Shrimp tacos with green chile adobo are the sort of elevated dish you’d eagerly order at your favorite Mexican restaurant, so you’ll be surprised to learn how quick and easy they are to make at home! A bright, zesty adobo verde is quite literally the secret sauce.

Three shrimp tacos on a small plate.

You can never have too many taco recipes, yes? Chicken tacos, beef tacos, fish tacos, black bean tacos, and, maybe most exciting of all, shrimp tacos.

You will love these because they’re everything wonderful and approachable about tacos, yet a bit impressive at the same time. You might even feel a little chic–at least relatively speaking for a meal best eaten with your hands!

This particular shrimp taco really shines thanks to the added crunch of a bright cilantro-lime-cabbage slaw and the added heat of a green chile adobo sauce.

Fair warning: make this sauce once, and there’s a good chance you’ll be completely obsessed. It’s easy to make and has an irresistible blend of heat, salt, garlic, and fresh herb-y flavor.

What is adobo sauce?

Traditional adobo sauce is rich, earthy, and reddish-brown, with a thick, BBQ sauce-like consistency. Made from dried ancho chile peppers, adobo sauce is ridiculously versatile and used in many ways throughout Mexican cuisine. It’s most often and easily found enveloping the canned chipotle chili peppers you can buy off the shelf, but you can also make it yourself using ancho chile powder.

The next obvious question, then: can adobo sauce be green? Well, Rick Bayless says yes, and that’s all the convincing I personally need!

Swap out the ancho chiles for a vibrant combination of parsley, cilantro, garlic, and green chiles, and you have a thinner, lighter, still flavor-packed sauce that is the perfect accompaniment for plump, seasoned shrimp.

Ingredient notes

Here are the ingredients you will need to make shrimp tacos with green chile adobo:

  • 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp. I typically purchase large bags of frozen shrimp. Most “fresh” shrimp you see in a seafood case were previously frozen, anyway, and we find the ones sold frozen actually taste better once cooked. Do yourself a favor and buy them pre-peeled and deveined, because it saves a ton of time.
  • Serrano or jalapeno chiles. Rick Bayless’ original recipe for green chile adobo calls for serrano chiles, which are available in many major grocery stores, but not quite as universally as jalapenos. The two are similar, heat-wise, so I’ve tested this sauce with all serranos, all jalapenos, and a combination, and been very happy all ways, so use whichever you prefer.
  • Garlic.
  • Fresh cilantro and parsley. I usually use flat-leaf Italian parsley; curly parsley works, as well.
  • Shredded red or green cabbage. Cabbage can last several weeks in the fridge, even if you buy it pre-shredded. It’s a great staple, especially if you’re trying to shop infrequently.
  • Lime for juice, and wedges for serving, if desired.
  • Olive oil.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper.
  • Tortillas, obviously, plus avocado, guacamole, and any other finishing touches.
Collage showing mixed cabbage slaw and shrimp mixed with green adobo sauce.

Sauce, slaw, sauté

Although these shrimp tacos require a few components for maximum texture and flavor, each element is super simple, so the overall meal is still fairly low-maintenance. Here’s the best order to do things:

  1. Make the adobo sauce. Quickly roast the chiles and garlic in a skillet, then blitz them together with the parsley, cilantro, olive oil, and salt in a blender or food processor until smooth. Bonus: if needed, this step can be done as much as a week (!) in advance and stored in the fridge.
  2. Make the slaw. Combine cabbage, a bit more cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a bowl. If you like a creamy slaw, mix in a spoonful of sour cream or Greek yogurt.
  3. Cook the shrimp. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet, add the shrimp, salt, and pepper, and cook just until they’re no longer translucent.
  4. Combine shrimp with generous spoonfuls of adobo sauce, assemble your tacos, and dig in! Adding avocado is definitely encouraged; the cool creamy texture is the perfect finishing touch.
Overhead image of two shrimp tacos served with green chile adobo sauce.

Pairings and more ways to enjoy

Of course our favorite way to enjoy these shrimp tacos is stuffed into the homemade flour tortillas. Heaven!

They make a terrific meal to themselves, but if you’re feeding a crowd, add some simple skillet black beans or a fresh watermelon tomatillo salad.

If you are lucky enough to have any leftovers, store shrimp and slaw separately in the fridge. Warm the shrimp briefly, along with rice, beans, corn, or other veggies if you like, then add the slaw. Ta-da: shrimp taco bowls, possibly the world’s most perfect lunch.

The green chile adobo sauce can also easily be doubled, stored in a jar, and used as needed. It’s amazing spooned over any grilled meat, fish, or veggies; used as a marinade; served as a dipping sauce with chips or grilled bread; or swirled into scrambled eggs.

More Mexican favorites

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Shrimp Tacos with Green Chile Adobo

This is the sort of elevated dish you’d eagerly order at your favorite Mexican restaurant, so you’ll be happily surprised to learn how quick and easy they are to whip up at home! A bright, zesty adobo verde is quite literally the secret sauce.

Ingredients

For the Adobo Sauce:

  • 2-3 fresh serrano or jalapeno chile peppers
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup loosely-packed fresh cilantro roughly chopped
  • 1 cup loosely-packed fresh parsley roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Slaw:

  • 3 cups shredded red or green cabbage about 9 ounces
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 and 1/2 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined, tails off
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

To Serve:

Instructions

  • To make the sauce, place chile peppers and garlic cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat. Roast for about 10 minutes, turning regularly, until both are brown in spots. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Peel the garlic cloves, if not already peeled, and remove stems from the chile peppers. If you want to reduce the heat of the sauce, cut open 1 or more of the peppers and scrape out and discard the seeds. Combine peppers, garlic, cilantro, parsley, olive oil, and salt in a blender or food processor, and blend until mostly smooth.
  • To make the slaw, combine cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl and toss well.
  • To cook the shrimp, warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook, flipping once, just until they’re pink and cooked through. Transfer shrimp to a bowl and toss with a generous amount of the adobo sauce.
  • Assemble tacos with slaw, shrimp, sliced avocado or guacamole, extra sauce, and other toppings as desired. Dig in!

Notes

  • The adobo sauce recipe can be easily made ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use, up to 2-3 weeks. It can also easily be doubled and used as needed. It’s amazing spooned over any grilled meat, fish, or veggies; used as a marinade; served as a dipping sauce with chips or grilled bread; or swirled into scrambled eggs.
  • If you prefer a creamier slaw, simply add 1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt to the cabbage, taste, and season more with lime juice and salt as desired.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 461kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 429mg, Sodium: 2224mg, Potassium: 429mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 2307IU, Vitamin C: 69mg, Calcium: 308mg, Iron: 5mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!

Recipe for green chile adobo sauce slightly adapted from Rick Bayless.

Shrimp tacos served with adobo verde, slaw, and avocado.