These healthy Blackened Shrimp Tacos are smothered in a cool, creamy dill sauce made with Greek yogurt. You’re going to love this easy 15-minute recipe, plus these tips for defrosting frozen shrimp and toasting corn tortillas perfectly!
Picture this: Warm toasty corn tortilla. Spicy shrimp smothered in blackening spices. Cool and creamy dill sauce with lime and scallion made with Greek yogurt. And if you want (and I highly recommend you do this), a nice cold margarita to wash it all down.
These tacos are, simply put, the perfect quick and easy dinner. They’re light and healthy (especially since the base of the sauce is Greek yogurt, but you can use sour cream if you prefer), and they take only 15 minutes to make (!!).
What is blackened shrimp?
Blackening is a Cajun cooking technique that is often used with fish.
The shrimp, in this case, are coated with a spice mixture and cooked in a very hot cast iron skillet in melted butter. The spices and the dairy particles in the butter become charred and dark in color, but the flesh of the shrimp does not. Hence the name, “blackened.”
You can make your own blackening spice mixture (see recipe notes) or you can use a pre-made blackening mix to save some time. You should be able to easily find it in your grocery store with the other spices.
You can also use another spice mix, such as taco seasoning– the more important part is the technique.
Other recipes that use blackening seasoning:
- Blackened Tilapia with Avocado Cucumber Salsa
- Blackened Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa
- Simple Blackened Chicken
How to make blackened shrimp tacos
- First, mix up the ingredients for the creamy dill sauce and set it aside (recipe below, based on this easy dill dip recipe, which you can also use for these tacos).
- Then, heat a dry cast iron skillet until it’s SUPER hot. You might want to turn your oven fan on for this!
- Pat the shrimp dry and coat them on all sides in the blackening seasoning.
- Add butter to the hot skillet, then cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Serve the shrimp on toasted corn tortillas (or flour, if that’s your thing) with the dill sauce and some shredded cabbage or lettuce.
How to defrost frozen shrimp
There are three ways to defrost frozen shrimp.
- Add the frozen shrimp to a bowl of ice water and let them sit for 20-30 minutes until they’re thawed. You might want to stir it around a little bit, otherwise the shrimp might refreeze over and stick together, making the process take longer. I usually use this method because I can multitask while they’re in the bowl.
- Run cool water over frozen shrimp in a colander until they’re defrosted.
- Place the shrimp on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for 24 hours. Cover the plate with plastic wrap (or use a covered container). This is the easiest way to do it, but it requires planning ahead. There will be some liquid released from the shrimp- drain it before patting it dry.
How to toast corn tortillas
I love using corn tortillas for blackened shrimp tacos because I love the flavor and the fact that they’re whole grain. The downside is that you need to toast them so they don’t fall apart when you try to fold them into tacos. Toasting also enhances their flavor.
There are two ways to toast corn tortillas:
- Use a dry skillet on high heat to toast the tortillas for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Toast the tortillas directly on the gas burner, flipping them over with tongs, for only about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Make sure to be careful with this and monitor them closely! I’ve caught more than one tortilla on fire before.
If you don’t want to deal with toasting, you can microwave the tortillas just to warm them up, which will help make them more pliable. Or, you can just use flour tortillas!
To keep toasted tortillas warm, place them in a tortilla warmer wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel. You can also reheat toasted tortillas directly in the tortilla warmer.
I don’t have cast iron… can I use another kind of skillet?
Definitely! You can use another heavy skillet, such as stainless steel. If you use nonstick, try to keep the heat down a bit.
Cast iron takes a long time to heat up, so you won’t need to preheat your skillet for as much time if you use another kind.
Other easy shrimp recipes
- 15-Minute Shrimp Scampi
- Easy Shrimp and Grits
- Shrimp and Zucchini Fritters with Yogurt Sauce
- Shrimp and Couscous with Peas and Mint
- Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce
- Shrimp and Orzo Salad
Check out all my seafood recipes here.
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Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Dill Sauce
For the Creamy Dill Sauce:
- Mix ingredients for creamy dill sauce in a bowl. Cover and set aside.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until very hot (this can take a couple of minutes- see notes for other skillet types). Turn on your oven fan- it can get smoky!
- Pat the shrimp as dry as you can. Cover with the blackening seasoning (3 tablespoons), pressing it into the surface of each shrimp on all sides.
- Add butter to the hot skillet until melted. Cook shrimp in butter (2 tablespoons) on medium-high heat on both sides until cooked (2-3 minutes on each side).
- Meanwhile, toast corn tortillas in a dry skillet or over your gas burners, or just microwave them to soften a bit (no need to toast flour tortillas, but I do recommend warming them up).
- Serve tacos by distributing equal amounts of shrimp in the 8 tortillas spread with the creamy dill sauce, topped with shredded cabbage/lettuce.
- The dill sauce is a variation on this easy dill dip - you can make a bunch, use some for these tacos, and use the rest for something else!
- You can also make the dill dip ahead of time to make prepping the tacos even faster.
- To make your own blackening seasoning, you can mix together: 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
- Don't have a cast iron skillet? Use another heavy skillet. Other types, like stainless steal or nonstick, won't take as long to heat up as cast iron.
- To thaw frozen shrimp: place the shrimp in a bowl of ice water, mixing up occasionally so they don't stick together, for about 20 minutes until they're defrosted. Alternatively, you can run cool water over the frozen shrimp in a colander until they're thawed. You can also place the shrimp on a plate covered in plastic wrap, or in a container, in the fridge for about 24 hours before you're planning on cooking. Drain any liquid that collects at the bottom of the plate before patting dry
- If you don't want to use the dill sauce, you can use plain sour cream or Greek yogurt, and/or any other taco toppings such as salsa, hot sauce, avocado, etc.
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious in February, 2015. It has been republished with new photos, improved recipe instructions, and more pertinent information.