Air Fryer Baja Shrimp Tacos

These crispy Air Fryer Baja Shrimp Tacos feature shrimp coated with a spicy breading, creamy “Baja” sauce, simple slaw, and your choice of toppings. The air fryer provides an inviting crunch without the fat and calories of fried shrimp, with less mess and just 5 minutes. Muy delicioso!

Air fryer shrimp tacos in corn tortillas with toppings, and a wood cutting board with a split avocado.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Baja Shrimp Tacos

So, what are “Baja” tacos?

“Baja” tacos typically refer to a style of taco that originated in Baja California, Mexico, particularly in the region around the city of Tijuana. These tacos are often associated with the cuisine of the Baja California peninsula, an area known for its fresh, simple ingredients and seafood.

I grew up in Southern California, and our family would go fishing in Baja. I remember the amazing fish so well! However, I did not have my first Baja fish taco until I was a young mom, and my husband was a new professor at UC Irvine. Irvine adjoined Costa Mesa where the first Wahoo’s Fish Tacos store opened in 1988. With my 4 little boys (and their Dad!) in tow, we loved the crunchy Baja-style fish tacos at that original store! To my recollection 30 plus years later, that was the extent of their menu.

Typically featuring fish or shrimp that has been battered in a light, crispy coating and then deep-fried, the crunchy texture and delicious flavor of Baja-style fish or shrimp tacos is addicting. While I love occasional fried food as much as most people do, I don’t make a regular habit of eating fried food. With this in mind, I began working on an air fryer Baja-style breading that achieved that same delicious crunch. We think this recipe for Baja shrimp tacos meets the mark!

A platter of air fryer Baja shrimp tacos with toppings, a beer, and hot sauce.

📋 Ingredients Notes

Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.

Ingredients for air fryer Baja shrimp: Shrimp, panko, eggs, cumin, chipotle powder, garlic, and flour.

Air Fryer Baja Shrimp

  • shrimp – Shrimp sizing can be overwhelming. “Large” can mean anything from U/20 to U/40. I actually counted mine because they were U/21 to U/40. That’s a wide range! Mine turned out to be 37 per pound. I think that’s a good size. I could fit 2-3 shrimp in each taco, and the process of breading them went relatively quickly. If they’re much smaller, that process becomes time-consuming.
  • flour – Regular white flour is fine. If you have gluten sensitivity, substitute your favorite gluten free flour.
  • eggs
  • panko bread crumbs – I like the extra crunch of the panko, but regular bread crumbs are fine as well.
  • ground cumin
  • chipotle powder – Ancho, guajillo, or New Mexico red chile powder are great substitutions. Avoid generic “chili powder” as it is a spice blend that includes other ingredients.
  • garlic – You need a dry garlic. I love granulated garlic for its texture and flavor. Alternatively, you can use garlic powder (not garlic salt). Use half as much garlic powder.

Suggested Baja Shrimp Taco Toppings

  • Baja sauce – Baja sauce, also known as Baja white sauce or fish taco sauce, is a creamy, spicy sauce commonly used in Baja-style cuisine, particularly in dishes like Baja fish tacos. Recipe included in the recipe card below.
  • cabbage – If time allows, I make a lightly dressed cabbage slaw that includes a scoop of the Baja sauce, lime juice, mayonnaise, and plain nonfat Greek yogurt. If I’m in a hurry, I just shred the cabbage, and dress it with lime juice, salt and pepper.
  • salsa – My favorite salsa with any fish or seafood tacos is citrus salsa. My second favorite would probably be the mango salsa. Check out my salsa category for more ideas, or use your favorite homemade or purchased salsa.
  • avocado – I have a love affair with avocados… just sliced or diced is all you need for tacos. You’ll never find me eating a taco sans avocado! There is no need to fancy it up (or add the calories) of turning it into guacamole.
  • cheese – Cheese is optional with fish or seafood tacos IMHO. If I do have cheese, it’s likely going to be aged cotija or queso fresco.
  • garnishes – Lime wedges, and cilantro are my favorite options. If you like your tacos spicy, sprinkle a bit of your favorite hot sauce.
Taco toppings for the air fryer shrimp tacos - Tortillas, crunchy air fryer shrimp, citrus salsa, Baja sauce, avocado, and slaw.
Clockwise from upper left corner: Tortillas, crunchy Baja shrimp, citrus salsa,
Baja sauce, avocado, and coleslaw.

🔪 Work Flow

  • Prepare toppings – I always save avocados for last because of the browning that occurs after they’re sliced. I make the salsa first, followed by the slaw and the Baja sauce.
  • Prepare the breading bowls – The flour gets the first bowl. The eggs should be next, and the eggs thoroughly whisked. Lastly, you need a bowl with the panko breadcrumbs and spices.
  • Make the air fryer shrimp – Preheat the air fryer to 400℉.

