chipotleMexican cremashellfish

Tequila, Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp

Shrimp tend to be perceived as a treat. That fancy item on a menu.

Think about what happens at a shrimp station on a Sunday buffet. It gets crowded. Even if you didn’t feel like eating shrimp, if there’s a shrimp station, chances are you will eat them. Your mom, your dad, your husband or friends will look at your shrimp-less plate and push some shrimp onto your plate.

Growing up in Mexico City, family Sunday lunches with the dozens and dozens members of our immediate family included giant shrimp from the Mercado de la Viga.  There was so much anticipation as to when they would majestically appear on that huge platter carried by my grandmother. Before they got to the table, people started sneaking away some. So my grandmother decided to set a pre-lunch agreement on the number of shrimp per head, to avoid childish grown up wording snaps like “YOU always get the extra shrimp” or sudden door slams.

So when I was asked to develop a Mexican menu for the 2010 RAMMYS Awards I just had to include shrimp. I paired them with some signature Mexican ingredients: smoky and hot Chipotle Chiles in Adobo, tangy and salty Mexican Cream and the iconic Tequila Reposado.

And so, they were served to the 1600 attendees.

Tequila Shrimp 1
But before that day, the cooking staff under the expert guidance of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Executive Chef Horst Lummert, had to test the recipe.

That day of testing and tasting was incredibly fun. Here we were, as we watched how the tequila drunken shrimp were ignited…

Tequila Shrimp 2
And here we were, watching a crowded shrimp station serve hundreds of plates.

Tequila Shrimp 3
And here is how you can get a taste of those shrimp, right at home. Along with some igniting which is such a thrill.

First of all. Get some good shrimp. Though it is always  better to use fresh ingredients, truth is, it is hard to get fresh shrimp. Although sold thawed, they tend to traveled frozen. A wonderful thing about shrimp though, different from fresh fish, is that shrimp freeze well and can survive the thawing process in great shape, keeping their crispness and flavor.

Here is a suggestion: If you are using them today, buy them thawed, but ask your fishmonger how long they have been sitting there. It should be 1 or 2 days tops. They shouldn’t seem limp or sad and should have a light saltwater smell. Get them with the shrimp and tail on.

If you are using them tomorrow or further on, buy them frozen. Then you are on top of how long they have been thawed.To thaw, have them in the refrigerator a day before using and rinse them under cold running water.

Don’t thaw them at room temperature or in a microwave, or you will end up with shrimp ready for a Halloween party.

Tequila Shrimp 4
Once thawed, peel and season them with Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Tequila Shrimp 3

Heat a large pan over medium high heat, once your butter is sizzling, toss in some fresh minced garlic. Let it become fragrant, 10 seconds or so… and add the shrimp.

Cook the shrimp just 1 or 2 minutes per side, so they will be soft, crispy and sweet instead of chewy, rubbery and boring.

Then pour your Tequila. This is what I have at home… The Gran Centenario. Different from the Blanco or White tequila, the Reposado is darker in color because it is aged in wooden barrels. It has a bolder flavor. But feel free to use whatever you have handy. You can also use Mezcal.

Tequila Shrimp 4
Now: Watch it. Once you add the Tequila, slightly tilt the pan to the flames of your burners as you lightly step back. It will ignite fast and furiously, but only for less than half a minute. Igniting the Tequila gets rid of the alcohol presence and retains the bold flavors from the Tequila.

Continue to cook the shrimp until the flames disappear and add the Mexican cream


Tequila Shrimp 7
…and the Chipotle Chile in Adobo sauce. If you feel like it, drop in a Chile too.

Tequila Shrimp 8
Stir it and turn off the heat.

Tequila Shrimp 9
Plate the shrimp covered in the sauce, just like that, while they are hot, hot, hot! And toss some fresh chopped chives…

Tequila Shrimp 10
… right on top. The chives not only add a fresh flavor and color, but add a vibrant contrast to the creamy sauce.

Tequila Shrimp 11
Here is a close up of for you…

Tequila Shrimp 12
Crispy and sweet, smoky and tangy, and oh so bold with the presence of the Tequila. Plus they are, sooooooo much fun to prepare! Go on and impress someone…

Tequila, Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp

Camarones al Tequila

Recipe Yield

12 appetizer portions

Cooking time

11 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 4 votes


  • 1 pound large shrimp in shell thawed, peeled and deveined (about 25 shrimp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 1/4 cup Tequila Reposado
  • 1/4 cup Mexican style cream such as Rio Grande
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotles in adobo sauce or add more to taste
  • 1 bunch chives chopped

To Prepare

  • Peel and devein the shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large and heavy saute pan set over medium-high heat, let the butter melt. Once it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Stir and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Incorporate the shrimp, making sure that the pan is not over crowded, and let them brown on one side and then the other, just for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Don't let them over cook, they should brown on the outside, but barely cooked through.
  • Add the tequila, and slightly tilt the pan over the flame to ignite the tequila. Let it cook until the flames disappear. Stir in the cream and the chipotle sauce and turn off the heat. Serve immediately sprinkled with the chives on top.


