Blackened Fish Tacos

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
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Buttery fish fillets encrusted with a perfect balance of herbs and spices star in these Blackened Fish Tacos. Wrapped in warm corn tortillas, topped with shredded cabbage and served with a creamy chipotle-lime sauce on the side, these tacos burst with flavor in every bite.

Quick & Easy Blackened Fish Taco Recipe

The thing that really sets these tacos apart is the way the fish is prepared. Cooking your fish in butter with a cast-iron skillet gives the fillets a beautifully crispy outside while keeping the inside moist and tender enough to fall apart in your mouth. And the cilantro lime sauce adds brightness and zest to round out the rich, savory flavor of the fish.

One of the best things about tacos is how easy they are to personalize. I love these with shredded purple cabbage and cotija cheese crumbles, but you can get as creative as you want with your fixings. When I host a taco party, I put out a variety of different toppings so that everyone can make them exactly how they like them.

What You’ll Need

Blackened fish tacos are seasoned with spices and herbs that you probably already have on hand. Find exact amounts for everything in the recipe card below.

For the Cilantro-Lime Sauce

  • Lime Juice: Juice half a fresh lime, or substitute a small amount of bottled lime juice.
  • Sour Cream: Or plain Greek yogurt.
  • Mayonnaise: A bit of your favorite mayo adds creaminess and brings out the other flavors.
  • Garlic Salt: If you don’t have this, mix a little garlic powder with regular salt.
  • Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce: These are available in cans on the international foods aisle of most grocery stores or on amazon: Chipotle Peppers In Adobo.
  • Cilantro: Chopped. If you don’t like cilantro, you can substitute fresh parsley.

For the Blackened Fish

  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper: You can reduce or omit the cayenne for a less spicy dish, or add a little extra to bump up the heat.
  • Dried Thyme
  • Dried Oregano
  • Dried Basil: If you dry your own herbs at home, make sure to chop them finely.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Melted Butter: If you use salted butter, you may want to hold back on the added salt. 
  • Fish: Cut your fish into 1-inch thick fillets.
  • Olive Oil: For sautéing. 
  • Corn Tortillas: Warm them up in the oven before assembling the tacos. Or, if you prefer, you can also use Flour Tortillas.

What Kind of Fish is Best for Tacos?

You can blacken just about any kind of fish! Salmon, cod, tilapia, or any other firm fish will work best. If you opt for frozen fish, be sure to thaw it in the fridge, and pat or squeeze it dry with paper towels before cooking it.

How to Make Blackened Fish Tacos

This recipe for blackened fish tacos is pretty straightforward. We’ll start with the sauce, then make the fish, and finally assemble the tacos.

  1. Make the Taco Sauce: Blend together the lime juice, sour cream, mayo, garlic salt, chipotle pepper and chopped cilantro in a food processor or a blender. Blend the mixture until it reaches a smooth and even consistency. Place the sauce covered loosely in the fridge until everything else is ready to serve.
  2. Season the Fish Fillets: Stir or whisk the garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano, salt and black pepper in any size mixing bowl. These make up your blackened seasoning. Melt the butter in a separate bowl. Gently dip the fish in the butter, and then coat it in the seasoning mixture. The butter should be spread evenly across the fillet so that the seasoning sticks.
  3. Cook the Fish: Coat a cast-iron skillet with olive oil and set it on the stove over medium-high heat. Carefully lay the coated fish fillets into the hot skillet, and cook them for about 2 minutes on each side. When the fish is finished it should be crispy on the outside and flaky in the middle. The center of the fillet should be completely opaque.
  4. Repeat: Take the blackened fish out of the skillet and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat the cooking process until all of the fillets are done. If the pan seems dry at any point, add a bit more oil between batches.
  5. Assemble the Fish Tacos: Warm up the corn tortillas and fill each tortilla with the blackened fish and any toppings of your choice. Serve them immediately with sauce on the side.
Someone is lifting a fish taco from a platter filled with the same tacos.

Tips for Success

With only 30 minutes from start to finish, making blackened fish tacos is actually really easy. But if you’re new to blackening as a cooking method, check out these helpful tips.

  • Customize the Seasoning: This seasoning blend isn’t set in stone, so customize it as you like. If you see an herb or spice that you don’t love, reduce the amount or leave it out. You can also increase or add ingredients! And if you don’t want to make your own seasoning, you can definitely use a store-bought mix instead.
  • Fish Taco Sauce: This fish taco sauce is perfectly creamy and just a little spicy, but if you aren’t a fan of chipotle flavors, you can try this Cilantro Lime Dressing drizzled on top instead!
  • Use Real Butter: While many blackening recipes leave out the butter or substitute oil, I really recommend using butter. The low smoke point of butter is part of what makes blackened fish smoky and charred to perfection. If you can’t use butter, though, no worries. The dish will still be great, and you can always add some smoked paprika for that extra hint of smoke.
  • Smoke Alarm: Speaking of smoke, blackened fish or meats can produce quite a bit of it – maybe even enough to trigger your smoke alarm! It’s a good idea to turn on your stove’s ventilation fan before cooking, and open a window if things get cloudy during the sauté.
Chipotle-lime sauce being drizzled on a platter of tacos.

