Shrimp Taco Salad

Shrimp Taco Salad in a white bowl

Shrimp Taco Salad is a stunning  main course salad with jumbo Mexican spiced grilled shrimp, homemade tortilla strips, house pickled red onions, and all the fixings on a bed of zesty red cabbage slaw. You’re not going to want dinner to end.

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Pull up a fork for #3 in my  Main Course Salad Challenge, where I’m sharing hearty main course salads to inspire you to go green once a week this season, and hopefully beyond. Here’s a recap of the recipes so far:

Main course Salad #1 ~ Salmon Cobb Salad

Main Course Salad #2 ~ Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (balela salad)

Shrimp Taco Salad in a white bowl 3

Loaded doesn’t begin to describe today’s epic shrimp taco salad.

And it’s gourmet from top to bottom starting with an easy homemade slaw dressed with mayo, homemade taco seasoning, and fresh lime juice. The jumbo shrimp are rubbed with the same taco seasoning, and then grilled just until they begin to curl. Fresh veggies, olives, avocado, crumbled cojita cheese, homemade quick pickled red onions, and homemade tortilla strips finish out this meal-worthy salad.

Jumbo Mexican Shrimp

how to prep shrimp for a salad

I like to peel the shrimp but leave the tails on, which is just a personal preference. I think the tails look nice and that way you’ve got a little handle for easy eating.

You can completely peel them, which is more practical, so no one has to fiddle with discarding the tail.

You can also chop the shrimp, but that doesn’t look as nice.

Whichever way you prepare your shrimp, rub it in a little olive oil and taco seasoning before cooking.

how to cook shrimp for salad

Heat a dry grill pan (or regular skillet, cast iron works well) until it is hot and then place the shrimp on the pan in a single layer.

Let them cook, flipping once, until they just begin to curl and turn from translucent to opaque.

Don’t wait until they curl tightly, because they’ll be over cooked.

shrimp rubbed with olive oil and homemade taco seasoning

I make my own homemade taco seasoning ~ it’s so easy!

You probably have all these spices in your cupboard, so this is a quick spice blend to mix up any time you need it. Double or triple the recipe if you use it often.

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Making a shrimp taco salad

compose your shrimp salad for a gorgeous presentation

Arranging the salad is the fun part.

  1. Make a bed of slaw across the bottom of your bowl.
  2. Add each ingredient around the edge of the bowl.
  3. Center everything with a small jar of extra dressing.
  4. Tuck in lime wedges and cilantro leaves as accents.

Making a shrimp taco salad 2

I made some quick pickled red onions because they add so much to the salad and they’re so easy to make. They’re ready to use in just a couple of hours, so I made them earlier in the day.

quick pickled red onions

How to quick pickle onions ~

  • Start with very thinly sliced red onions, I use my mandoline slicer to get them to an even 1/8 inch.
  • Heat up a mixture of vinegar, water, and spices ~ in this case I just used coriander pods, which are the seed pods of the cilantro plant. Pour the hot liquid over the thin sliced onions and let sit for a couple of hours while the onions soften and ‘pickle’. You can also use a tablespoon of readymade pickling spice if you like.
  • You’ll notice the purple color of the onions turns to pink when it hits the vinegar.
  • Then cap, refrigerate, and use whenever you want them.

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How to make homemade tortilla strips

1. Stack a few corn tortillas, white or yellow, and slice them into thin strips, about 1/3 inch wide. Cut all the strips in half lengthwise. Toss with your fingers to separate the strips.

2. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the strips, in batches, tossing almost constantly, for just a few minutes, until they become crisp. Use more oil when necessary to finish all the strips.

3. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt.

