Crispy Shrimp Tacos in Tomato Broth from Rick Bayless

by on February 13, 2011

It’s safe to say that regardless of how many tacos we eat, we can always find room in our stomachs to fit more.  Layers of fresh salsa, pickled vegetables and warm chile heat make tacos so exciting to eat. Each is unique, customized and no two tacos are alike.

Then there are the crispy tacos. Oh, crispy. Tacos.  We’ve fried up tortillas, folding them in the process and had crispy tacos that way. But Chef Rick Bayless introduced us to his version of a rolled crispy tacos with fresh tomato broth. This warm, crispy, crunch takes the eating experience to a whole nother level.

When we first saw the recipe, we didn’t think they were tacos at first sight. Because they were rolled, taquitos and floutas came to mind. Then we googled to see what the difference between the two were and it basically came down to the size and/or type of flour/corn tortilla they were made of.

After about 30 minutes of delving into the research of tacos, taquitos and floutas, it’s obvious we left the computer more hungry than ever before. Rick Bayless’s version is wonderful with the contrast of the crispy hot tacos against the flavorful tomato broth. Best of all, they’re quite simple to make. The only problem is that they’re so addicting to eat, you’ll have to prepare at least 5-6 per person. For us, these tacos became a full dinner, rather than just a appetizer.

Rick Bayless will be in Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo for this years Food & Wine Fesitval celebrating all the beautiful flavors of Mexico. This will be a fabulous 3 day event and if any of you were planning to do an eating tour of Mexico, this would be a great time! The event will not only showcase the food of the local Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo region, but all of Mexico as well.

We’ll be attending as well to celebrate the 32 tastes of Mexico’s diverse 32 states. Hope to see some of you there!

Crispy Shrimp Taco Recipe

Yield: 3-4 (12 tacos)

Cook Time: 20 min.

Adapted from Rick Bayless' Fiesta at Rick's. The crispy tacos are fantastic on their own, but Rick's suggestion of serving them with a tomato broth (*recipe follows crispy shrimp taco recipe) takes the shrimp tacos over the top. Feel free to serve with your favorite salsa, guacamole, or even a mango salsa.  Or maybe add some diced avocado into the tomato broth.  Make sure your oil is properly hot when frying, it makes all of the difference between a mediocre crispy tortilla and a fantastic one. The shrimp filling and tomato broth can be made the day before if needed.  Make sure to keep them stored in the refrigerator if you are prepping them ahead of time.


Taco Recipe Ingredients

  • 1 T (15ml) Olive Oil
  • 1/2 medium Sweet Onion, cut into 1/4" dice
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • preferred Spicy Chilies to taste, usually about 2 Jalapenos, finely diced
  • 1 t (5g) ground Cumin
  • 3/4 lb. (340g) Tomatoes (@ 2 medium sized tomatoes), diced into 1/4" or ran through food processor's coarse grating disc
  • 1 lb. (455g) Shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 3 to 4 T chopped fresh Cilantro
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • 12 thin Corn Tortillas
  • Oil for frying (enough to have a depth of 2" in your pan), preferably Grape Seed Oil or Peanut Oil

Tomato Broth Recipe Ingredients

  • 3/4 lb (340 g) ripe Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 med.  Sweet Onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 2 c Chicken or Shrimp broth
  • Sea Salt to taste


Taco Directions

Make the filling
1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, @ 3-4 minutes, then add garlic, chilies, and cumin and cook for another minute.
2. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to a thick sauce, about ketchup consistency. Add the shrimp and cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Stir in cilantro and season with sea salt to taste.
If serving with Tomato Broth, make now.  *recipe follows
Roll and  Fry Tacos
1. Heat the oil to  about 350-375º, or until hot enough a drop of water reacts quickly when flicked in oil. Grab two tortillas at a time with a pair of tongs, and dip them for few seconds in the oil to soften then.  Pat dry with paper towels and pile them into a single stack.
2. Spoon 3 T of filling in a line across the bottom of the tortillas. Tightly roll them up the tacos, then skewer with toothpicks to keep them closed.
3. Fry the tacos in the hot oil for about 1.5 minutes, then turn over and finish frying until golden. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with tomato broth poured over.

Tomato Broth Directions

1. Combine tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a blender. Puree until smooth.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. When hot enough to sizzle a drop of the puree, add all of the puree, cook and stir until noticeably thicker and darker, @ five minutes. Add the broth, bring to a boil and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes. It should have a "soupy" consistency. Add a little water if necessary. Season with sea salt to taste.

Recipe Source:

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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) February 14, 2011 at 2:31 am

The tacos look amazing!

I am from Chicago (but live in San Diego the past 8 years) but when I lived in Chicago and was hip and cool and had money to burn, I dined at Rick Bayless’ restaurant. What a wonderful experience.

Your recipe and food photography (as always!) is just sooo impressive!


2 tami February 14, 2011 at 4:56 am

I need these in my life. Like…today. I could eat 11 of these for breakfast. These look incredible, ya’ll.


3 latenac February 14, 2011 at 5:49 am

I may have to overcome some of my fear of frying things to make these. They look amazing.


