Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos

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This Crispy Baked Fish Tacos recipe is made with the yummiest panko-crusted fish, zesty cilantro-lime slaw, a super-simple chipotle crema, and whatever other favorite toppings (hello, avocado) you love most.

Baked Fish Tacos

So here’s the thing.  I love a classic beer-battered, deep-fried, ultra-crispy-and-crunchy fish taco as much as the next girl.  But most of the time when I opt for fish tacos, I’m going for something lighter and healthier!  You know, a fish taco that’s big on fresh flavors, but mercifully low on the grease factor (and accompanying stomachache).  A fish taco that’s perfectly balanced with all things hot and cool, crispy and tender, smoky and citrusy, saucy and herb.  A fish taco recipe that’s naturally mild enough for everyone at the table to enjoy, yet can easily also be kicked up a spicy notch for those who like extra heat.  A fish taco that’s legit do-able in my own kitchen, yet rivals the authentic taco shop just down the street.  This is the kind of fish taco I crave.

Specifically — these fish tacos. ♡♡♡

We are completely obsessed with these tacos in our house, and I sincerely hope that now you’re going to love them too!

They are made with the the four main components that I believe are essential to the best fish tacos.  First — good-quality fish, coated in a zesty toasted Panko crust, and baked in the oven (not fried) to crispy perfection.  Second — that cool and crunchy and irresistibly delicious Cilantro Lime Slaw recipe that I posted yesterday.  Third — a super-quick 4-ingredient blender chipotle sauce for drizzling on top.  And last but not least — all of your favorite fresh toppings piled high on top which, for the record, I sincerely hope includes lots of avocado.  Altogether, these tacos add up to taste ultra-fresh and flavorful, yet they still feel nice and light and healthy, which I love.

Also, while the instructions for this fish taco recipe may look a bit long in writing, they’re actually quite easy to make.  If you have all of your ingredients ready to go, these fish tacos can easily be made in less than 45 minutes (or 30, if you’re moving quickly).  They can also easily be adapted to be gluten-free or dairy-free, if you would like.  And everything except the fish can be prepped in advance, if you’re planning to make them for a crowd.

Clearly, I’m a big fan.  So if you love fish tacos as much as I do, I hope you’ll give this one a try!

Baked Fish Tacos Recipe | 1-Minute Video

 

Baked Panko-Crusted Cod for Fish Tacos

Try to look for fish filets that are roughly the same thickness for even cooking. I also recommend cutting the fish into 2-inch chunks for a higher yummy-crust-to-flaky-fish ratio. ;)

Fish Taco Ingredients:

Alright, let’s making a shopping list!  For this fish taco recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Panko-Crusted Fish: I recommend a good firm white fish (such as halibut or cod) for these fish tacos, which we will cut into 2-inch pieces (for a maximum crust-to-fish ratio), dip in egg (to make the crust stick), coat with a crispy Panko topping (including toasted Panko breadcrumbs, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, s&p), and bake in the oven to crispy perfection.
  • Cilantro Lime SlawI shared my favorite fish taco slaw on the blog yesterday!  It’s quick and easy to make with a bag of classic cole slaw mix (or you can make your own with shredded cabbage and carrots) and a quick blender sauce made of plain Greek yogurt (or mayo), cilantro, lime juice, green onions, garlic, cumin, s&p.  If you would like a spicier slaw, feel free to blend a jalapeño into the sauce too.
  • Chipotle Crema: This quick fish taco sauce is optional — but highly recommended — to balance out these tacos with an extra touch of smoky flavor.  It only takes an extra minute or two to make in the blender with Greek yogurt (or mayo), a chipotle chile in adobo sauce, lime juice and salt.
  • Tortillas: Feel free to use corn or flour tortillas, whichever you prefer.
  • Toppings, toppings, toppings: The more, the merrier, IMHO. ♡  Some sliced avocado is obviously a must.  Then beyond that, I would highly recommend lots of chopped fresh cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, sliced radishes or red onions, maybe some extra sliced jalapeños if you would like a spicier kick…whatever sounds good.

