Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw Recipe - Skillful Cook
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Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

293 reviews / 4.8 average

THE BEST shrimp tacos loaded with avocado, spicy shrimp, and a homemade creamy lime slaw? HELLO YUMMY!

It's almost hard to talk about these tacos, that's how much I love them.

What we have going on here is delicious spice-loaded shrimp tucked in between smashed avocado and a cabbage slaw that is heavy with a homemade creamy lime sauce. Question: topped with crumbly, salty Cotija cheese, and wrapped in a corn tortilla with a wedge of lime squeezed over the top? Answer: Yes.

More cilantro. More lime. More avocado and spicy shrimp.

The world just seems so right.

In This Post: Everything You Need For Spicy Shrimp Tacos

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Click here to watch step-by-step stories for how to make this recipe!

Garlic cilantro lime slaw in a bowl with forks.

Ingredients You'll Need For These Tacos

What I love about these tacos is that your grocery list will be pretty short and sweet!

  • Shrimp
  • Lots of dried pantry spices (to season the shrimp)
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic cilantro lime sauce (more on that below)
  • Tortillas
  • Toppings (avocado, lime, cotija, cilantro, anything!)

The Best Shrimp Taco Sauce

So, let's talk more about that garlic cilantro lime sauce for these shrimp tacos, because honestly, it might just be the best part.

All you need is sour cream, fresh lime juice, garlic, some herbs, and olive oil. Blitz it all up together and you're in business.

We're gonna toss it with some shredded cabbage (see above) and ALSO give these tacos a good shower on top. Because there is no such thing as too much sauce. Especially when it comes to tacos.

Spoon drizzling sauce to shrimp tacos.

How To Cook Shrimp For Tacos

How to Prepare the Shrimp

It might give you the scaries but I'd recommend getting tail-on shrimp (fresh or frozen) and peel and devein them yourself. Don't worry - it's easier than you think.

Ways to Cook the Shrimp

These are made in a skillet, but if the sun is shining and the beer is cold and the grill is hot, then you do you and grill those shrimp! Might be best to get them on some skewers (affiliate link) for a much less frustrating grilling experience.

Beer-Battered Shrimp Tacos (YUM)

For those with extra time on their hands and a heart set on fried shrimp: the beer batter instructions in this recipe work for shrimp, too!

Shrimp tacos with sauce.

What To Serve with These Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Obviously you'll be pocketing those delicious shrimp inside corn or flour tortillas, sprinkling on some garlic cilantro lime slaw, and dousing it in even more sauce and herbs, but you can also make this an entire taco feast!

Here are some of our favorite recipes to make alongside these delicious little pockets of goodness.

These shrimp tacos are fast, easy, and give me something to look forward to at the end of the day.

Cheers to many warm-weather nights with tons and tons of shrimp tacos in your future!

Spicy Shrimp Tacos: Frequently Asked Questions

Any subs for cilantro? I really don't like the taste.

You could use parsley, but it would definitely lend a different flavor. You can always just omit the cilantro!

How long will the sauce last in the fridge?

3-4 days in a sealed container!

I can't find cotija cheese. What should I use instead?

You could use another salty crumbled cheese like feta, or just omit! They are just as delicious without cheese.

Any shortcut ideas to make this recipe even easier?

Buy storebought taco seasoning in place of the dried spices, buy shrimp that already peeled/deveined, and/or use a similar storebought sauce or dressing for the slaw!

Can I fry the shrimp in this recipe?

Yes! The beer batter instructions in this recipe work for shrimp, too! 

Could I use a different type of seafood than shrimp?

Sure could! Something simple like cod fillets, halibut, or mahi mahi would work great and have a similar flavor profile. This is my favorite easy fish taco recipe!

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Shrimp tacos with slaw.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

  • Author: Skillful Cook
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 (2 small tacos each) 1x


The BEST Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw - ready in about 30 minutes and loaded with flavor and texture. SO YUM!


Units Scale

Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup water (if needed, to thin sauce)

Shrimp Taco Spice Mix:

  • 2 teaspoons each chili powder and cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Stuff for the Shrimp Tacos:

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 2-3 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 8 small tortillas (corn or flour)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup Cotija cheese
  • lime wedges for serving


  1. Sauce: Pulse all the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. Add water if needed to thin.
  2. Slaw: Toss some of the sauce (not all) with the cabbage. We'll use the leftover sauce to top the tacos.
  3. Shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Toss the shrimp in a small bowl with the spice mix to get it coated. Heat a drizzle of oil a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shrimp to the hot pan and sauté for 5-8 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through.
  4. Assembly: For the prettiest and easiest-to-eat assembly, go in this order: smashed avocado, slaw, and shrimp. Finish with Cotjia cheese, lime wedges, and extra sauce.


