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(The Best) Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw

Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw –  The BEST fish taco recipe! Perfectly cooked fish with a yummy cabbage slaw & tomatillo ranch. These are easy, fresh, and delicious! (Gluten Free)

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Tomatillo Ranch Dressing. Plated with sliced jalapeños and lime wedges.

Fish tacos are one of my happy places.

Most of my favorite food-related happy places involve either avocados or chocolate, but tacos? They totally make the list (and bonus: I usually sneak some avocado in there). I love them. They’re quick and easy, packed with flavor, and also TACOS.

So what makes these fish tacos so great? (The best fish tacos, even?) Well, it’s all in a few easy tips and tricks…

Healthy Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw and Tomatillo Ranch Dressing

WHAT MAKES THESE FISH TACOS AMAZING: 

FIRST OFF: THE SPICE RUB. My fish tacos recipe use a simple spice blend to add big time flavor without big time effort. I combine classics like cumin and chili powder (and a few other little things) and make sure that all the fish gets the spice-rub treatment.

NEXT: I COOK THEM QUICKLY. I use a cast-iron pan which maintains heat and can give you a really nice sear without any needed flour or breading. (If you don’t have a cast iron pan, I totally recommend one–they’re pretty inexpensive and can literally last generations. If it’s not in the cards right now or tacos are calling immediately, you can absolutely use whatever pan you have in the house. Just be sure you’re getting medium to medium-high heat so the fish can cook quickly and get a nice sear without overcooking the middle)

THEN, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GOODIES. I love fish tacos with slaw best. This one brings plenty of flavor with fresh lime, a tiny bit of honey, and cilantro. Then, I drizzle the fish tacos with a little something creamy to finish them off–either my favorite tomatillo-ranch or citrus avocado sauce does the job.

The combination of smoky spices, bright slaw, and creamy drizzle on top all wrapped in a warm corn tortilla is flavor and texture perfection. Can you see why these are the BEST fish tacos?

Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Tomatillo Ranch Dressing. Plated with sliced jalapeños and lime wedges.

FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST FISH TACOS:

WHAT KIND OF FISH DO YOU USE FOR FISH TACOS? This works with any flaky, white fish. Cod, halibut, and tilapia all work well in fish tacos. You could also try mahimahi or catfish if you needed to. Just know, the length of time you need to cook it will be impacted by how thick your fillet is. (i.e. If your fillet is 1/2-inch thick, it’ll cook faster than if it’s 1-inch.)

LET’S TALK HEAT (THE TEMPERATURE ONE). As I mentioned above, I like cooking my fish fairly quickly over a hotter pan. A cast iron pan is my go-to because of the way it retains heat so well. I can get a really nice sear on my fish over medium heat in my cast-iron pan. If you don’t have one, you can totally use whatever you have. Just be sure you have your heat set to at least medium or medium-high so you get a nice sear and cook the fish through without overcooking it.

NOW, LET’S TALK HEAT (THE SPICY ONE). These fish tacos aren’t super spicy as written. I’d categorize them as mild or possibly medium if you have a very low spice tolerance. They’re very flavorful, but won’t heat your mouth up significantly. Want to kick up the heat? There are lots of ways to do it! Try adding a generous sprinkle of chipotle chili powder to your spice blend or a little minced jalapeño to your cilantro slaw. Or, add a little heat via your creamy drizzle…(see my next note!)

DRIZZLE AND TOP YOUR TACOS! Exactly what you want to drizzle over your tacos is up to you. Since my slaw doesn’t have a creamy element, I add that with a little something drizzled on top. I love using my tomatillo ranch (my top pick!), or citrus avocado sauce since they’re bright and fresh and a nice contrast to the heat. You could also swap in my chipotle ranch for some extra kick!

Hand holding a plate of fish tacos with cilantro slaw, lime wedges, and sliced jalapeños on a white background.

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Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Tomatillo Ranch Dressing. Plated with sliced jalapeños and lime wedges.

Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw


  • Author: Emily
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

The BEST fish taco recipe! Perfectly cooked fish with a yummy cabbage slaw & tomatillo ranch. These are easy, fresh, and delicious. Feel free to use any flaky white fish here–cod, halibut, tilapia, mahimahi, etc. They all work! (PS – Don’t miss the notes section for lots of tips on adding a little kick, different topping ideas, and more!) 