55comments inTequila, Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp

  1. Sophie

    Jul 11

    These are RIDICULOUS!!!! My usually picky stepkids absolutely LOVED them and asked to make them again. This is definitely in the rotation….even better than the usual cilantro lime shrimp that are a fave! Great with some spicy rice! Another great recipe!!!

    1. Pati

      Jul 13

      So glad your whole family enjoys them!

  2. Consuelo

    Aug 01

    Pati- I just made this and it is fantastic! At my husband’s request I doubled the recipe and I’m so glad I did. Thank you! I watch your show every chance I get. We love your recipes, most recently- molletes.

    1. Pati

      Aug 18

      Thank you!!

  3. susan

    Jul 17

    amazing!!! i recieved RAVE reviews for this and it’s all because of you!

    1. Pati

      Jul 17

      Delighted to hear, Susan!

  4. Alex

    Jun 08

    Hola Pati, tengo tiempo disfrutando de tu programa y tus recetas aquí en el website, pero hasta hoy hice una de tus recetas, estos camarones con tequila, crema, y chipotle. Son muy fáciles de preparar, y tus fotos lo hacen mas fácil. A mi esposo le gustaron mucho y me dijo que estarían bien con pasta y queso chihuahua. Esta vez los hice con arroz blanco con vegetales y ensalada. Gracias por todas las recetas que nos enseñas. No puedo esperar a preparar otras recetas.


    1. Pati

      Jun 11

      Gracias, Alex!! 🙂

  5. Linda

    May 05

    Thanks to your tips about how to treat shrimp, they turned out tender and delicious! My family has asked for this recipe to be added to the repertoire, and I’ve added my name to your newsletter list. Thanks for the yum!

    1. Pati

      May 06

      Yey! I’m so happy your family enjoyed this recipe!! Thank YOU for signing up for the newsletter.

  6. Marils

    Apr 06

    If I wanted to double the recipe to feed a group of people, should I also double the amount of tequila – or would it be too explosive when ignited?

    1. Pati

      Apr 06

      You don’t need to double the amount of tequila, you are only looking for a bit of that taste. Enjoy!

  7. Kate Fisher

    Mar 29

    This most incredible shrimp dish I have ever made. 5 minutes to prepare and delicious with rice. One recipe would feed 4 as a main dish. I would suggest if you cut in half for two do not half the sauce. You will want all that saucy goodness. Yum!

    1. Pati

      Mar 29

      So happy you liked it!

  8. Gisel

    Sep 19

    I just made this and it was so so good.. Thank you for all the wonderful recipes 🙂

    1. Pati

      Sep 23

      Thank you, Gisel!!

  9. Jeanne R

    Sep 05

    This was very very good! Easy to make, wonderful favors. Served it with white rice and steamed baby squash. I’ve pinned it so will definitely make again!

    1. Pati

      Sep 06

      Thank you so much for sharing on Pinterest!! I’m happy you are enjoying my recipe.

  10. Natalie

    Jun 20

    This looks so yummy! When using the Chipotle, do I only use the adobo sauce or do I put in part of a chile? Do you also have the receipe for your chipotle mashed potatoes as someone mentioned above?
    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Pati

      Jun 21

      Hola Natalie, It’s always an option to add the chile with the adobo sauce, or to just use the adobo sauce alone. If you like it a little more spice, add the chile or part of it! Also, here is the mashed potatoes recipe:

  11. cheryl s.

    May 05

    As I write this, I am so sad, almost crying….ok, I am ACTUALLY crying.
    I’ve just taken the “final” bite of the, “Mexican Cream and Chipotle Shrimp.”
    This was, out of the Ball Park, Home Run Delicious!!!!
    I used a Japanese Sticky Rice which turned out to be a perfect rice accompaniament to go with this. A chilled Chilean Chardonnnay, and the angels were singing.
    I was speechless.
    Every recipe I’ve tried on your blog has been fantastic however, this one was something that will stay in my memory for a long, long time.
    Thanks Pati for all your great shows (I love your excursions to Mexico…. more please….. and wonderful recipes.

  12. dana

    Mar 22

    Hi Patti,

    Excited to make this recipe as all of your others have been a hit. If I can’t find the mexican cream, what is the closest substitute?

    1. Pati

      Mar 22

      Hola Dana, The best substitute would be creme friache, or you can also use sour cream.

  13. Dee

    Mar 12

    Thank you for sharing this spectacular recipe. I saw you make it on the show last week and I was so inspired I had to make it right away. I love how you get so much rich, creamy flavor from a few simple ingredients. And it was so fast and easy to make. I can’t wait to make this again and again. It was a huge hit in my home! Can’t wait to try other dishes from your show.

