Camarones Al Mojo de Ajo (Mexican Garlic Shrimp)

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo is the most delicious Mexican Garlic Shrimp with juicy shrimp cooked in a garlic butter sauce served with fresh lime juice and herbs. Ready in 15 minutes with just 8 ingredients!

194 CAL 4g CARBS 10g FAT 23g PROTEIN 4

If you love Camarones Rancheros or Camarones Al Diablo, then these garlicky Camarones al Mojo de Ajo should be the next dish you try! Delicious, tender shrimp cooked in a garlic butter sauce with lots of lime juice.

It’s no secret that I love making Mexican seafood recipes, from seafood tacos to classic raw preparations like this Coctel de Camarones or Aguachile. There are just so many delicious options.

While many times these dishes contain lots of spice, today’s Mexican Garlic Shrimp recipe is perfect for anyone looking for Mexican flavors without all the spice.

It’s essentially a Mexican version of shrimp scampi made with shrimp cooked in tons of garlic, a touch of onion, and butter. The dish is finished with fresh lime juice, cilantro, or parsley, and is usually served with white rice. Yum!

What are Camarones al Mojo de Ajo?

Camarones al mojo de ajo are simply shrimp in garlic sauce. Think of it almost like a Mexican shrimp scampi with shrimp cooked with lots of garlic, butter, and onion. Instead of white wine and lemon juice, camarones al mojo de ajo are usually finished with fresh lime juice and cilantro or parsley.

This version is a Mexican take on camarones al mojo de ajo, but you may find slightly different versions across Latin and South America.

Why You’ll Love Mexican Garlic Shrimp

  • Quick and easy: If you start with defrosted, shelled shrimp, this dish is ready in less than 15 minutes and made with just 8 ingredients.
  • Tons of garlic flavor: If you love garlic, this dish packs in the garlic flavor with tons of garlicky, buttery flavor.
  • Versatile: There are so many ways to customize this dish. Make it mild or add some spice with fresh chile peppers. Serve it with rice, pasta, tostadas, or tortillas. Add tomatoes or extra veggies. Try it out with a different protein.

Ingredients for Mexican Garlic Shrimp including raw shrimp, onion, garlic, butter, parsley, and spices.

Ingredients and Easy Substitutions

Here’s everything you need to make this delicious dish.

  • Shrimp: Since the shrimp is the star of this dish, I recommend using large shrimp that have been deveined with the shells removed. Frozen shrimp work great, just defrost them first. If you don’t love shrimp, this dish is delicious with fish or chicken.
  • Spices: To add an extra layer of flavor to the shrimp, I like to toss them with paprika, cumin, salt, and black pepper. You can skip the paprika and cumin if you prefer.
  • Butter and olive oil: This recipe is lightened up so I use a combination of olive oil and butter. Traditionally, camarones al mojo de ajo would be made with double or triple the amount of butter so feel free to add extra for a richer, more indulgent sauce.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic, “ajo” in Spanish, is the star of this dish. Fresh garlic will always be the best option and have the best flavor. Adjust the taste to your liking, adding more garlic for a stronger flavor.
  • Onion: Use white, yellow, or purple onion to add another layer of flavor to the butter sauce.
  • Lime juice: To balance the buttery sauce, lime juice is the perfect choice. Add lime zest as well for more citrus flavor. Or swap in lemon juice if you prefer.
  • Parsley or cilantro: This dish is always finished with fresh herbs. Use parsley, cilantro, or basil.

Mexican garlic shrimp cooking in a cast iron skillet with garlic, parsley, butter, and onion.

How to Make Camarones al Mojo de Ajo

This dish is seriously easy to make but tastes like something much more complicated.

1. Prep the shrimp

Start by prepping the shrimp so they are ready to cook.

Defrosting frozen shrimp: The best way to defrost shrimp is to leave them in the fridge overnight to defrost naturally. If you need to defrost them more quickly, run the shrimp under cold water in a colander for 10-15 minutes until they are defrosted. Dry well with a towel.

Remove the shells and vein: For faster prep, we recommend buying shrimp that are peeled and deveined. If your shrimp haven’t been peeled, use kitchen shears to cut along the back of the shrimp and then pop off the shell and legs. If you don’t have kitchen shears, pull off the legs and use your thumb to crack the shell on the underside and pop off. Remove the vein by making a small slit in the back of the shrimp and pulling out the vein with the tip of the knife.

It’s up to you if you want to leave the tails on or remove them. Then make sure the shrimp are dry. Toss with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.

2. Make garlic butter sauce

Start by heating the butter and olive in a large skillet. When melted, add the onion and cook for 4-6 minutes until it softens. Then add the garlic and cook for about one minute until it smells very fragrant. Make sure not to burn the garlic or it becomes bitter.

3. Cook shrimp

Add the shrimp in a single layer to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side until the shrimp begins to curl slightly and become opaque and pink. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp or it will become tough and rubbery.

Squeeze the fresh lime juice over top, adding some lime zest as well if desired. Then stir in the fresh parsley or fresh cilantro.

Mexican camarones al mojo de ajo served in a bowl with lime juice and parsley.

How to Make Spicy Camarones Al Mojo de Ajo

This dish isn’t typically spicy but many restaurants also make a spicy version of this dish using fresh chile peppers, red pepper flakes, or guajillo peppers (usually called Camaromes al Ajillo.)

To make a version with fresh jalapeno or serrano peppers, simply dice the peppers and saute them with the onions until softened. Then add freshly sliced on top for serving if you like.

To make this dish with dried guajillo peppers, start by removing the seeds and stem from the pepper. Slice the dried pepper into thin slices. Add those slices to the pan with the onion and cook until slightly rehydrated and softened.

Side Dish and Serving Ideas

Traditionally Camarones al Mojo de Ajo are served with steamed white rice to soak up all that delicious butter garlic sauce. Many times they are also served with black beans. With that said, there are lots of ways to serve this dish:

Leftovers and Storage

Leftover cooked shrimp can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat gently in a skillet, making sure not to overcook the shrimp.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions people have when making this dish.

The main difference between Camarones al mojo de ajo and Camarones al Ajillo is the addition of guajillo peppers. Both dishes contain shrimp cooked in a garlic butter sauce served with fresh lime juice and herbs, but Camarones al ajillo is spicy with thin strips of guajillo peppers. It also usually has a few splashes of Maggi sauce. 

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