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Shrimp Nachos are a great way to add a festive touch to gatherings or simply spice up dinner time. Seafood lovers will adore this recipe, which melds the crispness of tortilla chips with richly flavored, seasoned shrimp, all topped with melted cheese. Ready in under 30 minutes, it’s perfect for those busy days when you want to add a splash of fun to your meal routine.

Shrimp nachos and salsa

Vibrantly seasoned shrimp, sautéed to tender perfection, take center stage in this dish. Layering them with the perfect balance of melted cheese and a sturdy base of crispy tortilla chips guarantees that every bite is as satisfying as the last. This recipe is more than just mixing ingredients and following simple techniques. It’s about creating a meal that’s as fun to prepare as it is to share and enjoy. 

Ingredients You Need to Make Shrimp Nachos

Shrimp Nachos Ingredients on a granite surface photographed from the top.
  • Shrimp: Look for medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined. Fresh shrimp should have a clean sea smell; avoid any with ammonia-like odors.
  • Olive Oil: Choose extra-virgin olive oil for its flavor. It should smell and taste fresh and fruity.
  • Cayenne Pepper: The freshness of spices is key. Cayenne should have a bright, potent aroma and a deep red color.
  • Cilantro: Look for a bunch with vibrant green leaves and no signs of wilting. Fresh cilantro should smell bright and citrusy.
  • Tortilla Chips: Look for thick and sturdy chips that can hold up the toppings without breaking.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese: Freshly shred your cheese from a block for better melting and flavor compared to pre-shredded varieties that often contain anti-caking agents.
  • Jalapeño: Whether fresh or pickled, look for bright green jalapeños. Fresh ones should be firm with a smooth skin.
  • Pico de Gallo: If not making from scratch, choose a fresh, refrigerated option without preservatives for the best taste and texture.
  • Guacamole or Avocado: Avocados should yield slightly to pressure when ripe but not be mushy. For guacamole, look for freshness and minimal additives or make your own Salsa Guacamole.
  • Lime Wedges: Choose limes that are firm and heavy for their size, a good sign of juiciness.
  • Sour Cream: Ideally full-fat sour cream for its creamy texture and tangy flavor.
  • Kosher Salt: Its coarse texture is ideal for seasoning shrimp evenly.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Grind peppercorns yourself for the freshest flavor.

5 Recipe Tips

  1. Bake Tortilla Chips Briefly Before Topping: To keep your chips crispier, give them a quick bake in the oven before adding toppings. This step helps to prevent sogginess. (See recipe for specific instructions on this.)
  2. Layer Ingredients Evenly: Distribute your cheese, shrimp, and other toppings in even layers to ensure every nacho bite is flavorful and well-balanced. 
  3. Monitor the Shrimp While Cooking: Overcooked shrimp can become tough, so sauté just until they’re pink and opaque to keep them tender.
  4. Use Fresh Cilantro and Lime: For the brightest flavor, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice right before serving.
  5. Adjust Heat with Cayenne and Jalapeños: Tailor the spiciness to your taste by adding more or less cayenne pepper and jalapeños. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away once it’s in the dish.
Closeup of shrimp nachos

Recipe Options

  • Vary Your Cheese: Beyond Monterey Jack, consider using cheddar for a sharper flavor or a blend of both for complexity.
  • Add Black Beans: For extra texture and flavor, sprinkle rinsed and drained black beans over the chips before adding other toppings.
  • Experiment with Spices: If cayenne pepper isn’t your thing, experiment with smoked paprika or chili powder for a different kind of heat.
  • Choose Your Jalapeños: Depending on your heat preference, use fresh jalapeños for a sharper bite or pickled jalapeños for a milder, tangy flavor.
  • Mix in Corn: Add a sweet, crunchy texture by including a layer of corn kernels (cooked or freshly cut from the cob) with the shrimp.

How to Make Shrimp Nachos

Whisk cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne, and a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium bowl, then toss bite-size chunks of peeled and deveined shrimp in the mixture to coat. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the shrimp in the remaining olive oil until they’re just cooked through, then set aside.

On a baking sheet, arrange tortilla chips in an overlapping layer and bake in an oven preheated to 375˚F until they begin to crisp. Layer the chips with half the cheese, the cooked shrimp, and then the rest of the cheese, and bake again until the cheese melts. Serve the nachos hot, garnished with jalapeño slices, lime wedges, and extra cilantro, accompanied by pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.

Recipe Video

Shrimp Nachos

5 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 426
Servings: 6 people
A festive medley of crisp textures and rich, spicy flavors, these nachos are a seafood lover's dream, ready in under 30 minutes.

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 8 ounces tortilla chips ideally thick and sturdy
  • 8 ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese or a mix of Jack and cheddar
  • thinly sliced jalapeño fresh or pickled, to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro to taste
  • Pico de Gallo to taste
  • guacamole or avocado slices to taste
  • lime wedges optional
  • sour cream to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375˚F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Cut peeled and deveined shrimp into bite-size chunks (~3/4-inch) and add to bowl; toss well to coat.
  • Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add shrimp; cook and stir until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer shrimp to clean plate and set aside.
  • Arrange tortilla chips on a quarter-sized baking sheet in a single, slightly overlapping layer. Bake for until crisped and aromatic, about 3 minutes.
  • Top hot chips in even layers in this sequence: half of the cheese, followed by the shrimp, and then with remaining cheese. Return to oven for an another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese melts.
  • Enjoy while hot, garnished with jalapeño slices, lime wedges and more cilantro if desired. Serve pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream on the side.

Notes

  1. Keep in mind that the time needed for prep doesn’t account for making Pico de Gallo, Fire Roasted Salsa or guacamole from scratch, but it’s worth the effort if you have time!
  2. It’s also worth it to grate your own cheese. Avoid pre-shredded options that have potato starch or cellulose, as these won’t melt as nicely.
  3. The quantity of shredded cheese is entirely up to your preference. I’ve seen recipes that call for much less cheese than what I recommend, as well as some that require double. Don’t hesitate to adjust the amount to your taste!

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 635mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 0.5g | Vitamin A: 372IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 372mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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5 Comments

  1. Ben | Havocinthekitchen says:

    5 stars
    Another great version of Nachos! I don’t think I’ve ever had them with shrimp, but I do love this idea.

  2. David @ Spiced says:

    5 stars
    We love nachos around here, and the seasoned shrimp idea is a fun way to mix things up! We also do the Monterey Jack + cheddar combo. This recipe is further proof that cheese makes everything better!!

  3. Mimi Rippee says:

    What fun! And, I love cheese with shrimp. Such a good combination.

    1. Marissa Stevens says:

      Thank you, Mimi! It’s a surprisingly good combo for sure.

  4. Karen (Back Road Journal) says:

    I don’t know any one that doesn’t like shrimp or tortilla chips so your nachos would really be a hit at a party.