Camarones Rancheros – Slender Kitchen

Camarones Rancheros, or Ranchero Shrimp, are a spicy Mexican shrimp dish made with tender shrimp sauteed with tomatoes, serrano peppers, onion, garlic, and cilantro. It’s ready in less than 30 minutes and packed with flavor.

202 CAL 6g CARBS 5g FAT 36g PROTEIN 1

It’s no secret that we love Mexican seafood recipes and these spicy Camarones Rancheros, or Ranch Style Shrimp, are one of the easiest ways to make Mexican shrimp at home. In less than 30 minutes, make a restaurant-quality dish with juicy shrimp served in a spicy tomato sauce made with tomatoes, serrano peppers, onions, and garlic. Served with white rice, corn tortillas, and fresh lime juice, it makes the perfect weeknight meal. 

When it comes to quick and easy Mexican recipes, shrimp is one of the first things I reach for. It cooks quickly, it pairs great with spice, and I almost always have it in my freezer. 

While we love classic shrimp tacos, I also love finding more authentic Mexican recipes, like these Camarones a la DiablaCoctel de CamaronesTacos Gobernador, and Aguachile. So when I started to look for recipe inspiration and came across these Camarones Rancheros (also known as Camarones a la Mexicana), I knew it was time to make them.

What are Camarones Rancheros?

Camarones Rancheros, which translates to “Ranch Style Shrimp,” is a spicy shrimp dish made with fresh shrimp, serrano chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and cilantro. It is also sometimes called Camarones a La Mexicana, or “Mexican Style Shrimp” since the dish has the same colors as the Mexican flag.

Traditionally Camarones Rancheros is served with rice, fresh lime, corn tortillas, and black beans or refried beans. It is also sometimes served with tostada shells.

Look for more ranchero-style dishes? Don’t miss our recipes for Pollo RancheroHuevos RancherosBistec Ranchero, and our delicious Homemade Ranchero Sauce.

Ingredients for camamrones rancheros including raw shrimp, tomatoes, onion, serrano peppers, and cilantro.

Ingredients and Easy Substitutions

Here’s everything you need to make this dish, plus a shortcut that makes this a 3 ingredient recipe!

  • Shrimp: The shrimp are the star of this dish so choose medium to large shrimp. Frozen shrimp work great, just defrost them first. Make sure to remove shells and devein the shrimp. Tails can be removed if desired.
  • Onion: White onion is more commonly used in Mexican cooking, but yellow onion can also be used.
  • Garlic: Shrimp and garlic is a classic combination. For the best flavor, use fresh garlic cloves. If you don’t have fresh, frozen cubes are the next best option.
  • Serrano peppers: Camarones rancheros are normally spicy since the dish is traditionally made with serrano chile peppers. For a less spicy option, use a milder chili pepper like jalapeno peppers or poblano peppers.
  • Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are the most traditional, but any tomato will work. You could also use drained diced tomatoes.
  • Cilantro: To add freshness, finish the dish with lots of fresh cilantro. Add lime juice as well if you like. If you aren’t a cilantro fan, use parsley or basil.
  • Shortcut: If you are in a rush, you can make a shortcut version of this dish using pico de gallo. Start by draining the pico de gallo. Then saute it until the onions and chili peppers are tender.

Ranch style shrimp with tomatoes, serrano chile peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic in a skillet.

How to Make Ranchero Shrimp

This dish comes together in less than 30 minutes, including all the prep work.

1. Make the salsa

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it is nice and hot. Add the onions and chili peppers. Cook for 6-8 minutes until the peppers and onions are tender. Stir often so the onions don’t burn.

Add the garlic and cook for about one minute until it is nice and fragrant. Then add the diced tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Traditional recipes may use chicken bouillon instead of salt. This is very common in Mexican cooking.

Cook down for 8-12 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down. Some of the water will evaporate and it should cook down into a sauce. Taste the sauce and season as needed with salt and pepper.

2. Cook the shrimp

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Some recipes also call for seasoning the shrimp with garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and oregano for an extra boost of the flavor.

Add the shrimp to the hot pan with the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes on one side until the shrimp begins to curl slightly and turn opaque. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes maximum.

Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, especially because it will continue to cook in the warm sauce.

3. Season and serve

Add the cilantro and squeeze in some fresh lime juice if using. Serve immediately so that the shrimp don’t overcook.

Side Dishes and Serving Ideas

Traditionally camarones rancheros are served with white rice, corn tortillas, beans, and salad. However, there are lots of different ways to serve these spicy shrimp.

  • Rice or cauliflower rice: This is delicious over steamed white or brown rice, cilantro lime rice, or cilantro lime cauliflower rice. It’s also great with quinoa.
  • Pasta: Make a Mexican-style shrimp pasta dish by serving this over any type of pasta. For a large serving of pasta, consider doubling the sauce.
  • Make tacos or tostadas: Turn this into delicious shrimp tacos or crispy shrimp tostadas.
  • Enchiladas: Use this as a filling for shrimp enchiladas, using enchilada sauce or extra ranchero sauce and mild cheese.
  • Toppings: Serve this with sliced avocado, fresh lime wedges, cotija cheese, panela cheese, Mexican crema, or freshly sliced chili peppers.
  • Plantains: To add some sweetness to this dish, serve it with some roasted plantains.
  • Crusty bread: Soak up all that delicious sauce by serving it with some crust bread.

Mexican shrimp cooked with tomatoes, chile peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro in a white bowl.

Recipe Variations

There are lots of ways to change up this recipe and make it your own.

  • Less spicy: Use poblano peppers or even green bell peppers for a less spicy option.
  • More veggies: Use a full onion and add 1-2 sliced bell peppers for more veggie goodness. This makes the recipe a bit more similar to shrimp fajitas, just with more sauce. You can also add nopales, which is delicious. Nopales are usually available in Mexican grocery stores.
  • Smoky: Make it smoky with canned chipotle peppers in adobo instead of the serrano peppers.
  • Smooth sauce: If you prefer a smooth sauce, simply blend the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chili peppers after cooking. Then cook the shrimp in the blended sauce.
  • Camarones Rancheros Suizos: Serve these Mexican shrimp with melted cheese on top.
  • Creamy: Add a dollop of Mexican crema, sour cream, or Greek yogurt to the sauce to make a creamy ranchero sauce.
  • Buttery shrimp: If you love rich, buttery shrimp, then add a tablespoon or two of butter to the ranchero-style sauce to create a smooth, buttery sauce.

Leftovers and Storage

These shrimp keep great in the fridge for 3-4 days. Let fully cool before storing in an airtight container. Reheat gently in a skillet or the microwave.

Although this dish can be frozen, we find it tastes best when the shrimp is cooked fresh. However, you could freeze the sauce for faster prep in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most common questions about making these Ranchero shrimp.

Shrimp cooks quickly and can become tough if overcooked. They are done when they turn pink and opaque. This usually takes about 1-3 minutes per side, depending on their size. When they are cooked they also curl in slightly, making a C shape. They should not curl into a circle, this means they are overcooked.


To quickly defrost shrimp, place them in a colander in the sink. Slowly tun cold water over them for 10-15 minutes until they are fully defrosted. Dry well and cook.


If you have a bit more time, you can submerge the frozen bag of shrimp in cold water for 30-45 minutes to defrost. This method preserves the flavor and texture of the shrimp better. 


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