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(The Best) Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw

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Let’s make Fish Tacos with Honey Lime Cilantro Slaw.  This is THE BEST fish taco recipe around! Perfectly cooked fish with a crunchy cabbage slaw & tomatillo ranch. They’re 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. (Along with chicken tacos, beef tacos, breakfast tacos, and shrimp tacos!)

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 DID I MENTION THERE ARE TACOS INVOLVED?

Taco Tuesday never tastes better than when I make our fish tacos with slaw! I’m not exaggerating when I say this is the BEST fish taco recipe I’ve ever tried.

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

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

3 Tricks To Amazing Fish Tacos:

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 usually 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, tangy slaw, and a drizzle of creamy fish taco sauce on top all wrapped in warm tortillas is flavor and texture perfection. Can you see why these are the BEST fish tacos? I think this recipe could make a fish taco fan out of anyone!

Ingredients for Cilantro Lime Slaw, ready to be mixed together

Let’s Talk Toppings For Fish Tacos!

Our fish taco recipe starts with spice-rubbed fish that truly stands out, but part of what separates this recipe from other fish taco recipes is the toppings! Here’s what I recommend keeping on hand:

  • Our Simple Slaw. The crunchy slaw starts with shredded cabbage and red cabbage (or a bag of coleslaw mix!), then we add fresh flavors with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a drizzle of honey, and simple seasonings, like black pepper and kosher salt.
  • A Creamy Drizzle. Lots of recipes drizzle some kind of white sauce or creamy sauce on top. I love this for contrast! My go-to option is our Tomatillo Ranch Dressing but Cilantro Lime Ranch and Chipotle Ranch are all delicious. You can’t go wrong with one of those options!
  • Some Avocado. Cool, creamy slices of avocado are delicious next to the warm fish and easy slaw.
  • Salsa. If you’re not a mayo fan or want to go with something fresh instead of a creamy dressing, you can play around with salsa! Try our chipotle salsa, salsa verde, pico de gallo, or go sweet with our fresh mango salsa!
  • Other Extras. The 3 toppings above are definitely my go-to favorite toppings for fish tacos, but we’re always mixing things up, depending on what we have on hand. You can also try a bit of crumbled cotija cheese, a dollop of guacamole, or some tangy pickled red onion. Some jalapeño slices can add some heat if you want your tacos on the spicy side!
Fish Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Tomatillo Ranch Dressing. Plated with sliced jalapeños and lime wedges.

FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Fish Tacos:

WHAT KIND OF FISH DO YOU USE FOR FISH TACOS? This works with any flaky, white fish fillets. Cod, halibut, and tilapia all work well in fish tacos. You could also try mahi mahi 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.)

NOW, LET’S TALK HEAT (THE SPICY ONE). These fish tacos aren’t super spicy as written. I’d categorize them as mild flavor 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!)

FOR BEST RESULTS: PAT THE FISH DRY. To get the best sear and to get that crispy fish texture without deep frying, pat the fish dry with paper towels before adding the spice rub. It’ll help the spices stick, eliminated extra water, and help get that golden brown exterior we’re aiming for.

What To Serve With Fish Tacos

Tacos are largely an all-in-one meal, but it’s also great to have a few options for side dishes. Other than more of our cilantro lime slaw, here are some of my top picks:

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

⭐ Don’t forget to leave a star review and comment below when you make our Fish Tacos recipe. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

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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


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.9 from 30 reviews

  • Author: Emily Dixon, One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Our favorite fish tacos recipe! Perfectly cooked fish with a yummy cabbage slaw & tomatillo ranch. These are easy, fresh, and delicious. (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 Fish Taco Slaw Recipe:

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage or coleslaw mix (with green & purple cabbage & carrots)
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 12 Tablespoons fresh lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

To Serve:

  • Corn tortillas (or flour tortillas, if you prefer)
  • Sliced avocado
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • A creamy drizzling sauce, like my Tomatillo Ranch, crema, or Citrus Avocado Sauce
  • Lime wedges
  • Hot sauce

Instructions

Prepare the Cabbage Slaw:

  1. If you haven’t already, wash and shred cabbage and purple cabbage (I like to use a food processor with a shredding blade, but you can also use a sharp knife).
  2. In a medium or large bowl, combine green and white cabbage, cilantro, lime juice (start with 1 Tbsp), honey, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. 
  3. Taste and add additional lime juice or honey as desired. Set aside until ready to serve. The salt and lime juice will help soften and break down the cabbage. You can cover and chill the slaw in the refrigerator 1-2 hours in advance to give it time to soften and let the flavors meld, if desired. 

