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The Easiest and Best Grilled Fish Tacos

Homemade Fish Tacos are a cinch to make and a great way to change things up for your weeknight dinners. This fish taco recipe calls for grilled flakey, white fish like tilapia or cod, fresh slaw, and a homemade chipotle cream sauce. This is a meal the whole family will love!

overhead view of three fish tacos on black table with white napkin and lime wedge garnish
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Why I Love These Fish Tacos!

This is my favorite fish taco recipe! Probably because it hits so many things that are important to me in cooking:

  • It’s healthy
  • It’s fast to make
  • It’s easy to make
  • And it contains many of my family’s favorite ingredients: seafood, avocado, mango, lime juice, and a touch of chipotle pepper flavor

Even better, it’s easy to adapt to your own tastes (more on that later) and comes together in about an hour from start to finish! This is a great dinner for busy weeknights with the family or entertaining on the weekends.

The fish is marinated quickly in a very basic mixture of oil, salt, and pepper, making it super flavorful and tender. I buy frozen cubed mango and pre-shredded cabbage to make this fish taco recipe even easier!

What Type of Fish Should I Use?

Traditionally, firm, white, mild-tasting fish is used for fish tacos. I used a delicious fresh-caught fish called mangrove, which a species of snapper, because I have the best neighbors ever who love to fish and share their bounty with me. But tilapia, cod, flounder, or catfish would work well, too.

There are three main categories of fish to use in tacos — mild saltwater fish (I.e., mahi-mahi, grouper, cod, halibut), heartier salmon, and farmed freshwater fish (I.e., tilapia and catfish). You can truly use your preference of fish and what’s freshest and available near you, but the trick is pairing the right toppings with the right fish.

Interestingly, it is recommended that the toppings such as a vibrant mango salsa be chosen accordingly to whether you use a fish like tilapia (which tends to lack on flavor), or to keep toppings super simple (think avocado, and lettuce) when choosing a mild-flavored but expensive fish like mahi-mahi, grouper, cod, or halibut so the flavor of the fish shines through. Makes sense to me!

Cooking and Seasoning the Fish

Some recipes call for frying fish for fish tacos. I say why bother? There’s already so much flavor imparted by the seasoning and your chosen toppings that you will not miss the fryer. Plus, sautéed or grilled fish is much healthier/

These are grilled because grilling is easy, fast, healthy, and clean up is a breeze. Just be careful to not let the fish stick to your pan.

If you’re set on frying the fish for these fish tacos, try my homemade Fish Fry Batter recipe. The end result will be crispy, salty, and delicious England-style beer batter fried fish bites!

Best Sauces and Topping for Fish Tacos

This recipe uses a flavorful slaw as its base topping and is garnished with a simple sour cream-based chipotle sauce. The combination of these flavors works incredible well with the grilled fish.

I also like to serve fish tacos is with avocado, diced mango, and pickled red onions. So good!

It’s up to you as to which tortilla you use. I chose homemade flour tortillas, but you could also use corn, grain-free, or even thinly sliced jicama.

Key Ingredients for Fish Tacos

This homemade grilled fish taco recipe consists of three components: the fish, the slaw, and the cream sauce.

For the fish, you’ll need 1 pound of firm white fish like tilapia or cod. For the marinade, you’ll need 1/2 cup + 2 tsp of light-tasting oil like canola or avocado, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper.

For the slaw, you’ll need:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup diced mango, (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 medium diced avocado
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

And lastly, for the cream sauce, you’ll need the juice of 1-2 limes, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 cup sour cream, and 1 tsp of chipotle chili powder. That’s all!

How To Make Grilled Fish Tacos

  • Marinate the Fish: Whisk together ½ cup oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper in a small bowl. Place fish filets in a large plastic bag or a covered dish and add marinade. Marinate the fish for up to 1 hour.
  • Prep the Slaw: Combine the cabbage, mango, avocado, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Mix together 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to make the dressing, then toss with veggies and mango. Let marinate in the fridge until ready to serve.
  • Make the Cream Sauce: Mix together 1 tsp of chipotle chili powder, ¼ tsp salt, and 1 cup of sour cream until smooth. Allow it to rest in the fridge until time to serve.
  • Cook the Fish: Heat a large pan over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Grill or sauté the fish for 2-3 minutes per side. It’s ready once it can be flaked with a fork.
  • Assemble the Tacos: Layer each tortilla with slaw/toppings of choice, followed by fish, and drizzled chipotle cream. Enjoy!

