Get all the tips and tricks to make the best fish tacos of your life! The fish can be cooked on the grill, oven, air fryer or stovetop!

Fish tacos, really good fish tacos, are probably one of my favorite things to eat in the history of ever. If I spy them on a menu out in the wild, I am 99.3% sure to order them.

Turns out, making really amazing fish tacos at home is super easy, really fast, and an incredibly good idea. Also, it pretty much means I have no reason to every leave my house again.

close up of three fish tacos on white platter with crumbled cheese, pico de gallo, and avocados

What Kind of Fish to Use for Fish Tacos

The best kind of fish to use for fish tacos, in my opinion, is a mild-flavored white fish. Like, cod, halibut, tilapia, or rockfish.

Recently, Brian and the four teenage boys went fishing in Alaska, and I had a moment of “who am I and how did I get here” as I stared at the 200 pounds of fish shoved in the freezer when they got home.

At least half of what they brought back is halibut and cod. Which means I forsee a lot of fish tacos in my future. And I am not mad about it. Although, I am still a little feisty over all the ice cream I had to rehome to make room for the fish.

BUT, the good news is that you don’t have to go deep sea fishing to get really good fish for fish tacos. Most of the types of fish I mentioned above are pretty widely available in the freezer section at most grocery stores.

uncooked white fish in glass baking pan with seasoning and marinade

A Quick But Perfect Marinade

What makes these fish tacos so amazingly wonderful is the simple but delightfully zesty and delicious marinade.

Because fish are more delicate than, say, pork or chicken or beef, the marinade time is short. Just 30 minutes or so. But it’s the perfect amount of time to infuse the fish with fantastic flavor.

  • olive oil
  • fresh lime juice
  • garlic
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne
cooked white fish with seasonings for the best fish tacos

Grill, Air Fryer, Oven or Stovetop

You read that right! Now that the flavor is in place, there are so many different ways to cook the fish for these tacos.

Which basically means: THERE IS NO EXCUSE NOT TO MAKE THESE FISH TACOS!

Because the fish will cook really fast, the biggest tip is to keep your eye on it so it doesn’t over cook and dry out. It needs to cook just until it flakes easily with a fork and the center doesn’t look raw or translucent.

Grill: preheat a grill to medium-high, lightly oil the grates (or use a grill basket), and cook the fish for 2-3 minutes per side.

Air Fryer: preheat an air fryer to 370 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Lightly grease insert of air fryer. Add fish in a single layer and cook for 6-7 minutes.

Oven: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Add fish in a single layer and bake for 3-5 minutes per side.

Stovetop: heat 1-2 tablespoon olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the fish in a single layer (don’t crowd the pan; may need to cook in batches), and cook for 3-4 minutes per side.

assembling fish tacos on wood cutting board

Toppings + Sauce

What makes a really great fish taco? Well, first and foremost: really flavorful fish.

But since we’ve already covered that, it’s all about the toppings. And the sauce.

The creamy sauce for these fish tacos is UNREAL. You might recognize it from it’s origins in these crazy good Korean beef tacos. Come to find out, it moonlights as a killer fish taco sauce and…wow. Just wow.

The best fish tacos, in my opinion, are loaded. Piled high. Stuffed. So full that eating them is a study in beautiful chaos and messy fingers.

My fish taco toppings of choice:

  • pico de gallo (I literally just chop up tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, cilantro with a bit of salt, pepper and fresh lime juice)
  • Cotija or queso fresco cheese (those fine crumbles are everything)
  • shredded cabbage
  • diced avocado
  • fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges
three fish tacos on white platter with avocado and lime wedges

Aside from a little chopping (and that 30 minutes of marinading time), these fish tacos come together fast. Restaurant-level food made at home. YES!

They really are the best fish tacos in the history of ever! I could eat them every day for the rest of my life and die a happy woman.

It’s your choice what type of tortilla to serve them in. I’m a corn tortilla gal personally – and highly recommend heating those corn tortillas up in a hot skillet for a couple of seconds.

Quite honestly, I don’t know what to do with myself now that I’ve posted the quintessential best-ever fish taco recipe. Is there even life after the best fish tacos? I’m not sure. I’ll have to rebound with a decadent, dark chocolate dessert recipe. Then my blogging life will basically be complete.

What to Serve With This:

Mexican Street Corn Salad
Fresh fruit
The Best Cornbread

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three fish tacos in corn tortillas on white platter

The Best Fish Tacos

5 stars (6 ratings)

Ingredients

Fish:

  • 2 pounds white fish, like tilapia, cod, rockfish or halibut
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse, kosher salt, use a bit less if using table salt
  • teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

Sauce:

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoons sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Tortillas + Toppings:

  • 12 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
  • finely shredded cabbage
  • fresh cilantro
  • diced avocados
  • pico de gallo (see note)
  • Cotija or queso fresco cheese
  • lime wedges

Instructions 

  • Place fish in shallow dish or ziploc bag.
  • Whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and cayenne. Pour the marinade over the fish and toss to coat all sides of the fish. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 30-45 minutes.
  • For the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients until well-combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce can be made several days in advance.
  • While the fish marinates, prep/chop the toppings.
  • Cook the fish using a grill, air fryer, oven or stovetop. Timing will depend on the thickness of the fish and exact temperature. Keep a close eye on the fish and cook until it easily flakes with a fork and is no longer translucent/raw in the center. An instant-read thermometer should register 140 degrees F at the thickest part.
    Grill: preheat a grill to medium-high, lightly oil the grates (or use a grill basket), and cook the fish for 2-3 minutes per side.
    Air Fryer: preheat an air fryer to 370 degrees for 2-3 minutes. Lightly grease insert of air fryer. Add fish in a single layer and cook for 6-7 minutes.
    Oven: preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking dish with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Add fish in a single layer and bake for 3-5 minutes per side.
    Stovetop: heat 1-2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the fish in a single layer (don't crowd the pan; may need to cook in batches), and cook for 3-4 minutes per side.
    After cooking, season to taste with additional salt and pepper!
  • Serve the fish on warmed corn or flour tortillas piled high with toppings and drizzled with sauce.

Notes

Pico de gallo: I usually just throw together chopped tomatoes, finely diced jalapeno, fresh cilantro, finely diced onions or shallots and toss with fresh lime juice and salt. 
Serving: 1 taco, Calories: 211kcal, Carbohydrates: 15g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 43mg, Sodium: 337mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g
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Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe