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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.


Rate or Review

Reviews (22 reviews)

  • 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.

  • miss88 | 01/05/2019

    Excellent recipe -we also make less of the sour cream.

  • AccountingProfessor | 07/06/2018

    This is a go to recipe when we have guests at our beach house. Messy to eat, but always rave reviews. We like it best with mahi mahi or shrimp, but grouper works fine. We typically use more of the spice mixture, and make a smaller portion of the mayo sauce. As another reviewer recommended, we add shaved pickled red onions and pico de Gallo as well. We typically serve this with refried beans, guacamole, and tortilla chips. Add margaritas, and you have a fiesta!

  • User avater
    llinares1 | 05/06/2018

    its a favorite. easy and delicious. we can't stop eating after one serving. instead of cabbage, we use pico de gallo.

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