Here’s how to make grilled fish tacos! Season the tender white fish with fajita seasoning, then top with slaw and a creamy sauce.
When it’s grilling season, we want to bust out the grill for just about everything…including tacos! These grilled fish tacos are an impressive grilled dinner that’s full of beautiful flavor. Imagine: tender, flaky white fish grilled up with cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder. Top it with a creamy taco sauce, and a bit of crunchy slaw. Piled in a charred tortilla, it’s everything you want a healthy dinner to be! (That or Grilled Shrimp Tacos, of course.) Here’s what you need to know to make this tasty Mexican-inspired meal.
What fish to use for grilled fish tacos
What’s the best fish for grilled fish tacos? There are lots of options, but here are our top options:
- Tilapia: This white fish has a mild, sweet flavor and a tender flaky texture. It’s easy to find and often used in fish tacos.
- Cod: Cod surprises a lot of people: because it’s darn good! Cod has a beautiful mild flavor that even people on the fence about fish can tolerate.
- Mahi mahi: Mahi mahi is more expensive and harder to find, and tastes meatier. It’s a good option if you can’t find the first two.
Seasoning for grilled fish tacos: homemade fajita blend!
The best seasoning for grilled fish tacos? It’s our Homemade Fajita Seasoning! Now, you can also use our Fish Taco Seasoning, make especially for fish tacos. But we actually prefer the fajita seasoning here. We suggest making it homemade because its quick and easy (read: 5 ingredients!) and it has the best flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or standard sweet paprika)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
It takes just 2 minutes to whisk up, and you’ll have a bit left over to make this recipe again. If you really want to use purchased fajita seasoning, watch out! Many of these store-bought brands have added salt. Check the label and if it has salt, use less salt when you’re salting the fish before the seasonings (about ¾ teaspoon total).
How to grill fish for tacos
How to grill fish for tacos? After seasoning, throw it right onto those hot grates. Here are a few tips to know about grilling fish:
- The temperature for grilled fish? Medium high heat, or 375 to 450 degrees.
- How long to cook grilled fish for tacos? Cook it 3 to 4 minutes skin side down, then 3 to 4 minutes skin side up! The fish is done when it starts to flake when pulled with a fork. Or, pull it when it reads 130 degrees Fahrenheit with an internal thermometer (stick it right into the thickest part of the fish).
- How to keep fish from sticking on the grill? Here’s the secret: don’t turn it too soon! Wait until the fish is cooked enough that it releases from the grates, then flip it.
Toppings for grilled fish tacos
Toppings for grilled fish tacos can get a little labor intensive if you’re not careful! So for this recipe, we included only the basics. Then we’ve got a few ideas for how to dress them up if you’d like to add more!
- Creamy taco sauce: Our favorite is this Fish Taco Sauce: it takes just 5 minutes to mix up. Or try our Cilantro Lime Crema, Lime Crema, or Cilantro Lime Ranch: a sauce with bright, tangy flavor.
- Fresh slaw: Throw together a quick slaw with red cabbage, carrot and lime juice.
- Queso fresco or feta cheese (optional): The flavor require it: these tacos taste great as is. But if you love cheese in your tacos (and we do), it steps it up a notch.
Variations: dairy free and gluten free!
Want to change up the ingredients in these grilled fish tacos to make them dairy free or gluten free? Here’s how:
- Dairy free: Use a dairy-free taco sauce like Cilantro Sauce, Chipotle Sauce or use Spicy Mayo (with Mexican hot sauce).
- Gluten free: Use corn tortillas! Make sure to find a good brand: some brands can become brittle and break, or have an overwhelmingly strong corn flavor.
Sides to serve with grilled fish tacos
These grilled fish tacos are a fantastic healthy dinner idea that works for weeknights, or for parties and entertaining! (the best kind of recipe, right?) In the recipe below, we have a note about serving size. This recipe is for 1 pound of fish: which makes about 8 tacos. But when we’re hungry, Alex and I can polish off that whole recipe if we don’t have time to make side dishes to go with it.
If you’re feeding 4 very hungry eaters, increase the fish and seasonings to 1 ½ pounds of fish. Or, simply make some side dishes to serve alongside. Here are some easy side dishes to go with tacos:
- Refried beans: Some brands taste great out of the can, or even with a little cumin and salt. Or make Homemade Refried Beans.
- Salad: This Mexican Salad is the perfect fit for tacos.
- Chips & Salsa or Bean Dip: Because…why not? Try this Salsa Fresca, Bean Dip, or Refried Bean Dip.
Looking for more tacos? See all our Taco Recipes.
This grilled fish tacos recipe is…
Pescatarian, dairy free (see above) and gluten free (see above).Print
Here’s how to make flavor-packed grilled fish tacos! Season the tender white fish with fajita seasoning, then top with pico de gallo and creamy sauce.
- 1 pound* tilapia or cod fillets, (wild caught if possible)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons homemade fajita seasoning (without salt)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups shredded red cabbage (or a mix of red and green cabbage)
- 1 shredded or grated carrot (optional)
- 1 green onion
- 2 ½ tablespoons lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon each celery salt and kosher salt (or all kosher salt)
- 1 recipe Fish Taco Sauce (or Lime Crema, Cilantro Lime Crema, Chipotle Sauce or Spicy Mayo)
- 8 corn tortillas
- Chopped cilantro or lime wedges, for serving (optional)
- Grill the fish: Preheat a grill to medium-high heat (375 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Bring the fish to room temperature as the grill preheats.
- Pat the fish dry with a clean towel. Rub it with the olive oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt. Then cover it with the homemade fajita seasoning on all sides.**
- Grill the fish*** over indirect heat for 4 minutes, until it releases from the grates. Flip and cook another 2 to 4 minutes, until the internal temperature is 130 degrees (right when the fish starts to flake when pulled with a fork). When the fish is done, break it with a fork into bite sized pieces.
- Make the sauce: Make the Fish Taco Sauce.
- 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.
- 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, you can also wrap them in a foil packet and place them on the grill for a minute or two, until warm.
- Serve: Assemble the tacos by topping the tortillas with slaw, grilled fish, and sauce. Top with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
*If you’re serving 4 hungry eaters, you may want to increase the fish to 1 ½ pounds, with 3 tablespoons fajita seasoning and 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt. Also increase the taco sauce by doubling or 1.5. Or, make sure to serve with a filling side dish like refried beans (purchased or homemade) or Mexican salad.
**We highly recommend the homemade seasoning: it’s only 5 ingredients! If you must use storebought fajita seasoning, check the label to see if it has salt. If so, use a little less salt on the fish (around ¾ teaspoon).
***Alternative method: If you’re feeling lazy or want to make this recipe in the off-season, you can broil the fish. Use the same preparation method, but place the fish on a baking sheet. Broil on high for 2 to 3 minutes per side (4 to 6 minutes total), until cooked through and it flakes with a fork.
- Category: Main dish
- Method: Grilled
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Gluten Free
Keywords: Grilled fish tacos