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posted December 06, 2023

Crispy Fish Tacos

Flaky halibut fried to golden perfection, with creamy avocado and and zesty cilantro lime slaw, this Crispy Fish Tacos are a total catch. Serve with corn tortillas for style points.

Crispy fish tacos on black surface.

Crispy Fish Tacos

My Crispy Fish Tacos are a unique twist on a Fresh-Mex classic. As a staple of Southern California, these battered fish tacos are typically served with shredded cabbage and a creamy white sauce. My fish taco recipe maintains the creaminess and cabbage elements while taking an even more fresh approach to the ingredients.

These crispy tacos have a zesty, crunchy cilantro lime slaw with both red and green cabbage that’s sure to excite all your senses. To achieve that desired creaminess, I love using avocado slices, more fresh cilantro, and a little (or a lot) of rich Mexican crema. All this goodness on a perfectly fried fillet bringing out just the tiniest hint of sweet from the corn in the tortilla is… chef’s kiss. Let’s make some tacos.

What fish is best for tacos?

When I’m making fish tacos of any kind, I like to go with a white fish like halibut, cod, or tilapia, but especially when frying them in batter. Because these fish typically tend to be on the leaner side, the batter coats them nice and smooth. This allows them to fry easily and come out golden and crispy without sacrificing that tender, flaky goodness you look for in a fish fillet.

Another benefit to using a fish like halibut is it’s milder in taste. Not only do you avoid that briny, “this tastes fishy” taste, but you give your creamy toppings and vibrant sides a place to shine. I use halibut fillets for this recipe, but any white fish you prefer will turn out amazing following my tips. Feel free to make it your own.

Fish fillet being dipped in batter in glass bowl.

How to Fry Fish Fillets

If you want that coveted, golden crispy exterior, you have batter your fillets right. I’ve included a recipe for an amazing batter in the recipe card, and if you don’t want to make it, it comes with my Wing Night Kit. Now that you’re ready, these tips will help you batter even better.

  • Coat to preference. For this taco, I prefer to keep it as light and crispy and possible. I let the batter drip off back into the bowl until I’m left with a thin layer on my fillets. If you leave the batter a little heavy, you’re going to end up with a thicker, almost crunchy exterior. Do what suits you.
  • Temperature. When it comes to frying fish, temperature is going to be your best friend. You want to make sure your oil is a nice 350 degrees F before you start frying anything. You also want to cook to temp. I provide some time notes, but look and temperature are the best guide with fish. You want your internal temperature right at 145 degrees F. If you go any longer your fish will dry out. A reliable food thermometer like my Thermapen ONE is a valuable kitchen tool.
  • Salt and let the fish cool. The last thing you want is to place your freshly fried fillets on your tortillas right away. Set them on a rack and sprinkle them with salt immediately. Then let them rest for a few minutes to allow the excess oil to drain away.
  • Avoid the beer. Listen, I love a good beer batter as much as anyone, but you want to stick to water with this recipe. Using beer is going to make them fry extremely puffy, and you’re going to have a lot of messy fried batter to deal with.

Crispy fish tacos on black surface.

Toppings for Fish Tacos

Most places are going to serve a creamy white sauce with crispy fish for Baja-style tacos. I’m keeping things a little more light with this taco, but don’t worry, we’ll still fill that need for something rich and creamy. I like to add some fresh avocado slices and a helping of Mexican crema for a similar effect. This way you keep each bite remains refreshing while covering your cravings for creaminess. You can also add some of my fresh pico de gallo if you’re feeling a tomato vibe.

What to Serve with Fish Tacos

One great thing about tacos is how versatile they are. You can pair them with just about anything and you’re going to have a crowdpleaser on your hands. They’re great on their own, but add some of my killer elote and you’ve got an easy Fresh-Mex dinner ready to go.

I’ve got a cilantro lime slaw to take an already refreshing fish taco to a level of freshness you’ve got to taste to believe, and I’ve included it in the recipe card. It’s sweet and bright, and everything you need to take these tacos over the top. But of course, I always like to throw in some lime wedges for squeezing fresh juice with each crispy bite. You can let your imagination run wild with toppings, but just remember fresh is best here.

