Skip the bland, boring tacos and ditch the delivery menus. These grilled shrimp tacos are the answer to your weeknight woes – Plump, juicy shrimp cooked to smoky perfection are wrapped in warm tortillas with a cool, crunchy slaw and a hint of creamy avocado. And they’re ready in under 30 minutes. Win-win.

A hand holding a shrimp taco garnished with herbs and sauce, with more shrimp tacos and a drink on a rustic wooden table in the background.

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Want to level up your seafood recipes, but don’t know what to make? This easy shrimp tacos recipe is an answer to your prayers. These tacos are a weeknight lifesaver, packed with flavor and ready in just minutes. Perfect for any occasion, from a dinner party to a busy weeknight when you want something quick and easy. 

Why you’ll love Easy Grilled Shrimp tacos

Let’s just say they’re the perfect marriage of sophistication and beachside indulgence. You get the sweet, plump shrimp, perfectly cooked on the grill with a hint of smoky char, like our cajun shrimp tacos. There’s a reason we love grilling shrimp – it’s fast, it’s foolproof, and it delivers restaurant-quality results without the fuss.

The key to perfectly grilled tacos is a flavorful shrimp marinade. The shrimp marinade penetrates the shrimp because of the sugar and acid, infusing them with tons of rich flavor and keeping them nice and tender. Then, they’re threaded onto skewers, like our shrimp skewers, and cooked over indirect heat. We have instructions for using both a gas and charcoal grill, so you have a little flexibility with this recipe. 

A kitchen counter with raw shrimp, spice bowls, lime, a whisk in a bowl of sauce, and tortillas.

Grilled Shrimp Tacos Ingredients

For the Grilled Shrimp Tacos

  • Cilantro Lime Grilled Shrimp Marinade 
  • Cumin – This warm, earthy spice adds a depth of flavor to the shrimp.
  • Cayenne pepper – A touch of cayenne pepper brings a subtle heat to the dish. You can adjust the amount depending on your spice preference. If you don’t have cayenne powder, you can use ancho chili powder as a substitute.
  • Shrimp (peeled and deveined) – Peeling removes the inedible shell while deveining removes the dark intestinal tract that can have a slightly bitter taste.
  • Grilling skewers – You can use metal or wooden skewers, depending on what you have. 
  • Tortillas – flour or corn will work (if using corn, double up to help with tears when serving)

For the Taco Toppings

  • Red cabbage slaw 
  • Scallions
  • Jalapeño pepper
  • Avocado 
  • Chipotle Crema 
  • Fresh Cilantro

How to Make the Best Shrimp Tacos

Marinate the Shrimp:

  • Add the cumin and cayenne pepper to the shrimp marinade.
  • Place the raw shrimp in a large, resealable bag.
  • Pour the marinade over the shrimp in the bag. Carefully massage the bag to coat the shrimp evenly, then seal the bag tightly.
  • Pop the bag with the shrimp marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour. This allows the flavors to soak into the shrimp and makes them more tender.
Uncooked shrimp marinating within a speckled ceramic dish.

Heat Up the Grill:

  • While the shrimp marinates, preheat your grill for indirect heat. This means creating a hot zone on one side of the grill for searing and a cooler zone on the other side for cooking. We use a two-zone cooking method for the shrimp. This allows the shrimp to cook through on the cooler side and get a quick sear on the hotter side. 
  • Check the notes: There are specific instructions for gas and charcoal grills below, so skip ahead to the recipe card depending on the grill you own.
  • For perfectly grilled shrimp (and to avoid sticking!), make sure the grill grates are clean and brushed with a light coat of oil.

Skewer and Cook the Shrimp:

  1. Skewer the shrimp onto your grilling skewers. Here’s a trick: curve the shrimp into a C-shape so the skewer goes through the thickest part near the head and the thinner part near the tail. This helps them cook evenly.
  2. Place shrimp skewers on the cooler side of the grill in a single layer. Close the lid and cook for 90 seconds.
  3. After 90 seconds, flip the skewers and cook with the lid closed for another 90 seconds. You’re looking for the shrimp to turn opaque (no longer translucent).
  4. Once the shrimp are cooked through, move the skewers to the hotter side of the grill to sear them. Flip them once or twice to get nice char marks on both sides. Be careful not to overcook them here – shrimp cook quickly!

