Shrimp Tacos | Stovetop – Air Fryer

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Shrimp tacos will be your new favorite taco for “Taco Tuesday.” They are a great 30-minute meal and a flavor bomb for your mouth.

Close up of shrimp tacos with a pineapple slaw.Pin
Shrimp Tacos. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

We love our tacos around here. Pretty much any taco you can think of, but these shrimp tacos are one of our all-time favorites.

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Why Should You Make Them?

  • Easy: These tacos need no culinary skills to master. They are easy for beginners, but seasoned cooks will want to make them because they taste so good.
  • Fast: You will have these tacos on the table in less than 30 minutes, with minimal cleanup. Make them in a skillet on the stovetop or in your air fryer, whichever you prefer.
  • Flavor: You can pair these shrimp tacos with a pineapple slaw or a spicy coleslaw, which takes five minutes to prepare. You don’t even have to prep any toppings unless you want to.
  • Gourmet: These tacos feel a bit fancy, so they are even great to serve to guests, for a party, or a taco bar.

How to Choose Shrimp?

When shopping for shrimp, you will want to buy frozen shrimp. Any thawed shrimp that is behind the fish counter has been previously thawed, so you are never sure how long they have been thawed behind the counter.

Deveining

For ease, choose shrimp that have been peeled and deveined. You must use a sharp paring knife to devein them if you purchase shrimp that hasn’t been deveined. Locate the black vein that runs along the middle of the back. Cut a slit in the shell to expose the vein. Pull out that vein using the tip of the knife or your finger.

Peeling shrimp

If you purchase head-on shrimp, gently twist the head section off. Grab the top of the shell closest to the head and pull the shell off while you grab the tail section of the shell. Twist the shell at the tail section to keep the tail on the shrimp. To remove the shell from the tail end, just twist all of the flesh away from the tail end.

Shrimp tacos on pineapple slaw on a black plate.Pin
Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

What You Need

  • Shrimp: You can use any size you like or have on hand. From small to colossal shrimp, they all taste delicious. We used small shrimp, 45-60 counts per pound.
  • Onion: If you cook the shrimp in a skillet on the stove, use freshly, finely diced onion. For the air fryer, substitute onion powder.
  • Garlic: As with the onion, use fresh garlic on the stovetop and garlic powder in the air fryer.
  • Cumin: Cumin adds an earthy flavor to Mexican food. It is pretty much requisite.
  • Chili Powder: Chili powder adds a bit of spice to the shrimp.
  • Mexican Oregano: Oregano will add a little color and a herbaceous, slightly bitter flavor.
  • Salt and Pepper: Season with sea salt, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  • Oil: If pan-frying them on the stovetop, use olive oil to season the pan.
  • Tortillas: Use corn or flour tortillas, whichever you prefer.
Ingredients for shrimp tacos. See details in recipe below.Pin
Ingredients for shrimp tacos. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Toppings

  • Coleslaw: We like to use spicy coleslaw or a pineapple slaw.
  • Lettuce: Shredded lettuce is the perfect, fresh, crunchy topping for tacos.
  • Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes are delicious on tacos.
  • Cheese: With coleslaw, the best cheese to use is queso fresco or cotija cheese. You could use mild cheddar or a taco blend cheese as well.
  • Radishes: Sliced fresh or pickled radishes are great.
  • Peppers: Fresh sliced jalapeño peppers or pickled or candied jalapenos are delicious on shrimp tacos.
  • Onions: Thinly sliced red or pickled onions add a great flavor to the tacos.
  • Cilantro or Parsley: Chop cilantro to garnish the tacos. If you don’t like cilantro, use Italian parsley instead.
  • Lime Wedges: Serve the tacos with lime wedges on the side so that people can squeeze some lime juice on the tacos. You can also use lime zest to spice up the tacos.
  • Salsa: Choose your favorite salsa or make a pico de gallo.
  • Avocado: Thinly slice avocado or make a quick guacamole.
  • Sour Cream or Mexican creme: These will add a creamy texture.
  • Chipotle Aioli: Aioli makes a delicious shrimp taco sauce to drizzle on your tacos.

How to Thaw Shrimp

Thaw the shrimp in a bowl overnight in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. To fast-thaw shrimp, remove the air from their bag or place them in an airtight storage bag. Submerge the bag in cold water. You must hold the bag with a heavy pot or similar tool because it will float. Thaw for about 30 minutes in the cold water or until thawed.


If you air fry the shrimp, you can cook them from frozen.

How to Make Them

Step One:

Add the shrimp to a medium bowl. Add spices and oil. Mix well. Place the shrimp bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes for the flavors to mingle.

Spices and shrimp in a bowl.Pin
Add the shrimp and the spices to a medium bowl. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

To Air Fry the Shrimp

Step Two:

Arrange the shrimp in your air fryer basket. A large air fryer should hold about one pound.