Fish Tacos

How To Make Fish Tacos:

This fish taco recipe may look a bit long and complicated in writing.  But hakuna matata — they’re actually quite simple to make.  And if you have your ingredients all ready to go, they can be ready in less than 45 minutes (or 30 minutes, if you’re moving quickly!).  Here’s how to make fish tacos:

  1. Prep the cilantro lime slaw: Pulse all of the sauce ingredients in the blender, then toss the sauce with the slaw and pop it in the fridge to chill while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
  2. Prep the chipotle crema: Toss the chipotle crema ingredients in the same blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Toast the panko. This is an optional step, but one that I highly recommend for maximum fish crispiness!  Just spread the panko out on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven for 5-8 minutes until it’s toasted and golden.  (Keep a close eye on it so that the breadcrumbs do not burn!)  Then transfer the toasted panko to a bowl with the other seasonings and whisk to combine.
  4. Prep the fish. Make a little assembly line to coat your fish, in this order: (1) the raw fish, cut into 2-inch pieces (2) bowl with a whisked egg (3) bowl with panko mixture (4) baking sheet.  Using your right hand, dip the fish in the egg and toss to coat.  Then using your left hand (this will prevent the ingredients from getting mixed and clumpy), transfer the fish to the panko mixture and gently press it on so that the fish is evenly coated.  Use your left hand to transfer the fish to the baking sheet.  Then repeat with the remaining fish.
  5. Bake the fish.  Pop the fish in the oven and bake until the cooked through.  I highly recommend using a cooking thermometer to check the fish for doneness (it should reach an internal temperature of about 140°F, which will rise to 145°F as it continues to cook once it has been removed from the oven).  But if you don’t have an oven thermometer, just check to be sure that the fish is opaque inside and flakes easily with a fork.  Go ahead and roughly flake the fish into bite-sized pieces once it has been removed from the oven.
  6. Assemble the tacos.  Then comes the fun part!  Fill a tortilla with a few spoonfuls of slaw, followed by fish and your desired toppings, then drizzle with the chipotle crema, and serve warm!

Detailed cooking instructions included in the full recipe below.

Fish Taco Recipe

Possible Variations:

Feel free to get creative and customize your own fish tacos recipe to taste!  For example, feel free to:

  • Make it gluten-free: To make gluten-free fish tacos, be sure to use gluten-free Panko (or your preferred gluten-free breadcrumbs) and gluten-free corn tortillas (or your preferred kind of tortillas). And of course, double-check that all of your other ingredients are certified gluten-free as well.
  • Make it dairy-free: Just use vegan mayo in place of the Greek yogurt in the slaw and crema.  And omit any sort of cheese topping (or use vegan cheese).
  • Make the fish even crispier: I kept the fish recipe as light as possible below, which still results in a crispy crunchy crust.  But if you would like a thicker and crunchier crust, just dredge each piece of fish in flour before coating it in the egg and panko mixtures.
  • Use a different fish (or shrimp): I almost always make cod fish tacos, since cod is so affordable and has the perfect texture for fish tacos.  But feel free to use any other kind of fish (or shrimp) that you prefer.  Halibut, mahi mahi, snapper, grouper, or salmon would all work great.
  • Add fruit: Some juicy fruit (such as mango, pineapple, orange, blueberries, etc.) would also be a delicious addition to these tacos.

Baked Fish Tacos with Avocado

What To Serve With Fish Tacos:

Looking for some ideas on what to serve with fish tacos?  Here are a few suggestions!

Print
BEST Fish Tacos

Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 35 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

This Crispy Baked Fish Tacos recipe is made with the yummiest panko-crusted fish, zesty cilantro-lime slaw, a super-simple chipotle crema, and whatever other favorite toppings (hello, avocado) you love most.  See notes above for possible ingredient variations.


Scale

Ingredients

To Make The Chipotle Crema:

  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or mayo)
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

To Make The Fish:

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white fish, such as cod or halibut, cut into 2-inch pieces

To Assemble The Tacos:

  • 12 corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 fresh avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1 batch Cilantro Lime Slaw*
  • optional toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeños, crumbled queso fresco, sliced radishes, sliced red onions, etc.

