Epic Fish Tacos

Here’s how to make the tastiest fish tacos around! Bake the fish with a dry rub of spices, then top it with tangy slaw and creamy sauce.

Fish tacos

Tacos are always a win over here, so might we introduce you to our new favorite? These baked fish tacos! We eat a mostly plant-based diet, with room for seafood occasionally (basically the Mediterranean diet). And these tacos the best treat! Bake the white fish until it’s flaky with a dry rub of spices: no breading or frying necessary. Then top it with a tangy slaw and a creamy fish taco sauce. This is a spin on Mexican Baja tacos using the flavors and style of this cuisine. They’re tasty, easy to make, and great for weeknights or dinner parties.

Got a grill? Also try Grilled Fish Tacos.

What fish to use for fish tacos

Are these authentic Mexican tacos? We don’t have Mexican heritage, but here we’ve studied and used flavors that are part of the traditions of Mexican cuisine. You can use any type of white fish for these healthy fish tacos. Here are some of the types of fish that are most commonly used, easiest to find and result in the best tacos:

  • Tilapia: has a great mild flavor and buttery texture
  • Cod: the flavor here is even milder! Cod is a very neutral-flavored fish and a great choice (it’s surprisingly tasty: also try grilled cod or pan fried cod)
  • Mahi mahi: if you can’t find the first two, mahi mahi also works: it has a richer, meatier flavor

Other great choices? Snapper, grouper or halibut. Above all, try to find wild caught fish if you can. It’s more sustainable and higher quality than farmed fish.

Fish taco seasoning

Ingredients in fish taco seasoning

What makes the flavor in these easy fish tacos? The dry rub for the fish taco seasoning! You can make up a big batch of this seasoning in advance and keep it around for taco time (it keeps for about 1 year). Or just mix up what you need day of, which is what we normally do.

Here’s the cool thing: you’ll use it as a dry rub on the fish. There’s no breading and no oil! Just pat the spices on and bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit! The spices form a beautiful crust that’s full of zesty flavor. Here’s what’s in fish taco seasoning:

  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder

Smoked paprika is a Spanish version of paprika that infuses a hint of smokiness into each bite. If you can’t find it, use sweet paprika. If you buy a jar, use it up with these Best Smoked Paprika Recipes.

Fish taco seasoning

How to make the quickest taco slaw: tips!

One thing that’s essential for fish tacos: a slaw that’s actually fast to make. Many taco slaw recipes take longer than expected: they require lots of ingredients for the dressing or chopping lots of veggies. Not this one! We’ve pared it down to the essentials so that it takes only about 5 minutes to put together. Here are some tips:

  • Red cabbage, carrot, and green onion are all you need. This makes the quickest and easiest slaw: only a few veggies to slice.
  • Add lime and salt and you’re done! You don’t need to make a fancy dressing: tangy lime juice does the trick! Celery salt adds a nice nuance to the overall flavor. If you don’t have it, just use kosher salt!
  • Serve with a slotted spoon. This slaw picks up moisture as it sits. Serving it right away avoids this. If you let it sit for any amount of time, serve with a slotted spoon to avoid a watery taco.
Fish taco slaw

5 fish taco sauce ideas

Once you’ve made your baked fish and quick slaw, all you need is the sauce! There are lots of ideas of great sauces to use. Here are our favorite sauces for these quick fish tacos:

  1. Fish Taco Sauce This sauce makes fish tacos taste incredible! Lime, garlic and hot sauce are the ideal compliment for flaky fish.
  2. Cilantro Lime Crema or Cilantro Lime Ranch You’ll want to bathe in these cilantro lime sauces! They’re full of flavor and easy to make.
  3. Spicy Mayo Make the Mexican-style spin on this spicy mayo: it’s just 2 ingredients so you can whip it up in a flash. *Dairy free option
  4. Chipotle Sauce This easy sauce is zesty, smoky and creamy: perfect for tacos and burritos! *Dairy free option
  5. Shrimp Taco Sauce This one works on fish tacos too! It’s like a creamy ranch made with cilantro: quick and easy!
Fish taco sauce

Sides to serve with fish tacos!

Once you’ve made these epic fish tacos, you’ll need something to serve with them! For weeknight meals, we opt for fast and easy side dishes like canned refried beans. But for a dinner party, we’ll make more side dishes to complete the meal. Here are a few ideas of sides to go with tacos:

This fish tacos recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian.

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Fish tacos

Epic Fish Tacos


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.58 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 (8 tacos) 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Here’s how to make the tastiest fish tacos around! Bake the fish with a dry rub of spices, then top it with tangy slaw and creamy sauce.


Scale

Ingredients

For the fish

  • 1 pound tilapia or cod* (wild caught preferable)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon each cumin and smoked paprika (or standard paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, for seasoning

For the tacos


Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Thaw the fish, if necessary.
  2. Make the fish: In a small bowl, mix together the dry rub: chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pat the fish dry, then sprinkle it with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and pat it in. Add the seasoning and pat it to cover the fish. Place the fish on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until tender. Then broil for 2 minutes until the top is lightly browned.
  3. Make the slaw: Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage. Shred or grate the carrot (we used a handheld julienne peeler). Thinly slice the green onion. Place the cabbage, carrots and green onion in a bowl. Stir in the lime juice, salt and celery salt. Serve immediately with a slotted spoon. The slaw picks up moisture as it sits; if you plan to let it sit, make sure to serve with the slotted spoon to strain out the moisture.
  4. Make the sauce: Make the Fish Taco Sauce.
  5. Warm the tortillas: If desired, char the tortillas by placing them on an open gas flame on medium for a few seconds per side, flipping with tongs, until they are slightly blackened and warm. Or warm them according to How to Warm Tortillas.
  6. Assemble the tacos by topping the tortillas with fish, slaw, and sauce. Top with chopped cilantro and a spritz of lime. 

Notes

*If you’re serving 4 hungry eaters, you may want to increase the fish to 1.5 pounds and up the spice quantities accordingly. The slaw and sauce should work for 12 tacos. Or, make sure to serve with a filling side dish like refried beans (purchased or homemade).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: Fish tacos, fish taco sauce, fish taco slaw

More tacos recipes

Tacos are one of the meals we eat the most around here! Here are a few more tacos recipes we have on regular rotation:

  • Crispy Avocado Tacos Destined to be your new favorite! With crunchy breading, they’ve got the vibe of a fish taco but are totally plant based.
  • Quick Shrimp Tacos A fast dinner recipe for weeknights or entertaining. They taste stunning drizzled in a creamy cilantro sauce!
  • Best Jackfruit Tacos In just 20 minutes jackfruit turns into a plant based version of pulled pork carnitas. These tacos will amaze you!
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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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