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Original Tex-Mex Recipe: How to Make Shrimp Tacos

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Soft corn tortillas brimming with shrimp, caramelized onions, diced tomatoes, and cilantro; especially delicious with guacamole. Served with rice and black beans on the side.

Soft corn tortillas brimming with shrimp, caramelized onions, diced tomatoes, and cilantro; especially delicious with guacamole. Served with rice and black beans on the side.

The Best Shrimp Tacos

Having lived in Texas all my life, I'm a big fan of Tex-Mex cuisine. However, in the past several years, the "Baja" style of Mexican cooking has become more and more popular here in Texas. The Baja-style tacos served in restaurants here typically contain either grilled or lightly breaded and fried shrimp, plus a bit of shredded cabbage and some dressing.

My Tex-Mex version (the recipe in this article), however, features sauteed shrimp, caramelized onions, Rotel tomatoes, and pepper jack cheese. This recipe works for me because dropping shrimp into a saute pan is much quicker than grilling or frying shrimp. The recipe works better for my family, because, while I love Baja-style shrimp tacos, my kids are not big fans of cabbage.

As far as the shrimp is concerned, my region of Texas is landlocked and quite far from the coast. I typically purchase frozen shrimp because there is just not too much fresh seafood available in my area. Frozen seafood also is convenient—I can keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer to pull out when the mood for shrimp tacos strikes.

Also for convenience, I purchase shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined. When the mundane tasks of peeling and deveining have already been completed, this dinner comes together in a hurry. Peeled and deveined shrimp costs a bit more. If you'd like to save a little money and peel and devein them yourself, I've included a short video tutorial if you need some help with that task.


  • 1 medium onion
  • 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 pound of peeled and deveined medium-sized shrimp
  • Juice of one-half of a lime, or about 1–2 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Pepperjack cheese


  1. In a large saute pan, cook the onions in olive oil over medium-low heat. Saute the onions slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized.
  2. Drain the Rotel tomatoes. Add tomatoes to onions. Cook for several minutes or until the remaining liquid evaporates.
  3. If the shrimp was previously frozen and is now thawed, drain any liquid from the package. Add lime juice and shrimp to the onions and tomatoes in the saute pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is pink. Stir in chopped cilantro just before serving.
  4. While the shrimp is cooking, place 4 corn tortillas in a single layer on a nonstick griddle or shallow pan. Place a slice of pepper jack cheese, about one inch by four inches, across the middle of each tortilla. Turn the heat to medium and allow the cheese to melt. I like to leave the tortillas on the griddle for several minutes, to let them crisp up a bit. They are still soft enough to fold into tacos but have a slight crunch around the edges. You may prefer yours softer. The longer you leave them on the griddle, the more crispiness they'll take on.
  5. Fill each tortilla with a spoonful or two of the shrimp mixture. Top with salsa and guacamole, if desired. Fold over and enjoy. While my family is eating round one of the tortillas, I throw round two on the griddle so that the cheese can be melting and they have another hot, fresh tortilla ready to fill by the time they've finished taco number one.
  6. These are great with Mexican rice, black beans, and sliced cantaloupe on the side.

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