Mexican food presents a world of options for incorporating seafood into healthy dinners any day of the week. This easy sweet and spicy shrimp skillet is near the top of the list in my rotation of easy recipes.
Tender shrimp are quickly seared and seasoned with a sauce made of chiles, honey and garlic then finished with lime wedges. It’s one of the most delicious shrimp recipes that any home cook can master.
This dish is perfect as the star of your Cinco de Mayo party, or as a show-stopping seafood dish alongside carnitas for your carnivorous family and friends.
Bonus! it takes all the same sides (beans, rice, slaw, salad), toppings (cilantro, pickled onion, guacamole, pico) and delivery vehicles (tostada, soft tortillas, salad, nachos) as the meat options on every Mexican party table. So it’s an easy way to bring pescatarian options to the party.
What you’ll need to make sweet and spicy Mexican shrimp:
- chipotle powder or adobo chili sauce
- garlic powder
- lime juice
- medium shrimp (cleaned and tails removed)
- neutral oil
- fresh jalapeno
- salt and pepper
Step-by-step Instructions for Sweet and Spicy Shrimp:
To start, combine the honey, lime, chipotle powder (or adobo sauce), 1 tablespoon of oil and cumin in a small, microwave-safe dish. Heat for about 45 seconds in the microwave, stirring after 20 seconds. The goal is to liquify the honey and combine the flavors, not boil the sauce.
Once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, pour over the raw shrimp and toss to marinate for 10 minutes.
Then heat two tablespoons of neutral oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Afterwards add the marinated shrimp and diced jalapeno to the pan, ensuring the shrimp is arranged in a single layer.
Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
Finally remove from heat, adjust seasoning if necessary, then add cilantro. Serve with pickled onions and lime wedges.
These sweet and spicy Mexican shrimp are inspired by diablo shrimp or shrimp diablo (Mexican deviled shrimp), which is an authentic Mexican recipe served in many a Mexican restaurant across the United States.
The la diabla recipe options I have found mostly involve a tomato sauce base. While I love this saucey recipe when serving it with white rice or and black beans, I really wanted to adapt a Mexican shrimp dish that would be intensely flavorful without the shrimp swimming in sauce.
Try this recipe with our Homemade Caesar Salad
Tips and FAQ’s
What size shrimp should I use?
One of the great things about this recipe is that you can use whatever size shrimp you have on hand, or whatever your local grocery store has on sale this week. Large shrimp are beautiful in this spicy shrimp recipe, but I have made it with small and medium with equal success.
Generally, I prefer medium for consistent sweetness and easy cooking. Keep in mind that the size of the shrimp will affect cooking time-medium shrimp will likely cook about 30 seconds less per side than large.
Do I have to marinate the shrimp?
No! One of the easiest things about this devil’s shrimp recipe is how quickly it comes together. The speed is made possible by the simple but flavorful homemade taco seasoning we create with cumin and chipotle powder (made from ground chipotle peppers).
Cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes can be added to increase the heat of your spice mixture. These dried spices are mixed with lime juice, honey and oil and briefly heated in the microwave to melt the honey.
Marinating the raw shrimp in the spicy sauce for a few minutes while preparing the pan increases the flavors a bit, but if you’re in a rush, it’s certainly not required. Just toss your shrimp in the dry spices, honey and lime juice and saute!
Can I substitute a different chili pepper?
Of course! I recommend either a jalapeno or a serrano, depending on your spice tolerance (jalapeno will be milder, serrano more aggressively spicy).
If you prefer even less spice, poblano or Anaheim chiles would give good flavor with very low heat. While this can be a fiery Mexican dish, the heat level is completely up to you.
The honey does a beautiful job balancing the flavors, so the first time you make it I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised that such an easy recipe delivers so many metric tons of flavor. And if you like extra heat, you can always add an extra teaspoon of dried chipotle or adobo sauce.
What’s the best way to serve sweet and spicy shrimp?
My favorite ways to serve these succulent shrimp are on crispy corn tortillas for tostadas, alongside pickled red onions, extra hot sauce and maybe even some sour cream to cool it down.
They are also dynamite on Mexican Caesar Salad with that magic dressing. That’s a particularly good way to use up any leftover shrimp. I sear the shrimp in a dry, hot skillet until just heated through and add to the top of the salad. Delish!
Sweet and Spicy Mexican Shrimp
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 2-3 1x
The perfect flavorful sweet and spicy shrimp for all your Mexican food cravings.
2 teaspoons chipotle powder (or 2 tablespoons adobo chili sauce)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon honey
Juice of 1 lime (about 1 tablespoon), plus more for serving
1 pound medium shrimp (cleaned and tails removed)
3 tablespoons of any neutral oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh jalapeno, sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Combine chipotle powder or adobo, cumin, garlic powder, honey, lime juice and 1 tablespoon of neutral oil in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 45 seconds then stir to dissolve honey. Cool to room temperature then toss shrimp into sauce, letting it marinate for 10 minutes.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp to skillet along with diced jalapenos. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until shrimp is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Remove from heat, add cilantro.
- Serve with pickled onions and lime wedges
If using dried chipotle powder, add a little bit of extra lime juice to the sauce. Canned chipotles in adobo sauce have acidity added during the canning process, so they will not require any additional lime juice.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 10
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: easy shrimp, easy shrimp dinner, Mexican shrimp, spicy shrimp
[…] Legend has it that the traditional Caesar salad we all know and love (looking at you with heart eyes, anchovies) was the creation of an Italian-American chef named Caesar Cardini in his restaurant in….New York City? Chicago? San Francisco?Negative, ghost riders… Tijuana, Mexico.So before I get too far into this week’s salad creation, tip of the hat to the unexpected home country of the original version of our favorite fishy-dressed salad. God bless you and your tasty salads, Mexico!While I love the traditional Caesar salad, this homemade dressing and crouton combination takes us in a spicier direction. The lime and cotija add savory acid and umami, and the adobo sauce dials up the spice, with cilantro and sour cream bringing their cooler heads to the table. And the two-ingredient croutons? Make extra! Half of them will be reported missing before they can even leave the baking sheet. This flavor bomb of a recipe is an ideal side dish to your next Mexican food party, or as the main dish for dinner tonight if you add Sweet and Spicy Mexican Shrimp. […]
[…] Try this super simple recipe next: Quick and Easy Sweet & Spicy Mexican Shrimp […]