  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: spicy shrimp tacos, shrimp taco recipe, garlic lime slaw

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    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      These tacos just look fantastic. Tacos California style. Better than a restaurant with no wait and two cranky kids dropping food on the floor. And you were so right about isle of palms, South Carolina! We are loving it here. Sullivan island really nice too. Charleston amazing. You had so many great suggestions to check out in that post.

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            These are incredible! I’ve made these probably 10-15 times since finding this recipe. In fact, having them again tonight! They’re so good!!!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I would say yes- I made these with shrimp and chicken- absolutely phenomenal and easy. 🙂
        I have to say- these don’t seem right with anything battered. So good and healthy without it.
        I love this blog. 🙂

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          That sauce- gah! My dad said the meal was “restaurant quality.” Thank you!

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh, my goodness! This was a fabulous fast & easy dinner. The sauce really does make the dish. Creamy but not at all heavy and a perfect counter to the shrimp. I didn’t have tortillas so I built it on a large bowl of the dressed slaw. Then I garnished with some tortilla chips. It’s a keeper!!

    3. Skillful Cook Logo

      I was wondering, I do not have a food processor. Can I use my blender? It’s ok, of not, I will just wait as I will be getting a blender soon.
      Thank you so much,
      I love all of your delicious recipes!
      Lisa Carr

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Whaaaaaat?! These are beautiful. I’m so hungry right now, and I will not be able to think of anything else but these tacos until lunch time. And whatever I brought for lunch will pale in comparison, dang it! I love the garlic cilantro lime sauce. I am going to have to try that on everything this spring. So fresh. And the taco holder – adorable! Who thinks to invent these things??

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Do you need to cook or warm up the corn or flour tortillas before you add the fillings?

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    #1 I saw TACOS in the post title and clicked so fast my computer flinched. I recently declared Tuesdays “Taco Tuesday” on my menu planning software, so this will come in extremely handy. 😀

    #2 I saw the taco holder in the first pic and was all, “omg shut up and take my money!!” and was planning to race through to the comments to beg you for the source and you totes beat me to the punch. lol

    #3 Can’t wait to try these. 😀

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      haha – that’s so funny! enjoy the taco holder – it’s so cool! I will never go back to flat-on-the-plate tacos.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Looking at this recipe and planning on trying it out tonight. Just wanted to point out a little typo. For shrimp, I think you mean heads removed. LOL! I would also recommend thoroughly rinsing them 3-4 times to remove the iodine. New to your blog. Love your recipes and blogs. And can’t wait to try out more of your recipes!

          1. Skillful Cook Logo

            OMG! Made these last night. My husband, son & I loved them. Thanks again!

          2. Skillful Cook Logo

            I hope it’s ok to pipe in….not that it is a big deal or anything… but I saw this comment when scrolling through, and if I had to guess, I would assume that the directions actually did mean to say to take the tail off the shrimp, not the head, am I correct?? I only say this because I learned an interesting fact a few years ago about why the the vast majority of shrimp sold (and purchased) in stores are shrimps without the heads. Apparently, if the head is kept on the shrimp for even a couple of hours after it’s dead, it will begin to release strong enzymes into the body of the shrimp, which then break down the shrimp flesh and make the shrimp super mushy and yucky, and no one wants that!!! I know this is super irrelevant and unnecessary to respond to a comment a year later, but I figured I would share my knowledge to anyone who wanted to listen lol. Anyways….. thanks for the amazing recipe!!! I was actually also curious where you went in CA that you got these tacos originally, as I live here in So Cal, and just wanted to see if maybe there is a new place I have to go check out for a date night or something =) Thank’s again for the great recipe, can’t wait to check out more on here =)

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          Terry, I think she did mean remove the tails. Some shrimp recipes, mostly fried, specify to leave the tails on. Also, some food photographers prefer to picture the shrimp tails on, even the recipe obviously call for their removal, but doesn’t specify. And, Missy, I’d do some research about the dangers of leaving the heads on. My experience says otherwise.

