Cheesy Shrimp Tacos

From Season 9, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 15tacos


  • 12ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 or 5 plum) ripe tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • Fresh serrano chiles to taste, (roughly 3 to 5), or even more if you like it really picante), stemmed, seeded if you wish, and finely chopped
  • 1/4cup chopped cilantro, thick bottom stems removed
  • 1large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped
  • 1small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1tablespoon Mexican hot sauce (such as Valentina or Tamazula), plus extra for serving
  • 1tablespoon ketchup
  • 2teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional, but you might like the zing it adds)
  • Salt
  • About 1/3cup vegetable oil, divided use
  • 1pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined if you wish, and chopped into pieces a little smaller than ½ inch
  • 15 corn tortillas
  • 8ounces shredded Mexican melting cheese (full-flavored Chihuahua or Jack cheese work best)


Making the” salsa. Scoop the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, garlic and white onion into a bowl and mix well. Stir in the hot sauce, ketchup and optional lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about a scant teaspoon.

Making the shrimp filling. Heat a very large (12-inch), heavy skillet—nonstick works really well—over medium-high. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil and when it is hot, add the “salsa” vegetables. Cook, stirring regularly, until everything softens together, about 5 minutes. Scoop in the shrimp and stir until they are barely cooked through (they can still be slightly translucent at the center)—about 3 minutes. Scoop the shrimp mixture into a bowl, wash and dry the skillet, and return it to medium heat.

Assembling the encamaronadas. Heavily film the bottom of the skillet with oil. When hot, lay in a tortilla. After a few seconds, flip it, then scatter a couple of tablespoons of shredded cheese over one side, top with a generous tablespoon of the filling. Use tongs to fold the uncovered part of the tortilla over the filling, forming a turnover. Gently press flat. Continue to make encamaronadas in the same fashion until the skillet is full, frying them until crisp—2 to 3 minutes per side. As they become crisp, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve right away with more Mexican hot sauce.


  1. It is my opinion that this recipe is somewhat dangerous. Think about it, your heating up a hot pan of hot oil and adding tomato juice from the homemade salsa In to the mix? (Yes the juice will run) OIL SPLATTER EVERYWHERE! Not to mention possible burns.
    I recommend frying the corn tortillas separately, add the chesse to the tortillas, put them in the oven so the cheese can melt, add filling. Save yourself the mess!

    1. Hardly dangerous or messy at all.. You should watch the episode where it is prepared by Rick and his daughter at his home (season 9).

    2. The spattering you fear should not happen if you use the small amount of oil the recipe calls for.

    3. Splatter is part of cooking! Wear an apron and use a splatterguard if it bothers you. 🙂

      Also you aren’t exactly deep-frying the tortillas… it’s just a tiny amount of oil in the skillet, just a tablespoon or so.

  2. I made these and they were fantastic! My wife and son also agreed while they ate them up….we live on the gulf coast and get nice shrimp and this will be a go to recipe for us….thanks!

  3. My husband loves fish tacos and want a white sauce he once had in Mexico that they had put on taco. I have looked and looked. do you have a recipe or suggestion?

    1. Cindy, use the dressing from the Classic Ensenada Fish Tacos recipe here on the site. Equal parts mayo & sour cream thinned with milk. Squeeze lime over. Delish!

  4. These were easy to make as well as amazingly delicious! I’ve now made them multiple times and have only received stellar reviews!

  5. Amazing have done this recipe several times. We love it. Super easy just like making pico de gallo and adding shrimp will be doing it tonight for lent.

  6. I followed the directions exactly, except I used some nice fresh salsa bought ready-made at store I had in the house. This dish was a *huge* hit with lots of ways to to riff on the basic technique. I’d never considered the shrimp/cheese combo. Will have again very soon.

  7. This looked amazing in the TV show and I can’t wait to try it. You should have pictures with the recipes. Your recipes not only yield delicious dishes but also beautiful ones.

  8. Saw this episode today and went right out and bought the ingredients. Could not wait to try them! They are excellent and easy to make. These are definitely going into my recipe rotation. Thank you.

  9. SPECTACULAR. Did just two things differently – seeded the tomatoes since they release a lot of water when cooked, and seared the shrimp separately, then tossed it with the salsa at the end with the heat off. I like a little brown on shrimp. Will definitely make again.

  10. I made these and also made the spicy mayo from the BLT tostadas he had posted. I was having a mixed crisis. After I made the mayo I realized that I only had the ingredients to make the Cheesy Shrimp Tacos. But, after making them, the spicy mayo was so extremely good with chips as well as the tacos, I will make that for many things. These tacos were awesome. Not as neat as the video, but it never is. Everyone loved them, and they added the mayo as well. Just so so good. I love Rick Bayless and his recipes. I’ve done many of them so far. Spicy is my favorite!

  11. First time cooking these and love, love, love them. Used veggies from my garden and lard from our pigs to fry the tacos. So easy to make and excited to try variations for the filling.

  12. Yum. This was a tasty meal. Rather than fry the tortillas, I folded them in half and put them in my panini press. Served with coleslaw on the side.

  13. Mr Bayless,
    This recipe really pulled me out of a potential fire… My wife asked me to do something with the shrimp in the freezer that was there for 2-3 wks. You know, one can only make steamed shrimp or Scampi so many times… I peruse your website almost daily during lunch to gather easy recipes & happened upon this one. Couldn’t be any easier, quick & extremely tasty… My wife is still raving about how good they were. This one is a real keeper & I’ll be sharing them with our neighbors very soon.

  14. Rick, made for a friend yesterday with Trader Joes Argentina shrimp and Colby cheese, absolutely FABULOUS. We were both raving about it.

    Thanks so much.

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