Margarita Shrimp cooked in zesty tequila lime marinade are tender and flavorful whether you grill, bake, air fry, or sauté them.
A good marinade can take shrimp from delicious to spectacular, and it's the secret sauce for this Mexican-inspired shrimp recipe. I reach for this on special occasions or whenever I want to shake up our dinner routine.
It's always a hit, and it's because of the perfectly balanced marinade.
Honey gives the marinade sweetness. Fresh lime juice adds a touch of tartness. And, a splash of tequila gives it a unique margarita twist.
And, you don't have to love the cocktail to enjoy this margarita shrimp recipe. (I don't, but I sure do enjoy this recipe!)
Cook the shrimp any way you want! My hubby is the chief griller, so he makes margarita shrimp skewers. When I don't want to heat up the stove, I sauté the shrimp. They can also be cooked in the oven or an air fryer. Lots of choices.
No matter how you cook them, the juicy shrimp are delicious over rice, salad greens, in tacos, pasta, or served as an appetizer on bamboo skewers.
To make the shrimp margarita marinade, mix together the following ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Lime juice - Go for fresh limes, but bottled juice will work in a pinch. Add lime zest for even more flavor!
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic and chop it or squeeze it through a garlic press.
- Cilantro - Leave this out if you're not a fan!
- Tequila - This can be left out, but it won't have the signature flavor of a margarita. See the note below regarding cooking with alcohol.
For an orange-flavored variation, use Triple Sec instead. Replace the lime juice with orange juice too.
Of course, you'll need the best shrimp you can afford!
- Shrimp - Devein the shrimp. Leave the tail on or pinch it off. Medium-sized shrimp are fine for baking or sautéeing. For grilling, large or jumbo shrimp are easier to manage.
Cooking with Alcohol
Don't let the alcohol scare you away. It's a very small amount, and much of it evaporates during the cooking process leaving behind a bold flavor. Check out more about Alcohol Evaporation in Cooking by What's Cooking America.
You don't need a big bottle of tequila, either. This tiny bottle of Margaritaville Gold Tequila was inexpensive, and I can make this recipe at least two more times!
Here's the best way to marinate margarita shrimp.
Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add shrimp and marinade to a glass dish or plastic bag. Marinate shrimp for about 30 minutes and no longer than an hour. Since the sauce has an acidic ingredient (lime) in it, the shrimp will turn mushy if you marinate them for too long.
Flip the shrimp over after about 15 minutes, so both sides are bathed with the marinade. I find this is plenty of time for the shrimp to absorb the marinade.
Ways to Cook Shrimp
Shrimp can be grilled, baked, broiled, sauteed, or cooked in an air fryer. No matter how you do it, the exact time will vary based on the size of the shrimp and your particular appliance.
How will you know when the shrimp are done?
Shrimp cooks quickly. It should be pink and white, and no longer translucent when properly cooked. Keep an eye on it, no matter which method you use. We provide estimates below. Overcooked shrimp will be rubbery and chewy. Yuck!
Grilled margarita shrimp yields a beautifully charred outside, and a tender inside. If using this method, thread shrimp onto pre-soaked wooden skewers and cook them on well-oiled grill grates over medium-high heat. Or cook on a grill pan instead. It takes about 3-4 minutes on each side for large shrimp.
Another option is to pour the shrimp and marinade into a large skillet and sauté until cooked through, which takes about 10 minutes. It's a similar process to making shrimp scampi.
Place shrimp and sauce in a glass dish. You can use the same dish used for marinating. Bake for about 10 minutes. If you cook the shrimp in the sauce, then you can use it to spoon over the shrimp before serving.
Discard the margarita marinade and place the shrimp on a broiler pan. Broil for 3-4 minutes on each side over high heat.
Another method is to air fry the shrimp! Discard the marinade and follow the directions for your particular appliance. We have a Cosori air fryer, and it takes about 8-9 minutes, depending upon the size of the shrimp, at 390°F.
Caution. Do not use the discarded marinade for basting or serving unless it has been cooked. According to the USDA, you must bring it to a full boil for 5 minutes to kill any bacteria.
Another option is to spoon out some marinade before adding it to the shrimp for use after it's cooked.
How to Serve Margarita Shrimp
Margarita Shrimp can be incorporated into many dishes, and the unique flavor makes them something special.
- Serve over pasta.
- Make shrimp tacos. Serve with slaw, tortillas, lime wedges, and your favorite toppings.
- Add them to a salad or serve over slaw.
- Use on nachos.
- Make rice bowls.
- Leave on the skewers for a pretty appetizer.
Click here to see the best side dishes for shrimp!
Tip: The marinade ingredients, minus the tequila, make a tasty dressing! We mixed it into broccoli slaw and added mango and diced red onion.
More Shrimp Recipes
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Margarita Shrimp (Grill or Oven)
- 1 pound large shrimp peeled, deveined, tail on or off
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1 Tablespoon tequila
- 2 garlic cloves minced or pressed
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped, plus extra for garnish
- Place shrimp in a large glass baking dish and distribute them so they are in a single layer.
- Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and pour over the shrimp. Allow shrimp to marinate for about 30 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through so all sides are bathed in the marinade.
- Marinated shrimp can be cooked in several ways. See the process and estimated times below, which will vary based on the size of the shrimp. Shrimp are cooked when they are pink and white, and the center is not translucent. Keep an eye on the shrimp while they are cooking since they cook quickly. Do not overcook.
- Discard marinade and thread shrimp onto pre-soaked skewers and place on a well-oiled grate or cook on a grill pan. Cook over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake shrimp in the marinade for about 10 minutes or until cooked through.
- Preheat oven to broil over high heat. Place shrimp on a broiling pan and discard excess marinade. Broil for 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Pour shrimp and marinade into a large skillet. Saute over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes.
- Place shrimp in a single layer in an air fryer. Discard marinade. Cook at 390°F for 8-10 minutes. Follow the instructions for your model.
I love the balance of flavors with the honey, lime juice, and tequila in this. Also, your suggestion of using it as a taco filling sounds wonderful!
LOVE this slaw. Turned out so good and flavorful.
I'm so glad you like it!
I would have never thought about this flavor combo but it's soooo good and easy!
So glad you like it! 🙂