Mexican Prawns are a quick and easy recipe. With a zesty flavorful sauce, fresh ingredients and succulent juicy prawns we whip up this quick dinner. Perfect on a busy weeknight when time is of the essence, 10-15 minutes of your time and dinner is done. This Mexican prawns recipe turns into a takeout style dish from the comfort of home and the sanctuary of your couch 😉👍.
🤍 Recipe Highlights
I have summarised everything that you will come to know and love (LOVE ❤) about the Mexican style prawns recipe in the points below:
- Quick and easy: we prepare the prawns, whip together a sauce and stir to combine. This is a very quick to make recipe with grocery store ingredients and basic steps.
- Full flavor: intentionally adding this that and everything else to make the marinade means the prawns are absolutely loaded with flavour.
- No marinade time: is it a sauce, yes. Is it it a marinade, yes, you could call it that. Do you need to spend hours marinating the prawns, nope they are good to go once combined with the saucy marinade.
- Alternative protein: we think of Chicken, Beef, Pork, Tofu and Lamb as proteins and seafood is another great go to that provides a different taste and texture when we are home cooking.
- Taste and texture: from the juicy cooked prawns to the spicy Mexican seasoning, chewy rice and drizzle of lime juice we are working to kick a number of yum boxes all at the same time 😉👍!
The photo below is to show you everything you need to make the easy shrimp recipe. Please refer to the printable recipe card for specific ingredient measurements as well as detailed instructions.
As you can see the recipe calls for:
- Salt and pepper: we use cooking salt and a little bit of black pepper to season the marinade.
- Garlic powder: an excellent pantry staple that is handy to have at all times. It can, however, dry out if in the cupboard but not used for a while, so check the bottle before heading to the shops.
- Onion powder: as above and a complementary pairing with the garlic powder. This is excellent to have in the cupboard. No peeling, chopping or crying needed.
- Dried coriander: also known as dried cilantro. As much as we are also using the fresh herb, we use a little of this in the marinade as another means of adding a depth of flavour.
- Chilli powder: they wouldn't be Mexican prawns without this 😂👌. That being said, I pull this dried spice back a little as to not make the prawns too overwhelming spicy. Flavoursome yes, need to drink a litre of water after each one, no. Also known as chili powder in some countries.
- Cumin: an aromatic spice that packs a little punch. We only need to use a small amount of this for it to go a long way.
- Paprika: bright and bold in vibrant colour. This dried spice rounds out some of the herbs and spices used for the Mexican prawn marinade. We need ground (mild) paprika.
- Cilantro: also known as fresh coriander. We want to use kitchen scissors to remove the leaves from the stems and then a glass to finely chop them. They then go into the marinade making for a flavoursome zesty sauce.
- Olive oil: the olive oil helps to bring all of the marinade ingredients together as opposed to it being a dry wet rub. Using this in the marinade also means that we don't need to add extra oil to the pan when we are cooking the prawns.
- Limes: this beautiful bright green citrus fruit is an absolute pleasure to cook with. We use both its skin (zested) and its liquids (juiced) for the prawn marinade.
- Prawns: we want to use fresh prawns that we peel and devein ourselves. The reward from this work is the juicy succulent and flavor packed seafood that practically melts in our mouths.
Tasty Tip: I like to provide you with a number of substitutions and variations giving you an array of options when making the recipe. If in doubt of any of the above ingredients, or wanting alternatives, read this section (further below) before jumping into the instructions on how to make the recipe which are coming next 😉👌.
Here are the step by step instructions to make the recipe. We start by zesting the limes. You will need a microplane zester and cutting board.
- Zest the limes (Photo 1)
- Juice the limes (Photo 2)
- Prepare the prawns (Photo 3)
- Gather the marinade ingredients (Photo 4)
👩🍳 How to Make Mexican Prawns
To make the mexican prawns recipe start by zesting the limes. Do this by grabbing a microplane zester and using a chopping board. Once done slice each of the limes in halves and then juice them.
Then set this aside whilst we prepare the prawns.
Start by twisting the head off each prawn, then removing the tail, followed by the shell. Then take a knife and cut down the backbone and remove the digestive track from the back of the prawns.
Next, gather the ingredients to make the sauce.