Pro Tip: The USDA recommends checking the internal temperature of the shrimp with a digital thermometer. They are fully cooked when they reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Serving

Place your shrimp in warm tortillas, either flour tortillas or corn tortillas will work. Then, pile on your favorite taco toppings and a squirt of fresh lime juice! You can use the ones we listed, or play around with other toppings. We have a few topping options listed in the FAQ below.

Girl Carnivore Expert Recipe Tips

  • Don’t skip the marinade! Even 20 minutes adds tons of flavor. 
  • Don’t over-marinate. Shrimp are delicate, so an hour is really the max. Anything longer and they can become mushy.
  • Have leftover marinade? If you aren’t going to pour all of the marinade over the shrimp, set some aside and brush it on the shrimp while they cook for an extra layer of deliciousness.
A plate of grilled shrimp, greens, and tortillas is placed on a wooden table with two margaritas and a small bowl of coleslaw. The setting includes burlap and red cloth accents.

What to Serve With Grilled Shrimp Tacos

Grilled shrimp tacos are delicious, but sides take them over the top! While your grill is still firing, whip up this easy grilled corn salad – it’s fresh, flavorful, and ready in minutes. Want a kick of creamy heat? Poblano crema or rajas con crema adds smoky depth and creamy goodness.

Craving a kick of freshness? Drizzle some cilantro chimichurri on top of your tacos. Don’t forget your favorite toppings and a smooth mezcal margarita to wash it down!

Leftovers & Reheating

These tacos are best enjoyed fresh, but leftover cooked shrimp can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. Use leftover grilled shrimp in salads, quesadillas, or even a quick stir-fry.

To reheat, place a large skillet over medium-low heat and reheat the shrimp for 2-3 minutes total. We don’t want to cook the shrimp much longer; we just want to reheat them. 

A plate of shrimp tacos garnished with herbs and a side of sliced limes.

More Shrimp Recipes

This smoky shrimp recipe is your answer to a stress-free, easy meal (or a fun taco night with friends!). Gather your favorite toppings, fire up the grill, and get ready to create a taco night that will have everyone raving. Because, let’s face it, tacos are a universal language, and these beauties speak volumes.

Have you tried this recipe? Do us a favor and rate the recipe card with the  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ and drop a comment to help out the next reader.

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Grilled Shrimp Tacos

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Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
A plate of shrimp tacos garnished with herbs and a side of sliced limes.
Our grilled shrimp taco recipe amps up taco night with a fresh, bold array of flavors and textures like charred shrimp, crunchy slaw, and a simple creamy chipotle sauce.
  • Grilling Skewers

Ingredients  

For the Grilled Shrimp tacos

  • 1 cup Shrimp Marinade
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • Shrimp peeled and deveined
  • Tortillas flour or corn will work (if using corn, double up to help with tears when serving)

For the Tacos toppings

  • Red cabbage slaw
  • Scallions
  • Jalapeño sliced thin seeds removed
  • Avocado
  • Chipotle Crema

Instructions 

Marinate the Shrimp

  • Add the cumin and cayenne to the shrimp marinade.
  • Add the shrimp to a large resealable bag.
  • Pour the marinade over top.
  • Carefully remove as much as you can and seal the bag.
  • Place it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to marinate the shrimp.

Prep the Grill

  • Meanwhile, preheat your grill for indirect heat. See our notes below for charcoal or gas grills.
  • Clean and oil the grates.

Grill the Shrimp

  • Thread the shrimp through the grilling skewers, curving the shrimp to form a C, so that the skewer pierces through the shrimp at the thickest part near the head and thinner part near the tail.
  • Place the shrimp over the cooler side of the grill.
  • Close the lid and cook for 90 seconds.
  • Flip and cook, with the lid closed for another 90 seconds.
  • The shrimp should become opaque.
  • Transfer the skewers to the hot side of the grill, and sear the shrimp, flipping once or twice to get a little char on both sides. But work quickly as to not over cook the shrimp.
  • Carefully remove the shrimp from the grill and toast the tortillas.