Crunchy Baja Shrimp

Breading set to bread the Baja shrimp: Prepared shrimp, flour, beaten eggs, seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Bread the shrimp – Set up a breading station. The shrimp will go first into the flour, then the eggs, and then firmly pressed into the seasoned breadcrumbs. NOTE: For the best results, turn them to cover as much of the shrimp as possible!
An air fryer with breaded shrimp for the Baja shrimp tacos.
  • Prepare the air fryer – Preheat to 400℉. Arrange the breaded shrimp on the rack, and DO NOT CROWD. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to do 2 batches.
The crispy, crunchy Baja shrimp is finished for the Baja shrimp tacos!
  • Air fry the shrimp – Shrimp cook SO QUICKLY! I had U/37 shrimp, and 5 minutes was perfect. You do not want to overcook them. If they’re larger add a minute or so. You can add, but you cannot subtract cooking time.
  • Warm the tortillas by your preferred method (see How to Warm Tortillas below for suggestions).
  • Put it all together – Slice avocado, lime wedges, and cilantro as desired. Arrange and assemble. Enjoy!
A close up of six Baja shrimp tacos with toppings, print napkin, and avocado.

🌮How to Warm Tortillas

Warmed on a comal or cast iron skillet:

This is my favorite way to heat up tortillas if I have time. Get the comal or skillet really hot. Once it’s ready, place your tortillas on the skillet and allow them to heat for about 30 seconds on each side. You will start to see the tortillas bubble up and that is how you know they are ready to enjoy. The little bit of char gives them a toasty flavor. Place them in a tortilla warmer until ready to serve.

Warmed in a tortilla warmer in the microwave:

Put six or fewer tortillas in a tortilla warmer, and cover them with a damp paper towel. Microwave 30-60 seconds until they are warmed through. I’m cooking for two, so this works really well for us (3 corn tortillas each). This is the method I use most often! If you need to do more than 6, transfer them to a warmer until ready to serve.

Wrapped in foil in the oven:

I rarely use this method because it heats up my kitchen, and I live in McAllen, Texas! Wrap a stack of six or fewer tortillas in a foil packet, and heat in a pre-heated 350° oven for 15-20 minutes, until heated through. You can do multiple packets of five tortillas each all at the same time. This is probably the most efficient method if serving a lot of people.

❓FAQ

What size shrimp should I use?

Shrimp sizing can be overwhelming. “Large” can mean anything from U/20 to U/40. I actually counted mine because they were U/21 to U/40. That’s a wide range! Mine turned out to be 37 per pound. I think that’s a good size. I could fit 2-3 shrimp in each taco, and the process of breading them went relatively quickly. If they’re much smaller, that process becomes time-consuming.

How much total time does it take to make Baja shrimp tacos?

It’s impossible to quantify. You can do the air fryer shrimp, Baja sauce, and tortillas in about 20 minutes. Whisk the sauce ingredients during the 5 minutes it takes to air fry the shrimp. You can make a favorite homemade salsa, or use your favorite store-bought salsa. The slaw can be as simple as lime juice, salt, and pepper on pre-shredded cabbage, or you can make it as elaborate as this homemade coleslaw.

How do I know my shrimp are done?

If your shrimp are opaque and springy to the touch, they’re done. My 37 to a pound shrimp took exactly 5 minutes. Larger (smaller number) will need more time.

💭 Tips

I never feel the need to have hot proteins in my tacos. If you want the shrimp hot, keep in mind how quickly they cook, and have everything else ready to go.

If you wish to reheat your air fryer shrimp, heat them in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes at 350℉.

Amount of flour can vary substantially according to the size of your shrimp. I don’t like to run out of flour, so I probably use 1 cup for 1 pound of 31-40 count shrimp.

Is every day #TacoTuesday at your house? Any day is a taco day at Andersen casa. I hope you’ll give these healthy Baja shrimp tacos a try!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

6 Baja shrimp tacos with slaw and salsa on a metal tray with a print napkin.

Baja Shrimp Taco Recipe

Crunchy Baja-style breaded shrimp spend 5 minutes in the air fryer before being tucked into warm corn tortillas with Baja sauce, salsa, and slaw!
5 from 3 votes

Click to rate!

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 servings
Calories 453 kcal

Ingredients
  

Baja Sauce

  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 chipotle chile with its adobo - or 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, juiced - about 1 tablespoon +/-
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • olive oil and additional lime juice to get to a ketchup consistency
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper - to taste

Baja Shrimp

  • 16 ounces large peeled and deveined shrimp - see Ingredients Notes in post for size recommendations
  • ¾ cup flour* - +/-
  • 3 eggs - whisked thoroughly
  • 1 ½ cups panko
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chile powder - chipotle, ancho, guajillo, New Mexico red
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic - or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Instructions

  • Make the taco toppings – salsa, coleslaw, and/or Baja sauce. Hold off on the avocado. For the Baja sauce, combine ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400℉.
  • Bread the shrimp. Press the shrimp into the flour, dunk in the egg, and press into the seasoned panko.
  • Arrange in a single layer in the air fryer. Cook 5 minutes (or more if necessary). Slice the avocado. Warm the tortillas.
  • Assemble the tacos, and enjoy!

Notes

* Amount of flour can vary substantially according to the size of your shrimp. I don’t like to run out of flour, so I probably use 1 cup for 1 pound of 31-40 count shrimp.
** 20 minutes should be sufficient to make the shrimp, Baja sauce, and warm the tortillas. Additional time will be determined by your chosen taco toppings.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 453kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 14g

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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