Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

This Spicy Mexican Shrimp Salad with Citrus and Avocado post is sponsored by El Yucateco. All recipes, images, and opinions are my own.

This Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing features shrimp soaked in a zippy achiote, citrus, and El Yucateco hot sauce marinade. Vibrant citrus, creamy avocado, toasted pepitas, red onion, and queso fresco join the spicy shrimp in a leafy green salad with a spicy citrus vinaigrette. This Mexican shrimp salad recipe is a healthy, Yucatán-inspired way to enjoy Mexican cuisine. Its flavors will dance on your tongue!

A grey shallow bowl with Mexican grilled shrimp salad, 2 grilled shrimp skewers, and a glass of wine.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – About Yucatán, Habanero Chiles, and El Yucateco Hot Sauces

While this post has been sponsored by El Yucateco, I have been comfortable using their products for years. Their hot sauce is not for the faint-hearted. It’s hot! With that being said, though, their sauces don’t just taste like hot vinegar, they taste like the habanero chiles they’re made with. It’s all about the FLAVOR!

The habanero chile is an integral part of Yucatecan cuisine. The Yucatán Peninsula, located in southeastern Mexico, is known for its unique culinary traditions and flavors. The habanero pepper, with its intense heat and fruity flavor, is widely used in Yucatecan cuisine to add spice and depth to dishes.

My spicy grilled shrimp salad starts with a citrus and green habanero hot sauce marinade that also provides the foundation for the salad dressing – a spicy, citrusy vinaigrette. The marinated and grilled shrimp are complemented by fresh orange sections, creamy avocado, toasted pepitas, queso fresco, red onion, and leafy greens. This fresh, healthy, spicy shrimp salad is perfect for shaking up your summer meal times!

About El Yucateco Hot Sauces

El Yucateco is a brand of hot sauce that originated in the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It is known for its vibrant flavor and intense heat. El Yucateco hot sauce is made from a variety of chili peppers, including habanero peppers, which are known for their spiciness.

The brand offers several different types and flavors of hot sauce, each with its own unique characteristics. The most popular and widely recognized variety is the “El Yucateco Red Habanero Hot Sauce.” It is made from ripe red habanero peppers, blended with spices and seasonings to create a hot sauce that is both fiery and flavorful.

In addition to the red habanero sauce, El Yucateco also produces other flavors such as green habanero sauce, which is made from green habanero peppers and has a slightly milder heat, and a black habanero sauce, which is made from a rarer variety of habanero peppers known as “habanero negro.” Each of these sauces has its own distinct taste and heat level, catering to different preferences.

El Yucateco hot sauce is widely used as a condiment or ingredient in various dishes, adding heat, flavor, and a touch of Mexican authenticity to meals. It has gained popularity not only in Mexico but also internationally, where it is appreciated by chile enthusiasts and fans of spicy food.

A shelf with multiple bottles of El Yucateco brand hot sauce.
If you live in the state of Texas, you are familiar with our outstanding grocery chain HEB. They carry several varieties of El Yucateco hot sauces…

🥗 What I Love About Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad

  • super healthy!
  • won’t heat up your kitchen!
  • quick and easy to make
  • it’s spicy
  • easy cleanup