What Should I Serve with Fish Tacos?

Fish tacos are a delicious appetizer and entree, but they need something else to go with them when served as a meal. Luckily, I have lots of ideas!

  • Black beans are a healthy choice that pack in a ton of flavor and protein as a side dish! My favorite is my Cuban Black Beans recipe. You could even blend them up and thin them out a bit with broth to make it a soup!
  • Speaking of soup, you could also serve these tacos with a cup of my Chicken Tortilla Soup to make the meal even more filling and flavorful.
  • If you’re looking for a lighter side dish, try my Black Bean & Corn Salad, a simple Avocado and Tomato Salad, and my Black Bean Tostadas!
  • You can’t go wrong with Homemade Guacamole and fish tacos. Serve in the taco itself or on the side with some tortilla chips.
  • Tacos and rice are the perfect pairing, but forget boring old Spanish rice. Try my Shrimp and Chorizo Paella to take this meal up a notch!
  • Keep it simple with some chopped cilantro, freshly squeezed lime juice, and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  • And what’s a Mexican meal without some cheese dip? My favorite is this Queso Fundido recipe. Easy and delicious!
  • Don’t forget the drinks! I like serving these fish tacos with homemade sweet tea, fresh lemonade, or — for the adults — a pitcher of margaritas!

Storage and Reheating Instructions

  • Store leftover fish tacos in separate airtight containers — fish in one, slaw in another, and chipotle cream sauce in a third — in your fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat the fish for fish tacos in the microwave for about 2 minutes or in a skillet over medium-low heat. The key is to not overcook or dry out the fish.
  • You shouldn’t freeze cooked fish, so this recipe is not ideal for meal-prepping and freezing ahead of time. Best enjoyed them hot and fresh!

More Seafood Recipes To Try

If you enjoyed these Grilled Fish Tacos, then you’ll love these other seafood recipes:

📖 Recipe

how to make grilled fish tacos recipe

Grilled fish tacos

Three tacos per serving.
5 from 2 votes
Author: Marie
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 401 kcal

Ingredients
 

For the Fish and Marinade

  • 1 pound (453.59 g) white fish tilapia, cod, or other firm white fish recommended
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) oil canola, avocado, or even olive oil (not extra virgin), plus a tablespoon or 2 more to cook the fish.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Slaw

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup mango , diced (fresh or frozen is fine)
  • 1 medium avocado , diced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion , finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro , chopped (use dried in a pinch)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Cream Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (about 1 or 1.5 limes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt , divided
  • 1 cup (230 g) sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

To Serve

  • 12 Flour or corn tortillas

Instructions
 

  • Combine 1/2 cup oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper in a small bowl. This will be your marinade for the fish.
  • Place fish in a large plastic bag or a covered dish and add marinade. Marinate the fish for up to 1 hour.
  • In the meantime, prepare the slaw by combining the cabbage, mango, avocado, onion, and cilantro. You may also leave the toppings separate and let everyone choose their own toppings.
  • Prepare the slaw dressing by combining 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of lime juice, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk the dressing and drizzle it over the slaw mixture or set aside to drizzle over fish if you're opting to do choose your own toppings.
  • Prepare the chipotle sour cream by adding 1 teaspoon of chipotle chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of sour cream and mixing well.
  • Just before serving, heat a large pan over medium high heat and add a tablespoon of oil. Grill the fish for approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Fish is ready as soon as if flakes apart when you test it with a fork.
  • Serve with flour or corn tortilla (when using corn tortillas, we like to crisp them up in a pan for a few minutes on each side. Use some cooking spray to prevent sticking and add flavor).
  • Layer each tortilla with slaw/toppings of choice, followed by fish, and drizzled chipotle cream.

Notes

Nutrition estimate does not include tortillas; see nutritional information for tortilla depending on whether you use corn or flour. 

Nutrition

Calories: 401kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 26gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 996mgPotassium: 822mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 1077IUVitamin C: 35mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 1mg
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