4 Tracy February 14, 2011 at 6:47 am

I’ve been wondering how in the world I was going to use the 80 corn tortillas my husband bought from a sweet little old lady who insisted they were the best. That there are only two stomachs in our house, unless you count the dog’s, didn’t stand a chance against one sweet little old lady’s face and one can only use so many to make chips for salsa… Now I know exactly what to do! And I do love all things Bayless.


5 The Duo Dishes February 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

Crispy tacos win! But anything fried wins, right?


6 Shaina February 14, 2011 at 8:13 am

These look absolutely fantastic. I love the idea of a fried shrimp taco. Gorgeous!


7 Nicole February 14, 2011 at 8:39 am

I love watching Rick Bayless on PBS and it always makes me hungry. I love the idea of the crispy tacos and the tomato broth. The prettiest tacos I’ve ever seen!


8 sonia February 14, 2011 at 9:10 am

awesome recipe…loved the details and presentation !


9 Michelle February 14, 2011 at 9:53 am

My mouth is watering all over my key board. Amazing! I am a sucker for tacos, these are the real deal of their own sorts.


10 susan February 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

you have stolen my heart as this is my guilty pleasure. a fried taco/taquito goes down as one of my all time favorite foods and yours are making me swoon! next time you decide to fry up a batch of these, I will work for food(will clean up the splattering of fried oil from your stove, pots, and pans in exchange for a few of these)!!!


11 Elizabeth Goodman Artis February 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I love the step-by-step instruction–I’ve fried my own tortillas before but never like this–and never with the filling inside. Would you suggest using a thermometer to test the oil? and could you sub canola for peanut or grapeseed? Doe sit have a high enough smoke point?


12 White on Rice Couple February 14, 2011 at 6:18 pm

You could use a thermometer, but we prefer to use methods to test the temp without needing one. We’ll either flick a drop of water in the oil, dip a wooden chopstick (bubbles will come off the end when hot enough) or use a test bit of tortilla.
Canola oil works great. That would be our third choice for oils.


13 Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles February 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

These look fantastic. And having been to Rick’s restaurants before, I know they must be exceptional. I want some!!!


14 Priscilla - She's Cookin' February 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Ooooh, crispy shrimp tacos! (although they seem like taquitos to me – maybe they’re bigger?) Regardless, I think I’ll make an exception to my general rule of avoiding deep frying for these babies! Wish I could go to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo!


15 Sukaina February 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm

I have no fear of deep frying (wish I did though) so this is definitely bookmarked! Love it! And this might sound daft, but I would not have thought about sticking a toothpick in there to keep the tortilla rolled up for frying!


16 Kiran February 14, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Oh my! Mouth watering tacos :)


17 kate February 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm

These look wonderful. I am such a fan of his cooking, and while I love tacos, I love flautas and taquitos more, so these are right up my alley. Beautiful shots as always!


18 nicolette February 14, 2011 at 9:57 pm

Beautiful photos as usual! Add a squeeze of fresh lime and a hand-squeezed margarita and we’re talkin’!


19 White on Rice Couple February 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

That’s our usual accompaniment too. ;) One of the main reasons behind growing 2 lime trees is for the margaritas!


20 Diana February 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

OMG, I’ve been transported back to Mexico. I am SO making these next week. Really excited.


21 nicole @caf February 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

I know I shouldn’t browse food blogs when I’m hungry, and this proves why. I’m completely entranced and will make these as soon as I possibly can. Thanks so much for sharing such a fantastic recipe!


22 EatLiveRun February 15, 2011 at 3:08 pm

those look delicious!


23 Pure2raw Twins February 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Tacos look great. Definitely a recipe that my boyfriend and dad would love! Thanks for sharing it looks delicious.


24 Kevin (Closet Cooking) February 16, 2011 at 2:46 am

Those crispy shrimp taco rolls look amazing!


25 Delishhh February 16, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Ohh fabulous recipe. Simple and gorgeous. Your pictures are always fantastic!


26 Jun February 16, 2011 at 11:59 pm

I’m not into deep-fried foods, but this, this makes my mouth waters – in an instant!


27 Laura February 17, 2011 at 8:23 am

Oh man, these look amazing! I love Rick Bayless. He knows his Mexican cuisine.


28 KitchenArtistry February 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

Thank you for sharing these… we’d love to have you feature some of your dishes at


29 Nancy-SpicieFoodie February 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Rick Bayless has done such wonderful things for the cuisine of my country. It seems like finally real authentic flavors of Mexico are being discovered and replaced by the junk that was once passed off as Mexican food. Tacos, specially taquitos, are my favorite dinner. This recipe is so mouthwatering and leaving me hungry. Your photos make me want to reach in, delicioso!


