Cilantro Lime Shrimp

One of the things I love about shrimp is that it cooks up so quickly on the stovetop, perfect when you have hot weather and you don’t want to use the oven, or have the stove going too long. Case in point, this cilantro lime shrimp.

If you have shrimp fresh and ready to go, it takes 10 or 15 minutes to cook, tops. If you are starting with frozen shrimp, maybe you have to add another 10 minutes to defrost it. Cilantro and lime are one of those master combinations, which works well with steak, chicken, fish, and especially shrimp.

Start with few slices of serrano chiles and garlic in a little oil in a hot pan. Toss in the shrimp, stir a little, cook a little, and when the shrimp are pink, turn off the heat and add the cilantro and lime. That’s it! Couldn’t be easier, and now you have a perfect little light meal. I like to wrap mine in a heated tortilla. So good!

Cilantro Lime Shrimp Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4

If you are using frozen shrimp, defrost them by placing them in a bowl of ice water or cold water. Adding a little salt to the water will help the shrimp retain their briny flavor.



  • 2 Tbsp high smoke point oil such as grape seed oil, or canola oil
  • 1  Serrano chile (more if you like it spicy, or just a fraction of one if you want less heat), sliced into thin rings
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 Tbsp lime juice


1 Place a large sauté pan or a wok over your strongest burner on high heat. Let the pan heat up for a minute and then add the oil. Use a high smoke point oil since you will be cooking the shrimp on very high heat. Let the oil heat until it's shimmering. If it starts to smoke, remove the pan from the heat for a moment.

2 Add the chiles to the pan and toss to coat with oil. Cook 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and garlic to the pan and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat with oil. Let the shrimp cook undisturbed for 1 minute before tossing again so they get a little bit of a sear. Stir-fry until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.

cilantro-lime-shrimp-1.jpg cilantro-lime-shrimp-2.jpg
cilantro-lime-shrimp-3.jpg cilantro-lime-shrimp-4.jpg

3 Turn off the heat and mix in the cilantro, then the lime juice.

Serve hot or at room temperature. Serve alone, over rice, or in a folded heated flour or corn tortilla.

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Tomato-Cilantro Shrimp - from The Kitchn

Grilled Tequila Lime Shrimp - from Use Real Butter

Pickled Shrimp with Lime - from Homesick Texan

Cilantro Lime Shrimp


  1. gina @ skinnytaste

    I love Cilantro Lime Shrimp! It’s a staple in my home, love your version with the spicy peppers!

  2. Lee

    Very similar to something I make called Margarita Shrimp. Just before the shrimp are finished, add a little tequila and light. Once the alcohol is finished cooking out, add the lime and cilantro. Serve hot over rice and beans and garnished with diced mangoes or cold in margarita glasses garnished with salt and lime wedges!

  3. Lisa H.

    This looks perfect. Having it tonight with brown rice, Thanks Elise, you post the best recipes!

  4. Sally

    That sounds delicious! Lee’s version sounds good, too.

  5. Angela

    Thanks Elise, have just started a dreaded diet (thanks to 3 months in Seattle and L.A. and no dogs to walk)and shrimps are on the menu, so this has cheered me up and spurred me on… on a diet can be OK after all with recipes like these…..

  6. Paz

    You had me at cilantro. :-) Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  7. Valorie

    This sounds great. I make a tequila lime sauce with cilantro and minced garlic in it to put on shrimp or fish. I also add a little olive oil, honey, salt, pepper and minced jalapeno.

  8. Anne Maxfield

    I make a similar shrimp dish, inspired by something I ate at a roadside joint near Costa Carayes. I cook the shrimp quickly in some melted butter, add a big shot of Frank’s Hot Sauce and then the lime and cilantro to finish. It’s great over rice or in tortillas!

  9. Sheila

    Love this, great quick summer meal!

  10. Susanne

    Having this tonight on top of gazpacho garnished with avacado and some corn bread on the side.

  11. Dwight

    Why would you cook this over heat? If you left the shrimp in the lime long enough the lime would cook the shrimp – just like ceviche. This dish sounds like it might be better served cold than hot (especially for a summer dish).

  12. Christine

    This was fantastic!! Our daughter asked me to make it again for dinner the next night. Thanks for a great recipe.

  13. Alison

    Really enjoyed this dish. It tasted great and was really quick and easy to make!

  14. sue

    really liked this receipe.. i put it in a wrap with rice

  15. Lynne

    I made this the other night and it was delish. Fresh cilantro from my garden. Thank you for the recipe. Had to substitute the peppers for jalapeno peppers and they worked really well. I like spicy. Good thing too.

  16. leah

    Wonderful recipe, so quick and easy. Instead of using fresh cilantro I substituted the pesto from your Cilantro Pesto recipe and it was fantastic. Everyone gave it a thumbs up!

  17. Kilyena

    This was sooo good! Cooked exactly as recipe stated with no changes and it definitely doesn’t need any. We put them in tortillas along with some grilled onions and Mexican cheese blend and made quesadillas. Topped them off with some homemade guacamole and homemade salsa and sour cream. Our family loved it! My 20 year old daughter says it’s one of her most favorite dinners. The shrimp has such a wonderful flavor to it. This would be good over rice or pasta as well. Elise you have the best recipes love your site it’s one of my favorites.

    So glad you liked them! ~Elise

  18. Amy

    I honestly despised this dish because for one, it was WAY too spicy! And second, while you are making this dish, the scent from the Serrano peppers travels throughout the entire home and stings eyes and throats.

    • Elise

      Hi Amy, the amount of chiles is always a matter of taste or preference. Also, some chiles are hotter than others! If you happen to have some particularly hot chiles, adjust the amount way down. You can also skip the chiles all together if you want.

  19. BobLowe

    This was good, but you REALLY have to cook very hot and shrimp are done when browned, not 2-3 minutes.

  20. Aaron

    This was tasty and quick (except for cleaning the shrimp–that took about 45 minutes, as this shrimp needed cleaning on both sides).


    1. The peppers started burning within about 15-20 seconds. Move quickly with the next step (putting in the shrimp).
    2. Definitely put in 2 tbs of lime juice.
    3. Don’t inhale the fumes during cooking–the serrano pepper burns.
    4. I served it with herb linguini. If you’re doing something similar, I recommend adding some sautéed cherry tomatoes to give it some moisture. I will do that next time.

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