    1. Pati

      Mar 12

      I’m so happy everyone at your home enjoyed this dish!! Thank you so much for trying it!!!

  14. Josephine

    Feb 10

    I just found your show on PBS. You are delightful! I love the history interspersed with the recipes and cooking. I was reading your site and found the Tequila, Mexican cream and Chipotle shrimp recipe. It sounds incredible. I want to make it but don’t know where to find Mexican cream. May I substitute cream or sour cream?

    1. Pati

      Feb 10

      Thanks Josephine (you have a lovely name!)
      Yes, you can substitute for any cream, try to go for a thick and tangy one like other kinds of Latin cream such as Salvadoran are great. Also creme fraiche. But if you can’t find either sour cream or heavy cream will do too.

  15. Willy

    Jan 06

    What a great shrimp dish! Five stars! My only modifications were that I: 1) tripled the amount of garlic in the recipe (we love garlic and the additional amount wasn’t overpowering), 2) sauteed some chopped up green onions along with the garlic, 3) used mezcal instead of tequilla, and 4) substituted sour cream for Mexican crema since it’s not readily available in my area. My wife commented that this was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. Thanks Pati. I’ve also had a chance to make your mashed potatoes with chipotles that I saw you prepare on your show. Crazy good!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 08

      Willy, Thank you! I love that you made the dish your own with the modifications!!

  16. Randy

    Jan 04

    Just did a test recipe on this after seeing it on Ch 9 San Antonio public television. Did not have the Adobo sause, so I substituted Goya Verde Sauce (Tomatillo). Oh my, this is so good. Served hot from pan over chilled quinoa. A wonderful recipe and this will definitely be the hit of our upcoming Murder Mystery dinner party.


    Thank you.

    Randy and Karen

    PS Cannot wait to try the coffee flan with tequila whipped cream!

  17. Chef Gwendolyn

    Dec 29

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. This will be a hit for my New Years day dinner.

  18. martha

    Nov 21

    I saw you rec. tequila shrimp it look so good
    I will make it this week, have everything except cream.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 26

      Hola Martha, I hope you try them! They are so good!!

  19. Nena

    Sep 30

    this recepe is sooooo delicious

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 02

      Gracias, Nena!

  20. Jimena

    Jul 09

    I had been meaning to try these for a while and I finally cooked them yesterday. They are AMAZING!!!! I cooked them with mezcal though…

  21. alejandra

    Jul 03

    I had to make this! it looked soo good n better when it was done it was delicious n wit some rice 🙂

  22. marva moreland

    Apr 30

    what do u serve this with its look like a delicious meal

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 11

      Hi Marva,
      The sauce with this shrimp dish is nice and creamy, I like it best served with a side of rice. They are also delicious wrapped up in some tortillas.

  23. geralyn

    Apr 18

    Just saw your show for the first time and amnaviagting your site..awesome stuff…where can I get mexican cream?? thanks

  24. Jennifer F

    Sep 30

    MmMmM… looks DeLicious =]] cant wait to make this recipe..

  25. Judy Tyler

    Jul 26

    I adore Mexican food and love you website! Everything I have tried has been amazing… What would you serve as side dishes for this shrimp dish???

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 27

      Hi Judy,
      Wow, thank you so much! I would serve this shrimp with white rice (topped with toasted almonds or pine-nuts), or some steamed potatoes or even some fettuccine! As for vegetables, asparagus or green beans would be my preference as well…

  26. Krista

    Jun 25

    I’m so intrigued by Mexican cuisine and am delighted to have found your site this morning. 🙂 This dish is wonderfully creamy and savory and I really look forward to learning more from you. 🙂

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 26

      Dear Krista,
      Thank you for your lovely message!

  27. Magic of Spice

    Jun 16

    Absolutely wonderful dish, and great post!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 16


  28. Liv Wan

    Jun 16

    Love your website and also recipes. the shrimp looks amazing!! Thank you for sharing this great recipe.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 16

      My pleasure!

  29. Kristin

    Jun 15

    Fantastic! Great last photo and explanation of the process.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 16

      Hi Kirstin, So glad you liked it!

  30. Amyris

    Jun 15

    I will try this recipe, it looks so good and easy!! What do you suggest to have on the side?
    I love all your recipes and the way you express yourself.
    Hope to see you soon.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 15

      Hi Amyris!!! You will love it and yes! it is easy and fast. I would serve it with white rice topped with toasted almonds or pine nuts if you want. Hope to see you soon too, come visit!

  31. shayma

    Jun 13

    Pati- i absolutely adore this! cream, tequila, the smell of the sea and then chilies! mmmmmmmmm xxx shayma

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 13

      Dear Shayma, So glad! Try it, or when you come over, we will eat it here ; )

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