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Jerk Shrimp Tacos

Enjoy my take on Caribbean jerk shrimp tacos marinated in a spicy, wet jerk marinade and grilled to perfection. Serve the grilled jerk shrimp in a warm corn tortilla with cabbage slaw and fresh mango salsa or Caribbean hot sauce. If you enjoy tacos, try these blackened mahi mahi tacos with avocado lime crema next.

Jerk Shrimp Tacos on a plate garnished with slaw and Caribbean hot sauce.

“This was good! My husband loved it so much he started playing Bob Marley while he ate it with his eyes closed!! LOL! It’s VERY spicy, so I’d suggest cutting back on the spice if you can’t handle it. We loved the spice.

I used readymade coleslaw because I didn’t want to chop veggies, and it was very good. My husband ate his shrimp with leftover rice. I could not get a picture because it was gone as soon as I finished making it! Maybe next time, and there WILL be a next time! Try it!”


Jade, Whisk User

What is Jerk?

Jerk” is associated with a distinct flavor profile, but the term describes a Jamaican cooking technique of roasting meat and vegetables over an open flame. The popular jerk flavor comes from a surprising ingredient – pimento wood! Pimento trees are native to Jamaica and the wood of choice to build a fire. 

And wouldn’t you know it? Pimento trees produce allspice berries (pimento seeds), one of the main ingredients in jerk seasoning for dry-rubbed or wet-marinated jerk meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables. When the wood burns, natural oils are released, producing smoke that infuses grilled meat with deep aromatics. We attempt to create a similar outcome by marinating the shrimp and cooking them on an open flame on the grill.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Homemade Jerk Paste: I have included my recipe for homemade jerk spice paste that combines scallions (spring onion), white onion, garlic cloves, ginger, scotch bonnet peppers (or habanero peppers), soy sauce, olive oil, orange juice (or pineapple juice), a Maggie Bouillon Cube, and some of our jerk seasoning. You can usually find ready-made paste or dry jerk spice in grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and online.
  • Shrimp: Use one pound of large shrimp for the best tacos.
  • Slaw: Finish the tacos with a fresh, bright slaw made of shredded cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro.
  • Corn Tortillas: Warm corn tortillas are the best way to enjoy jerk shrimp tacos. Check out these tips and tricks for how to heat corn tortillas. You can also use flour tortillas or lettuce wraps for a low-calorie option.

How to Make Your Own Jamaican Jerk Seasoning

Making your own jerk spice blend is easy, and because you’re preparing it at home, you can control the heat and the amount of salt used. Feel free to use store-bought jerk seasoning for the shrimp, or you should try the spice blend we use.

Ingredients For Homemade Jerk Seasoning:

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper, coarse ground
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground
  • ½ tablespoon allspice (pimento seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried

How to Make Jerk Shrimp Tacos

The full recipe with measurements is in the recipe card below.

Step 1: Add three chopped scallions, white onion, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh orange juice, a Maggie Bouillon cube, and jerk seasoning to a food processor or blender.

The ingredients for the jerk marinade added to a food processor.

Step 2: Process until smooth and set aside.

Jerk marinade pureed in a food processor.

Step 3: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer them to a mixing bowl.

Shrimp being pat dry.

Step 4: Pour the reserved jerk marinade over the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and marinade for 2 hours (but at least 30 minutes).

Shrimp tossed with the jerk marinade.

Step 5: While the shrimp marinates, add cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro to a separate mixing bowl and stir to combine.

The ingredients for the slaw in a bowl.

Step 6: Preheat the grill by setting all the burners to high heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the rightmost burner, but maintain an overall grill temperature of 350°F (176°C). Then, use a wooden grill scraper to clean the grates.

Clean the grill grates before adding the chicken.

Step 7: Thread the shrimp on the skewers and place them on the grill.

Shrimp lined onto a skewer.

Step 8: Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Shrimp skewers on the grill.

Step 9: Assemble the Tacos:

Prepare a corn tortilla and top it with some of the reserved cabbage slaw. Add Caribbean hot sauce and finish with the grilled shrimp, to serve.

Corn tortillas topped with slaw and Caribbean hot sauce.

Expert Tips

  • Adjust the amount of seasoning depending on your preference for spiciness. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, I recommend leaving the scotch bonnet or habanero pepper out of the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl and let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. For a more intense flavor, marinate them for at least 2 hours.
  • Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. When fully cooked, the shrimp turn a pinkish-white color; the shrimp should be tender and juicy – then pull the skewers off the grill.

If you enjoy this meal, try one of these dinner recipes!  

An open face jerk shrimp taco topped with pineapple pico de gallo.

What to Pair With Shrimp Tacos?