What Tortillas Go Best with Fish

You’re going to enjoy these yummy tacos no matter what type of tortilla you choose, but I personally prefer corn tortillas for this recipe. The natural sweetness of the corn tends to stand out a bit more with fish and add a depth of flavor without overpowering the taco. You can grab some at the store or use my recipe for homemade corn tortillas. Did I mention those corn tortillas are gluten-free? And since the batter is also gluten-free, that means you now have celiac friendly dish for your next gathering.

Fish fillets frying in oil in pan.

How to Make Fish Tacos

Fish can be intimidating, but I’m going to show you exactly how to fry fresh and tender fillets for a knockout taco. Oh, and you’ll do it all in a just a few easy steps.

  1. Preheat oil. Add your oil to a heavy bottom pan and heat to around 350 degrees F. You want to make sure the oil is heated evenly before you start frying.
  2. Make the slaw. The cilantro lime slaw adds a zesty, bright, refreshing element to take your tacos over the top. It tastes best fresh, so I recommend making the slaw and dressing in separate bowls and combining right before you put your tacos together.
  3. Batter the fish. Mix the dry ingredients together (or use the premix from my Wing Kit) and then whisk in the cold water. Once it’s smooth, you’re ready to coat your fillets.
  4. Fry. Place the battered fillets in your oil. Fry the fillets for about 6-8 minutes per side, flipping gently once the fillets start to float in the oil. Fry the fish until the fillets reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Remove the fillets to a flat rack above a baking sheet to allow the excess oil to drip away.
  5. Assemble the fish tacos. Once those crispy fillets are just cool enough to eat, go ahead and mix your slaw. And just like that, you’re ready to assemble your tacos. I like to serve them with 2 tortillas, trust me on this one. For toppings, I like Mexican crema and avocado for creaminess. Serve with a heaping side of the cilantro lime slaw and a fresh lime wedge for squeezing.

Assembled tacos on black surface next to sliced avocados.

More Fresh and Flaky Fish Dishes

Now that you’re hooked on crispy fish for tacos, let me show you what else you can do. The possibilities are endless once you start mixing things up between crispy and grilled fish, but here are a few of my favorite recipes to get you started.

Crispy Fish Taco Recipe

Let’s fry some fish. If this recipe was a catch for you, please feel free to rate it 5 stars, and don’t forget to leave me a comment below. You can find over 500 more delicious recipes just like this in the Hey Grill Hey app to help you become a backyard BBQ hero and feed the people you love.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for all the latest Hey Grill Hey news, behind the scenes, and more.

Crispy Fish Tacos

Susie Bulloch
Flaky halibut fried to golden perfection, with creamy avocado and and zesty cilantro lime slaw, my Crispy Fish Tacos are a total catch.
Prep Time : 20 minutes
Cook Time : 10 minutes
Total Time : 30 minutes
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 370kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 4 halibut fillets
  • 8 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 4 limes (for wedges and juice)

Super Crispy Wing Batter

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Cilantro Lime Slaw

  • 1 cup red and green cabbage mix (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup green onions (diced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (sliced)

Slaw Dressing

  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

Optional

  • taco shells

Instructions

  • Preheat oil. Add your cooking oil to a heavy bottom pan over heat and bring it to around 350 degrees F.
    8 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • Make the slaw. In a large bowl, combine cabbage, cilantro, and green onions. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the slaw dressing. Set aside and wait to mix the dressing into the slaw until just before serving.
    1 cup red and green cabbage mix, 1/4 cup green onions, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1 Tablespoon avocado oil, 2 teaspoons honey, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Batter the fish. Mix all of the dry batter ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 cup of ice water and whisk until smooth. Fillets should be 1" thick, trim as needed. Coat fillets evenly on all sides, letting excess batter drip off.
    1/4 cup cornstarch, 3/4 cup rice flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 4 halibut fillets
  • Fry. Place the battered fillets in the hot oil, about 6-8 minutes per side. Flip gently when fillets start to float. Fry until fillets reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Remove to a flat rack above a baking sheet, allowing excess oil to drip away.
  • Assemble the fish tacos. Combine dressing and slaw. Assemble your tacos with two corn tortillas, fried fish, and toppings. Serve with side of slaw and lime wedge.
    4 limes

Nutrition

Calories: 370kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 1000mg | Potassium: 1125mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 651IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 141mg | Iron: 1mg
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