30 Dmarie February 17, 2011 at 5:58 pm

ooh, these look inspiring…inspiring me to thaw some tortillas that are in the freezer and fill them with ANYTHING on hand while pretending I’m eating what’s pictured here. thanks for sharing


31 Emily February 17, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Deep fried tacos and tomato broth, can these get any better? I reckon this could easily be one of the best taco recipes around, no? The recipe has everything covered from texture, flavour and colours. Can I also say these somehow remind me of spring rolls? ;)


32 mamashack February 18, 2011 at 6:44 am

How delicious does that look? I am a new baby blogger and I have been following yours forever. I was awarded a stylish blog award yesterday and urged to pass it along to the blogs I love so, here you go! Thanks for all the inspiration you have provided!


33 Peggy February 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

I’ve suddenly got a huge taco craving right now! And funny, because I’m pretty sure I have all these ingredients at home. It’s going to be an unproductive day (homework wise) if I get to making these! =)


34 Arudhi@aboxofkitchen February 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Oh I can hear the crunchiness! Question, can I just grill the tacos instead of frying them? Never tried tacos before :p By the way, I voted for you guys on the Weblog awards :))


35 White on Rice Couple February 25, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Audhi- thanks so much! oooh, we’ve never tried grilling tacos before, but now we’ll have to try it sometime.


36 Kay February 18, 2011 at 9:01 pm

this looks simply delicious!


37 Harmony February 19, 2011 at 2:45 am

Shades of “Chico’s Tacos”. Except for the shrimp filling and lacking mounds of cheese.

People who know El Paso, Texas will understand exactly what I mean. Crispy rolled tacos in a thin, watery tomato broth is an acquired taste. But trust….there’s nothing like ‘em!


38 penny de los santos February 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

Beautiful photographs, love the opener.
Make flautas not war!


39 lidia February 23, 2011 at 7:57 pm

i made these accompanied with some orange mexican rice,
they were absolutely amazing!!! thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

and since you guys shared this recipe i will share a tip with you,
instead of frying the tortillas just put them in the microwave
wrapped in a napkin in batches of 10 until soft and they roll perfect (:


40 White on Rice Couple February 25, 2011 at 9:51 pm

Lidia- thank you for that tip! Sounds so much easier, especially on the calories. Less guilt.


41 Mara February 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm

These look so, so very good. I am a little scared of deep fryers, but after looking at your gorgeous pictures, I’m tempted. Think it’s possible to get them as crispy any other way?


42 White on Rice Couple February 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Mara- thank you for the comment and it’s really got us thinking more about this. Right now, we can’t think of a way to crisp them up and ensure that the filling cooks too. Maybe you can pre-cook the filling, then brush the tortillas with a bit of oil and bake the rolls in the oven?
If we try it and the rolls turn out good, we’ll let you know!


43 Deena February 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Why am I not eating these right now?


44 WenDee Riffe March 2, 2011 at 5:45 pm

oh my~~i want these…however i am a little scared!!! are these hard to make!!!! if so can you come teach me!!!??? thru the blog~~maybe????


45 White on Rice Couple March 2, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Easy as can be. You can do it!


46 Kulsum at JourneyKitchen March 13, 2011 at 6:15 am

Oh God. Save me. I have to make this regardless of my promise (to myself) to watch out for fried foods


47 MelissaO April 16, 2011 at 6:26 pm

Excited to try! Love Rick Bayless…apparently his Sopa de Lima recipe that I use rivals my mother-in-law’s in my husband’s eye. Which is huge.

wolverina401 at gmail dot com


48 Kelly July 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

I tried making these, and they were incredible, but the tomato broth didn’t turn out well… it was too liquidy! How can I make it more solid/”soapy”? Thanks :)


49 White on Rice Couple July 10, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Hi Kelly,
Glad you liked the tacos. The broth is actually supposed to be pretty liquidy. However, some tomatoes have much more liquid than others, so if you find the broth is too thin for you, just keep simmering the sauce on medium heat until it reduces to the consistency you prefer, or you can cut back on the broth by maybe a 1/2 cup and see if that works more to your taste. Good luck!


50 Catherine November 10, 2011 at 10:39 am

I made these on Tuesday for our weekly taco tuesday night and they were a huge hit! Sooooo good, I can’t even begin to explain. The prep is a bit time-consuming, but well worth it! Next time I make them, I’m going to try doing the tomato sauce and the filling a day ahead of time. YUM!


51 Rashmi February 8, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Shrimp + tacos = winning.
As long as the shrimp is cooked through, i think just rolling up the corn tortillas (we do the same as the commenter above.. damp dishcloth in microwave to soften tortillas) with the shrimp mixture and serving would be a perfect little taco. Maybe some ‘slaw on the side.. zucchini slaw.. mmm..


52 Kim March 10, 2012 at 10:24 am

Those would actually be called Taquitos meaning small tacos. This recipe looks amazing.


53 Jamie @ Cookin' with Moxie March 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm

I am on a mission to find more Rick Bayless recipes to recreate and this one fits the bill! The looks amazingly crunchy and delicious!


54 emma June 16, 2012 at 5:17 am

I’m in Perth Australia and we never have access to food like this, mexican for us is nachos drowned in cheese… I just made these for dinner and it was incredible. I can’t wait to share it with anyone who will listen!


55 Chelsea June 13, 2013 at 8:45 am

Made these last night… AHHH-MAZING! I will definitely be telling everyone how great they are! Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)


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