Serve

  • Carefully remove the grilled shrimp from the skewers.
  • Serve the shrimp in a bowl or a platter along side all of your favorite taco toppings and fresh lime wedges to assemble the grilled shrimp tacos.

Notes

Shrimp are fully cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees F with a digital meat thermometer, according to the USDA.
If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them for 30 minutes before grilling.
For a gas grill
Preheat the grill by igniting all the burners and allowing the grill to preheat. If you want to smoke on a gas grill, add a smoker box over the hot side of the grill with wood chips now. We love Post Oak Chips for shrimp tacos.
Clean and oil the grill grates.
Close the lid of the grill and allow it to preheat for 10 minutes.
Turn 2 of the 4 (or 2 of the 3 burners) off to create a 2 zone fire.
Add the steak to the cooler side of the grill and follow the directions for grilling.
For a charcoal grill
Use a charcoal chimney to light the charcoal. When it’s 70% ashed over, arrange the coals on one side of the grill to create a two-zone fire.
Place the grill grates over the coals and clean them.
Cover the grill with the lid and adjust the air vents to allow the grill to preheat to 375 – 400 degrees F.
When the grill is holding an even temperature, add the London boil to the hot side of the grill.
Allow the steak to cook for 90 seconds before rotating 90 degrees and grilling for another 90 seconds with the lid closed.
Flip the steak and place it on the cooler side of the grill, cover the lid and allow the steak to cook until it reaches medium-rare to medium doneness, using an instant read thermometer.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.2g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 9mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.03g | Vitamin A: 74IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Fusion, Latin
Author: Kita Roberts

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Recipe FAQs

Can I use wood chips or chunks to grill the shrimp?

When it comes to using smoking wood for grilled shrimp, you want to choose the best smoking wood for seafood as all wood types are not the best. We recommend the following types of wood for grilling your shrimp: oak, pecan, maple, alder, apple, or peach. 

Here’s how to use wood chips on a charcoal grill:
Get your charcoal nice and white hot before adding your wood chips.
Place a handful of DRY wood chips (we don’t recommend soaking them) on the indirect side of your grill so you get that nice slow smoke. 
Here’s how to use wood chips on a gas grill:
Fire up your gas grill for 10-15 minutes. 
Toss some dry wood chips in a smoker box and place them on the cooler side of the grill. We want a slow, smoky smolder, not intense smoke. 

Can I use frozen shrimp instead?

Absolutely! Just thaw them completely in a bowl of cold water before cooking them. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture before marinating or grilling. This will help them sear beautifully.

What size shrimp should I use?

Jumbo or large shrimp are both great choices as they’re easier to thread onto the skewer, unlike medium shrimp.

How do I devein the shrimp?

You’ll find a dark vein running down the back of the shrimp. Use a small, sharp knife to make a shallow incision along the back and remove the vein.

Do I have to peel the shrimp?

Up to you! Peeled shrimp are easier to eat, but the shells can add a nice flavor to the marinade. If you do leave the shells on, be sure to remove them before serving.

How can I tell if the shrimp are cooked?

Perfectly cooked shrimp are opaque and pink, not translucent and gray. They should also curl slightly as they cook. Keep an eye on them – they cook quickly, so don’t overcook them, or they’ll be tough and chewy. If you’re not sure, use a meat thermometer.

What other toppings can I use for this shrimp taco recipe?

Feel free to play around with any of the following toppings to make these tacos your own:
Sour cream
Fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Pico de gallo
Red Onion
Cotija cheese
Fresh fruit salsa

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Well, Hey, Y’all.

Kita is a multi-talented individual, boasting numerous accomplishments such as being an award-winning recipe developer, world-traveled professional photographer, and journalist. As the lead creative force behind Girl Carnivore®, she is widely recognized as an authority on all things meat.

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