Ingredients

Scale

For the Fish:

For the Cilantro Slaw:

  •  2 cups shredded green cabbage or coleslaw mix
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime (12 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

To Serve:


Instructions

Prepare the Cabbage Slaw:

In a medium or large bowl, combine green and white cabbage, cilantro, lime juice (start with 1 Tbsp), honey, salt and pepper. Taste and add additional lime juice or honey as desired. Stir to combine well and set aside until ready to serve. The salt and lime juice will help soften and break down the cabbage.

Prepare Your Fish:

In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Place fish in a shallow container (or zip-tip bag). Pat dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel (this will help your seasoning mix stick). Rub with all of your seasoning blend, coating generously.

Heat avocado oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Working in batches so as not to overcrowd the pan, cook fillets 3-4 minutes per side or until fish is opaque and cooked through. Repeat with remaining fish. Gently separate cooked fish into small sections for tacos.

Assemble Your Tacos:

To assemble your tacos, spoon slaw and fish into corn tortillas. Add your favorite extras, such as avocado slices, additional fresh cilantro, etc. Drizzle with tomatillo ranch, citrus avocado sauce, or a dollop of guacamole.

Notes

What kind of fish can you use? This works with any flaky, white fish. Cod, halibut, and tilapia all work well in fish tacos. You could also try mahimahi or catfish if you needed to. Just know, the length of time you need to cook it will be impacted by how thick your fillet is. (i.e. If your fillet is 1/2-inch thick, it’ll cook faster than if it’s 1-inch.)

Let’s talk heat (the temperature one) – As I mentioned above, I like cooking these fairly quickly over a hotter pan. A cast iron pan is my go-to because of the way it retains heat so well. I can get a really nice sear on my fish over medium heat in my cast-iron pan. If you don’t have one, you can totally use whatever you have. Just be sure you have your heat set to at least medium or medium-high so you get a nice sear and cook the fish through without overcooking it.

Now, let’s talk heat (the spicy one) – These aren’t super spicy as written. I’d categorize them as mild or possibly medium if you have a very low spice tolerance. They’re very flavorful, but won’t heat your mouth up significantly. Want to kick up the heat? There are lots of ways to do it! Try adding a generous sprinkle of chipotle chili powder to your spice blend or a little minced jalapeño to your cilantro slaw. Or, add a little heat via your creamy drizzle…(see my next note!)

Drizzle and top your tacos! Exactly what you want to drizzle over your tacos is up to you. Since my slaw doesn’t have a creamy element, I add that with a little something drizzled on top. I love using my tomatillo ranch (my top pick!), or citrus avocado sauce since they’re bright and fresh and a nice contrast to the heat. You could also swap in my chipotle ranch for some extra kick!

**Nutrition facts calculated assuming 1/4 of the fish and cabbage slaw per person, plus 3 street-taco sized corn tortillas. Does not include avocado or tomatillo ranch.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish, Tacos
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex

Keywords: fish tacos, street tacos, cilantro slaw, honey lime cilantro slaw, gluten free fish tacos, the best fish tacos

75 Comments

  1. Delicious. My husband didn’t even notice how healthy they were. The slaw was great and the seasoning for the fish was something I will use often.

    1. YAYYY! I’m so glad you loved them! They’re a major favorite around our house! (Thank you for taking the time to leave a star review–it’s so helpful!)

    1. Several folks have made them with shrimp and loved them! Just know your cook time will be MUCH shorter. Shrimp only need 1-2 minutes per side to cook through, so be sure to watch them 🙂

  2. Excellent! I used some Pineapple Habanero Sauce as a topper with this. Oh yum! So many different flavors. Your mouth will thank you! The slaw was perfect! I will use this over and over again! Absolutely delicious!

  3. These really are the best fish tacos. I have made the tomatillo dressing to go with them. I have made these with haddock. I have made this recipe repeatedly and turns out delicious every time. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. THANK YOU Liz for taking the time to leave a review–I appreciate it so much! I’m so glad you love these tacos as much as we do. They’re my favorite!

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