Topping Ideas

This meal wouldn’t be complete without some tempting taco fixings! Here are my favorite fresh ingredients that will take these tacos to the next level.

  • Shredded Purple Cabbage: Chopping up some fresh purple cabbage can add a little extra crunch to your tacos.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Lightly chop the leaves and make a bed of greens for your fish to lie on.
  • Crumbled Cotija Cheese: For a sharper cheese, you can also try shredded cheddar.
  • A Spritz of Lime: Squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice over the fish, or serve the tacos with lime wedges so people can add as much or as little as they want.
  • Sliced Jalapeños: For some extra oomph, try putting jalapeño slices on top of your taco. Keep the seeds in for an even bigger kick.
Blackened Fish Tacos on a platter with a cup of creamy cilantro-lime sauce and fresh lime wedges.

What Goes With Grilled Fish Tacos?

There are so many tantalizing sides that help bring out the flavor of these blackened fish tacos. Here are a few ideas to get you started!

  • Elote: Fresh corn on the cob slathered with crema and cotija cheese? Yes, please! This simple recipe for Elote (Mexican Street Corn) is one of the best.
  • Fries: Who doesn’t love a side of fries? With a pop of sweetness to compliment the taco spices, you can’t beat Sweet Potato Fries. These beautifully seasoned fries offer a gorgeous color and buttery texture that fits right in with the blackened fish.
  • Black Beans: Tacos just aren’t complete without these classic legumes. Try this hearty Black Bean Soup for a great way to add fiber, protein and flavor to your meal.
  • Plantains: Both crispy fried Tostones or sweet pan-fried Maduros (sweet plantains) will go great with these fish tacos!
Fish tacos arranged on a dish with fresh lime and cotija cheese.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Because of their crispy outer coating, these fish tacos are best served right away. But if you have leftovers, don’t worry. You can store leftover blackened fish in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

To let the crust crisp up again, reheat the fish in a warmed skillet before making more tacos, but make sure you don’t cook them too long. The taco sauce can be prepared up to one week ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

More Easy Seafood Recipes

Looking for some more easy seafood recipes with lots of flavor? Here are a few more of my favorites:

Yield: 6

Blackened Fish Tacos

Three fish tacos with fish taco sauce drizzled on top on a white plate.

Buttery fish fillets encrusted with a perfect balance of herbs and spices star in these Blackened Fish Tacos. Wrapped in warm corn tortillas, topped with shredded cabbage and served with a creamy chipotle-lime sauce on the side, these tacos burst with flavor in every bite.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Taco Sauce

For the Blackened Fish

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 lbs white fish, cut into 1-inch thick fillets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

For Serving

  • Corn tortillas, warmed (or flour tortillas)
  • Shredded purple cabbage
  • Fresh cilantro, lightly chopped
  • Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

Make the Fish Taco Sauce

  1. In a food processor or blender, blend together the lime juice, sour cream, mayo, garlic salt, chipotle pepper, and chopped cilantro. Blend until smooth. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Make the Blackened Fish

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the seasonings to make your blackening seasoning: garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried thyme, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Place melted butter in a shallow bowl, and gently dip the fish pieces into the melted butter. Place them on a separate plate, and sprinkle generously on both sides with the blackening seasoning.
  3. Coat a cast iron skillet with olive oil, and heat on medium-high heat. Carefully place the coated fish into the hot skillet, and saute for 2 minutes on each side, or until the fish is cooked and flaky in the middle. Take the cooked fish out of the skillet, and place on a paper-towel-lined plate. Repeat this process until all of the fish have been cooked. Add more oil to the pan, if needed, between batches.

Assemble the Fish Tacos

  1. Warm the corn tortillas, and fill each tortilla with cabbage shreds, blackened fish, fresh chopped cilantro, cotija cheese crumbles, and drizzle with the prepared taco sauce. Pair with lime wedges and serve immediately.

Notes

  • To Store: Store fish up to 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Refrigerated sauce will stay fresh up to 1 week in a jar or airtight container.
  • To Reheat: Warm fish in a covered skillet on low heat until heated through. Do not overcook.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 533Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 1403mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 39g

Categories

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

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Comments

36 Responses
  1. Nichole

    LOL Ok … First time on the blog. This is a recap of my experience thus far:

    About five minutes ago I followed a link from Food Gawker because these Blacked Fish Tacos look so yummy. I got teary eyed from the touching story you told about losing one cat and having another stroll into your life unexpectedly. Then I really did lawlz at my monitor when I read that you categorized this as “Ass Friendly”. hahhaa My friends and I say that sometime we ~have~ to have two of something so our thighs don’t become unbalanced … would hate to be walking around with one skinnier than the other. =P

    I’m looking forward to a leisurely stroll through your site! <3Nic

  2. Megan

    I love fish tacos, and these look really good…but I have a hard time believing any dinner that includes a stick of butter could possibly be ass friendly.

