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Grilled Fish Tacos

Brian Hagiwara

Yield: Yields 12 tacos

Servings: 6-8

A grilled fish taco is a beautiful thing to eat. San Diego and Baja California are where they originated. Although the classic Baja fish tacos are fried, the grilled ones really stand out and are much lighter.

This recipe is excerpted from Barbecue Nation.

Watch the video: author Fred Thompson demonstrates how to grill the fish for the tacos without it sticking and falling apart.


For the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh cilantro
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice

For the tacos:

  • 2 tsp. ground ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 lb. firm-fleshed whitefish fillets (halibut, snapper, mahi-mahi, cod)
  • 2 dozen 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • Pico de Gallo
  • 4 limes, quartered


To make the lime-cilantro sour cream sauce:

  • Combine all the ingredients in a 2-cup measuring cup and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate up to 4 hours until ready to use.

To make the tacos:

  • In a small bowl, combine the ancho powder, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper and stir to mix. Add the oil and whisk until a loose paste is formed. Rub the fish with the spice paste and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
  • Light a charcoal fire or preheat your gas grill on high. Oil the grill’s cooking surface. Let the coals burn down to a medium-hot fire or adjust the gas grill burners to medium-high.
  • Grill the fish until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
  • Divide the tortillas into 2 stacks and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place on the grill until heated through, about 5 minutes.
  • In a large bowl, combine the green and red cabbage.
  • To assemble the tacos, take 2 tortillas, top it with chunks of fish, a dollop of the sauce, a spoonful of the Pico de Gallo, and some of the cabbage. Squeeze a wedge of  lime over the filling, fold the tortillas, and eat.
  • Author’s Note: Meredith Deeds grew up in San Diego and taught me the ins and outs of the fish taco. These are an adaptation of her mom’s recipe.


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Reviews (23 reviews)

  • BeginnerCookLisa | 07/26/2020

    VERY nice I don't have ancho powder but the following worked great: 2 tsp taco powder, 1 tsp garlic herb mix from costco, 1/2 tsp cumin plus the salt and peppper. Use cast iron pan and put more oil in pan. scrape off crunchy baked on bits at end. 6 min/inch for cod (3 min a side)

  • User avater
    FredCo | 06/23/2019

    Used haddock on a charcoal grill. Kept the heat high. The fish cooked in a flash and didn’t stick down. Initially, I thought it was strange that the recipe doesn’t call for dressing the shredded cabbage, like toss with lime juice, but the tacos have their own sauce, and didn’t need the extra moisture. A simple and delicious end to a perfect early summer Saturday.

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