These Healthy Mexican Shrimp Tacos feature achiote-citrus marinated shrimp, Yucatan pickled red onions, and my homemade mango salsa. Whether you cook the shrimp on the grill or the stove, this healthy taco recipe comes together so quickly, it's sure to be a new favorite for #TacoTuesday... or is Taco Tuesday every day?
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Mexican Shrimp Tacos
I wax poetic about Gulf shrimp, and why I love them so much... It's not just that they cook so quickly and they complement so many other foods, they're delicious and healthy! Beyond Mere Sustenance does have a recipe for shrimp tacos, but the flavors are Asian-Indian inspired. (Yes, tacos can be globally-inspired.)
I really wanted to do Mexican shrimp tacos... because this border girl loves all things Mexican. Given the Yucatecan emphasis on seafood, I thought it was a perfect place to start. Achiote/annatto is a quintessential ingredient with all things Yucatán cuisine. So, we're going for achiote and citrus in a simple marinade for the shrimp. The shrimp are complemented by the toppings - Yucatecan pickled red onions, mango salsa, avocado (always!), and queso fresco.
Even with the time for marinating the shrimp, these quick and easy tacos can be ready in 30-45 minutes. That makes them a perfect weeknight taco recipe!
🍤 What Makes This Healthy Taco Recipe Special?
- quick and easy to make!
- super healthy
- loaded with south-of-the-border flavor
- flexible and easy to customize
- different - try something new for #TacoTuesday
📋 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.
- shrimp - I had jumbo (16-20 count) Gulf shrimp in my freezer on photo day. I really prefer smaller shrimp for tacos. I think 26/30 or 31/35 are ideal. I probably should have thought to rough chop them to make them easier to stuff into tortillas and eat. Given my focus on shrimp recipes, I'm considering a "How To" post on all things shrimp. Let me know if you would find this useful in the comments below!
- citrus juice - The blend of citrus gets closer to the sour/ugly/Seville orange that is quintessential to Yucatecan cuisine. If you choose only 1 variety, choose limes. Otherwise, grapefruit, orange (any variety), Meyer lemon or lemon, lime, tangerine, and pomelos are good options.
- achiote paste - Also known as annatto, achiote paste is a quintessential ingredient in Yucatecan cuisine. If you can't find paste, and can find ground, 2 teaspoons should work.
- ground cumin - I somehow managed to leave my pinch bowl of ground cumin out of the photo. You can see below that it did make it into the marinade. If you cook much in the way of Latin/Mexican food, you probably already have it on hand!
- tortillas - I almost always prefer corn tortillas for tacos (lower calories, texture, flavor), but you can use flour tortillas if you prefer.
- Prepare the shrimp - Unless you have "peeled and deveined" shrimp, you'll need to peel and devein them.
- Make the marinade - Add the onion, garlic, achiote paste, ground cumin (not pictured), and citrus juices to the bowl of a food processor.
- Purée until smooth.
- Marinate the shrimp - Add the peeled and deveined shrimp to the marinade. Soak 15-30 minutes. NOTE: Too much time in the marinade will start "cooking" the shrimp and change its texture. While the shrimp marinates, prepare toppings. Save avocado for last!
- Preheat the grill or grill pan - Whether you're using a grill pan indoors, or cooking them on a charcoal or gas grill, you need to preheat to medium-high. NOTE: The shrimp may stick due to the sugars in the marinade, so you'll want to apply a coating of vegetable oil or cooking spray. If your need more than 30 minutes to prep your toppings, hold off on firing up the grill!
- Grill the shrimp - Shrimp cook so quickly, and over-cooked shrimp is no bueno. The size of your shrimp is important. I had jumbo shrimp (bad choice), and they took about 2 minutes on each side. I highly recommend using smaller shrimp for Mexican shrimp tacos. See Ingredients above for more more information.
- Finish the shrimp - After about 1 ½ minutes, check your shrimp. You do want to see some caramelization. Turn, and cook until the translucence is gone. The total cooking time for my jumbo shrimp is 4-5 minutes. If your shrimp are smaller, it's closer to 3 minutes. Set the shrimp aside while you assemble the toppings and tortillas.
- Assemble the Mexican shrimp tacos - Hopefully you were able to prep your taco toppings while the shrimp soaked in the marinade. I am working on a recipe/post for Yucatan style pickled onions, and should have it live in a week or so. Until then, use your favorite pickled onions. Warm your tortillas by your preferred method. Start with a warm corn tortilla, and add the grilled achiote shrimp. Layer your preferred toppings, and dig in!
🌮 Mexican Shrimp Taco Toppings Suggestions
- salsas - My favorite salsa with these shrimp tacos is the mango pico de gallo. I think fresh salsas, rather than cooked salsas, are the best option. Plus, they're so quick and easy to make.
- cheese - On photo day, I used queso fresco. Cotija is my go to cheese for tacos usually. They're both really good. Choose your favorite!
- avocado - My Latin-inspired tacos always have avocado... the exceptions are unique tacos like Irish, Korean, and Indian tacos.
- miscellaneous toppings - I love quick pickled red onions in tacos, and my next post will be a recipe for Yucatan-style quick pickled red onions. I highly recommend them. Sliced radishes, shredded cabbage or lettuce, lime wedges, fresh cilantro leaves, etc.
What can I substitute for shrimp?
I know this marinade works really well with chicken because I've tried it. I think other seafood, and pork, would work as well. I don't think it's bold enough for beef or lamb.
💭 Tips for the Best Tacos
If your shrimp is frozen, you can thaw it quickly by running cold water over it. This takes about 15 minutes +/-, and I hate wasting that much water. I usually put it in a bowl of cold water and turn it a couple of times. You can also put a plate on top to keep it submerged. This process takes about 45 minutes. NOTE: Make sure the shrimp are in a sealed bag.
A grill basket or skewers may be helpful if using a grill. If you want to do the shrimp on the stove, a grill pan is useful.
If using avocado on your tacos, it should be the last thing you prep before warming tortillas.
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We love ALL THE TACOS. For quick, weeknight meals, it's hard to compete with tacos on time and flavor. I don't think it's possible to find a protein that cooks more quickly than shrimp, and for this reason, these Mexican shrimp tacos are a win for weeknight cooking!
Healthy Mexican Shrimp Tacos
- grill basket
- 12 ounces shrimp, peeled and deveined - see Ingredients in Post for more information
- 1 cup fresh citrus juice - see Ingredients in Post for more information
- 1 tablespoon achiote paste - see Ingredients in Post for more information
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- Peel and devein the shrimp. Add to a bowl that will accommodate shrimp and marinade.
- Add marinade ingredients to a blender. Purée until smooth. Pour over the shrimp. Soak 15-30 minutes. Prepare toppings.
- Preheat grill to medium high. Grill the shrimp until you see some caramelization and it turns pink. Turn. Cook another minute or so. Remove and set aside.
- Assemble the tacos by topping warm tortillas with shrimp and toppings. Enjoy!
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.
Chef Mimi says
Fabulous! I love your marinade.
Beyond Mere Sustenance says
Thank you Chef Mimi! It requires just a few ingredients, and it's quick and easy to make. We love it!
Beyond Mere Sustenance says
Thank you Chef Mimi!