Easy Grilled Fish Tacos (Recipe)

Quick and easy grilled fish tacos packed full of flavor and ready in just 20 minutes. Beautiful and fresh grilled fish filling in a tortilla, topped with zesty red cabbage, guacamole and a creamy white sauce.

fish tacos fresh off the grill served on dining plate with lime and guacamole

Fish is a vastly underrated meat taco filling. They’re fresh and packed full of flavor. Not only that, but it’s a meat that accommodates a lot of toppings and added flavors.

This recipe is no different. We’ve got cabbage pico de gallo, guacamole, and low-fat yogurt. And to top it all off, they can be thrown together in just about under half an hour.

I’ve seen some recipes that call for breaded fish, but we’re going to go straight for pure, grilled white fish. It’s healthier, and allows us to add some better levels of nuanced flavor to the mix.

fish tacos with beet coleslaw

White fish fillets work great because they tend to have a mild flavor and can hold together well when on the grill. They’re also fairly cheap, and easy to find at a lot of supermarkets or stores.

Fish like cod, halibut, smoked catfish or snapper tend to work great.

Try not to get anything that’s too thick as it’ll take longer to grill. It’ll also help the recipe’s marinade work its way through the meat.

fish cooking on outdoor gas grill

A quick tip for the fish: White fish cooks quickly on the grill, so keep a close eye on it. If you cook it too long it’ll go rubbery and taste it too. When it starts to develop a flaky texture then you’ll be good to go.

I’ve used red cabbage for the recipe. You can use white cabbage if you like, but I prefer the taste of red… plus, just look at that color.

grilled fish resting on grill with sear marks

Whichever you go for, just be sure to shred it as finely as possibly.

Try to shy away from using either hard shell tacos or flour tortillas, and instead use white corn tortillas. They taste fantastic, and are closer to the real thing.

For this recipe I’ve gone for street size tacos, but the filling will work fine for one regular size taco.

grilled fish tacos ready to eat served with guacamole and beetroot coleslaw

You simply heat them briefly on your grill for a few seconds on each size, and you’re good to go.

Finally, don’t forget about the sauce. I’ve made it with 0% fat Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice, stirred together and drizzled on top of the fish when served. If you don’t have any yogurt then sour cream is fine too.

fish tacos with avocado and lime

I’ve put forward a few toppings ideas here. Feel free to pick and choose, but just be sure to add some! I love stuff with a bit of crunch, and a little bite.

Go for shredded red cabbage, pico de gallo and guacamole at the very minimum. Also add your choice of salsa, and a squeeze of lime juice for a nice little punch of zest.

topdown shot of bbq grilled fish tacos

What’s the best kind of fish for tacos?

Most types of fish can be used for tacos, but the best option will depend on what toppings you’re using.

White fish like halibut, cod or snappers is best for Baja-style tacos. The simple and minimal toppings allow the flavors of the fish to come through, and the fish is quick to grill. For this reason, I’ve gone with cod for this recipe.

Salmon is another popular choice, but is a little bit unusual and might be too strong in taste for some people. However, the advantage of salmon is that it can hold together well on the grill and stand up to most spices.

What is Baja-style?

Baja-style tacos originated in Baja California in Mexico (source), and traditionally has just white fish (usually fried), topped with shredded cabbage and a creamy white sauce. It’s best done simple, and allows the mild flavors of the fish to come through.

This recipe is by no means ‘Baja’, and I admit to taking some liberties with my inspiration. Firstly, the fish (I’ve used cod) is grilled rather than battered or fried. I’ve also added more toppings in the form of onion, pico de gallo, and avocado, and made up a marinade for the fish.

How to stop fish from sticking to the grill

Part of the problem with grilling fish isn’t just how brittle it can be, but also that it can stick to your grill’s grates very easily. Here’s the best way to avoid that.

Cook on clean grates

And I mean very clean. Any dirt or grease can stick to fish like glue, creating an adhesive, and even marking it. Clean your grill by heating it up to loosen the particles, before scrubbing it down with a wire brush, and then applying a little oil to the grates and wiping down with a paper towel. It’s much easier (and quicker) than it sounds.

Use oil

Apply a very light coat of oil to both your grill grates and fish before grilling. For the best results, use oil with a high heat threshold, like peanut or grapeseed.

Use the right tools

If you use a simple grill spatula to turn the fish, you’re asking for trouble. Fish is often too brittle to be handled by them, and will just break away the mere moment the spatula touches it. Instead, try a specialized tool like a fish turner or grill basket. Both of these are designed to handle fish carefully, saving you a world of inconvenience. Here are a couple of quick Amazon links if you need them:

easy grilled fish tacos recipe
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5 from 2 votes

Easy Grilled Fish Tacos

Quick and easy grilled fish tacos packed full of flavor and ready in just 20 minutes. Beautiful and fresh grilled fish filling in a tortilla, topped with zesty red cabbage, guacamole and a creamy white sauce.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine BBQ, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating 30 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 white corn tortillas
  • 1 lb white fish fillets cod, halibut, or snapper

Marinade

  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • juice of one small lime
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • salt

Fish taco sauce

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • juice of one small lime
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce

Toppings

  • pico de gallo
  • red cabbage shredded
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • red onion thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro

Instructions

  • Stir or whisk together the salt, vegetable oil, lime juice, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic in a medium sized bowl.
  • Place fish fillets in Ziploc or freezer bags, and pour in the marinade. Seal bag and place in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
  • Heat up grill to medium-high heat. Place marinated fish on grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Check for flaky consistency when done.
  • Move fish to counter surface or chopping block and leave to rest for 2-3 minutes. Chop up fillets into small chunks or slices.
  • Warm corn tortillas on grill grates for about 10 seconds on each side.
  • Serve sliced fish on to tortillas. Top with your choice of red cabbage, pico de gallo, white sauce, guacamole, and others.

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