Shrimp. Let’s taco ‘bout it.
See what I did there?
I could eat tacos practically every day, and I know I’m not alone here. The amount of ways that you can wrap an ingredient inside of an earthy tortilla and top it to fulfill your wildest dreams is nearly infinite.
I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a traditionalist when it comes to taco-making, but I do believe in keeping things somewhat simple. Once I hit all of the appropriate flavor notes, I fold up my creation and get to chowing down.
I like my protein to be saturated in savory goodies like garlic and my garnishes to bring citrusy sparks that drip between my fingers. These shrimp tacos do exactly that.
For the super-quick marinade, each plump crustacean is scattered in a smoky shower of cumin and chili powder, then tossed with fragrant lime zest and juice, and freshly minced garlic. To achieve that refreshing, smooth finishing factor that cools everything down, I invite sour cream to accompany me on a fancy journey.
Here’s why I love cooking:
By elevating your ingredient selections even just a tad, you can impress the pants off everyone you’re feeding.
Though it’s probably better if everyone stays fully clothed while they’re enjoying tacos…
If the word “crema” even sounds the tiniest bit intimidating, let me put your fears at ease. A true Mexican crema is a sour, slightly thickened cream. While you can certainly purchase it at a specialty market, no one is going to question your homemade take on the creamy condiment.
Whisk your desired combo of mayonnaise, sour cream, or Greek yogurt with fresh herbs, spices, and something acidic, and – boom! – you’ve just made crema.
The sour cream brings the light and tangy, and the mayonnaise adds a more luxurious, fatty mouthfeel.
I personally dig a hefty splash of vinegar or citrus for that tart semi-sharpness a crema truly deserves. In this green onion and fresh cilantro crema, the herbaceous, oniony additions spike even more spots on your palate.
You’re welcome, tongue.
Any sort of sauce or condiment that blends different components together should be allotted at least an hour to get to know each other. Think of it as a first date for your ingredients.
Can you really imagine that these strangers would hit it off – especially with no booze – after fifteen minutes?
I didn’t think so.
The more time that’s allowed to pass, the better, so I try to plan ahead. If I want burgers on Friday, I start the special sauce on Thursday. Since shrimp are one of the quickest cooking ingredients (and only take ten minutes to marinate), I knock out the crema as many hours ahead as possible.
Finally, fresh lime-infused tomatoes, onions, and peppers offer an unmatched, refreshing crunch, so don’t sell your shrimp short with jarred salsa. Homemade pico de gallo for these, please!
Who’s hungry? Keep your pants on.Print
Tired of bland tacos with blah toppings? These sexy shrimp boats are swimming with a game-changingly simple herby-scallion cream.
For the Crema:
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 green onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Shrimp:
- 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder blend
- Zest of 1 lime
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 8 small flour tortillas (street taco size)
- Homemade pico de gallo, or your favorite salsa
- Lime, cut into wedges
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, garlic, cilantro, green onions, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or preferably overnight.
- In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, lime zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Add the oil to a large skillet placed over medium heat. Add the shrimp and cook, about 2 minutes per side (depending on their size), until opaque in the center and pink on the outside.
- Lightly char the tortillas on the stove. Top with crema, shrimp, and salsa. Garnish with lime wedges and chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.
Nutritional information below does not include ingredients for serving.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Tacos
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: shrimp tacos, tacos, seafood, crema
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Make the Crema
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, 1 minced clove of garlic, 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro, sliced green onions, and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you have time for the flavors to meld.
The longer the flavors can marry together before serving, the better.
Step 2 – Marinate
In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with the remaining clove of minced garlic, cumin, chili powder, zest and juice of 1 lime, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
The acidity from the lime juice will start to cook the shrimp, so marinate for no longer than 10 minutes at room temperature.
Wondering what to do with those shells? Forget about the garbage can, and save them to make a delicious seafood stock!
Step 3 – Saute
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and tilt the pan to coat the surface. Cook the shrimp until the outsides turn pink, and they’re opaque in the center.
Small ones will only need about 1 minute per side to cook, and medium-sized shrimp will take about 2 minutes per side.
A good rule of thumb: if the shrimp start to tightly curl up, they’re overcooking and will quickly become rubbery. Keep an eye out for them to simply curl into a C shape. At that point, they’re either fully cooked or almost done and you should take them off the heat.
Step 4 – Lightly Char the Tortillas
To char the tortillas, you can either cook them directly over a low gas flame, rotating to make sure they’re evenly toasted, or heat them up in a dry pan.
If you’re using a dry pan, toast them over medium heat for about 30-45 seconds per side, until puffy and lightly browned.
Step 5 – Fill and Garnish
Spread the charred tortillas with even amounts of the crema.
Top with shrimp, pico de gallo, and any other toppings of your choice.
Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro, and serve immediately.
Succulent Shrimp + Tangy Crema = Taco Transcendence
This is the kind of math I can get down with.
With shrimp having such a short window of time to marinate, hitting them with pungent ingredients like garlic and lime zest is a can’t-skip step.
Once the juicy morsels are impeccably cooked, you’ve embarked upon one more opportunity to bathe them in boldness, like buffalo sauce or an oniony vinaigrette.
Try this recipe, get the basic cooking technique down, and then go wild with your own spins on this delicious meal!
Need a little more taco inspiration? Try these delicious favorites:
- Crunchy Beef with Zesty Homemade Seasoning
- Spicy Pork with Peach & Corn Salsa
- Instant Pot Chicken with Salsa Verde
- Salmon with Tomatillo Guacamole
If you thought this recipe was fun, you’ll equally enjoy another sandwich featuring crisp crustaceans: our Grilled Shrimp Po’Boys!
What do you like to shower your taco-ready shrimp in? Hit us with your favorites in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on August 1, 2011. Last updated March 31, 2019.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”