Toppings for Shrimp Tacos:

What are tacos without toppings? I love turning my table into a topping bar to make everyone happy. Keep your tacos simple or pile them high with all your favorite fixings. Some of the condiments I love are the shredded cabbage slaw in this recipe, sour cream, avocado slices, queso fresco, avocado lime crema, Caribbean hot sauce, or serrano crema.

Try one of these salsa recipes: Pico De Gallo, Pineapple Corn Salsa, Mango Pico De Gallo

Side Dishes

What to do with the Leftovers

  • Refrigerate: Store the leftover shrimp in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
  • Freeze: Once the jerk shrimp cools, transfer it to a freezer-safe container or bag for storage. It will freeze for 4-6 months.
  • Thaw: Defrost the shrimp in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Repurpose: Use the leftover shrimp to fill lettuce wraps the same way we make our beef lettuce wraps. Or you can use them to make jerk shrimp pasta or jerk shrimp scampi.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which type of shrimp to use?

For jerk shrimp tacos, use large, peeled, and deveined shrimp. Fresh or properly thawed shrimp are ideal so they can absorb the jerk marinade. And the large shrimp cooks well on the grill without drying out. Aim for wild-caught shrimp for better taste, but high-quality farm-raised shrimp works too.

Can I prepare this recipe on the stovetop?

1. Add three chopped scallions, white onion, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh orange juice, a Maggie Bouillon cube, and jerk seasoning to a food processor or blender; process until smooth and set it aside.

2. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Pour the reserved jerk marinade over the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and marinade for 2 hours (but at least 30 minutes).

3. While the shrimp marinates, add cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro to a separate mixing bowl and stir to combine.

4. Warm 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and cook the shrimp in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Can I make the shrimp in the oven?

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Thread the shrimp on the skewers and set them aside.

2. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper, and line the shrimp skewers onto the baking sheet.

3. Cook for 6-8 minutes.

Do flour or corn tortillas work best for shrimp tacos?

I am a believer in using what you have available, but when it comes to tacos, corn tortillas are the way to go; just be sure you heat them beforehand or they will be a crumbly mess.

More Shrimp Recipes:

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Jerk shrimp tacos on a plate.

Jerk Shrimp Tacos

Tressa Jamil
Enjoy our take on flavorful Caribbean jerk shrimp tacos marinated in a spicy, wet jerk marinade and grilled to perfection.
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Caribbean
Servings 8 Tacos
Calories 87 kcal
Ingredients
  
For the Jerk Marinade:
  • 3 scallions, roughly chopped
  • ¼ medium white onion, finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet or habanero pepper
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • orange juice, 2 oranges
  • 1 Maggie bouillon cube, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons jerk seasoning
  • 1 pound large shrimp,  peeled and deveined
For the Jerk Tacos:
  • ¼ red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienne
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • corn tortillas
Instructions
 
  • Add three chopped scallions, white onion, garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, soy sauce, olive oil, fresh orange juice, a Maggie Bouillon cube, and jerk seasoning to a food processor or blender; process until smooth and set it aside.
  • Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Pour the reserved jerk marinade over the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover and marinade for 2 hours (but at least 30 minutes).
  • While the shrimp marinates, add cabbage, carrots, scallions, and cilantro to a separate mixing bowl and stir to combine.
  • Preheat the grill by setting all the burners to high heat for about 10 minutes. Turn off the rightmost burner, but maintain an overall grill temperature of 350°F (176°C). Then, use a wooden grill scraper to clean the grates.
  • Thread the shrimp on the skewers and place them on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.
  • Prepare a corn tortilla and top it with some of the reserved cabbage slaw. Add Caribbean hot sauce and finish with the grilled shrimp, to serve.
Notes
Expert Tips:
  • Adjust the amount of seasoning depending on your preference for spiciness. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, I recommend leaving the scotch bonnet or habanero pepper out of the marinade.
  • Cover the bowl and let the shrimp marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. For a more intense flavor, marinate them for at least 2 hours.
  • Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. When fully cooked, the shrimp turn a pinkish-white color; the shrimp should be tender and juicy – then pull the skewers off the grill.
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.
Nutrition
Serving: 1 Taco | Calories: 87 kcal | Carbohydrates: 7 g | Protein: 9 g | Fat: 3 g | Saturated Fat: 0.4 g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0.01 g | Cholesterol: 71 mg | Sodium: 637 mg | Potassium: 270 mg | Fiber: 2 g | Sugar: 2 g | Vitamin A: 2727 IU | Vitamin C: 20 mg | Calcium: 68 mg | Iron: 1 mg
Did you make this recipe? Let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and follow @thejamilghar or tag #thejamilghar on Instagram!
5 from 4 votes (4 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating