Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos

Mexican and Tex MexGluten-FreeLow CarbShrimp

Shrimp baked in a sauce of chopped tomatillos, Cotija cheese, jalapeños, onions and garlic, tossed with cilantro and lime juice.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Some things taste so much better than they look. This is an odd looking dish with the orangey pink shrimp and the light yellow-y green tomatillos, speckled here and there with white Cotija cheese and green cilantro. And you might be thinking, what kind of combination is that?

But hear me out. This odd assortment of ingredients is just a Southwestern riff off a shrimp saganaki, which is typically made with feta and tomato sauce. One of the best received recipes on this site is for baked shrimp in tomato feta sauce. It just works.

Baked Shrimp Tomatillos

The onions and the shrimp provide the sweetness, the tomatillos or tomatoes the acidity, the Cotija queso seco or feta the saltiness, and the cilantro or parsley the bitter. Wrap some in a flour tortilla and you practically have a shrimp quesadilla with salsa verde.

From the recipe archive, first published Sept 2010.

Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Shrimp can be cooked either shell on or shell off. Cooking with the shell on will result in better flavor, but can be fussy to eat, as you have to pick off the shells as you eat them.

Shelling and deveining the shrimp before cooking can add a good 10 minutes to prep time, but the resulting dish is easier to eat.

This is a one pan dish, going from stove-top to oven, so use an oven-proof pan.


  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 1-2 jalapeno chiles, seeded, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb tomatillos, chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup clam juice OR 1/4 cup water*
  • 1 lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined
  • 1 cup Cotija queso seco cheese (can substitute feta)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Black pepper
  • An oven-proof sauté pan or cast iron pan

*One time we made this we used tequila instead of clam juice, it was good too!


1 Sauté the onions and jalapeños: Heat oil in the pan you will use for baking. Add the onions and jalapeños, cook for 5 minutes on medium high until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and cook a minute more.

2 Add tomatillos: Add the tomatillos, reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, until the tomatillos are cooked through, but still hold their shape. Sprinkle salt over the tomatillos as they are cooking.

3 Add clam juice: If using clam juice, add to pan, turn up the heat and reduce by half. If using water, just add the 1/4 cup of water without reducing.

4 Add cheese and shrimp, bake in oven: Add the cheese and shrimp. Cook in a preheated 425°F oven for 10 minutes.

5 Serve with cilantro, lime juice, black pepper: Remove pan from the oven. If using a pan with a handle, such as a cast iron frying pan, I recommend cooling the handle with ice for safety; it's so easy to forget that pan has just come out of the oven, and you grab the hot handle by mistake.

Right before serving, mix in the cilantro and sprinkle with lime juice and freshly ground black pepper.

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Baked Shrimp with Tomatillos

Showing 4 of 69 Comments / Reviews

  • elio

    It’s very tasty. A dish with enough vegetables. The feta makes it so good. Thank you for posting this page!
    Here are the changes of mine-
    shrimp- imitation crab torn in halves
    oil- no oil, earlier introduction of tomatillos
    jalepeno chilis- habanero peppers not cut fried with onions onwards
    black pepper- chili powder
    cilantro- 1/3 the amount in dried cilantro

  • Vanessa

    Hi Elise. Fantastic recipe! I’d just bought a batch of tomatillos, not sure what to do with them but loved the colors. I also write a blog about food and wanted to feature them somehow, and was able to do so using this recipe as a basis. It came out wonderfully. I tweaked it a bit, as all of us cooks do, but your recipe was credited on my blog at so thanks for the inspiration!

  • Gwyn Walton

    Elise, this recipe has become one of our all time favorites! I subscribe to your blog and it popped up in my email a few years ago. My hubby and I made it and WOW it was a HUGE hit. We make this about 6 – 7 times a year or more! It’s my go to recipe anytime I see shrimp on sale. I asked my hubby what did he want to make with the shrimp we just bought. I gave him a list of out most favorite shrimp recipes. He said “you can go wrong with Shrimp with Tomatillo’s!”. I agreed! Just wanted you to know how much we appreciate you posting this recipe! It introduced us to tomatillo’s which we had never had before! It is truly one of our all time favorites! NOM NOM NOM!!! Thank you!!

  • Sarah from Wilmette

    Delicious! I added a small filet of salmon that I needed to use up and a half cup of white wine.

  • Jackie

    I made this as written a few nights ago, with shell on shrimp. It was too fussy to enjoy for a weeknight meal (as you mentioned). I kept it in the oven a bit longer and the shrimp seemed a bit rubbery. Today I decided to take the shells off the left overs and chop up the shrimp a bit. WOW! It was really good. It went from Ehh to yummy.

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