Instructions

  1. To Make The Chipotle Crema: Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.  Set aside until ready to use.
  2. To Make The Cilantro Lime Slaw: Follow the directions here.
  3. To Make The Fish: Heat oven to 375°F.  Spread the panko out in an even layer on a medium baking sheet*.  Bake for 5-7 minutes, giving the pan a gentle shake halfway through, until the panko is toasted and golden brown.  (Keep a close eye on the panko so that it does not burn.) Transfer the panko to a medium bowl, and dust off the baking sheet for future use.
  4. Add chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper to the bowl with the panko, then whisk the mixture until combined.
  5. Now, set up an assembly line with the (1) fish, (2) whisked egg, (3) panko mixture and (4) parchment-covered baking sheet.  Using your right hand, dip a piece of fish in the egg so that it is coated on all sides.  Then, using your left hand, transfer the fish to the panko mixture and gently press it on so that the fish is coated on all sides.  Using your left hand, transfer the fish to the baking sheet.  Then repeat the process with the remaining fish.
  6. Bake the fish for 10 minutes, or until it is cooked through and opaque and flakes easily with a fork.  (Internal temperature should be 145°F*.)  Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack, then use a fork to roughly flake the fish into smaller pieces.
  7. To Assemble The Tacos: Fill a tortilla with a few spoonfuls of the slaw, followed by the fish, and any desired toppings.  Drizzle with the chipotle crema and serve immediately.

Notes

*Chili Powder: I’m referring to the general chili powder sold in American grocery stores (not cayenne!).

*Crispy Panko: To make the panko even crispier, feel free to toss it with 1 tablespoon of oil before toasting it in the oven.  I recommend letting the panko toast in the oven until it reaches a pretty deep golden brown for maximum crispiness.

*Fish Internal Temperature: The FDA says that the safe internal temperature for cooked fish is 145°F.  I usually pull mine out of the oven around 135-140°F, since the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees more while the fish rests.

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42 comments on “Life-Changing Crispy Baked Fish Tacos”

  1. Made them….loved them!

  2. Ali–this recipe is fabulous! The cilantro lime slaw was also excellent. Best part is….everything is quick and easy to make! Looking forward to trying the toasted panko breading mixture on other things as well…such as chicken, vegetables, etc. Thanks so much for sharing!–Andrea

  3. I have never made fish tacos before, but they are definitely in the rotation now! Delicious!

  4. These were amazing! The best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Used fresh halibut and Panko that I had toasted in a cast iron pan and rolled in flour before the egg dip. I cooked the fish in my air fryer and added half an avocado and a touch of honey to the crema. Topped with diced cherry tomatoes and chunks of avocado and mango. So so good, will definitely make them again!

  5. Wow, wow, wow. You were not kidding with the life-changing claim here. I do not like fish and I ate about a pound of fish alone here. The spices and crunch were spot on and the coleslaw and chipotle sauce just made this whole dish sing. Wow, this is the second dish of yours I made from your website this week and it has been a REALLY delicious week:). Thanks, Ali!

  6. Hi Ali!

    Its going to be my first time making fish tacos and am looking forward to using your recipe!

    Quick question… What is chipotle chile in adobo sauce?

    Thank you!

  7. Excellent

  8. Believe the title of this post…. amazing…

  9. What is considered a serving? Thinking of making this for a crowd but need to figure whether to double or triple recipe. Thanks!

  10. What can be substituted for queso fresco. I can’t buy it where I live.

  11. Amazing!!! I made this for a New Years Eve Party. I tripled the recipe. The Haddock turned out perfectly and everyone said the fish was the best they ever had. The husbands loved them! The tacos went so fast that after everyone ate everything…our friends and I were back in the kitchen making more. It was a blast!!!The preparation was super fast and were fantastic the second time around too…again, no leftovers. Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe, and for a wonderful time with all my best girlfriends and memories that will last a lifetime. Happy 2020!

  12. These were so delicious!! Thanks for the recipe!

  13. Made with fresh mangrove snapper and blackened it instead, phenomenal! The chipotle cream and cabbage slaw were a wonderful addition. I also made a simple Mexican corn salad with lime juice that added to the already delicious recipe. Thank you!

  14. I’ve tried a lot of recipes and have always been disappointed – until now. Girl these are by far the best fish tacos ever – thank you for the only fish taco recipe I’ll be making for the rest of my life!!

  15. Wonderful. So tasty!

  16. The sauce and slaw are great. However, all you can taste is the slaw and the sauce considering how underwhelming and plain the fish is. Probably deep frying the fish would make the recipe better?

  17. you did not specify oven temp

  18. I made these for valentines for my wife and I. For the slaw I used Traders Joe’s Modena white vinegar, plain yogurt with only red cabbage and chopped green onion. Didn’t have panko (which is always the best for my taste) but just some general bread crumbs my wife bought.

