Home > Dinner > Fish Tacos Fish Tacos September 5, 2020 | 13 Comments SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Jump to Recipe This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy. Our absolute favorite fully loaded Fish Tacos! These tacos start with charred tortillas and are loaded up with robustly seasoned, flaky fish. They’re topped with a quick pico and creamy seasoned cilantro-lime sauce. Love tacos as much as we do? Stick around for some other favorites! Try these chicken tacos, steak tacos, and healthy tacos. Fish Tacos The best fish tacos I’ve ever tasted came from a restaurant where I used to work. While the menu has changed a lot over the years, the fish taco recipe has remained the same– because it’s hugely popular. I’ve put my own spin on their recipe, making it a bit healthier by pan-searing the fish instead of deep-frying. Other than that, the components are similar — charred corn tortillas, a saucy slaw, cilantro-lime rice, delectably seasoned fish, a quick pico de gallo topping, and a spiced sauce to finish everything off. It sounds like a lot, but I promise these fish tacos to come together quicker than you’d think and they are so worth it! In fact, we like them even better than the “famous” restaurant version. A lot of the ingredients overlap and the sauce serves dual purposes; it’s used to coat the slaw as well as top the tacos (just like in this mega-popular shrimp tacos recipe!). Below, I’ll break down all the components of these fish tacos and offer a few short-cut preparation ideas and tips/tricks. The fish Let’s start with fish. Don’t feel bad about using frozen fillets; did you know that 99% of the fish you find at the store–even at the seafood counter–was flash-frozen on the boat, the moment it was caught? Frozen fish is often ‘fresher’ than the other options! If using frozen, be sure to thaw the fish overnight in the fridge. If you forget to thaw the fish overnight, it thaws quickly in cold water (here’s a quick how to) Our favorite fish in these tacos is Mahi Mahi. Cod or tilapia also work well, but the cooking time will slightly vary. Don’t marinate for too long. Fish is much more delicate than beef or chicken so if it is marinated for too long in this citrus-based marinade, the marinade will “cook” the fish (you’ll end up with ceviche!). QUICK TIP How do you know if your fish is fully cooked? The best way to tell is by testing it with a fork. Pierce the fish at an angle, at the thickest point, and twist gently. The fish flakes easily when it’s done and it will have also lost its translucent (raw) appearance. A good rule of thumb is to cook the fish to an internal temperature of 140-145 degrees. Fish Taco toppings One of my favorite things about this recipe is how many of the ingredients overlap into the different toppings so there aren’t random bits of leftover ingredients. It’s a recipe where we use all of the cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, etc., not just a few tablespoons of everything. That makes me smile! Keep that in mind when looking at the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Since so many of the ingredients (particularly the seasonings) overlap from sauce to fish, I’ve listed them separately by use for clearer reading. Rice: We love rice in these tacos, but you can always leave it out. If you have leftover rice from a different recipe, here’s the perfect place to use it. To save prep time, we boil the rice instead of steaming it (6 minutes of cooking time!). Make sure to use basmati rice for this method to work. Alternatively, purchase pre-cooked rice from the grocery store! Just warm it through and stir in some lime juice and zest. “Cheater” pico de gallo: Because we don’t want to overcomplicate this topping, we aren’t making an authentic pico de gallo. Instead, we use tomatoes and then the leftover cilantro and jalapeños from the sauce and leftover lime juice from the marinade. To save prep time, use pre-made pico de gallo from the store. Be sure to check the package to see if it is mild, medium, or spicy and then pick your preferred heat. Saucy slaw: The slaw is simple — thinly sliced cabbage and half of the fish taco sauce (discussed below). To save prep time, use pre-shredded cabbage (usually next to packaged lettuce mixes and coleslaw mix in the grocery store). Cotija or queso cotija: The sprinkle of cheese on top adds a subtle flavor, but most importantly, it finishes the seasoning on these tacos. Cotija is a salty cheese and gives these tacos that finishing punch of seasoning. If you aren’t using this cheese, I recommend adding a sprinkle of salt to the top of these tacos (to taste). Save more prep time Use a juicer. There is a lot of citrus in this recipe, so save time by using already juiced citrus or if you use citrus often, I recommend a good juicer; we have this one and love it! It will get you plenty of lime juice in mere minutes. And a microplane. With a good amount of lime zest in the recipe, the microplane makes everything easier and quicker. Prep the sauce ahead of time. Breaking up the prep time always makes dinner assembly that much easier, plus the sauce has a chance to intensify in flavor. While you’re whipping together the sauce, make the marinade and store both in the fridge. Come dinner time, the rest of the prep will fly by! Fish Taco sauce The sauce on these tacos coats the slaw and tops the tacos. It’s a total home-run sauce; we love it! While there are a good amount of ingredients, overall, it’s very simple to make. Everything goes into the food processor and pulse it until you’ve got the perfect fish taco sauce. A few notes: We’ve tried regular, lite, and fat-free sour cream and there isn’t a very noticeable difference, so if you’re looking to cut some calories and/or fat, use fat-free sour cream. We love Hellman’s/Best Foods® mayonnaise in the sauce (not sponsored). It has a robust flavor without being too sweet. As for spiciness, I’d rate the sauce as mild with a tiny kick. If you like it extra mild, reduce or omit the jalapeño pepper and be sure to use McCormick® seasonings (we find them very mild). Alternatively, amp up the heat by adding in more jalapeño. You could also add in 