RECIPE: Quick crisp-shelled tacos don’t need to be fried

Crispy Baked Shrimp Tacos
Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

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Crispy Baked Shrimp Tacos Chris Hunt for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Crispy pre-fried taco shells are a mainstay of American supermarket shelves, and while they may make for a quick and easy taco night, they’re often stale and easily crack and crumble when filled. Luckily, there’s a way to make crisp-shelled tacos yourself — and you won’t even need to think about frying.

Our American crispy tacos are an interpretation of Mexican tacos dorados, which are made by filling tortillas, folding them in half or rolling into cigars, and deep-frying the whole thing. To get around heating a pot of oil, you’ll want to turn to a hot oven and swap traditional corn tortillas for ones made with flour.

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The benefit of using flour tortillas is that you can add fillings and fold the tortillas without worrying that the tortillas will break before they have a chance to crisp. The hot oven will accomplish two things: turn the tortillas golden brown and quickly cook a seafood filling.

I like to use peeled and deveined shrimp in these tacos, but a mild, white flaky fish will work just as well. (Indeed, the inspiration for these tacos comes from the YouTube star Chef John, who makes them with fish.) Toss the shrimp (or fish) in a quick marinade of chili powder, oil, lime juice and salt to add mild spice and a bit of fat.

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Once the tacos are baked, I like to top them with pre-made coleslaw for a creamy contrast to the crisp tortillas. It accomplishes a similar effect as the typical Baja fish taco garnishes of crema and chopped cabbage without any work on your part.

Serve these tacos immediately after they’re filled. That crispness won’t last forever.

Recipe: Crispy Baked Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined extra jumbo (16/20) shrimp, thawed if frozen
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 fajita-size flour tortillas
  • 1 (8-ounce) tub pre-made deli coleslaw
  • Optional: Fresh cilantro, for serving
  • Heat the oven to 500 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • While the oven heats, toss the shrimp with the chili powder, oil, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Spread the tortillas out on the prepared sheet pan. Generously spray both sides with nonstick oil spray. Place three shrimp on one side of each tortilla and fold the tortilla to close.
  • Transfer the tacos to the oven and bake until the shrimp are cooked through and the tortillas are crisp and browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Divide the coleslaw between the tacos and top with cilantro, if desired. Refold the tortillas and serve immediately. Serves 2 to 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving, based on 2: 728 calories (percent of calories from fat, 37), 41 grams protein, 73 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 30 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 295 milligrams cholesterol, 2,111 milligrams sodium.
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