I got a tad bit cocky with this recipe. I thought for sure my kids would like it, because we spend a week at the beach each summer where we eat shrimp pretty much exclusively. My kids will eat shrimp at the beach!
I should have known, though, that nothing is 100 percent at the dinner table. Plus, it’s possible that I used hot chili powder for my version instead of mild chili powder, making my version on the spicy side. Good for me! Not good for children!
But even if your fickle children boycott this one, the fajitas are still worth making. You can prep the shrimp in advance, toss everything on a hot grill pan or cast iron skillet, and have wonderful homemade fajitas in under 30 minutes. What could be better?!
WHAT KIND OF SHRIMP FOR FAJITAS?
I have no idea how they size shrimp. There are large shrimp (what I recommend for this recipe) that seem medium compared to other shrimp in the store. I’ve never really seen small shrimp, so I’m not sure who is making this scale.
Anyway, for fajitas, I like large shrimp, which usually come 31-35 shrimp per pound. Ultimately you want three to four shrimp per fajita serving, and not just one huge shrimp in each tortilla.
If you can buy good shrimp that has been peeled and deveined already, go for it! I usually like to peel and devein my shrimp on my own, because it tends to save a few bucks—here’s how.
HOW TO SEASON SHRIMP FOR FAJITAS
Shrimp have a mild flavor, and you need to punch them in the tails with spice to be able to hold up to other fajita ingredients. The spice mix for this recipe is no joke. It’s packed with flavor. Use it liberally on the shrimp! They should be well-seasoned when you cook them. If you want to downgrade the heat a bit, leave out the red pepper flakes, and make sure to use a mild chili powder.
HOW TO COOK FAJITAS IN A SKILLET
This recipe works great in either a skillet or over a hot grill. They cook fast and easy either way. I prefer a cast iron skillet, which sears the shrimp nicely.
- Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables first and cook them for five to six minutes, until they are almost cooked. If you add your shrimp and veggies at the same time, the shrimp will be overcooked by the time the veggies are done.
- Once they are almost cooked, scooch them over and add the shrimp. The shrimp cook very fast. In three to four minutes, they will be ready.
HOW TO COOK THE SHRIMP
This recipe is for cooking the shrimp in a skillet on the stovetop: Just cook the veggies first over medium-high grill heat, and then move them to one side and toss in the shrimp!
But if you have access to a grill, this is a nice way to cook these, especially in the summer months. I like to use a grill pan on the grill to make sure the shrimp don’t fall through the grates. The timing is roughly the same.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH FAJITAS
I can make a good meal out of three to four of these fajitas, but if you wanted to serve something else alongside these, you could go with chips and guacamole or queso, rice and beans, or even a simple chopped salad.
I’m not a huge fan of storing cooked shrimp. They are just never as good as on day one. But, if you do find yourself with leftovers, they will keep fine for a few days in the fridge.
Just do me and your family a favor, and please, don’t microwave these. They just get too rubbery and lose flavor. And your microwave will never recover from the smell. Instead, reheat them gently on the stovetop in a skillet.
The DAD ADD: Grilled Serrano Salsa!
This is a little trick I started doing a few years ago after getting irritated by the blandness of some store-bought salsas. I toss a few serrano chiles on the grill to char up a bit (or you can toss them in a small skillet).
Then I remove the seeds, dice the peppers up, and stir them into salsa along with a little extra lime and salt. I find store-bought salsas frequently need a little extra lime and salt. You could also use our recipe for fresh tomato salsa (pico de gallo), and kick that up with the charred serranos.
I kind of already spoiled this report card, but to give you an idea of how bad it was, it wasn’t even worth taking a photo of my children for this one. I even broke one of my general rules and actually just made them spaghetti, because they were not interested. And I made them too spicy for them, anyway.
Turns out, if we are at the beach, my kids will eat whatever. At home? Different story!
LOVE TACOS AND FAJITAS? TRY THESE 5 RECIPES!
Skillet Shrimp Fajitas Recipe
For the DAD ADD: Charred Serrano Salsa:
- 2 serrano chiles
- 1/2 cup medium red salsa, store-bought or homemade
- 1/2 lime, juice only
- Pinch of salt
For the shrimp fajita spice mix:
- 2 teaspoons mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
For the fajitas:
- 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (31/35 size)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 red pepper, sliced
- 1 green pepper, sliced
- 1/2 large red onion, sliced, about 1 cup
- 10 medium flour tortillas
For the toppings:
- Fresh avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Sour cream
1 Make the salsa: Char the serrano chiles in a cast iron skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or grill over medium-high heat. Once cooked, cut the peppers in half and scoop out seeds. Then chop and stir into your favorite salsa along with lime and salt. It boosts the flavor and heat substantially!
2 Season the shrimp: Mix up the spice mix of chili powder, kosher salt, black pepper, granulated onion, cumin, dried oregano, and optional red pepper flakes. Drizzle shrimp with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss with 2 tablespoons of spice mix. Stir well to combine and coat the shrimp.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the peppers and onions, and sprinkle the remaining spice mix over them. Stir to coat.
3 Cook the fajitas: To cook the fajitas on the stovetop, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you’re grilling the fajitas, heat your grill to medium-high heat along with a grill pan.
Once hot, add veggies to the skillet or grill pan and cook for 5 to 6 minutes until vegetables soften and start to char in spots. Scoot the veggies to one side of the pan and add shrimp. Cook shrimp for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly until they are cooked through. They will cook fast!
4 Serve the fajitas: Smear the flour tortillas with some sour cream. Divide veggies and shrimp between tortillas (I like to serve 3 to 4 shrimp per tortilla). You can remove the tails prior to serving, or let each person remove their own tails. Top the fajitas with avocado, salsa, fresh cilantro and/or sour cream.
Leftover fajitas filling will keep okay in the fridge for a day or two. I prefer to reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through. I don’t recommend microwaving shrimp unless you want your microwave to forever smell like shrimp.
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