    Corn tortillas, warmed in butter over medium heat, then added chopped romas, avocado, salt/pepper and some ricotta. I’d prefer Israeli feta (for the saltiness) but didn’t have time to get it.

    Yes, I made my own little tweaks but this was a fantastic recipe.

  19. Life changing fish tacos. Just like you said. Fabulous.

  20. Omg I love how you wrote up this recipe! Right down to telling us which hand to use to coat the fish! LOL I can’t wait to make this tonight. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re a natural at this blogging thing. ;)

  21. This recipe is absolutely amazing!!! I tweaked it a little, I didn’t make the Panko fish, I baked mahi mahi in the oven. I used a different type of chipotle sauce because that’s all I could find. I also made Pico de gallo to add on top.

    The cream sauce with the slaw though is tooo die for. Definitely making this again.

  22. When I read this the flavors and textures sounded wonderful – and I loved the options to make it a little lower calorie / healthier with the use of Greek yogurt versus all mayo and baking the fish. These were delicious!!!! The Chipotle Creme is magical! I used some remade guacamole versus fresh avocado for ease and a little fresh cilantro on top. I also used less of each spice in my breadcrumb mix; i knew I could always add more and that way you can cater to your own palette. I have never made fish tacos before and these are sensational!!

  23. So the fish part of this was really good and I loved the seasoning but I was not excited about the cilantro lime slaw or the chipotle cream. I will make this again using the fish part of the recipe but that’s probably about it.

  24. My family loved this recipe. It was better than eating out at a restaurant. Two thumbs up. :)

  25. These really are the best and healthiest fish tacos. I normally don’t post reviews but it’s well deserved. I’ve had a few epic fail attempts at other fish taco recipes but not this one. The combo of the fish, slaw and Crema sauce are perfecto! I was worried it would be bland but it wasn’t at all. I did air fry it with a spray of avocado oil to toast the Panko. Look no more for fish tacos recipes! This it it!!

  26. this is the first fish taco recipe i’ve tried at home that i’ve actually liked, so good! made the slaw without cilantro and with mayo because that’s what I had on hand, so yummy I ate it out of the bowl while waiting for the fish

  27. Delicious and we loved the coleslaw too! Thank you!

  28. I made this recipe and then made the chipotle crema again for a tuna salad! 😋

  29. The name says it all. We made these tacos except we grilled our fish following a different recipe. Otherwise followed the recipe and it was DELICIOUS everyone loved it. So good we’ve made them 3 times in 2 weeks. Thanks so much!! Cilantro lime slaw is off the chain yummy!!!

  30. Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe. My family and I simply loved it! I would give you ten star rating if there was one. 💞💞

  31. Thank you for sharing your amazing recipe. My family and I simply loved it. I used Tilapia instead of cod or halibut. Great flavors. I would have given ten star rating if there was one.😊

  32. Made this tonight and they were EXCELLENT

  33. Remember to cut fish into chunks!! So yummy:)

  34. Very good a little time consuming but well worth the work will make again

  35. We absolutely loved these! Added some mango to the slaw. Thanks for a great dinner.

  36. I am not a big fish eater but I am trying to change this.

    These were lovely!!!! I would make the fish again even if I just pair it with chips and a salad.

  37. What do you think about subbing the ‘chile in adobo sauce’ for harissa for the crema?

  38. THIS IS SO GOOD. I made mango salsa for a topping, I find the citrus/tropical notes cuts through the strong flavors :)

  39. These tacos were SO good!! The smoky crema pulled all of the other ingredients beautifully! I could eat this deliciousness every day this week!

  40. In love! This recipe was SOOOOOO good! I’m not a huge fish fan and so for me, that was my low point of the dish. But honestly it was still sooooooo good! Was crunchy just like it said. I think next time I’ll give it a go with my favorite baked tofu recipe. This one is defffff becoming a regular in the rotation! Thank you!

  41. These tacos are SO MUCH YES! One of the best recipes I’ve made in months and hands down the best fish taco recipe I’ve ever made. The slaw, the sauce, the breading on the fish. I used Ian’s Gluten Free Panko Bread crumbs and was sure to toss with the suggested tablespoon of oil for extra crispness. Followed the recipe accordingly everywhere else and it was such a success. So excited to have found this recipe!