Caribbean jerk shrimp tacos with slaw and plantains

20.8.20 | Recipe by Renz

The easiest and quickest taco night option you can do. A spicy and sweet mix of flavors to get this weeknight option quickly to the table.

Three jerk shrimp tacos with toppings of mango salsa, plantains and fresh cilantro sprinkled.

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These delicious jerk shrimp tacos are the easiest things to make and have a nice Caribbean twist.

In no time you and your family would be able to have the most perfect taco party with these spicy shrimp tacos. A great weeknight dinner option.

What I love about these is that you can make them to your taste. Just make sure there are many topping options that everyone can indulge in.

These Caribbean jerk shrimp tacos are a crowd-pleaser.


Why you would love jerk shrimp tacos

Jerk shrimp tacos are a mouth-watering delight for several reasons. Firstly, the explosive flavor combinations from the jerk seasoning, combined with the succulent shrimp and fresh ingredients, create a taste sensation that is hard to resist.

The customizable heat level allows you to tailor the spice to your liking, ensuring that your taste buds are in for a treat. I love that there is the option to cool things down with the avocado or a refreshing coleslaw adds another layer of enjoyment to the dish.

The sweetness of the mango and the caramelized sweet plantains perfectly balance out the fiery heat of the jerk seasoning, creating a harmonious blend of flavors that is both satisfying and exciting.

In every bite, the tacos hit all the right flavor notes, with the perfect combination of spicy, savory, sweet, and tangy elements. The result is an incredible culinary experience that will leave you craving more. So, whether you're a fan of explosive flavor combinations, customizable heat levels, or simply appreciate a well-crafted dish, jerk shrimp tacos are a must-try.

Ingredient notes

You are going to need a few things for these tacos. The main things on the list are:

Fresh shrimp: I much rather use raw jumbo shrimp with the shell off such as 8/12 size, that are already peeled and deveined. The larger-sized shrimp provides a meatier texture and more surface area for the jerk seasoning to cling to, making for a more flavorful and satisfying taco. I like to butterfly the shrimp before making it marinate, for some extra plumpness.

Jerk marinade: You can make your fresh jerk marinade or easily use a store-bought. This is what we are using to get the heat we want, so grab the level you prefer. If you are like me and don't like too much heat, use mild. 

Taco shells: I prefer soft, flour tortillas. You can also use corn tortillas if you like those.

Slaw: I love a good cabbage slaw with this. A red, green, and orange cabbage mix. The shredded cabbage gives a great crunch texture.

Mango cubes: This is the sweetness you need to combat the heat of the jerk shrimp. Stay away from stringy mangoes. Also, make sure that the mangoes are ripe. It's the sweetness from the mango that meshes great with the heat from the shrimp.

Avocado: The creaminess you want to mesh the crunchy slaw with everything else. I prefer to use the Hass avocados, as they are a little sweeter than the bigger ones. I cube them up so they fit better in the shells.

Fried ripe plantains: (optional) but it added a great additional texture and flavor to the tacos.

See a full list of ingredients and the quantities in the recipe card below.

How to make jerk shrimp tacos

  1. To make our spicy jerk shrimp tacos, start by marinating the shrimp. In a large bowl, mix the shrimp (peeled and deveined), jerk seasoning, olive oil, and lime juice. Allow the shrimp to marinate for at least 30 minutes. You can also leave this overnight. The flavors will become more intense over time.

  2. While the shrimp is marinating let's prepare our toppings:

    Mangoes - peel and dice up the ripe mango and set aside.
    Sweet plantains - peel plantains and slice them up to fry in whatever sizes you like. I liked them in circles for this. Follow the instructions for my fried sweet plantains.
    Avocado - Cube up the avocado and squeeze a little lime juice over it.

  3. I do this on the stovetop, but the shrimp can also be grilled or even baked. The stove top is the fastest and less effort. Get your oil to medium-high heat, add your raw shrimp in a single layer to the hot skillet, and let them cook for about 2 minutes a side. After they have cooked, remove and squeeze some fresh lime juice over the juicy jerk shrimp.

    A cast iron pot full of cooked jerk shrimp with slices of fresh limes.

  4. Once the shrimp are done to perfection, Then it's time to build your tacos as you desire. I like to use warm tortillas. I would do that quickly in my pan for a few minutes and then store them on a plate covered with a towel until serving time.

  5. Now it's time to layer. I like to do tortilla/taco, then some slaw, some avocado, plantains, and then the cooked shrimp. If I'm adding salsa or sour cream, then I put those on the top. Then a few squirts of lemon juice and sprinkle with some fresh cilantro.

You just made a delicious jerk shrimp taco. 

Serve the jerk shrimp tacos immediately and enjoy the delicious combination of flavors and textures!

Topping Options

When building your jerk shrimp tacos, there are numerous topping options to cater to different taste preferences and dietary restrictions. So to make your Taco Tuesday an opportunity for your family to build unique flavor profiles, here are some popular choices for the perfect pairing:

  • Pico de gallo - for a fresh tomato and onion flavor.
  • Salsa verde - for a tangy kick.
  • Cilantro and lime - add a refreshing and zesty burst of flavor.
  • Sour cream or chipotle crema - provides a creamy and smoky element.
  • Guacamole - offers a creamy and rich topping.
  • Pineapple salsa or mango salsa - brings a sweet and fruity twist.
  • Queso fresco - adds a salty and crumbly texture.
  • Black beans - provide a source of protein and fiber.
  • For those who enjoy spicy food, jalapeños can be added for an extra kick.

With this diverse selection of topping options, you can truly build your own jerk shrimp tacos to suit your personal preferences and dietary needs. Whether you prefer a fresh and light taco or a bold and spicy one, there are plenty of options to choose from to make the perfect Caribbean jerk shrimp taco to suit your taste.

Jerk shrimp tacos on a blue plate with mango and sweet plantains.

Frequent Asked Questions

Best place to get good shrimp

For a good deal on these shrimp, it's recommended to check out your local grocery store's frozen seafood section or visit a nearby seafood market. Many stores often have sales or promotions on frozen shrimp, especially in larger quantities, which can help you save money without sacrificing quality.

Another option is to look for bulk deals at wholesale clubs or consider purchasing from online seafood suppliers that offer discounts for larger orders. You can always use the rest of the shrimp to make some curry shrimp.

Other ways to prepare the shrimp

Grill: Preheat the grill to medium heat. Thread the marinated shrimp onto skewers and grill for 2-3 minutes per side, or until they are pink and opaque.

Baked: Take the seasoned shrimp, put it in a greased baking dish, and bake for 8 - 10 minutes.

Delicious tacos with jerk shrimp and cabbage slaw with ripe plantains and mango salsa.

How to best store jerk shrimp

What about those leftovers right?

Whatever wasn't used of the shrimp, I stored it in the fridge as quickly as possible in an airtight container.

To reheat, I place the shrimp in on the stop. I heat my pan up with a little butter oil and then layer the shrimp and move them around for a little. Not too long at all so that it doesn't get rubbery.

I reheat shrimp once. I am not taking any chances with food safety after that.

And now that you have these amazing tacos, what else do you eat with them?

For a variety of dinners, I like to add some of my turmeric rice to the plate with my tacos. It's a nice side to balance out the heat.

You will also need to have some refreshing drinks with it. Try these "great with tacos" refreshers: