Nachos are a classic Tex-Mex appetizer that is super easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. This shrimp nachos recipe takes the classic to a whole new level with plump, juicy shrimp, melty cheese, fresh pico de gallo, and a zesty cilantro-lime crema.
Tips for Making the Best Shrimp Nachos
Use freshly made tortilla chips instead of store-bought ones for maximum crunch.
Play around with different cheese combinations like Oaxaca, pepper jack, and queso fresco.
Add other toppings like black beans, corn, jalapeños, or cilantro for extra flavor.
Broil the nachos for 1–2 minutes at the end to get the cheese extra melted and browned.
Swap in grilled shrimp for a nice charred flavor.
Serve with margaritas, salsa, guacamole, and Mexican beer for the full experience.
What can I serve with the shrimp nachos?
The nachos are tasty on their own, but pair great with sides like:
- Guacamole or avocado slices
- Sour cream
- Refried beans or black beans
- Spanish rice
- Corn on the cob
- Margaritas or Mexican beer
Shrimp nachos toppings
Here are some suggested toppings that pair well with shrimp nachos:
- Pico de gallo: The classic fresh salsa adds a tasty crunch and acidity to balance the rich flavors.
- Guacamole: Creamy avocado is always a winner. The cooling texture offsets the hot nachos.
- Sour cream: A cooling dollop of tangy sour cream helps cut through the spice.
- Jalapeños – Add some heat and crunch with sliced or diced jalapeños.
- Corn: The sweetness of grilled or roasted corn is a nice complement.
- Black beans: Hearty, protein-packed black beans make a satisfying addition.
- Queso fresco: Sprinkle on the mild, creamy cheese for an extra layer of cheesy goodness.
- Cilantro: Fresh herb brightness is imperative. Chopped cilantro ties everything together.
- Lime wedges: brighten up each bite with a squirt of fresh lime juice.
- Salsa verde – The herby green salsa makes a great smothering sauce.
- Cotija cheese: The salty, crispy texture of cotija cheese on top is addictive.
- Pickled onions: Tangy quick-pickled red onions add great flavor and crunch.
The possibilities are endless for delicious mix-ins and toppings to make shrimp nachos your own!
Tips for buying shrimp
Here are some tips for buying shrimp: And bold, Important sentences for the readers:
- Look for shrimp that smell fresh and whose flesh appears firm and shiny; avoid any with dry, cracked shells.
- Opt for wild caught shrimp over farm-raised when possible for better texture and flavor.
- Check for certification labels like MSC for sustainably caught seafood.
- Purchase shrimp raw and uncooked instead of pre-cooked. This ensures better flavor and texture.
- Avoid pre-peeled, deveined shrimp, as important flavor can be lost. Peel or devein yourself just before cooking.
- For convenience, buy shrimp frozen in their shells. Thaw gently under cool running water or overnight in the fridge.
- For maximum freshness, use shrimp within a day or two of purchase. Freeze extras.
- Ask questions at the seafood counter and confirm where and when the shrimp was caught.
- Buy shell-on shrimp when planning to make stock from the shells or heads.
- Choose the size based on your recipe: smaller for appetizers, larger for entrees and pastas.
- Estimate 4-6 medium shrimp per person for a main course like shrimp nachos.
- Compare prices between spot prawns, white shrimp, tiger shrimp, and rock shrimp.
- Avoid pre-seasoned shrimp if you plan to add your own flavors.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will the shrimp nachos keep?
The shrimp nachos are best enjoyed right after assembly. The warm tortilla chips start to lose their crunch after about 10–15 minutes.
You can prep all the components, like the shrimp and pico de gallo, ahead of time, then assemble and bake the nachos right before serving.
Can I make this recipe gluten free?
Yes! Use gluten-free tortilla chips instead of regular to make this recipe gluten-free. Just check the label to make sure the chips are certified gluten-free.
Can I use frozen shrimp?
It’s best to use fresh or thawed shrimp for this recipe, as frozen shrimp release a lot of water when cooked, which can make the nachos soggy. If using frozen, be sure to thaw completely first and pat dry well before cooking.
How spicy are these shrimp nachos?
The amount of spice is customizable based on your preferences. The chili powder and cumin give the shrimp a mild kick, but you can leave them out for no spice.
Or add cayenne, chopped jalapeños, or hot sauce to amp up the heat. The pico de gallo also adds a nice freshness to balance the spice.
Do I need to cook the shrimp first?
Yes, you want to make sure the shrimp are fully cooked before assembling and baking the nachos.
Trying to cook raw shrimp from cold in the oven may result in unsafely undercooked shrimp. Par-cooking on the stovetop first ensures food safety.
- 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bag of tortilla chips
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1⁄2 cups of pico de gallo
- 1 avocado, diced
- Cilantro-lime crema (recipe below)
For the cilantro-lime crema:
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
Prep the Shrimp:
- In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper until coated. Set aside.
Make the cilantro-lime crema:
- In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Cook the Shrimp:
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side until pink and opaque. Be careful not to overcook. Remove from pan and set aside.
Assemble the Nachos:
- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Spread the tortilla chips out on a large baking sheet. Top evenly with the cheeses.
- Bake for 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.
- Remove the nachos from the oven and top with the cooked shrimp, pico de gallo, avocado, and cilantro lime crema.
- Serve immediately while the chips are still warm and crispy. Enjoy!
- Use fresh, high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. Quality tortilla chips, shrimp, and produce make a difference.
- The shrimp can be prepared earlier in the day and refrigerated until ready to cook and assemble the nachos.
- Double or triple the pico de gallo recipe if you love it. Leftovers are great on tacos, salads, eggs, etc.
- Play around with different cheese varieties and combinations to find your favorites.
- Assembly is quick once the components are prepped. Have everyone build their own nachos for fun.
- Swap in grilled veggie crumbles or black beans to make the nachos vegetarian or vegan.
- Store any leftover shrimp and pico de gallo separately. Re-crisp the tortilla chips in the oven.
- Nachos are best consumed immediately after baking. Reheated or leftover nachos won't have the same amazing, fresh-from-the-oven taste and texture.
- Add hot sauce, jalapenos, or other spices to amp up the heat if desired. Start with less and add more to taste.
- Garnish with extra cilantro, green onion, queso fresco, or avocado for a pop of color.
Hi, I’m Julie, the passionate foodie and founder of Juliesfamilykitchen.com. I created this blog out of a drive to prove someone wrong, and then I realized how much I truly enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. In my free time, when I’m not running around after my kids or spending quality time with my partner, you can usually find me in the kitchen experimenting with new dishes.