📋 Ingredients Notes

Dressing and Marinade Ingredients

Ingredients for the hot sauce and citrus marinade.
  • fresh citrus juice – You’ll need 3/4 cup +/- of fresh citrus juice. Sour or Seville oranges are a ubiquitous ingredient in Yucatecan cuisine, but I’ve never seen them in the United States. I’d love to hear from any of you that have found them outside of Latin America or Spain in the Comments below! I find that a mix of citrus juices is a good substitute. A combination of orange or grapefruit, lemon or Meyer lemon, and lime works out well. NOTE: Bottled juice is not a good substitute.
  • hot sauce – My obvious choice is El Yucateco brand, and I highly recommend it. Keep in mind that it’s hot. If you have a very low tolerance for spicy food, reduce the amount or omit it. The green habanero hot sauce is not as hot as the red, its fresh flavor is perfect with the citrus.
  • achiote paste – Achiote paste (also known as recado rojo or annatto paste) is made by grinding annatto seeds and combining them with vinegar, garlic and spices like cumin, Mexican oregano, cinnamon, and cloves. There really is no substitute. El Yucateco achiote paste is widely available in the Latin foods section of many markets, and you can order it from Amazon.
  • olive oil
  • vinegar – I like a smooth, mild vinegar like sherry, white wine, or champagne vinegar.
  • honey – Agave nectar makes a good substitute.
  • mustard – Dijon mustard is my “go to” mustard, but the dressing won’t suffer if you use a different mustard.

Grilled Shrimp Salad Ingredients

Ingredients for the Mexican shrimp salad including orange sections, leaf lettuce, pickled red onions, etc.
  • shrimp – I will always recommend wild-caught Gulf shrimp (I’m partial!), but farm-raised shrimp are fine if you know where they’re coming from. Farm-raised shrimp can be safe and nutritious to eat if they are produced under appropriate conditions and follow good aquaculture practices. Look for third-party certifications like Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) or Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), or know the country of origin. Large or jumbo shrimp are preferable for grilling.
  • marinade – The marinade is simple – fresh citrus juice, hot sauce, and achiote paste. A portion of this mixture is reserved for use in the dressing.
  • spicy citrus dressing – The reserved marinade mixture and a few more ingredients go into the blender. That’s all there is to it!
  • lettuce – I used a combination of artisan leaf lettuces that were really pretty. Any leafy green is fine – spinach, baby kale, red and green leaf, etc.
  • orange sections – Citrus is ubiquitous in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. On photo day, I used cara cara oranges. Blood oranges are amazing, but they’re less available in late spring. Grapefruit is another great option. Of course regular oranges, clementines, tangerines, and kumquats work as well. If you are willing to spend the time, supreme the orange or other citrus.
  • cheese – My favorite is queso fresco. Panela, cotija, and fresh mozzarella are great substitutions.
  • toasted pepitas – Slivered almonds or pistachios are also delicious!
  • red onions – On photo day, I just happened to have fresh Yucatán pickled red onions, and they’re fabulous. You can use another quick pickled onion recipe, use thin-sliced red onions, scallions, or shallot. Omit if you don’t like them.
  • avocado – No salad is complete (or tacos) without avocado IMHO!
  • garnishes – On photo day, I used my air fryer to do tortilla strips. You can use store-bought tortilla strips or chips if you don’t want the extra step. The fresh herbs really elevate this salad. I used chopped cilantro and fresh mint. Delicioso!

🔪 Step-By-Step Instructions

Step 1 - Make the marinade. Add all ingredients to a processor, and blend.
  • Step 1 – Make the marinade. Add citrus juices, achiote paste, and hot sauce to a processor, and blend until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade to add to the spicy citrus dressing.
Step 2 - Marinate the shrimp in the spicy citrus marinade.
  • Step 2 – Marinate the prepared shrimp 15-30 minutes. NOTE: Any longer, and the shrimp will start to “cook,” and may make the shrimp rubbery. While the shrimp marinate, prepare the dressing and the salad components.
  • Step 3 – Add the remaining dressing ingredients – honey, dijon mustard, olive oil, and honey – to the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Step 4 – Prep all of the salad ingredients. NOTE: I always save the avocado for last so that it doesn’t oxidize.
Step 3 - 4 bamboo skewers on a gas grill.
  • Step 5 – Grill the marinated shrimp just until it is pink and opaque – about 2 minutes per side for jumbo. NOTE: Any longer, and the shrimp will be dry and tough. While the shrimp marinate, prepare the dressing and the salad components.
  • Step 6 – Put it all together. I recommend tossing the orange sections, avocado, sweet bell pepper, cheese, onion, and lettuce with some of the spicy citrus dressing, and then garnishing with pepitas, chopped fresh herbs, and tortilla strips or chips. Serve with additional dressing.
The completed Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad with fork, napkin, and a bottle of hot sauce.
The completed Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing and a bottle of El Yucateco hot sauce on the side ready to dig in to! Delicioso!


If seafood is a problem, what can be substituted?

This marinade is delicious on both chicken and pork. Keep in mind it will need more time in the marinade, and cooking times will need to be adjusted.

💭 Helpful Tips

Over-marinating or over-cooking shrimp results in a rubbery texture and a decrease in flavor. Keep in mind they only need a minute or two on each side over a hot grill or griddle.

If you don’t want to use a gas or charcoal grill, a grill pan is a good alternative.

When I grill shrimp, I go for the large/jumbo shrimp. The sizes vary, but the smaller the number per pound, the larger the shrimp. I really like something in the range of 16 to 25 per pound. Also, the prep goes faster!

I use about 1/2 cup+/- orange juice to 1/4 cup lemon and lime juice. It works out to about 3 oranges, 1 lemon, and 2 limes. Citrus really varies in the amount of juice they yield. Exact quantities of each type are not important.

If you love the flavors of Yucatán, be sure to check out these pork tacos, this salad, these shrimp tacos, and these achiote grilled shrimp skewers. I think you’ll find that with a few pantry staples and some fresh citrus, you can come up with some super flavorful, healthy dishes!

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.
A wood salad bowl with undressed Mexican shrimp salad and shrimp on skewers.
The completed Mexican grilled shrimp salad alongside the spicy
citrus dressing, and the marinated and grilled shrimp…

A grey shallow bowl with Mexican shrimp and citrus salad, copper fork, and orange wedges.

Mexican Grilled Shrimp Salad

An achiote, citrus, and hot sauce marinade and dressing spice up this fresh salad with succulent grilled shrimp, vibrant oranges, and creamy avocado…
5 from 4 votes

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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Dish Salad, Main Dishes
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 servings
Calories 464 kcal


  • 12 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined


Spicy Citrus Dressing

  • cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mild vinegar - sherry, champagne, white wine
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground pepper - more or less to taste

Mexican Shrimp Salad

  • marinated shrimp
  • soft, leafy greens - see Post Ingredients for more information
  • 1 orange - sections
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
  • ½ sweet bell pepper - sliced
  • 2 ounces queso fresco
  • ½ small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small avocado - sliced
  • 2 corn tortillas, cut in strips and air fried
  • fresh herbs (cilantro and mint), chopped


  • Prep the shrimp. Start with peeled and deveined shrimp.
  • Combine marinade ingredients in blender/processor until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup for dressing. Add the shrimp to the remainder. Soak 15-30 minutes.
  • Add the dressing ingredients to a blender/processor with the reserved 1/4 cup marinade. Season to taste. Set aside.
  • Prep all salad ingredients. Grill the shrimp.
  • Assemble the salad. Toss the leafy greens, orange sections, avocado, bell pepper, cheese, and onion with about 1/3 of the dressing. Serve with the shrimp. Garnish with pepitas,tortillas strips, and chopped fresh herbs. Serve with additional dressing.


*I use about 1/2 cup+/- orange juice to 1/4 cup lemon and lime juice. It works out to about 3 oranges, 1 lemon, and 2 limes. Citrus really varies in the amount of juice they yield. Exact quantities are not important.
Macros are impossible to quantify on a salad like this. The amounts shown above are for the salad only as a reference point. The dressing adds about 94 calories per serving depending on how much you use.


Calories: 464kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 23g

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

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  1. Our family LOVES El Yucateco hot sauce! This delicious grilled shrimp salad is colorful like the rainbow, fun textures and that dressing is scrumptious. Recipe will certainly be on repeat!

  2. This is a great main-dish salad for summer. I especially loved the combination of citrus and spicy on the shrimp and in the dressing!