Easy to prepare and bursting with all the best flavors, this mouthwatering Cilantro Lime Shrimp will take you just 20-minutes to throw together!
The secret to these big, fat, fantastic shrimp? Cilantro, garlic, shallots, and lime juice all blended together in a simple, yet crazy delicious marinade and dipping sauce.
The best shrimp you will ever eat
Yes. I went there. Because right up there with Shrimp Scampi, it really is the best.
You guys, I don’t make these statements often.
This shrimp recipe, however, is so unexpectedly amazing, you won’t know what hit you.
One of my all-time favorites, I made my first batch of this Cilantro Lime Shrimp way back in 2016. Ready in just 20 minutes (thank you, shrimp, for making crazy weeknight dinners manageable!) you can also use the marinade with chicken or steak or even smear it all over your favorite tacos and sandwiches.
I should probably note that it’s pretty important that you actually enjoy cilantro. It still blows my mind a little that some people (maybe you?) think it tastes like soap, but apparently, it’s true. So, should you be one of those rare gems, I highly recommend that you find a different marinade.
Ok, let’s make some tasty shrimp!
Ingredients in Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Shrimp – for recipes such as this, I like to splurge on big, fat prawns. They are more expensive, but you’re far less likely to over-cook them.
- Cilantro – fresh, crisp cilantro, I separated the leaves from the tough lower stems.
- Limes – like cilantro, you literally cannot have cilantro lime shrimp without limes. Fresh lime juice only – concentrated versions not recommended.
- Worcestershire Sauce – the addition of Worcestershire sauce adds an extra layer of flavor to the marinade that helps distinguish the cilantro from the lime.
- Garlic– everyone has their own personal garlic preference. Personally, I love all the garlic, but if you’re more sensitive I recommend starting with 2-3 cloves.
- Shallots– spicy, without actually being spicy, shallots are a great way to add onion flavor without adding a whole entire onion.
- Dried oregano
- Red Pepper Flakes– If you’re not sure how much heat you can tolerate, start with a just small pinch of red pepper flakes and add more if desired.
How to make Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Start by preparing the Marinade/Sauce. In the bowl of a large food processor or blender add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, shallots, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Process until fully combined and season with additional salt, pepper, or lime juice, to taste.
How smooth and creamy you want the cilantro lime marinade is up to you. Personally, I try to mix mine so that it ends up somewhere in the middle- creamy and chopped to bits, but not so smooth and creamy that it looks like a smoothie.
With your marinade all ready to go, it’s time to marinate your shrimp.
In order to avoid contaminating the entire batch of cilantro lime sauce with raw shrimp, place approximately 2 tablespoons of the marinade in a clean bowl. Add the shrimp and mix well to coat.
Cover and set aside the remaining marinade. Meanwile, marinate your shrimp for as little as 5 minutes, or as long as 1 hour.
Now it’s time to cook your shrimp.
How to cook shrimp
The last thing you want is overcooked, rubbery shrimp.
So how do you cook shrimp?
Well, I have tried all the ways over the years and have come to find out that sautéed shrimp is the best. Oven second best. And outdoor grill third best. This applies to me, personally. If you are a grill genie than obviously, this will not apply to you.
- You need your shrimp to be thawed, peeled, and deveined. Actually, the peeling is optional, but for faster eating, I recommend peeling your shrimp. As far as deveining? Well, that little black line down the back is shrimp poop, my friends.
- Make sure your shrimp are the same size (approximately). Small shrimp will cook faster than larger shrimp. If you try to cook differently sized shrimp at the same time things could get tricky.
- All the shrimp should enter the pan at the same time…roughly. I get it, you can’t get them in at exactly the same time. Usually, I add shrimp to the outside of the skillet first (where it’s probably not as hot) and the middle last (where it’s definitely hottest).
- Add them in a single layer.
- Once added to the pan, leave them alone for at least one minute.
- TWO at the absolute MOST.
- Allow the shrimp to continue to cook for an additional minute or two.
How do I know when shrimp are fully cooked?
Imagine for a second that the tail was the legs and the opposite end was the head. Look up toward the head. Remember where the poop vein was? or maybe still is? Anyway, look there.
When that part of the shrimp is no longer translucent (aka it’s no longer clear or grey), then you know it’s done.
IMMEDIATELY remove those delicious juicy shrimp from the skillet. No, don’t just remove the skillet from the heat. The skillet is still very hot and your shrimp will continue to cook. Remove the actual shrimp…like NOW.
Shrimp take just 5 minutes to cook but require your complete attention. Don’t worry, you got this.
Do you have to devein shrimp?
Now that you know that that little black line is shrimp poop, are you cool with leaving it there and eating it?
Technically, the decision to devein your shrimp or not is entirely up to you. The vein is not harmful to the human body if ingested.
Personally, unless someone volunteers to devein the multiple pounds of shrimp I just purchased, I won’t devein my shrimp. Unless it’s going to hurt me or make the overall taste of the shrimp taste differently, I don’t see the point.
What to serve with Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Given the bold flavor of the shrimp and cilantro lime sauce, I usually try to keep the pairings on the simpler side. It’s one of my favorite appetizers to serve with spicy orange margaritas and chips with homemade pico de gallo.
It’s also easy to make this shrimp a complete meal with shredded cabbage, juicy cherry tomatoes, and avocado or guacamole all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.
Other delicious sides include,
- Cilantro Lime Rice Recipe
- Refried Beans (How to Make Refried Black Beans)
- Drunken Beans with Poblanos
- Chopped Shrimp Salad Recipe with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
- Sparkling Passion Fruit and Pineapple Margaritas
If you try making this Cilantro Lime Shrimp Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
For more Mexican-inspired recipes check out,
- 20-Minute Ground Beef Tacos Recipe
- Ground Beef Taco Meat
- Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe
- Pork Green Chili Recipe with White Beans
- Chicken Mole with Homemade Mole Sauce
- Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- Albondigas Soup Recipe (Mexican Meatball Soup)
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Cilantro Lime Shrimp Recipe
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cups cilantro (packed)
- 2 limes (juiced)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 2 shallots (chopped)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound large shrimp (thawed, peeled, deveined)
- Prepare the Marinade/Sauce - In the bowl of a large food processor or blender add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cilantro, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, shallots, oregano, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Process until fully combined and season with additional salt, pepper, or lime juice, to taste.
- Marinate the Shrimp - Transfer the fully thawed and peeled shrimp to a medium mixing bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro lime marinade. Mix well to combine. Allow shrimp to marinate for at least a few minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, reserve the remaining marinade to serve as a dipping sauce once the shrimp have been fully cooked.
- Cook the Shrimp - Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to coat the surface of the pan. Add the shrimp in a single layer, working in batches as needed to prevent over-crowding. After 1-2 minutes (max!) flip the shrimp and cook the other side for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until completely cooked.
- Serve shrimp with the reserved cilantro lime sauce and drizzled with fresh lime juice, if desired. Enjoy!
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)