Add the chopped cilantro, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, chilli powder, cumin, paprika, lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper to a small bowl and use a mini whisk to combine.
You can see what this will look like in the photo above and below.
- Stir to combine (Photo 5)
- Add the prawns to a large bowl (Photo 6)
- Pour over the marinade and stir to combine (Photo 7)
- Transfer to a large pan and cook (Photo 8)
The prawns will need to be in the pan for 4-5 minutes to cook. As they are covered in the thick marinade, this is slightly longer than if their raw flesh was on the hot pan.
Use a wooden spoon to rotate and move them during this time. They are cooked when they noticeably change colour to orange, have a firm texture and they have no clear flesh visible as it has all turned white.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
For a white wine pairing, try a chilled glass of pink rose or for white wine, a pinot gri. For red wine lovers opt for a smooth pinot noir.
Pop some lime wedges in the bowl for serving so the eaters can give the prawns a squeeze of lime, add some fresh cilantro, rice or crusty bread and its a meal in one 😁👍.
👍 How to Guide
How to Store
Store leftovers of the prawns in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge. Then can be kept for 2-3 days and need to be reheated before being consumed.
How to Freeze
You can freeze the raw prawns as a means to be organised and then remove them from the freezer, allow them to thaw and then make the recipe if you wish too.
I don't however, recommend freezing leftovers of the prawns as it changes their texture to a rubbery one and you loose the fresh seafood delight of them.
How to Reheat
Add the prawns to a bowl and cover with cling wrap. Use the microwave to reheat them on high for 2-3 minutes or till warmed through.
😉 Substitutions and Variations
Here are my sub ins and outs that you might be thinking about as you read the post and I will tell you if I think they will work or why they won't:
- King prawns, banana prawns or tiger prawns will work for the recipe.
- You can reduce the chilli powder even further if you are a little worried about the prawns being too spicy.
- On the other hand, I would not double it as the flavor will overwhelm the dish.
- If you love the idea of this but are not wanting to measure all of the spices, you can use a sachet of taco seasoning in place of them 😁👌.
- If you are considering lemons in place of the limes, I don't support the flavor combination. Sorry, but nope. If you have no limes, you are best off using bottled lime juice with no lime zest as an alternative.
- You can keep the tails on the prawns if you wish too.
💡 Tasty Tips
Here are my top tips and tricks that I want to share with you so that you master the recipe from the get go:
- Be really careful when zesting the limes. The pain of a cut from the zester with the citrus sting, really does hurt! I prefer to use more limes ie 4 and liberally zest them as opposed to 2 and have to vigorously zest them as a means to avoid sharp cuts.
- I do measure the zest and juice before adding them to the marinade to ensure that the ratio of spices and citrus is spot on perfect each time.
- Limes don't have seeds like lemons do so you don't have to worry about picking them out of the juice. If there is any juicy flesh bits of lime in the juice, that is totally fine to add to the sauce.
- Yes, it does take a little hands on work to peel and prepare the prawns, but it is so very worth it. The flavor is spot on perfect. Some frozen pre peeled prawns are overly watery and rubbery, yuck! 😆
- If you love Mexican foods, you might like to try the Mexican Lime Chicken Thighs, Mexican Beef Soup, Mexican Ribs or the loaded Mexican Fries as other delightful flavor combinations.
🤓 Frequently Asked Questions
How to make prawns juicy?
Marinate the prawns with the sauce before cooking them and stop cooking them when they are bright orange with no clear flesh. This will ensure that they remain soft and juicy.
What part of the prawn is not eaten?
We want to remove the digestive tract of the prawns and discard this before cooking them.
How many prawns per person?
Aim for around 6 - 8 prawns per person.
Should I wash raw prawns before cooking?
As a general part of the process in preparing the prawns, it is a good idea to give them a rinse once peeled and deveined. This allows any excess messy bits to be rinsed away so that you have clean, fresh prawns to cook.
😍 More Easy Dinner Recipes
For dinner that delights every night we need diversity. Be it through different tastes, textures and cooking methods. It really is the spice of life. Here are some more recipes to tick your 'dinner is sorted' box:
- Thai Minced Pork
- Satay Prawns
- Mongolian Beef Noodles
- Chicken Spare Ribs
- Black Olive Pizza
- Chicken Pesto Linguine
- Spinach and Feta Pizza
- Baked Ziti With Meatballs
- Chorizo Pasta Bake
- Meatball Rigatoni
- 4 limes zested and juiced, we then measure and use ¼ cup of zest and ¼ cup of lime juice for the marinade, Note 1
- 1 kg/ 2.2 pounds prawns (shrimp) Note 2
- ½ cup/125 ml cup olive oil Note 3
- ⅓ cup coriander (cilantro) leaves trimmed from stems, finely chopped with kitchen scissors
- ¼ cup lime zest This is from the 4 limes above, we want a specific measured amount
- ¼ cup/60 ml lime juice This is from the 4 limes above, we want a specific measured amount
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander (cilantro)
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- limes cut into wedges
- rice Jasmine, Basmati or Basmati Fried Rice
- coriander (cilantro) chopped leaves
- Limes: use a microplane zester and chopping board to zest the limes. Then transfer the zest into a small bowl, we need ¼ cup. Then use a knife to slice the limes in halves and juice these. Pour that into a bowl, we need a ¼ cup of lime juice also.
- Prawns: start by twisting and removing the heads from the prawns, then pull their tails off and remove the shells. Then use a sharp knife down the back of each one, make a cut and then remove the digestive tract and discard. You can then rinse the prepared prawns and use paper towel to pat them dry.
- Marinade: gather the marinade ingredients and then add the olive oil, chopped coriander, lime zest, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, dried coriander, chilli powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to a small jug and use a fork to whisk to combine.
- Combine: add the prawns to a medium sized bowl. Then pour the marinade over the top and use a pair of kitchen scissors to stir and cover the prawns with the Mexican sauce.
- Cook: place a large heavy base saute pan on the stove top and turn the heat to high. Tip the contents of the bowl into the pan and cook the prawns. Use a wooden spoon to stir and rotate them during this time.
- To serve: once the prawns are cooked, portion them into bowls with hot rice, lime wedges and chopped coriander.
- Note 1 - Limes: this beautiful bright green citrus fruit is an absolute pleasure to cook with. We use both its skin (zested) and its liquids (juiced) for the prawn marinade. We use a measured amount of ¼ cup of each the zest and the juice (60 ml).
- Note 2 - Prawns: we want to use fresh prawns that we peel and devein ourselves. The reward from this work is the juicy succulent and flavor packed seafood that practically melts in our mouths.
- Note 3 - Olive oil: the olive oil helps to bring all of the marinade ingredients together as opposed to it being a dry wet rub. Using this in the marinade also means that we don't need to add extra oil to the pan when we are cooking the prawns.
- Note 4 - Cilantro: also known as fresh coriander. We want to use kitchen scissor to remove the leaves from the stems and then a glass to finely chop them. Thes go into the marinade making for a flavoursome zesty sauce.
- Note 5 - Garlic powder: an excellent pantry staple that is handy to have at all times. It can, however, dry out if in the cupboard but not used for a while, so check the bottle before heading to the shops.
- Note 6 - Onion powder: as above and a complementary pairing with the garlic powder. This is excellent to have in the cupboard.
- Note 7 - Dried coriander: also known as dried cilantro. As much as we are also using the fresh herb, we use a little of this in the marinade as another means of adding a depth of flavour.
- Note 8 - Chilli powder: they wouldn't be Mexican prawns without this 😂👌. That being said, I pull this dried spice back a little as to not make the prawns too overwhelming spicy. Flavoursome yes, need to drink a liter of water after each one, no.
- Note 9 - Cumin: an aromatic spice the packs a little punch. We only need to use a small amount of this for it to go a long way.
- Note 10 - Paprika: bright and bold in vibrant colour. This dried spice rounds out some of the herbs and spices used for the Mexican prawn marinade. We need ground (mild) paprika.
- Note 11 - Salt and pepper: we use cooking salt and a little bit of black pepper to season the marinade.
- Nutritional information: at the time of publishing this post the nutritional calculator in the recipe card was not working (apologies). Hence the kcal is inaccurate. I will update this as soon as that is working again.