This Shrimp Taco Salad recipe is a fresh and flavorful salad that combines the bold and spicy flavors of tacos with succulent and tender shrimp. It’s the perfect meal when you want something light and refreshing. Load up the salad with a bed of lettuce or mixed greens and top it with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, black beans, and more.
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What Type of Greens to Use
I like to use a combination of baby spinach and mixed greens. Here are several types of lettuce and greens that work well:
- Romaine lettuce: This is a popular choice for salads because it is crisp and has a slightly sweet taste that pairs well with the spicy flavors of the taco seasoning.
- Iceberg lettuce: Another popular choice because it’s crisp and refreshing, and its mild flavor won’t overpower the other ingredients in the salad.
- Spinach: If you’re looking for a more nutrient-dense option, spinach is a great choice. It has a mild flavor that won’t compete with the other ingredients in the salad, and it’s packed with vitamins and minerals.
- Arugula: If you like a slightly peppery taste, arugula is a good choice. It’s also a bit more tender than some of the other greens, which can be a nice contrast to the crunch of the taco shell.
Spices and Seasoning
I love to use my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe because you have direct control of the spices you add, along with the amount of salt. A lot of the pre-packaged store-bought seasoning packs have a lot of sodium. Feel free to use your favorite store-bought package if you wish.
The homemade blend is made with:
- Smoked Paprika: Adds a touch of sweetness and color
- Chili powder: Rich, smoky flavor
- Cumin: Warm, earthy flavor
- Garlic powder: Savory flavor
- Onion powder: Sweet and slightly tangy flavor
- Salt and Pepper: Enhances the overall flavor of the seasoning
What Type of Shrimp to Use
Look for shrimp that are fresh, with a firm texture and no off odors. Avoid shrimp that are slimy or have a strong ammonia smell. Choose shrimp that are sustainably sourced to ensure that the seafood industry is not harming the environment or contributing to overfishing.
In terms of preparation, decide whether you want to buy shrimp that are already deveined, shells on, shells, off, etc. Deveining is the process of removing the digestive tract or “vein” that runs along the back. When you purchase deveined shrimp the black or brownish-colored digestive tract is already removed.
To do it yourself, make a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp with a sharp knife and then use the tip of the knife to carefully lift and remove the vein.
You should also consider where the shrimp are from. Different regions may have different species and quality standards. For taste, wild-caught shrimp are generally considered to be the best option as they have a more flavorful and firmer texture compared to farm-raised shrimp.
Farm-raised shrimp are raised in captivity on a shrimp farm. These farms can be located in ponds or in tanks on land. The shrimp are typically fed a diet of fishmeal, soy, and other ingredients, and are sometimes given antibiotics or other chemicals to prevent disease. Those chemicals are then passed into the food you eat.
When it comes to size, small to medium-sized shrimp work well in salads because they’re easy to eat and distribute evenly throughout the dish. Look for shrimp that are about 20-30 count per pound.
With that being said, I still prefer large or jumbo shrimp for my personal salads. Do what works best for you.
How to Make Shrimp Taco Salad
Full detailed instructions are below in the recipe card.
- Drizzle fresh lime juice over the raw shrimp.
- Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the spices over the shrimp.
- Heat a skillet on medium heat with olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook.
- Load the salads with fresh vegetables, toppings, and cooked shrimp.
How to Tell When the Shrimp is Done/Finished Cooking
Cooked shrimp will turn pink and opaque. The shrimp will also become firm when you touch it. Perfectly cooked shrimp usually has a C-shape, as opposed to a tightly curled O shape.
You can also check out my guide on How to Tell if Shrimp is Cooked here.
My Southwest Salad Dressing recipe is my go-to. The best salad dressing to use is a tangy and creamy dressing that complements the bold and spicy flavors of the salad. Here are some great dressing options:
- Creamy Avocado Dressing: This dressing is made with ripe avocados, lime juice, Greek yogurt, garlic, and cilantro. It’s a perfect match because it’s both tangy and creamy, and it pairs well with spicy flavors.
- Ranch Dressing: Ranch dressing is a classic dressing that works well.
- Chipotle Dressing: Made with adobo sauce, lime juice, honey, and Greek yogurt. It’s spicy and smoky and adds a unique flavor.
- Cilantro-Lime Dressing: This dressing is made with lime juice, honey, garlic, cilantro, and olive oil.
- Salsa Dressing: Salsa dressing is made by blending together salsa, Greek yogurt, lime juice, and garlic.
More Toppings Ideas
I love to pair salads with my Mango Pineapple Salsa. Here are other toppings:
- Smoked Salsa
- Sour Cream
- Fresh Lime
- Tortilla Strips
You will also love my Cod Fish Tacos, Spicy Shrimp Tacos and Lobster Tacos.
More Salad Recipes
Lump Crab Salad with Real Crab Meat
Shrimp Orzo Pasta Salad
Grilled Shrimp Salad
Cajun Shrimp Salad
Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing
Mango Fruit Salad
Watermelon Salad with Feta
Shrimp Taco Salad
- 10-12 oz raw shrimp Peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice Optional for flavor
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 6 cups greens
- 2 tablespoons chopped onions
- 1/4 cup sliced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup diced cucumbers
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1/4 cup diced avocado
- 1/4 cup whole kernel corn I love the frozen Mexican-style street corn from Costco and Trader Joe's.
- 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Homemade Taco Seasoning (Feel free to use store-bought seasoning if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Optional for spicy. Adjust to suit taste.
- Drizzle the optional fresh lime juice over the raw shrimp.
- Combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the spices over the shrimp. Ensure the shrimp is fully coated, but don't over-season it. The amount of taco seasoning you use will vary based on the size of the shrimp you are using. (This is why I recommend combining the spices first and then use your judgment of how much you will need for your shrimp.)
- Heat a skillet on medium heat with olive oil. Add the shrimp and cook, flipping to cook each side, for 3-5 minutes or until it is pink and opaque.Air Fryer Instructions: Air fry the shrimp at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes or until it is pink and opaque.
- Load the salads with the remaining ingredients, toppings, and cooked shrimp.
Sunday 19th of March 2023
This salad is BUSSIN BUSSIN! I would have never thought to add lime juice before cooking the shrimp. The shrimp paired with street corn and dressing in the salad is fantastic. I’m already excited for lunch tomorrow! The next round I’m trying the air fryer!
Tuesday 21st of March 2023
Haha! So glad to hear it!