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These salmon tacos are bursting with flavor, pairing blackened fish with pineapple pico and a creamy green avocado sauce. Dinnertime win!

Salmon Tacos

If there’s one dinner that always goes over well in this house, it’s tacos. And here’s a new favorite: salmon tacos with creamy avocado sauce! They’re bursting with fresh, zingy flavor, pairing blackened salmon with pineapple pico and a bright green creamy sauce. This easy healthy dinner tastes restaurant-style, but you can whip it up in about 30 minutes. A dinnertime win! It pleases everyone in our house.

Components in salmon tacos

Tacos are a traditional Mexican food that’s been around for centuries, but what about the fish taco? According to sources, the modern fish taco came about in the 1950s in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. Both the cities of Ensenada and San Felipe claim to have invented the popular street food. The craze then quickly spread across the border to San Diego, where a man named Ralph Rubio became smitten with the food and started Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill, which has sold over 50 million fish tacos since opening in 1983.

These salmon tacos are a spin on the idea of a fish taco, but the fish is blackened instead of battered. They’re nestled in a tortilla with a bright green avocado lime sauce that’s the epitome of tangy, creamy flavor. Here are the elements you’ll need:

  • Fresh salmon
  • Spices: Cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder
  • Olive oil, butter and lime juice
  • Pineapple (optional)
  • Pico de gallo
  • Avocado sauce: Avocado, Greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro
  • Tortillas
  • Red onion (for garnish)
Salmon Tacos

Tips for pan seared blackened salmon

The fish in this salmon tacos recipe is pan seared in a skillet, which makes the best exterior blackened crust of spices! Here are a few tips for blackened salmon:

  • A cast iron or stainless steel skillet makes the best sear. The best way to get the blackened look to the outside of the fish is with a cast iron or stainless surface, which makes the best Maillard reaction (browning or caramelization of the outside of the fish). Don’t worry if all you have is a non-stick skillet: it will still taste great! You just won’t get that lovely char.
  • Bring the salmon to room temperature first. This sounds like a skippable step for impatient cooks (like me!), but don’t be tempted! If you sear it right from the refrigerator, the inside will be cold while the outside of the fish will be cooked.
  • A food thermometer is helpful. It’s easiest to cook the salmon perfectly by checking the internal temperature. It should be 125 to 130°F when measured at the thickest part.
  • If the fish is not up to temp, finish in the oven. If the fish is not quite to temperature but the outsides are cooked, set your oven to 400°F and finish it in the oven.
Blackened salmon

Making the avocado sauce

This easy avocado sauce is the crown jewel of this salmon tacos recipe. It’s quick and easy to make, and leftovers stay green in the fridge for days. Here are a few notes on the sauce prep:

  • It’s only 4 ingredients! All you need are avocado, Greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro. (Well and salt, which we don’t count as an ingredient!) Using Greek yogurt instead of sour cream makes it taste light and fresh, and cuts a few calories too.
  • Use a food processor or small blender. It’s not enough for a large blender, but you could try a double recipe in a standard-sized one.
  • It stays green without special storage needs! You don’t have to worry about it turning brown like guacamole. The acidity in the lime juice naturally makes the avocado stay green.

Want some other sauce options? Try this Easy Avocado Crema, Fish Taco Sauce, Cilantro Lime Ranch, or Cilantro Sauce (dairy-free).

