How to Make Easy Fish Tacos

I like to pair pan-fried tilapia with a cool and creamy slaw for a flavorful fish taco recipe—easy and delicious! The simple, nutritious ingredients and kid-friendly taste make this Mexican-inspired dish a perfect weeknight dinner.

Like me, you’re probably on a constant mission to find quick, family-friendly ways to add more seafood to your diet. What better way to introduce your kids to mild, flaky whitefish than when it’s seasoned with familiar spices and wrapped in a warm corn tortilla?

Set out all of the toppings and let your family members build their own meals. You won’t hear any complaints, and you just might feel like you’re on vacation in the sunny Baja peninsula (margaritas optional)!

Here’s my fish taco recipe—easy to make, easy to love!

How to Make an Easy Fish Taco Recipe

You’ll love the combination of warm, spicy pan-fried fish topped with a light, creamy slaw. Best of all, the entire meal is ready in less than 45 minutes!

Ingredients for the Tacos

  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh tilapia fillets
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (1 ounce) packet taco seasoning (about ¼ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Corn tortillas, for serving (or substitute with flour tortillas)

Ingredients for the Slaw

  • 8 ounces (about 3-3/4 cups) coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons light sour cream
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

Step 1: Prepare the slaw

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, lime juice, honey, salt and pepper.

Whisking ingredientsBlair Lonergan for Taste of Home

Add coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours.

Adding shredded cabbage to whisked mixtureBlair Lonergan for Taste of Home

Step 2: Prepare the fish

In a shallow dish, combine flour, taco seasoning, salt and pepper. Add the tilapia and lightly coat on both sides.

Preparing fish in a dishBlair Lonergan for Taste of Home

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Shake excess flour off of the tilapia and place in the skillet. Brown fish on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side). Flake into large chunks.

Searing fishBlair Lonergan for Taste of Home

Step 3: Warm the tortillas

Toast the corn tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds per side. Alternatively, you can wrap the tortillas in stacks of five in foil and warm in a 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes (or until heated through).

Step 4: Assemble the fish tacos

Fill each warm tortilla with flaked tilapia, slaw and other toppings of choice. Here are some toppings that go well with the fish tacos:

  • Sliced avocado or guacamole
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa or diced fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Crumbled cotija cheese or other shredded cheese of choice
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Sliced jalapeno peppers
  • Sliced green onion, sliced red onion or pickled red onion

Easy fish tacos with all the toppingsBlair Lonergan for Taste of Home

What to Serve with Fish Tacos

This Mexican-inspired fish taco recipe pairs nicely with any of your favorite Tex-Mex sides, such as:

Nutrition Facts for Easy Fish Tacos

The tilapia is lightly pan-seared, rather than breaded and deep-fried, making these fish tacos a healthier alternative to many of their restaurant counterparts. Assuming you prepare about eight tacos total, each taco with slaw will have about 224 calories, 7 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates and a whopping 20 grams of protein! The nutrition information will vary depending on the amount of fish in each tortilla, the total number of tacos prepared and the specific toppings added.

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations

  • Allow enough time for the coleslaw to sit and marinate for at least 30 minutes. The slaw dressing will be thick initially, but as it sits the cabbage releases liquid, thins the sauce and brings all of the flavors together.
  • You can substitute another flaky white fish, such as cod, for the tilapia.
  • If you prefer to make your own taco seasoning blend at home, use this recipe for taco seasoning mix. You’ll need about 1/4 cup of the seasoning for this dish.
  • The fish is mild, which makes it appealing to young children. If you prefer a spicier fish taco, add a dash or two of cayenne to the flour mixture and serve the tacos with a side of hot sauce.
  • I recommend using an oil with a high smoke point and a neutral taste (such as canola oil or vegetable oil) for pan-frying the fish. With the higher heat, you get a nice crispy crust on the exterior of the fish, while keeping the inside of the fish buttery and moist.
  • Be careful not to overcrowd your pan—you may need to cook the fish in batches.
  • The fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork.

More Easy Taco Recipes

If your family loves taco night as much as mine does, be sure to try our favorite 20-Minute Sheet Pan Shrimp Tacos, these Taco Pizza Squares or this 5-Ingredient Taco Casserole. And if you’re hosting a gathering with friends, throw together this Doritos Taco Salad, these festive Taco Pinwheels or this Quick Taco Dip. There are so many fun and tasty ways to enjoy the classic dish!

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Blair Lonergan
Blair Lonergan lives with her husband and three young boys in a 100-year-old farmhouse at the base of Central Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. A freelance writer and food photographer, Blair shares easy, quick-prep recipes for busy families on her blog, The Seasoned Mom. Her work has been featured in magazines and online at Today, SELF magazine, Buzzfeed, Parade, and Redbook magazine.