4. Be sure to make extra because there will be snacking!

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tvfgi recommends: a mandoline slicer

My mandoline slicer is one of my top favorite kitchen tools. I used it to thinly slice the radishes, red onions, and cabbage for this salad. I use mine to finely julienne veggies for my Edamame Salad so they don’t get limp and soggy, and to slice beets paper thin for a crudité platter. I would never be able to get the squash or potatoes thin enough for my Goat Cheese and Summer Squash Tart or my Skinny Microwave Potato Chips without it. You can cut professional looking shoestring fries, too.

I recommend buying the best quality mandoline you can afford, because the sharpness of the blades are super important, and a good quality mandoline will hold up over time.

variation suggestions

  • Use grilled chicken, fish (like tilapia) or steak
  • A base of romaine lettuce would work in place of the red cabbage slaw
  • Use shredded Mexican blend cheese instead of cojita
Shrimp Taco Salad in a white bowl 2
3.67 from 12 votes

Shrimp Taco Salad

Shrimp Taco Salad ~ today's main course salad is just about as inviting as a salad can get with jumbo Mexican spiced grilled shrimp, homemade tortilla strips, house pickled red onions, and all the fixings on a bed of zesty red cabbage slaw.  You're not going to want dinner to end.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 2 servings
Calories 727kcal
Author Sue Moran



  • 1/2 pound extra large shrimp tail on
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning recipe below


  • 1 small head red cabbage cored and finely shredded
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup yogurt (or sour cream)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 avocado sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
  • 1 cup tortilla strips
  • 1/2 cup pickled red onions
  • 1 bunch small spring onions sliced
  • 1/4 cup finely sliced radishes
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • 1/3 cup crumbled cojita cheese

taco seasoning (mix together)

  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper


  • Toss the shrimp with the olive oil and taco seasoning. Heat a pan over medium heat and grill the shrimp just until they are cooked through and curl. Set aside.
  • Whisk the mayo and yogurt or sour cream with the lime and seasoning and toss with the shredded cabbage. Layer the cabbage in the bottom of your salad bowl.
  • Arrange the shrimp, avocado, tortilla strips, onions, spring onions, radishes, olives, and crumbled cheese over the surface. Serve with the extra dressing on the side.


Calories: 727kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 321mg | Sodium: 1795mg | Potassium: 1511mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 5449IU | Vitamin C: 256mg | Calcium: 545mg | Iron: 7mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

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  • Reply
    April 7, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    This recipe looks great, but before I make it I have a question: You say to mix the mayo/lime dressing with the cabbage, then layer the other ingredients. Then you say to serve the extra dressing on the side. I’m assuming you mean that some of the mayo/lime dressing should be reserved for serving, so can you clarify how much? As written, I would have just dumped all of it in with the cabbage. Thanks.

    • Reply
      April 7, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      I don’t say an exact amount because it will vary, Marcia, I would lightly dress the cabbage, and then save the rest. You can make extra dressing if you think you might need more.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2019 at 8:12 am

    OMG! This looks so, so good! I’m a freak for anything Mexican. And it turns out I have 3 red onions that need to be used so I think I’ll be making this over the weekend! BTW, have you ever used your mandolin to slice brussels sprouts? It didn’t work too well for me and I cut two fingers trying to do it “my” way so now I’m a little scared of mine! It pays to follow directions!!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2019 at 8:15 am

      I have sliced Brussels sprouts on the mandoline, but only the very large ones. The other (safer!) way is to use the shredding blade on the food processor.

  • Reply
    John / Kitchen Riffs
    March 20, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Nice dish! Love anything with taco seasoning. Good white-on-white pictures, too. Thanks!

    • Reply
      March 20, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Thanks John!

  • Reply
    Tricia | Saving Room for Dessert
    March 20, 2019 at 3:29 am

    I LOVE pickled onions in a salad and adore this luscious shrimp. This must be the perfect meal! I really love this series and am inspired to peruse the vegetable section at the store just a little harder. Thanks – Pinning 🙂

    • Reply
      March 20, 2019 at 8:14 am

      The pickled onions are so amazing, I keep forgetting how easy and quick they are to make 🙂

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