Crispy Shrimp Tacos

Crispy Fried Shrimp Tacos with Ancho Chile Tartar Sauce

This recipe is a bit of a bastardization of a food that I already associate more with California than I do with Mexico. Instead of using a flaky fried fish, as you would in a Baja-style fish taco, I substituted in golden fried shrimp, battered in a dark beer batter that puffs up super light and crispy, almost like a tempura. Topped with a quick cabbage and cilantro slaw, a squeeze of lime, and topped with our spin on a lightly spicy tartar sauce, these tacos are enough to mentally transport you to warmer climates.

Crispy Fried Shrimp Tacos with Ancho Chile Tartar Sauce
Makes 6 to 8 tacos


  • 1 cup dark beer
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound 26/30 count shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • Peanut oil (for frying)
  • 1 small red cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice from two limes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 dried ancho chile, whole
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup pickle relish
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges


Whisk beer, flour, and salt in a medium bowl until well blended. In a deep frying pan, heat oil to 360 degrees. Dip each shrimp in batter, and drain excess. Drop gently into hot oil in batches, and cook until golden brown. Transfer cooked shrimp to drain on paper towels.

In a separate bowl, toss cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, vegetable oil, and jalapeno until evenly coated, and set aside.

In a small saucepan, cover dried ancho chile in water, and bring to a simmer over high heat. After water simmers, remove from heat and let soak for 15 minutes. Carefully remove pepper from water, break off stem, and discard. Add to bowl of a food processor with mayonnaise, pickle relish, and onion, and blend until smooth.

To assemble each taco, stack two warm tortillas, and top with three or four pieces of shrimp. Top with a spoonful of slaw, and serve with ancho tartar sauce on the side, with plenty of lime wedges to squeeze over the top.


  1. says

    Dang, these look good. I have tried fish tacos at home but my not so adventurous boyfriend didn’t love the texture. I love shrimp though, and they can have a slightly … ‘meatier’ texture. These could be a win. I certainly want to try them. 😉

    • says

      Kita, for your texture-sensitive boyfriend, try a crispier batter on the shrimp than I have listed. Try dipping in a milk and egg mixture, then dredging in a flour and cornmeal mixture. You’ll get a great crunchy coating to go with that “meatier” texture.

    • Malcolm says

      Dried anchos can be tough, which is why we tend to buy them by the giant bagful. They keep forever, so when you see ’em, grab ’em. How did the Anaheims work out?

      • Dan says

        Turned out great. I can’t compare it to the ancho, but I can say that I want to eat the sauce on everything. The peppers are really mild (at least the ones I got were), so I ended up using three- and the spice could be detected but wasn’t overpowering.

  2. says

    I get dried anchos in the Mexican food section (ie, Goya section) of the Sav-A-Lot grocery store on St John Street in Portland.
    I use a lot of anchos & chipotles making Chocolate Chile Pepper Cake for Pepperclub restaurant. Usually get them wholesale but in a pinch that store always has them. Lots of other varieties too. Love your site!

    • Malcolm says

      Thanks for the tip, Carolyn! Shaw’s also has a puzzlingly thorough Mexican section…it can be a great place to stock up, as well as Wal-Mart, for whatever reason. Thanks for reading!

  3. Jim says

    Whole Foods in Portland carries dried chiles, out of Dresden (I needed them for your recent enchiladas post). Since they carry the double whammy of organic and Whole Foods, they might be pretty expensive (around 5 bucks for a 2.5 oz bag), but they have a nice selection and they did the trick.

    • Malcolm Bedell says

      Whole Foods has dramatically ramped up their whole dried chile selection, ensuring you can almost always find what you need…but you’re right, that selection does come at a premium price.

  4. Madonna says

    Made this last night for the family and it was a hit! I didn’t have time to make the sauce but they still love it.

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