Inspired by my favorite summery drink, these Margarita Grilled Shrimp bring the heat with jalapenos, lime, and wood-fired flavors. Don’t worry, there’s tequila. I won’t leave you disappointed.
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Fresh Grilled Summer Flavors
Tell the truth, did you stop on this recipe because you saw “Margarita”? The fresh, summery drink and grilled shrimp go hand in hand. Relaxing by the pool, the beach, or your apartment patio on a hot day. Makes me want to get the blender out right now.
So what are summer flavors? Typically we look for refreshing hits of citrus, with a bit of heat and bright herbs. Finding a combination that works with shrimp is very easy, you just need a little bit of everything. Making it remind you of a margarita? That took a little restraint.
I’ve had the fun task of grilling quite a bit of shrimp to find the profile I’m looking for. Shrimp is a delicate thing, and covering up the natural flavors is easier than you think. That’s why we’ve got a little splash of just a few key ingredients, including tequila.
Prepping Margarita Grilled Shrimp
This is the easy part, which is ironically the hardest part. We’ll have to prep the food so you’ll need a cutting board, the ingredients, and a little patience.
What type of shrimp is best for grilling?
Glad you asked. The larger and fresher, the better. Typically I’d address this in my FAQs, but we’re talking about the prep.
There’s really only one main rule for this recipe when it comes to the shrimp: Make sure they are peeled. You can absolutely buy shrimp with the shell and tail, but for the marinade to really soak in with this recipe, the clothes need to come off. Feel free to leave the tail on, that is helpful depending on how you are going to serve it. We chose to mix ours in burritos and rice bowls, so I prefer no tail.
You might notice that the shrimp I’m using are quite pink, where the most common types you’ll find are grey. That’s because I’m using Argentinian Red Shrimp from Omaha Steaks. The flavor is so hard to beat; incredibly sweet, firm when cooked, almost like little lobsters. Due to their size, they can also take the punishment from marinades and flavors. These are flash-frozen the day they are caught, so the texture won’t be compromised.
How long should I marinate shrimp for grilling?
Time could vary depending on the size of your shrimp. This recipe recommends larger shrimp as we’re going to skewer them. Any marinades with a lot of acids should be used for a shorter duration, otherwise, it might “cook” the shrimp and cause them to be rubbery.
I generally recommend about 45 minutes on average for this marinade, pulling the shrimp out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to heat up the grill.
Other Shrimp Recipes?
Why yes, we do have those! Please check out my top two:
Best Tools for Grilling Shrimp
Grilled shrimp are simple to cook, and also simple to screw up too. Falling through the grates is the worst case, overcooking them a more common issue.
Skewers Keep it Simple
I’m a huge fan of skewers for grilling shrimp, even when set right on the grates. Use either metal or wood, but my recommendation will be to use flat skewers. This makes it less likely for your shrimp to spin around while grilling and flipping them. Metal ones are my preferred tool, as you can reuse them. They are generally much longer than wooden ones as well.
Wood skewers will require some soaking ahead of time. Pour boiling water over the skewers and let them soak for 10-15 minutes prior to grilling. This will cause the wood to steam instead of burn, giving it just enough time over the flames to cook the shrimp. Wooden skewers are typically shorter, so you may need more on hand.
Over the Fire
Live fire cooking is going to give you the most authentic, unique flavor for grilled shrimp. Light up some lump charcoal, briquettes, or grilling logs, and get a nice concentrated heat source. These Margarita Grilled Shrimp only take a few minutes, so you don’t need the biggest fire.
What if you don’t have access to a fire pit or charcoal grill? Go with a cast-iron skillet. Cast iron is going to give the shrimp a nice charred crust, emulating the same effect as you’d get over the fire. You’ll be missing out on the fiery flavors but you’ll still enjoy that charred shrimp, which will have a nice texture and flavor.
Grill to Perfection
These Margarita grilled shrimp don’t take very long to cook, so you’ll want to stay next to them. Make sure your grill is pretty hot for direct grilling. You can tell by having your hand over the coals, and it will be too hot after a few seconds.
Your ideal internal temperature is going to be 120F. This will be roughly about 2-3 minutes per side. Make sure you’re checking on the shrimp, which will also turn slightly orange as they cook. Undercooked shrimp will be very squishy, and overcooked will be quite rubbery. Using larger shrimp will give you more wiggle room for errors.
Frequently Asked Questions
The recipe calls for 2 tsp of tequila, and I would recommend substituting it with 1 tsp white vinegar. It adds a nice zip but it also has more acid. Make sure you use 1/2 the amount of vinegar for tequila.
First, test the jalapeno before you add it in. Every chile is different. I would just use 1/2 of the recommended jalapeno, making sure that you remove all seeds/membrane inside which is where the heat comes from.
Yes, you absolutely can! Chicken requires more time with the marinade. Swap out for 2 pounds of chicken, cubed, and marinade for 2-4 hours.
- 2 lb shrimp, peeled
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp cilantro, chopped fine
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced fine
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp tequila (blanco or reposado)
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp white sugar
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Taste and adjust if needed.
- Add the shrimp, gently stirring to coat. Pour the contents into a plastic bag and marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp.
- Pull the shrimp out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to heat up the grill.
- Preheat your grill for direct cooking, high heat.
- Skewer the shrimp and grill over the coals, rotating as needed. They will take 2-3 minutes per side. The color of the shrimp should brighten to orange, and the temperature needs to be about 120F.
- Serve with more slices of lime and herbs if desired.
Shrimp cook very fast, so stay next to them and flip as needed.
- Prep Time: 60
- Cook Time: 5
- Category: Seafood
- Method: Grilling
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: Shrimp, seafood, grilling, Mexican, tequila, chile, spicy