Grilled Shrimp Tacos

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A creamy and crisp cilantro-lime slaw is the perfect complement to these succulent, spiced grilled shrimp.

two grilled shrimp tacos on a plate
Photo: Alison Miksch
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
Servings:
4

Grilling shrimp is a fast and easy way to get dinner on the table. And these grilled shrimp tacos are a nearly effortless dish, whether you're making them for dinner on a cold weeknight or a hot summer night by the lake.

Here, find out how to make grilled shrimp tacos that balance spicy-smoky flavors of the shrimp with a creamy coleslaw that makes each bite a joy.

How to Make Grilled Shrimp Tacos

To make grilled shrimp tacos for four, start by preheating the grill to medium-high heat, approximately 400°F to 450°F. In a medium bowl, stir together oil, cumin, chile powder, lime zest, and salt. Add the shrimp to the bowl, and toss to coat with the oil and spice mixture. Let the bowl stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

spice coated shrimp in a bowl
Alison Miksch

As the shrimp sits, stir together cilantro, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and salt in another medium bowl. Add the cabbage and toss to coat.

creamy cabbage in a glass bowl
Alison Miksch

Now, place the coated shrimp in a single layer in a lightly greased grill basket, closing the basket to secure the shrimp inside. Place the basket atop the grill and cook uncovered until the shrimp are opaque; this should take only a minute or two per side. Open the grill basket to remove the shrimp, transferring them to a large plate.

shrimp in a grill basket
Alison Miksch

Next, place the tortillas on the grill grates, and cook them until they are lightly charred in areas—just seconds will do it. Place the warmed tortillas on a sheet of aluminum foil, and wrap them to keep them warm while you finish the preparation.

corn tortillas wrapped in aluminum foil
Alison Miksch

To finish the tacos, place two of the charred tortillas on each of four plates. Top them with shrimp, cabbage slaw, and radishes. For a spicier option, add jalapeños. Serve immediately after plating.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos Ingredients

For grilled shrimp tacos, you'll need deveined raw shrimp and canola oil as the basis for the marinade, as well as more for greasing the grill basket. For the marinade, you'll also need cumin, chile powder, lime zest, lime juice, and kosher salt.

For the cabbage slaw, you'll need fresh cilantro, mayonnaise, sour cream or crema, and green cabbage.

Use corn tortillas as the foundation for the tacos, and radishes plus optional jalapeño for toppings. (Lime and avocado make great additions, too.)

shrimp, corn tortillas, cabbage, and other taco toppers
Alison Miksch

How Long Does It Take to Grill Shrimp on the Grill?

This recipe for grilled shrimp tacos calls for a grill time of just a minute or two per side, turning the grill basket in between. When adequately cooked, shrimp will be opaque. Expect larger shrimp to take longer to cook through.

Can You Grill Shrimp From Raw?

Raw shrimp is best for use on the grill, though you may also use precooked shrimp for a grilled finish.

You may choose either to peel shrimp before placing it on the grill or not. Shells may help retain moisture within the shrimp, and including the tail can create an attractive presentation for serving.

Can You Grill Frozen Shrimp?

If you're starting with frozen shrimp, it's best to thaw them before placing them on the grill. The process of thawing frozen shrimp is easy and fast: First, fill a large bowl with cold water. Remove the frozen shrimp from their packaging, and seal them in a zip-top bag. Submerge the bag in the cold water, covering with a plate or lid to make sure the bag stays submerged. In under 30 minutes, the shrimp should be fully thawed.

Editorial contributions by Alesandra Dubin.

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil, plus more for greasing grill basket

  • 1 tsp. ground cumin

  • 1 tsp. ancho chile powder

  • 1 tsp. grated lime zest, plus 1 Tbsp. fresh juice (from 1 lime), divided

  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided

  • 1 ¼ lb. medium peeled, deveined raw shrimp

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream or crema

  • ½ tsp. grated garlic (from 1 large clove)

  • 3 cups shredded green cabbage (from 1 medium [2-lb.] cabbage)

  • 6 (6-in.) corn tortillas

  • ¼ cup thinly sliced radishes (from 2 [1-oz.] radishes)

  • 1 medium-size (1-oz.) jalapeño chile, thinly sliced into rounds (about 1/4 cup), optional

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high (400°F to 450°F). Stir together oil, cumin, chile powder, lime zest, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Add shrimp, and toss to coat. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together cilantro, mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, lime juice, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, and toss to coat.

  3. Place shrimp in a single layer in a grill basket lightly greased with oil. Close top of basket over shrimp, and secure. Place grill basket on grates. Grill, uncovered, until shrimp are opaque, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Open grill basket; carefully transfer shrimp to a large plate.

  4. Place tortillas on grill grates, and grill until lightly charred in spots, 20 to 30 seconds. Place on a large sheet of aluminum foil, and wrap to keep warm.

  5. Place 2 charred tortillas on each of 4 plates; top evenly with shrimp, cabbage slaw, radishes, and, if desired, jalapeños. Serve immediately.

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