These healthy shrimp tacos feature sautéed (or grilled!) shrimp, a vibrant cilantro lime pesto (which you’ll want to slather on everything), creamy avocados, crunchy cabbage and a cooling crema. It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal that feels damn special. 

Close up of healthy shrimp tacos on a serving board.

Healthy shrimp tacos recipe

These shrimp tacos are everything I love about weeknight dinners—they’re easy to make, they’re PACKED with flavor, and they feature an irresistible sauce! If you’ve spent any time around here, you know that I’m obsessed with quick no-cook sauces…

All of the ingredients for the shrimp tacos arranged on a serving tray.

Shrimp taco sauce

Speaking of which… the sauce for these tacos is a garlicky cilantro lime pesto! The pesto gets a kick of spice from jalapeños and a boost of nutrition from baby spinach. Soaked pumpkin seeds give the pesto a delicious nutty flavor. Pumpkin seeds are also an excellent source of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals, including iron and zinc. 

The ingredients for the cilantro lime pesto arranged on a baking sheet.

The pesto is also awesome on grilled fish, chicken, sandwiches, pork or turkey burgers, pasta and grain bowls (and if you’re anything like my five-year-old, you’ll want to eat it straight with a spoon. 😂) 

Process shot showing the ingredients for the cilantro lime pesto in a food processor.
Close up of the cilantro lime pesto in a food processor.

Cilantro lime shrimp tacos with cabbage

Cooked shrimp are tossed in the pesto, then are layered in tortillas with avocado slices, crunchy cabbage, Mexican crema (or sour cream) and hot sauce (if you like it spicy!). It’s the ultimate mix of flavors and textures. 

Close up of a hand grabbing a shrimp taco.

Easy shrimp tacos recipe

These tacos come together in 30 minutes or less. For an even speedier meal, you can make the cilantro lime pesto up to 5 days in advance!

Grilled shrimp tacos 

You can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet for this recipe OR you can grill them, making this an excellent year-round dinner. To grill the shrimp, toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (you can see how I do it in this post), or cook them directly in a grill pan over medium-high heat. 

Close up of shrimp tacos with cilantro lime pesto.

Tips for this recipe:

  • You’ll need a food processor for the pesto, or you can use a high speed blender such as Vitamix
  • Soaking the pumpkin seeds softens them, allowing them to incorporate better into the pesto. If you’re using a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) you can skip this step (if using a blender, add a splash of water to help the pesto circulate around the blade). 
  • You can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet or you can grill them. To grill the shrimp, toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (you can see how I do it in this post) or cook them directly in a grill pan over medium-high heat. 
  • To toast corn tortillas, cook them directly over the flame of a gas burner (or in a hot cast iron skillet) until slightly charred, then immediately wrap them in a kitchen towel to steam. (Alternatively, wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave until pliable.) 
  • You can serve the tacos with Mexican crema or sour cream. If you’d like, thin sour cream with a splash of water until it drizzles easily off a spoon.  
  • The recipe is adapted from my first book, The Food Processor Family Cookbook. You can get a slew of other no-cook sauce recipes in my second book, Build-a-Bowl!

What goes good with shrimp tacos?

Other recipes you might like:

Get the recipe!

Healthy Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Lime Pesto

Adapted from The Food Processor Family Cookbook (Sonoma Press, 2016), by Nicki Sizemore
These healthy shrimp tacos feature sautéed (or grilled!) shrimp, a vibrant cilantro lime pesto (which you’ll want to slather on everything), creamy avocados and crunchy cabbage. It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal that feels damn special. The pumpkin seeds for the pesto need to soak for 6-10 hours (see the recipe below), so start them in the morning or the night before. You can either sauté the shrimp in a skillet, or you can grill them. To grill the shrimp, toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. Thread the shrimp onto skewers (you can see how I do this this post), or cook them directly in a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: easy shrimp tacos recipe, healthy shrimp tacos recipe, shrimp tacos recipe
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shelled and deveined shrimp (tails discarded), patted dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Cilantro Lime Pesto (see recipe below)

For serving

  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Avocado slices
  • Thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • Mexican crema or sour cream
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

  • Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and arrange them out in a single layer. Cook until pink on bottom, about 1 ½-2 minutes. Turn and cook until pink on other side and cooked through (they should be white throughout), about 1 ½-2 minutes longer. Transfer to large bowl and add 1/3 cup of the Cilantro Lime Pesto (reserve the leftover pesto for serving). Toss well to coat.
  • To assemble the tacos, spread a bit of the pesto over warm tortillas and top with the shrimp, avocado slices and cabbage. Drizzle the tacos with Mexican crema or sour cream and serve with hot sauce, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  • You’ll need a food processor for the pesto, or you can use a high speed blender such as Vitamix
  • Soaking the pumpkin seeds softens them, allowing them to incorporate better into the pesto. If you’re using a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) you can skip this step (if using a blender, add a splash of water to help the pesto circulate around the blade). 
  • To toast corn tortillas, cook them directly over the flame of a gas burner (or in a hot cast iron skillet) until slightly charred, then immediately wrap them in a kitchen towel to steam. (Alternatively, wrap the tortillas in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave until pliable.) 
  • You can serve the tacos with Mexican crema or sour cream. If you’d like, thin sour cream with a splash of water until it drizzles easily off a spoon.  
  • The recipe is adapted from my first book, The Food Processor Family Cookbook. You can get a slew of other no-cook sauce recipes in my second book, Build-a-Bowl!

Cilantro Lime Pesto with Pumpkin Seeds & Spinach

Adapted from The Food Processor Family Cookbook (Sonoma Press, 2016), by Nicki Sizemore
This nutritious (vegan!) pesto is packed with cilantro, spinach and pumpkin seeds. It has a deliciously nutty flavor, with a zip of fresh lime juice and a hint of spice from jalapeño. It’s also awesome on grilled fish, chicken, sandwiches, pork or turkey burgers, pasta and grain bowls. Start the pesto in the morning, as the pumpkin seeds need to soak for 6-10 hours (or overnight). Soaking the seeds softens them, allowing them to incorporate better into the pesto, but you can skip this step by using a high-speed blender, such as a Vitamix. If using a blender, add a splash of water to help the pesto circulate around the blade.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cilantro lime pesto, cilantro pesto recipe, pumpkin seed pesto

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ jalapeño, seeded
  • ½ cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
  • 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • Juice of ½ lime, plus more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  • Cover the pumpkin seeds with warm water and soak at room temperature for 6-10 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse.
  • In a food processor with the blade running, add the garlic and jalapeño, and finely chop. Add the drained pumpkin seeds, cilantro, spinach and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Process until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as needed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and/or lime juice if desired (I often add another spritz of lime juice, depending on the juiciness of my lime).

Notes

Do Ahead: The pesto can be transferred to an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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