Twist on Tacos: A Basic Fish Taco Recipe

You may think tacos and fish don’t belong in the same sentence, let alone on the same plate. It’s time to get that thought out of your head! This recipe for Basic Fish Tacos is both flavorful and healthy. It is great even if you aren’t a big fish fan. The key is using a milder fish. I chose Tilapia because it was on sale. If you want an equally flavorful side that is inexpensive, I suggest serving the tacos with Cilantro Lime Rice.

Basic Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw

Hands on Time: 30 minutes   Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 6-7 tacos

Ingredients for the fish:

  • 1 lb Tilapia 
  • 2 limes, one halved and one quartered
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (or 1 teaspoon jarred, minced garlic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt
  • ground black pepper

Ingredients for the slaw:

  • 1/2 head of small green or red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6-8 soft tacos (corn or flour is fine)


  1. Place the fish in a baking dish. Salt and pepper the fish and then set aside. In a small bowl, squeeze half a lime. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and 1 tablespoon of the oil to the lime juice. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture over the fish. Turn the fish in the marinade until it’s evenly coated. Refrigerate and let marinate for 15 minutes. *Note: It’ important not to let the fish marinate too long because the acid in the lime will cook the fish. 
  2. While the fish is marinating prepare the slaw. Combine the cabbage, onion, and cilantro in a medium size bowl (I suggest using the bowl you are planning to serve it in so you don’t dirty two bowls). Squeeze half a lime over it and drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil on top. Season with salt and pepper. Toss mixture together and set aside.
  3. Now, it’s time to cook the fish. You can cook them outside on a grill or inside on a grill pan.
  4. On the grill: Brush the grates of a grill pan or outdoor grill with oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the fish from the marinade and place on the grill. Cook without moving until the underside of the fish has grill marks and is white and opaque on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Flip and grill the other side until white and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes more. Put cooked fish in a shallow dish or on a plate.
  5. On the grill pan: Heat non-stick grill pan on medium high heat. Place fish on the hot pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip. Cook the other side for about 3 more minutes. The fish should be white and opaque all the way through when it is done. The fish should flake easily when scraped with a fork. Put cooked fish in a shallow dish or plate. 
  6. Heat the tortillas in the microwave just until they are warm. You can also heat them 1-by-1 in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  7. To make a taco: break up some of the cooked fish and place it in the warm tortilla. Top fish with the slaw and squeeze lime juice over it. Enjoy!

This recipe was a big hit with my husband and mother-in-law! Thank you both for your comments and suggestions! 

Here’s to trying new things,

The Southern Bee

*Note: This recipe was created Kate Ramos on It was adapted and made with love by TSB!