Preheat the air fryer for 3-4 minutes. Air fry small shrimp for about 5 minutes. There is no need to flip them. Jumbo shrimp should be fried for 3-4 minutes, flipped, and air-fried for 3-4 more.

Shrimp arranged on air fryer basket.Pin
Arrange the shrimp in your air fryer basket. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

To Pan Fry the Shrimp

Step One:

Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp. Fry for 3-4 minutes for small shrimp when the tail turns pink. Jumbo shrimp will take about five minutes.

Shrimp in a frying pan with oil.Pin
Add shrimp to a skillet with a bit of oil. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Step Two:

Flip each shrimp. A pigtail flipper works well for this task. Fry them for an additional 2-3 minutes until pink throughout.

Shrimp flipped to the other side.Pin
Flip the shrimp when the tails turn pink. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

When the shrimp finish cooking, remove them to a clean bowl. Heat your tortillas; we did a tutorial on eight ways to heat flour or corn tortillas. We like to serve seafood and fish tacos with shredded cabbage slaw, like this spicy coleslaw or pineapple slaw, and garnish with sliced radishes, green onion, lime wedges, queso fresco, or cilantro.

Side Dishes to Serve with Shrimp Tacos

  • Refried Beans: Homemade or store-bought, canned frijoles or refried beans taste delicious with tacos.
  • Mexican Rice: Homemade or packaged Mexican rice is a delicious side.
  • Cilantro Lime Rice: This zesty recipe is excellent with Mexican foods.
  • Sopapillas: Sopapillas are fried dough that is puffy and delicious with Mexican foods.
  • Mexican Street Corn: This corn is a fun, delicious twist of corn on the cob. This corn is sprinkled with paprika and cayenne pepper and topped with cotija cheese.
Three shrimp tacos on a black plate with sliced jalapenos.Pin
Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Pro Tips

  • Don’t Overcook: Cook the shrimp until it just turns pink throughout. Overcooked shrimp will be tough and rubbery.
  • Don’t Overcrowd Your Pan: It is difficult to track which shrimp you flipped if the pan is too crowded. The other issue with overcrowding is that too much liquid is released immediately, and the food will steam instead of fry, which is true for any protein.
  • Buy Frozen Shrimp: Buying frozen will ensure you have the freshest product available. Shrimps are frozen shortly after harvesting to preserve their freshness.
  • Make Toppings or Coleslaw Ahead: Since they cook in less than 30 minutes, you will want to prepare all your toppings, salsas, or coleslaw beforehand.
  • Great for a Party: Because of their fast cooking time, they are great for a large crowd. If you have a lot of guests, you could even pan-fry some and air-fry some to get them cooked faster. They are great for a taco bar. Choose another slow-cooked taco for a different flavor and ease of serving.

More Mexican Recipes

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Shrimp street tacos on a black plate.Pin
Shrimp Tacos. Photo credit: Binky’s Culinary Carnival.

Delicious shrimp tacos are easy to make in the air fryer or stovetop in less than 30 minutes. They’re perfect for any taco Tuesday but great to serve to a crowd for Cinco de Mayo.

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I hope you enjoyed the recipe today.

Enjoy. And have fun cooking!

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Pinterest image with text overlay for shrimp tacos.Pin

Shrimp Tacos

Shrimp tacos will be your new favorite taco for Taco Tuesday. They are done in less than 30 minutes, from start to finish, and they are a flavor bomb for your mouth.
See Step by Step Photos Above!Most of our recipes have step by step photos and videos! Also helpful tips so that you can make it perfectly the first time and every time! Scroll up to see them!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: entree, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Total Time: 21 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 102kcal
Author: Beth Neels
Cost: $8

Ingredients

Instructions

  • If shrimp are not peeled or deveined, clean the shrimp. See instructions in the article above.
    1 Pound shrimp
  • Mix all of the remaining ingredients, except tortillas, together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes.
    1 Teaspoon onion powder, 1 Teaspoon garlic powder, 1 Teaspoon ground cumin, 1 Teaspoon Chili powder, 1 Teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • Arrange the shrimp in your air fryer basket. Air fry them for about
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Notes

Calories are calculated with no toppings or slaw.
Heat your tortillas with your favorite method. Here are eight to choose from.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1taco | Calories: 102kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.002g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 70mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.3g | Vitamin A: 66IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 1mg
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Beth Neels

Author: Beth Neels

Title: Owner

Expertise: canning, game meat cooking, smoking

Bio:

Beth Neels is an entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, author, and recipe developer. She founded Binky’s Culinary Carnival in 2014, focusing on “Crafting delicious recipes with sustainable ingredients.” She has been featured in multiple online publications, including MSN, Reader’s Digest, Associated Press, and Parade.

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