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Camarones al Mojo de Ajo or Mexican Garlic Shrimp

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo is one of my favorite Mexican dishes. For this Mexican garlic shrimp recipe, juicy, tender shrimp are tossed in a sauce with loads of garlic, Mexican spices, lime juice, and cilantro.

High angle shot of a plate of camarones al mojo de ajo shrimp in tortillas.

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Like my Camarones a la Diabla, this classic dish uses just a handful of ingredients. If you love shrimp cooked with Mexican flavors, this Mexican shrimp recipe is a sure winner.

This delicious recipe is simple to make but surprisingly rich with layers of flavor. Pungent garlic, sweet paprika, sweet-smoky cumin and paprika, bright lime juice, and herby cilantro all combine to make an irresistible sauce. It’s made even better by adding a dollop of creamy butter.

Garlic two ways!

One of my favorite things about this Camarones al Mojo de Ajo is that it uses garlic in different two different forms, which go in at different times in the cooking process. This way you get different characteristics of garlic together in one dish.

Minced garlic goes in the marinade for the shrimp, and that garlic cooks along with the shrimp for just a few minutes so it maintains its spicy bite. Then there is the sliced garlic that simmers in the olive oil along with red onion, infusing the garlic sauce oil with mellow garlic flavor.

A hearty dollop of butter added at the end of cooking gives the sauce a lustrous silkiness and even more flavor. This also helps the sauce really coat the shrimp.

The end result is a beautiful dish with bold and delicate, spicy and mellow, redolent and bright flavors all mingled perfectly together in the luscious garlic sauce. It’s one of my favorite classic recipes. 

Low angle shot of mexican garlic shrimp in a skillet with lime slices.

WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS MEXICAN STYLE GARLIC SHRIMP


  • QUICK & EASY – This dish has a short ingredient list and takes just 20 minutes to make.
  • PACKED WITH FLAVOR – Garlic takes the starring role in this dish, but the sweet shrimp, paprika, cumin, cilantro, butter, and lime all mingle together to create a luscious backdrop.
  • FRESH & LIGHT – This Camarones al Mojo de Ajo relies on the fresh, bright flavors of garlic, onion, cilantro, and fresh lime juice.
Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make the dish.

THE INGREDIENTS YOU NEED

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

This Camarones al Mojo de Ajo recipe requires such a short list of ingredients, you won’t believe how flavorful it is.

  • Olive oil—You can really use any cooking oil you like. I like olive oil because it adds a nice rich flavor.
  • Smoked paprika or ground chipotle chile—Either of these will add a nice smoky-sweet element. If you like spicy food, go for the chipotle. Smoked paprika is totally mild but still adds that delicious smoke. If you don’t have either, just use additional sweet paprika instead.
  • Sweet paprika—This gives the dish color and a hint of sweetness that complements the shrimp.
  • Ground cumin—Cumin is earthy and a little smoky without being hot.
  • Garlic cloves—The recipe calls for 8 cloves. Mince half of them and thinly slice the others. They’ll be added at different times to maximize the garlic flavor!
  • Red onion—You can use a white or yellow onion if you don’t have red, but I like the added sweetness of red onion here.
  • Large shrimp—Use shelled and deveined shrimp. The larger the better as large shrimp cook up nice and plump. 
  • Butter—This is added at the end to give the sauce a silky smoothness and, of course, extra flavor. 
  • Fresh lime juice—Citrus juice adds an acidic counterpoint and brightens the dish.
  • Cilantro—For that herby freshness. You can substitute flat-leaf parsley if you like.
  • Tortillas or rice—these are optional but are great for serving with the shrimp.

How to make it

For the complete list of ingredients with quantities and detailed prep and cooking instructions, please see the recipe card that appears at the end of this post.

Like a lot of seafood recipes, it’s a simple dish that delivers a big punch in terms of flavor. This Camarones al Mojo de Ajo recipe comes together in a flash. Here’s how:

  1. Combine some of the olive oil with the spices and minced garlic. Add the shrimp, toss to coat, and let it marinate while you continue with the recipe.
  2. Heat the remaining olive oil the the remaining olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions and sliced garlic.
  3. Add the shrimp and continue cooking until it is opaque.
  4. Add the butter and cook, stirring, until the butter melts completely and incorporates into the sauce.
  5. Just before serving, stir in lime juice and top with cilantro.
low angle shot of the garlic shrimp in a skillet.

Tips for Succes

  • I like to buy cleaned shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined to shave several minutes off the prep time. 
  • You can frozen shrimp for most shrimp recipes. I like to buy shell-on shrimp that have been deveined (sometimes called “easy peel”). I think the shells protect them a bit from the rigors of the freezer and it only takes two minutes to slip off the shells.
  • Use the largest frying pan or skillet you have for this dish. You want to give the shrimp room to 
  • cook through without crowding the pan if possible.
  • You can use a good, heavy bottomed nonstick skillet or a cast iron skillet to cook this dish.
  • I always use unsalted butter in my cooking so that I can control the amount of salt. If you are using salted butter, start with a bit less salt. You can always add more salt if needed.
  • If you opt for ground chipotle chile instead of smoked paprika just be cautious in how much you add. Dried chiles can vary widely in spice level. It’s always best to start with a little and add more as needed.
  • Finish with the dish with a grinding of fresh black pepper or a sprinkling of red pepper flakes if you like.
low angle shot of the garlic shrimp in a skillet.

What to serve with this Mexican style garlic butter shrimp

I usually serve this garlic butter shrimp al mojo de ajo with Homemade Corn Tortillas or Flour Tortillas over rice to catch all of that delicious garlic butter sauce. Try this easy Instant Pot Spanish rice or this Green Mexican Rice or just regular white rice.

To see this recipe step-by-step, check out the Camarones al Mojo de Ajo web story!

low angle shot of camarones al mojo de ajo tacos.
Yield: Serves 4

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo or Mexican Garlic Shrimp

Low angle, close up shot of camarones al mojo de ajo in tortillas with lime wedges in the background.

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo or Mexican Style Garlic Shrimp is one of my favorite Mexican dishes. For this Mexican garlic shrimp recipe, juicy, tender shrimp are tossed in a sauce with loads of garlic, Mexican spices, lime juice, and cilantro.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground chipotle
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 garlic cloves, 4 of them minced and 4 of them thinly sliced
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, smoked paprika or chipotle, paprika, cumin, salt, and the minced garlic. Add the shrimp and toss to coat.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion and the sliced garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are opaque and completely cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.
  5. Add the butter to the skillet and cook, stirring, just until the butter is melted and incorporated.
  6. Just before serving, squeeze the lime juice over the top and sprinkle with the cilantro.
  7. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Yield

4

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 434Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 15gCholesterol 374mgSodium 1888mgCarbohydrates 18gFiber 2gSugar 9gProtein 40g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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By on March 15th, 2022

About Robin Donovan


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 40 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners, 5 Ingredient Cooking for Two, Sushi at Home, The Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and other popular publications.

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