Tacos Recipe
For The Shrimp:
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 ripe lime – zest and juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coarse kosher salt (or sea salt) more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp fresh minced cilantro
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
For The Tacos:
- 4 taco tortillas
- 1 large tomato
- 1/4 red onion
- 1/4 cup queso fresco crumbled
- 1 avocado
- lime wedges optional for fresh lime juice
- Remember that if you are using wooden skewers to grill the shrimp, submerge them in water completely and let them soak for 30-45 minutes.
- Make sure to clean and devein shrimp if needed, before marinating. (You can see how to clean shrimp in our separate post.)
- Once shrimp is cleaned and deveined, rinse them off and place them into a small mixing bowl.
- Add lime juice, lime zest, pressed garlic, oil, cilantro, sugar, and seasoning. Mix well and set shrimp aside to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
- Prepare and preheat your grill to medium high heat. Make sure the grate is clean before adding the shrimp.
- While the grill is preheating, skewer the shrimp onto the wooden skewers but don’t pack them too tight. Drizzle marinade left in the bowl on top of each shrimp skewer.
- Spray both sides of the shrimp skewer with some oil and place it on the grill. Cook shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on the size of shrimp. Once shrimp turns completely opaque, it’s ready.
- After you flip the shrimp, add tortillas to the grill to heat up. Grill them for about a minute on each side but watch them so they don't burn.
- Take shrimp and tortillas off the grill and assemble tacos right away.
- Add 3-5 shrimp to each taco ( depending on the size) and top off with onions, tomatoes, crumbled queso fresco, avocado, and any other toppings you love.
- If using wooden skewers: Remember that if you are using wooden skewers to grill the shrimp, submerge them in water completely and let them soak for 30-45 minutes.
- Corn or flour tortillas: you can choose to use homemade or store-bought flour or corn tortillas. Corn tortillas will work if you need to keep this dish gluten free, just check the packaging.
- Additional toppings: The classic simple toppings for these tacos include tomatoes, red onions, queso fresco, avocados, jalapenos, and fresh lime juice. You can also dice some cucumbers, bell peppers, other cheeses, and/or fruity salsas like mango salsa or pineapple salsa. Don’t forget the guacamole!