Looking for an easy summer appetizer packed with flavor? This grilled Jalapeño Tequila Shrimp is quick to make and a light appetizer your guests will love! It can also be served as a meal with some summer sides.
How many country music songs have been written about tequila? I can think of about 10 off the top of my head and I'm sure that doesn't even brush the surface of tequila tunes. There's just something about tequila that inspires music I guess.
Or maybe you just drink so much and you can't help but sing? Yup, that's probably it.
Don't get me wrong, I'll never ever turn down a margarita (especially a really well made one with all fresh ingredients [no sour mix, please] and some muddled jalapeño, too... yum!), but I also really love cooking with tequila.
And in the summer, grilling with tequila.
I first made this tequila shrimp appetizer recipe back in 2011 when Chris and I were living in a Brookline apartment building with a community grill. I'm pretty sure we rented the grill space out basically every weekend for that whole summer... And many weeknights, too.
These drunken shrimp were a mainstay in our summer diet.
❤️ Why you'll love this recipe
This jalapeño tequila shrimp is the most perfect summer appetizer. It's packed with flavor, but is still pretty light and health and leaves room for the main event.
The spicy lime flavors are reminiscent of summer and these skewers can also certainly be served on their own as an easy dinner entree with a side or two. They can also be an alternative to burgers and hot dogs for any BBQ guests that prefer fish.
Grilling is one of the easiest forms of cooking and as long as you can get the grill started (my least favorite part), you're pretty much good to go. Grilling something like shrimp takes about 6 minutes and there's something about shrimp on the grill that's so much more delicious than when it's made indoors.
This tequila shrimp recipe consists of all simple ingredients, though you can certainly jazz it up with additional ingredients if you want.
Here's what you need (be sure to see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions):
- Shrimp: I like to use extra jumbo, but you can use the size of your choice
- Fresh lime juice
- Orange juice
🌶️ How to make jalapeño tequila marinade
The spicy shrimp marinade is so easy to whip together and can be quickly made in a blender or food processor.
You can even make it ahead of time if you're crazy stressed with the rest of your party prep. Just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
I love my Vitamix for food prep, but you can use any standard blender.
I haven't tried doing it yet, but I'm thinking this marinade would also be delicious with a splash of my jalapeño simple syrup mixed in!
🦐 What size shrimp to use
Shrimp sizes are so confusing, aren't they? The chart in this blog post is super helpful to see all the size options.
I like to use extra jumbo shrimp for this recipe as they're nice and big and make for a substantial appetizer bite.
But you can really use any size you choose; just note that cooking times may change.
🍤 How to prep shrimp
Cleaning the raw shrimp is really the most time-consuming part of this whole recipe, but even that doesn't take very long.
You can use either fresh shrimp or frozen shrimp from the grocery store, just be sure to thaw them before prepping.
I peel and devein the shrimp (if necessary), but leave the tails on for visual appeal. Then I thread 4 or 5 shrimp on a skewer and place them in a baking dish. And pour that beautiful marinade over the top, along with some salt and black pepper.
If you're using wooden skewers, I recommend soaking them in water before threading the shrimp on. This is just for safety sake since you'll be putting the wooden or bamboo skewers on a very hot grill.
Or you can purchase metal reusable skewers.
I let the tequila shrimp sit in the fridge for about an hour, rotating the skewers halfway through.
👩🍳 How to grill shrimp
And then it's time to throw the shrimp on the barbie! (feel free to say that loudly and with an Australian accent). Also, if you don't have a barbie at your disposal, you can always use a grill pan.
Or at the end of the day, any regular old pan. But like I said, grilled shrimp is just dreamy. If you don't have a lot of space, but really want a grill, I recommend the Weber Q Grill!
Heat the grill to medium heat and lightly brush the grates with olive oil (or the cooking oil of your choice). Place the tequila jalapeño shrimp skewers on the grill and cover, cooking for about 3 minutes on each side until the shrimp are pink, before moving them to a separate platter.
I like to garnish the platter with sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, and some mint leaves.
I also whipped up this super quick yogurt dip because I wanted a little something guests could dip the shrimp in if they so desired.
It's just Greek yogurt, garlic, and lime juice. Easy! You can add a little adobo to this amazing sauce if you want an added kick.
These slightly spicy tequila shrimp make the most perfect grilling season appetizer or side dish to almost any summer meal (Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches are another fabulous summer appetizer!). If you're having a little summer BBQ, your guests can all just grab a skewer or two.
And you can clean off the grill for the next portion of the meal. Burgers? Dogs? Steak? Ribs? How crazy do you get when it comes to summer BBQs?
I also like to call these spicy margarita shrimp because that's kind of what they are!
🎉 Variations on dish
This is a pretty basic spicy tequila shrimp dish, but there's a lot you could do with it to take it up a notch or suit it to your tastes. Here are some ideas:
- To boost the lime flavor, top with some lime zest
- For more spice, add on red pepper flakes or serve with hot sauce
- For another garnish, sprinkle with fresh cilantro or parsley
- Serve it in shrimp salad form with butter lettuce, red onion, and cucumber
- Make it a meal by serving the shrimp with white rice, brown rice, quinoa, or flour tortillas
- Use these for shrimp tacos
Of course, you could also grill up these skewers and just enjoy the tequila jalapeño shrimp as a main meal. Which is basically how I live my best life in the summer.
Enjoy them with some rice or with a nice side salad for an easy weeknight dinner on a hot evening. Also, you should know that although I almost always prefer red wine, this shrimp is just dreamy with a nice cold glass of white.
And obviously with rosé. Because what doesn't go fabulously with rosé on a hot day?
🍽️ More shrimp recipes
If you love shrimp (in the summer and year-round) as much as I do, check out my other favorite shrimp recipes!
- Shrimp Scampi Pizza
- Steak and Shrimp Scampi
- Tequila Shrimp Ceviche
- Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Parmesan
- Chilled Mexican Corn Bisque with Shrimp
- Shrimp and Feta Orzo Salad
- Chili Mango Shrimp Pineapple Fried Rice
- Shrimp Spring Rolls (from BellyFull)
- Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta (from Damn Delicious)
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to go write a song about tequila shrimp. Because, while there are plenty of songs about tequila, there aren't nearly enough about jalapeño tequila marinated shrimp. And really, I think that could make for a #1 hit.
What's your favorite summer appetizer?
Tequila Jalapeño Shrimp
- 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 mint leaves
- ⅓ cup tequila
- ¼ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup lime juice (from about 2 limes)
- 1 lb. extra jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails left on
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Yogurt Dipping Sauce
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 2 Tbsp lime juice (from 1 lime)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Combine jalapeño, garlic, and mint in food processor and process until minced. Add in the tequila, orange juice, and lime juice and pulse to combine.
- Thread 4-5 shrimp onto a skewer and lay in a shallow baking dish. Repeat for all the shrimp. Pour the tequila jalapeño marinade over them. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Place skewers in fridge and let marinate for about an hour, rotating skewers halfway through.
- Heat grill to medium and lightly oil grill grates. Place shrimp skewers on grill and cover, cooking for about 3 minutes on each side until pink, before moving to a separate platter for serving.
Yogurt Dipping Sauce
- In a medium bowl, mix together yogurt, lime juice, garlic, and salt and pepper until well combined.
- If you're using wooden skewers, I recommend soaking them in water before threading the shrimp.