  3. DessertForTwo

    Aww, I loved your sweet story! I believe in signs! We had a dog once that was truly a part of our family. I know how you feel.

    These tacos look amazing, but I can’t shake the 1 stick of butter…have you tried using less butter with great results? I’ll give it a try and let you know 🙂

  4. sippitysup

    I usually avoid blod with cat picture. I love cats but they appear on way to many blogs ;0 But I made an exception for this perfection! GREG

  5. Stephanie

    I’m so, so glad you shared your story! My husband and I have a 1-year-old golden retriever, Gus, and we consider him our “heart dog,” meaning he has a place in our hearts always as he is just as much a part of our family as I am. So I understand your grief over the loss of Caesar. Please keep us updated on Trixie’s (that my vote!) story!

  6. Loren

    First, I have to say it is wonderful you were sent this kitty. It’s a symbiotic meeting of needs and a sign for sure that your old one helped you find each other. Halloween is a particularly interesting, and I love the magickal way you were brought together. I think “Zelda” would capture that if you’re still considering names. In German, it means “dark battle” which I think represents her trauma of being abandoned – but in later Yiddish interpretations, the name means “happiness” which is what she has found with you. 🙂

    Just my two cents. It captures the moment.

  7. Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking

    Congrats on the new kitty! She’s adorable. This fish taco recipe looks to-die-for… I love those fresh ingredients and flavors!

  8. Becca

    Ohhh Jessica… what a WONDERFUL story! I am SO happy to know that your new kitty will have such loving and wonderful parents!

    Now then… your fish taco post was an answer to MY prayers, girlfriend! After my HORRID experience at the doctor yesterday (he asked me if I was PREGNANT, when he knows that my tubes have been tied!), I am DEFINITELY in need of every ass-friendly recipe that I can get my hands on. Thanks for the love, Hon xoxo

  9. Steven

    Cat story really warmed my heart. I presently have eight kitties and one beautiful German Shepherd that I have rescued, who truly believes she is the Mommy to all eight of them. I could read heartwarming stories like yours all day. And yes, I am certain Caesar guided this new arrival to your doorsteps…

  10. DeAnna

    OMG I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. I totally understand your feelings. Our Bobbi died in April after 19 years of love and happiness. She was our daughter. A lot of people don’t understand how close you can be to a pet. I thought it would be a long time before we got another pet, then Merlin came into our lives. He is a huge bundle of love.

    What a beautiful Tortie girl. She looks like a bunch of different spices. Pepper, cumin, chili, onion salt. LOL

  11. Lindsay

    Awwah she is a cutie. I had a kitten that looks like her follow me home from school when i was about 7. We thought of Halloween also so we named her Hallo. She was one of my best friends growing up. Even though I have 4 kids now all of my animals are my babies too. 🙂
    Im looking forward to trying out the tacos!!

  12. Kerri

    caesar was such a sweet kitty… he is currently playing with quincy. and we will see them again some day… i’m so glad that you are able to rescue this new kitten. i know how much you and jorge will love her! 🙂

  13. Tracy

    Your story brought tears to my eyes. We had to put down one of our “babies” about a year ago and it was devastating. We didn’t intend to get another cat for a very long time, but our surviving cat, Lucy, told us otherwise. She was BORED! So, we went to adopt a rescue cat…and came home with TWO! Two adorable brothers named Noah and Fitz. They are sooooo sweet and special to us. Can’t imagine our lives without them.

  14. Laura

    That’s awesome! I totally believe that this sort of thing doesn’t just happen by coincidence.

    Welcome, Trixie or Pumpkin or whatever her name shall be. She’s adorable! 🙂

    Oh. And the food looks great, too, as per usual

  15. Erica

    Awww…what a sweet story and she looks just like my sweet Clementine. I don’t know what it is about that color of cat, but they are so sweet! Good luck with the name picking! The fish Tacos look amazing, and I wish we could get fresh fish here. Grrr…

    http://mycupcakejourney.blogspot.com

  16. Tasha

    What a wonderful story! Enjoy getting to know your new baby. She is lucky to have wandered in your door. The fish tacos look amazing, too.

  17. The Nifty Foodie

    You are way awesome for taking in this kitty! I hate how people just ignore/neglect animals that are lost. While I can’t take in anymore pets, you better believe I at least offer them food or water and call owners if there are tags. :

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Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.
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