      2. Skillful Cook Logo

        I seriously thought I had every kitchen gadget I could possibly need, and you have to go and show me taco holders! 😂❤

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Yeah what mysterious meal planning software are you referring to? Inquiring mind have to know!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I don’t have green onion on hand…. I have red and yellow onions? Any suggestions?

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    How much lime juice do you add to the sauce? Can’t wait to try these, I really love your recipes!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I hate two lines, please specify in tsp. Some limes have a little juice and some have a lot.

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          I would do two limes and then if you taste it and want more, add more. Lime preferences are very individualistic.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Amazing! Loved everything about this recipe – wouldn’t change a thing. I did substitute feta because the recommended cheese is hard to find here.

      That sauce is incredible! Will definitely be making these again soon! Thanks for another amazing recipe.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, these look so amazing! I will be making them on the double! Quick question, we are planning a trip to San Diego area to visit friends and I would LOVE to try the taco that inspired this! Care to share where you had it at? Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes! We were actually in Long Beach at Simmzy’s and the shrimp tacos I loved so much were the nightly special. 🙂

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      We found this on a trip to San Diego. “Blue Water”, we enjoyed everything we had there. It is small, casual, but the seafood is fresh and good. We ended up going there several times on our 4 day stay in the area.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Heather, try a Web search before you buy the taco holders, there are many less expensive options available.

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    YES! So glad I literally stumbled across this this morning. I have shrimp in my fridge I need to use up. I’ve never had shrimp tacos before, living in the boonies of the midwest you kind of hesitate to try shrimp tacos at the local Mexican eateries, if you know what I mean. But it is on my food bucket list! So now I can try them risk free. haha.

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This recipe looks AMZING will try pronto.

    I made a similar green sauce recently based on something I tried in my favorite Taqueria: next in food processor the following – 1 bunch cilantro, 1/2 onion, jalapeno(s), 1 avocado, juice from 2 limes, water dribbled in until the consistency looks right.

    The taco holders are a clever design, but wowzer, $22 for ONE!?
    And if you wanted to serve four people tacos, you probably want one for each person, so that’s almost $100 for some little gizmos that keep your tacos upright?

    One would think most people reading this blog have better things to do with the hundred bucks.

    Be a smart shopper, and do a web search of . You will find many examples of these for a LOT le$$. My first results showed a stainless steel one from a restaurant supply store under four dollars.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi John! Thanks for the feedback – the price DEFINITELY went up since I first put the link in. I’m guessing the company adjusts their price based on supply and demand. Really frustrating as I would not recommend anyone buy a taco holder for $22.

      I’ve updated the link to direct to a similar but more affordable option (from a different seller) from Amazon. The new ones, at the time of updating this, are about $7 which is what I paid for mine.

      Thanks for the catch!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Hi, I am wondering with the leftover cilantro sauce, or if you made double, could you freeze that?

        1. Skillful Cook Logo

          We haven’t tried freezing the sauce before. I’m not sure how the texture would be after it defrosts. It may be okay if you give it a good stir!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Can’t wait to try these… but WOW on the taco holders. YIKES that’s pricey. Will have to go with bean tacos if I bought these puppies.
    I’m obsessed with all things cilantro and avocado. Can’t wait to give these a spin. I will be serving them in my tried and true, yet somewhat plasticy Tupperware taco holders.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Kimber, the taco holders are pretty nifty, but try a quick google first. Multiple options are available, many of them for under $4 rather than 22.

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I am not sure I would ever fork out that much for one use appliance/utensils even if didi hold one of the best dinners in the world. I am love seafood in tacos; they remind me of fresh California summers thanks to the light, tangy slaw and the sweet seafood in a warm flat bread. Pass me a beer and one these thank you any day of the week!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Belinda! The company I linked to increased their price in the short time between posting and your comment. Wows! I’ve updated the link to a more affordable option from a different seller.

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    we had some super delish tacos at a DMB concert last summer and haven’t been able to recreate anything quite as flavorful ever since. kind of thinking these may do the trick!!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        I made this dish last night and it was disturbingly salty and just… not very good. Never again.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Since my husband doesn’t like shrimp (except breaded, which I’m not going to do) I’m saving this for the slaw part of the recipe. I will probably use Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream – similar flavor and I always have some on hand. One day I’ll be able to do the whole shrimp taco (oh, forgot to mention that my husband also doesn’t like avocados…) as the recipe is written.

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I was already planning on making fish tacos this week, now I am definitely using this recipe. I have been hunting for a good taco slaw for awhile, can’t wait to try!!