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to increase the heat even more. Corn tortillas While I am a big fan of flour tortillas, I do think corn works best for these fish tacos. And charring the tortillas does so much for the flavor of the tortillas and texture of the taco as a whole. Here’s how I quick-char the tortillas: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside. More favorite taco recipes Chicken Tinga Tacos with pickled red onions Taco Pasta Salad with a creamy chili-lime dressing Rotisserie Chicken Tacos easy 20-minute taco recipe Taco Pasta made in one skillet Chicken Taco Salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette FOLLOW ALONG! Subscribe to my newsletter and follow along on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates, recipes and content. Fish Tacos 5 from 4 votes - Review this recipe Our absolute favorite, fully loaded Fish Tacos! These tacos start with charred tortillas and are loaded up with robustly seasoned, flaky fish. They're topped with a quick pico and creamy seasoned cilantro-lime sauce. SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Fish Tacos 5 from 4 votes - Review this recipe SAVE TO RECIPE BOX Print Recipe Our absolute favorite, fully loaded Fish Tacos! These tacos start with charred tortillas and are loaded up with robustly seasoned, flaky fish. They're topped with a quick pico and creamy seasoned cilantro-lime sauce. Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course Cuisine American, Mexican Keyword fish tacos Prep Time 45 minutes Cook Time 10 minutes Marinating Time 15 minutes Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes Servings 4 servings Calories 780kcal IngredientsSauce1 large lime (3 tablespoons juice + 1/2 teaspoon zest)1 teaspoon minced garlic1/2 of 1 large bunch of cilantro1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (See Note 1)1/2 cup EACH: mayonnaise and sour cream (fat-free or lite works great)1/4 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt and pepper1 teaspoon EACH: paprika, ground chili powder1/2 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, garlic powderFish12 ounces Mahi-mahi (or cod or tilapia)4 tablespoons olive oil separated2 tablespoons lime juice1 tablespoon soy sauce2 teaspoons light brown sugar not packed1 and 1/2 teaspoon EACH: paprika, ground chili powder1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, saltTaco Toppings3 cups shredded green cabbage1 large avocado thinly sliced1/2 cup basmati rice (+ 1 large lime) optional1 cup diced cherry tomatoes + 2 tablespoons minced cilantro and any leftover jalapeño from the sauce if desired10-12 small extra thin corn tortillas (Mission makes these)Queso cotija cheese Optional: olive oil cooking spray, additional lime wedges, additional cilantro InstructionsSAUCE: Add the lime juice and zest to a small blender or mini food processor along with the minced garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, mayo, sour cream, salt pepper, paprika, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder (see note 1). Pulse or blend until smooth. Give it a quick taste test and adjust as desired (extra jalapeño, extra salt/pepper, etc.)SLAW: Add the thinly sliced cabbage to a bowl. Toss with half of the sauce and refrigerate to soften. Place the remaining sauce in the fridge to chill while preparing the rest of this dish.(OPTIONAL) RICE: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water (I add 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt). Add the basmati rice and boil for 6 minutes (only basmati rice works well for this cooking method). Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add in the juice and zest of a lime and set aside.MARINATE FISH: While the rice cooks, add all of the marinade ingredients (3 tablespoons olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and seasonings) to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add fish (completely thawed if frozen) to a shallow dish in a single layer. Spoon marinade evenly over all the fish. Marinate at room temperature for no more than 15-20 minutes.COOK FISH: Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, gently add fish, spooning any leftover marinade over the fish, and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes per side (6-8 minutes total) or until cooked to desired doneness (cook time will vary based on thickness of fish). The fish is done when it flakes easily. Remove fish to a cutting board and let cool slightly before slicing for the tacos.CHEATER PICO: Dice the cherry tomatoes and add to a bowl. Add the minced cilantro and any leftover jalapeño from the sauce (if desired). Add a pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime. Toss and set aside.ASSEMBLY: Char the corn tortillas (See Note 2). Add the slaw and then a spoonful of rice. Add the fish next and pico on top. Top with thinly sliced avocado, extra cilantro if desired and a sprinkle of queso cotija if desired. If not adding the cheese, you may want an extra sprinkle of salt. Drizzle more sauce on top of the tacos and enjoy immediately. Video Recipe NotesNote 1: Add more of the jalapeño for a spicier sauce, and it add slowly if you're concerned about the heat. Overall, I'd rate the sauce as mild with a tiny kick. If you're worried about heat, reduce or omit the jalapeño and be sure to use McCormick® seasonings (we find them very mild). Alternatively, amp up the heat by adding in more jalapeño. You could also add in 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper to increase the heat. Note 2: Spray both sides of the tortillas with olive oil cooking spray and char the tortillas directly over the gas flames for a few seconds. Use tongs to flip until tortillas are lightly charred and soft. Immediately fold the tortilla in half (so it will fold into a taco nicely later) and set aside. Nutrition FactsCalories: 780kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 1159mg | Potassium: 1043mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1915IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 155mg | Iron: 6mg We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed. DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.