Avocado sauce

Toppings for salmon tacos

The avocado sauce for these salmon tacos is required, or at least another creamy sauce! The zingy flavor is just the right contrast to the spiced blackened fish. Otherwise, you can get creative with your toppings! We’ll share a few ideas of what we did, and some alternative options:

  • Pineapple pico: Make a quick pineapple pico by chopping up fresh pineapple rings and combining them with purchased pico de gallo. The result is a burst of tropical flavor without too much extra effort!
  • Pico de gallo: Feeling rushed? Use purchased pico de gallo from the refrigerated section of your local grocery.
  • Mango salsa or pineapple salsa: If you’ve got more time, make homemade Mango Salsa or Pineapple Salsa (or grab it at the store).
  • Slaw: Salmon tacos are also great with Fish Taco Slaw or Mexican Coleslaw.
Salmon Tacos

Tips on warming tortillas

The last thing about salmon tacos: make sure to warm the tortillas! You just can’t make a good taco with a cold, leathery tortilla. Here’s how to warm tortillas like a pro:

  • Place them over the flame of a gas burner. Place each tortilla directly on a gas burner for a few seconds per side, turning with tongs. This lightly chars the edges and warms the tortillas. Then throw them into a tortilla warmer!
  • Warm them in the oven. Go to How to Warm Tortillas. You can also char them with a kitchen torch, if you’re a stickler for a charred tortilla like we are.

More taco recipes

Got tacos on the brain? Here are a few of our favorite taco recipes:

This salmon tacos recipe is…

Pescatarian. For dairy-free, use

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Salmon Tacos

Salmon Tacos with Avocado Sauce


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 tacos (4 servings) 1x

Description

These salmon tacos are bursting with flavor, pairing blackened fish with pineapple pico and a creamy green avocado sauce. Dinnertime win!


Ingredients

Scale

For the salmon

  • 1 pound wild caught salmon fillets, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon each chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one drizzle
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or more olive oil for dairy free)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice

For the tacos

  • 1 recipe Avocado Sauce (or Avocado Crema or Cilantro Sauce)
  • ½ cup pico de gallo (aka fresh salsa, available in the refrigerated section)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple rings, optional (see Step 6)
  • 8 flour or corn tortillas
  • Red onion, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Bring the salmon to room temperature. (This is important so that the fish cooks properly. You can also brine it, which helps to make sure there is no “white stuff” that oozes when cooked. In a large shallow dish, whisk 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until dissolved. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes.)
  2. Mix the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder in a bowl. Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Rub it with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle it with the ¾ teaspoon kosher salt divided between the filets, then the mix of seasoning.
  3. Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet (not non-stick*) over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When the butter is melted, add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about halfway to the center of the thick part of the salmon.
  4. Flip the salmon. Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Drizzle with the lime juice and spoon the pan juices a few times again. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130°F in the center)**. Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Then flake the salmon into large pieces with a fork. Taste and add additional pinches of salt if necessary. 
  5. Make the Avocado Sauce.
  6. Make the pineapple pico (optional): Finely chop 1 cup pineapple rings. Then mix it with ½ cup pico de gallo, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, and a pinch of salt. (Or, use 1 cup pico de gallo to keep it simple!)
  7. Warm the tortillas: Warm and 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. (See How to Warm Tortillas.)
  8. Serve: Layer the tacos with salmon, salsa and avocado sauce. Top with minced red onion and chopped cilantro and serve. 

Notes

*You’ll get the best sear from a stainless steel or cast iron skillet.

**If the salmon is not up to temperature by the time the outside is cooked, set your oven to 400°F and finish it in the oven until the temperature is reached.

  • Category: Main dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican inspired
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: Salmon tacos, salmon tacos recipe

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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5 Comments

  1. The salmon tacos came out great! I had mango salsa on hand so used that instead of the pineapple & pico. My one issue was with the avocado sauce. I found the Greek yogurt overwhelmed the avocado flavor, so I’d switch to sour cream in future. Also, it has no heat. On my taco, I added some dried red pepper flakes, which helped a lot. Next time, I’d mix that that right into the sauce.

    On balance with the slaw (with rice vinegar instead of lime) and mango salsa, it was a great dish but as standalone, I didn’t care for the avocado sauce as your recipe describes. I think you have palates that lean sour whereas mine is more sweet. But I loved that these recipes have opportunity for experimentation. Thank you!

  2. These are INCREDIBLY delicious! My husband and I are still talking about them. They are restaurant good. Plan to make these as a go to meal for guests.