Grilled Shrimp Tacos

These grilled shrimp tacos are a perfect dinner party recipe or healthy weeknight meal, featuring spiced shrimp, Mexican slaw and a spicy mayo drizzle.

Grilled shrimp tacos

Last weekend, Alex and I hosted an epic outdoor dinner party on our patio. It was that optimal 75 degrees, there was a light breeze, and not a cloud in the sky. Truly a PERFECT night for grilled shrimp tacos with slaw! These tacos have a party vibe that works for both a summer dinner party and as an easy weeknight meal. The smoky shrimp are perfectly spiced, served atop a Mexican slaw and drizzle lightly with spicy mayo. Top with a spritz of lime juice and torn fresh cilantro, they’re pretty heavenly. With a lime frozen daiquiri in hand, life felt pretty great. Even our toddler Larson was all about them! Keep reading for one of our very favorite grilled dinner ideas.

Don’t want to grill? Try our easy Stovetop Shrimp Tacos!

Grilled shrimp tacos

How to make grilled shrimp tacos with slaw

There are many variations on how to make grilled shrimp tacos with slaw. For this recipe we wanted to keep it easy for entertaining and weeknight meals. The shrimp is seriously quick: once it’s thawed and the grill is preheated! You simply mix it with olive oil and a few spices.

The other main part of this recipe is making the Mexican coleslaw! It takes just a bit of time to chop up the veggies and mix them together with olive oil, vinegar, and spices. So if you’re in a time crunch, you can instead simply shred the cabbage and then mix it with a pinch of kosher salt. If you’d like, top with a spritz of lime juice as well! It’s a shortcut we use again and again and it tastes almost just as good!

Another shortcut is making our spicy mayo! It’s an easy version of a taco sauce. All you do is mix together mayonnaise and Mexican hot sauce (we like Cholula brand). You don’t even really need to measure: just use the amounts to taste. We typically do about 1 tablespoon mayo to 1 teaspoon hot sauce.

Here’s how to make grilled shrimp tacos:

  1. Defrost the shrimp (if frozen) and shell it: the marinade soaks in best if the shrimp is shelled.
  2. Mix the shrimp with olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder and kosher salt.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium high. Grill the shrimp 1 to 2 minutes per side, until bright pink and cooked through.
  4. Make the Mexican slaw.
  5. Place the shrimp in a tortilla with the coleslaw, spicy mayo, and fresh cilantro leaves. Spritz with lime wedges and serve.
Mexican coleslaw

What to serve with grilled shrimp tacos

As I mentioned, we served this healthy shrimp taco recipe at an outdoor dinner party. Here’s what our dinner party menu looked like:

It was the tastiest lineup: and as I mentioned, our 2 year old Larson gobbled it all up! He especially loved dipping chips in the bean dip (of course!).

How to thaw frozen shrimp

Wondering whether to get frozen or raw shrimp for grilled shrimp tacos? A myth about fish is that “fresh is best” — but frozen is good too! As soon as an animal dies it begins to decompose; freezing suspends this process. If a fish is frozen when it was caught and stays frozen until it gets to your kitchen, it will be higher quality than a raw fish that has taken a week to get to your plate.

If you’re using frozen shrimp, what’s the best way to thaw it? Here are a few options:

  • Thaw by placing in the refrigerator overnight. Of course, this requires thinking ahead so…
  • Thaw under running cold water the day of. Place the frozen shrimp into a bowl with cold water. Let a small trickle of cold water run into the bowl to keep the water moving. The shrimp should thaw in about 15 minutes.
How to cook shrimp

How to buy sustainable shrimp

And, a little note on how to buy sustainable shrimp for this healthy shrimp tacos recipe. While we eat a mostly whole foods plant based diet, Alex and I try to buy sustainable seafood where possible. In researching how to buy sustainable seafood, Alex and I have learned to look for wild-caught fish if possible. Also if you live in the US, look for US caught if you can. 90% of the seafood we eat in the US is imported. Imported seafood runs the risk of being overfished, caught under unfair labor practices, or farmed in environmentally harmful ways.

Also, how your fish is caught matters. Look for hook and line as one example of a sustainable gear type. Bottom trawling is considered the most destructive and least sustainable method.

Grilled shrimp tacos

How to keep tortillas warm?

Lastly: let’s talk about keeping tortillas warm! A warm tortilla is key to a good taco. Usually we warm our tortillas over a gas flame on the stovetop (see How to Warm Tortillas). But for this recipe, since you already have the grill fired up, we’ve called for heating the tortillas on the grill. But once you take them off the grill, how to keep tortillas warm? They start cooling the moment they’re off the flame, so they can end up brittle within minutes. Luckily, there’s an invention for this problem that’s inexpensive and does the trick.

It’s a tortilla warmer! Alex and I don’t buy many gadgets that have only one purpose. But we have not found a better way to keep our tortillas warm! It’s basically an insulated pouch traps in the heat and keeps them perfectly heated. At the rate that we eat tacos around here, it’s a godsend.

Get it: Tortilla warmer $14

Grilled shrimp tacos

Looking for more taco recipes?

And that’s it: how to make grilled shrimp tacos with slaw! If you’re looking for other taco recipe ideas, here are some of our favorites:

This grilled shrimp tacos recipe is…

Dairy free and pescatarian.

Grilled shrimp tacos

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings (8 tacos) 1x


These grilled shrimp tacos are a perfect dinner party recipe or healthy weeknight meal, featuring spiced shrimp, Mexican slaw and a spicy mayo drizzle. 



  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (we used 2630 per pound size)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups Mexican Coleslaw (1/4 recipe; or 2 cups shredded red cabbage)
  • 8 tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce (such as Cholula)
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
  2. Defrost the shrimp and peel it, as necessary. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, chili powder, and kosher salt
  3. Make the Mexican Coleslaw (or shred the cabbage and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt). 
  4. Mix together the mayonnaise and Mexican hot sauce. 
  5. Warm tortillas on grill for 10 seconds per side. Then grill the shrimp for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until bright pink and cooked through.
  6. To serve, place the coleslaw into a tortilla and top with grilled shrimp. Drizzle with the spicy mayo and top with torn cilantro leaves and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. 

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Grilled shrimp tacos, Grilled shrimp, Shrimp tacos recipe, Shrimp tacos

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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