A new take on a classic appetizer, honey shrimp nachos are the best recipe for a delicious and unique dish. Featuring shrimp seasoned with paprika and aromatics, honey, cumin-lime crema and a quick recipe for trashy guacamole.
An incredibly quick recipe that takes only 5-10 minutes of prep work. Inspired by a honey shrimp quesadilla at a local restaurant called Mexicali Rosa's.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Let's be honest, nacho toppings are a work of art. These are the ingredients I find the most complimentary but you can use anything you have on hand. I'm sure bell peppers would be great on these, too, but I don't enjoy them. Here are my holy grail add-ons:
- 1 pound of Shrimp, de-veined and shells removed
- ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
- ½ teaspoon Paprika
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil, for searing
Cumin Lime Crema
- ½ cup Sour Cream
- 1 teaspoon Cumin
- ½ Lime, juiced and zested
- Salt, to taste
- 1 Avocado
- 2 tablespoons Sour Cream
- 2 tbsp Salsa
- Salt, to taste
- 4 cups Tortilla Chips
- 2 cups Shredded Tex Mex Cheese
- 3 tablespoons Honey, plus more to serve
- 8 slices Pickled Jalapenos
- 1 cup Corn
- Parsley, optional
Substitutions and Diet Modifications
Can these be made healthier? Yes, probably. Is it worth it? No - probably not. Nachos are not what I think of when I think of clean eating. If you really want to cut back on (a few) calories, you can saute the shrimp in a bit of cooking spray instead of olive oil.
Keto Nachos? If you think this recipe looks delicious and you want to enjoy it on a keto diet, you could serve the fixings over cauliflower rice or in a bowl format. Leave out the honey and try to find a low carb salsa.
Vegetarian Nachos? These are based around shrimp, but if you like the idea of honey nachos but don't eat meat or seafood, substitute the shrimp for black beans, chickpeas or just serve them with no protein!
I don't have x - what can I use instead? This recipe is just a guideline. I don't eat bell peppers so I leave them out but they'd probably be delicious. Putting corn on nachos might not be everyone's cup of tea. I like it. Have green onions? Use them! Don't like spice? Skip on the pickled jalapeños. These nachos are endlessly customizable. Go crazy!
Instructions, FAQs and Other Tips
Most of my recipes have very detailed instructions. These are nachos and are pretty hard to mess up.
- Prepare all the ingredients in a mise en place. This means "everything in it's place" and it's always my most important tip. Not only does it save time, it limits the chances that you mess up a recipe from being overwhelmed.
- If you're making the sauces from scratch (which I recommend), mix together all the ingredients for the guacamole and all the ingredients for the crema. The guacamole should be good as is - adjust the thickness of the crema with water as needed. Both of these sauces are best if they can rest in the fridge for at least a few hours up to overnight.
- Season and pan sear the shrimp over med-high heat (mostly for color).
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Spread the tortillas on a baking sheet and top with shrimp, toppings of choice and cheese finishing with a drizzle of honey. For best results, layer the nachos in 2 layers instead of loading the goodies only on top.
- Top the nachos with all sauces - guacamole, crema and salsa if desired. To finish, top with drizzled honey and parsley and/or green onions.
Can I make nachos in advance? How do I reheat nachos? Honestly I don't recommend making this in advance or reheating. If you want to do some work beforehand or have these on hand all week, you can store the shrimp for 3-5 days in the fridge. Also, you can make the sauces in advance. For best results, eat the nachos immediately.
I only have beef and chicken, can I still make these nachos? Sure! For chicken, you can follow the recipe as listed and just use cooked chicken in place of cooked shrimp. For beef, all the ingredients can be the same but I don't love honey and beef together.
Can I use other seafood for this recipe? Sure! I'd say some are better suited than others. White fish, for example may be a bit too soft and not give enough texture difference but would taste great. If you want to use crab or lobster go for it. Scallops may be okay but I haven't personally tried them. I'd stay away from clams, oysters or pink fish like salmon, tuna or trout.
Do I need any special equipment for this recipe? Not at all. I recommend either a baking sheet or mini cast iron pans if you want a cute presentation. Otherwise, an optional but nice to have thing is a food processor with a shred attachment to shred cheese. A plain old cheese grater will work fine, but often pre-shredded cheese doesn't melt as well (and it's expensive).
Zero Waste Tips
How Can I Make This a Meal + Sides?
Honestly, nachos are either an appetizer or a slack meal for me. I'm not eating nachos to feel balanced. If you want a side dish - my best and only recommendation is either a light beer or a sparkling lemonade.
If you want to feel healthy, serve it with a side salad. I like this simple and quick recipe from Christina's Cucina. I sub out the bell peppers for shredded carrots, though.
If you just want to feel more satisfied, just add more toppings to the nachos. It really is just an appetizer or a lazy dinner so don't get too worried about balance.
Help! I Have Leftover...
Parsley? Make a zero waste pesto! Just use parsley instead of radish greens. Don't have enough parsley for this recipe? Use any leafy greens or herbs you have on hand.
Shrimp? Use extra cooked shrimp on top of pasta, salads, rice bowls or any dish you'd use chicken in. If you have raw shrimp and don't want to use it, remove the shell and freeze it until you're ready to use it.
BONUS! Save shrimp shells in ziplock bags in your freezer and save them until you have enough to make shrimp broth. Of course, look at what else to use to bulk up your seafood broth in my Complete Guide on Making Homemade Stocks.
Honey Shrimp Nachos
- 1 lb shrimp de-veined and shells removed
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Cumin Lime Sour Cream
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ lime juiced and zested
- 1 avocado
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp salsa
- 4 cups tortilla chips
- 2 cups shredded tex mex cheese
- 3 tbsp honey plus more to serve
- 8 slices pickled jalapenos
- 1 cup corn
- parsley optional
- Combine shrimp and seasonings in a bowl, stir until fully coated - set aside.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is heated, add in shrimp and cook about 2 minutes per side. Do not move the shrimp more than you have to. You want them to develop a crust and get slightly browned. Set aside.
- Combine all ingredients for the guacamole and mash until combined. You can obviously elevate this with better ingredients or even a store bought guacamole but this recipe is pretty flavourful anyway, you don't need a super flavour dense guacamole for this. Let the avocado shine.
Cumin Lime Sour Cream
- Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. You want the sour cream to be thin enough that you can squirt it from a bottle on the nachos.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Layer chips, toppings (minus sauces) and then cheese in either small cast iron pans or a baking sheet. The nachos taste best if you layer the nachos 2 times instead of placing all the toppings on top of the chips. Before baking, drizzle honey all over the nachos.
- Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. If the nachos start to brown before the cheese is melted, use the broil feature. You probably will have the nachos be done at about the same time as the cheese.
- While the nachos are still hot, top the nachos with a few squirts of the sour cream and place a dollop of guacamole in the middle. Top with jalapenos and parsley if desired. The parsley can be skipped but it adds some nice color variety. You can also use cilantro but there are already a lot of strong flavours, you don't want to over-do it.
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