Prepare Your Fish:

  1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and salt.
  2. 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).
  3. Rub with all of your seasoning blend, coating generously.
  4. 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.
  5. Repeat with remaining fish. Gently use a fork to separate cooked fish into small sections or large flakes for tacos.

Assemble Your Tacos:

  1. To assemble your tacos, spoon slaw and fish into corn tortillas.
  2. 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 mahi mahi 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 or cayenne pepper 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
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

77 Comments

    1. You can make it pretty early in advance, but it really only needs 5-10 minutes to start to soften. I often mix it up first, then work on the fish, so it can soften while I’m doing the rest of the prep. 🙂

  1. I wasn’t sure which sauce to make so I made both! They were both amazing. All the different flavors just worked wonderfully together. Definitely going to make this dish again!!!!






  2. Wow!! I will only make fish tacos with this recipe from now on!! Delicious! 🤩 The whole family devoured them. I made the tomatillo ranch too and loved it! Thank you!






  3. Well done! This has become one of my favorite meals and I’ve been making it weekly. Could not find tomatillo ranch so I just made my own with ranch and tomatillo salsa. Honestly the best internet recipe I’ve ever had. So I make mine with that, avocado slices and the oh so yummy slaw with a little Chipotle hot sauce on top. Thank you SO much for sharing!

  4. Just made this and couldn’t wait longer to make them again, so picked up more fish for this week. Seriously is THE BEST fish tacos recipe.






  5. These were an absolute hit at my house! We LOVED this recipe…and the kids asked for seconds…there is no higher praise 🙂 I made my own crema with plain greek yogurt, lime juice and a little honey, and served with datil pepper sauce, too! I’ll be making these again and again!






    1. Oh good! So glad you loved them! (THANK YOU for taking the time to leave a review–I appreciate it so much.) Your sauce sounds delicious!

  6. Oh my goodness! I rarely cook fish because it’s so easy to overcook and I grew tired of the same old breaded fish when I did cook it. My husband loves fish tacos, but I’ve always been too intimidated to try to make it. I decided to give it a shot and I will now be making fish tacos every week! We had enough for leftovers and we threw the fish in the toaster oven and had the rest for lunch. I wish I could eat more tomorrow. I just love it when I find recipes that make me look like a great cook!😄

  7. Loved it! Have made it 3 times using whatever fish my son caught. I like crispy shells so fried the corn tortillas. The fish seasoning, the slaw, the sauce! All great. This will be my go to fish taco recipe! Thx!






  8. Wow, all turned out great, fish, slaw and sauce.
    Thank you ,
    It was very yummy and we are not fish lovers, haha. But we caught fresh fish on a boat and had to cook it.
    No regrets.






  9. I made these for dinner last night. They were absolutely amazing and so easy! My husband said that they tasted just like the ones he used to get at a restaurant before they took them off the menu. Now he gets them at home!






  10. This was a delicious recipe! My hubby, the non fish eater, agreed to try a bite & thought it had a good taste. Meanwhile, my son & I ate 2 with some pinto beans on the side! It took me longer than I thought, so next time I may make the sauce the day before. I also may try this with shrimp next time. Thanks for this great recipe. I thought it was as good as a restaurant where I order shrimp tacos.






  11. Fabulous recipe! Made this for dinner tonight with your avocado citrus sauce. Everyone loved it; will definitely make this again…and again!!

  12. My family loves it! I used less chili powder for the kids and we didn’t have dill but everything was delicious.






    1. Heather – I’m so glad it was a win for your family! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review–it’s so helpful!

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