Tacos that only take 20 minutes to prep and less than 10 to cook? Tilapia fish tacos with crema and cabbage slaw to the rescue. Big, bold flavors start with blackened tilapia and get layered with a spicy crema and quick, colorful cabbage slaw for the tastiest tacos around!
Taco Tuesdays are my favorite but after a day of work, it's gotta be easy! This tilapia fish taco recipe skips the batter and cooks up deliciously under the broiler while you make the easy spicy crema and slaw.
PS. Got an air fryer? Cook up your seasoned tilapia fillets in the air fryer instead of baking or broiling if you like.
This was inspired by my crispy Fish Tacos With Cod and pairs really well with Fast, 5 Ingredients Guacamole, Pico de Gallo salsa and Homemade Margaritas. For side dishes, try Mexican Tuna Ceviche and Coctel De Camaron (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. Yum!!!
Blackened fish tacos are made with just a few flavorful fresh ingredients that are easy to find at any grocery store. Scoop up any leftover fish taco sauce and crunchy slaw with tortilla chips!
- Tilapia Fillets - An Ocean Wise choice, tilapia is a mild white fish, delicate in texture and flavor. It is also budget friendly and easy to find at most grocery stores. Feel down the middle of the fillet to check for small pin bones. If there are bones, they will be running in a straight line. You can slice the fish along each side of these thin center bones for the quickest way to remove them.
- Red Cabbage - The classic taco topping, shredded cabbage slaw adds crunch, color and flavor. I've used red because it adds such gorgeous color but green cabbage will taste just as good.
- Sour Cream - Adding lime (or lemon) and a few pantry seasonings makes a quick and yummy taco crema sauce. Low fat, fat free or full fat all work just fine in this recipe.
- Corn Tortillas - Corn tortillas are the classic and warming them in the oven first makes them extra fragrant and pliable. Corn tortillas can fall apart easier than their flour counterparts. If you can find half corn, half flour tortillas I think they are the best of both worlds. Tasty corn flavor and extra durability from the flour.
- Blackening Spice - A delicious spice rub that includes paprika, garlic, red pepper, oregano and more. I've included a recipe for it below if you want to make your own but if you have store bought blackening seasoning, that will work perfectly too.
See recipe card for quantities.
How To Video
This easy fish taco recipe only takes a few quick steps that you can do while the tilapia is cooking. Taco night done right!
Preheat broiler, and position oven rack to about 6 inches below heating element.
Place fish on an oven safe baking sheet.
Spray or rub tilapia filets with olive oil and lightly coat with blackening spice.
Place under broiler and broil for 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through (fish should flake easily with a fork).
De-seed and dice poblano pepper, cabbage and dice ½ a cup of onion.
Toss with cabbage, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and set aside.
Combine sour cream sauce, lime juice and spice blend in a small bowl.
Stir to mix well.
With a sharp knife, chop thinly sliced onion and avocado slices and set aside.
Remove fish from broiler when done, turn off oven. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven to gently warm in the heat of the oven before serving.
Serve up your blackened tilapia fish tacos with all your favorite toppings. Don't forget the hot sauce and lime wedges too!
How To Make Your Own Blackening Spice
In a small bowl that holds about 1 cup, combine the following dried herbs and spices:
- 2 tbsp. Paprika
- 1 tbsp. Garlic Powder
- 1 tbsp. Onion Powder
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Basil
- 1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Salt
Mix well and store in an air tight container for up to 6 months.
- Fish - Any mildly flavored white or light fish works great in these tacos. Try cod, halibut, mahi mahi, or whatever the best fish is at the fish monger that day. Fresh fish is lovely but frozen at sea often tastes just as fresh or more so.
- Fish Taco Sauce - I love a creamy sauce on my tacos. If you don't have yogurt or sour cream, add the spice mix to mayonnaise instead, omitting the salt or simply stir 1 teaspoon sambel oelek into your mayo.
- Vegetarian - Season strips of firm tofu with blackening spice and broil or pan sear quickly with a bit of olive oil and use in place of the fish. To make this vegan, swap out the sour cream for mashed avocado and make it into avocado crema.
- Lime/Lemon - Lime is what I usually prefer but lemon is a close second. You'll notice in the pictures I used lemon because that's what I had and you can do the same.
- Onion - I've used sweet white onion but red onion works just as well.
- Blackened Chicken Tacos - Slice skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs into strips, season as per the recipe and broil or air fry until chicken is cooked through. Use in place of fish in the tacos.
- Fish Taco Salad - Swap out the tortillas for a bowl of mixed greens. Pile the taco fillings on top and sprinkle with crumbled tortilla chips before serving.
- Crispy Fish Tacos - Use this simple, 5 ingredient Crispy Fish Katsu recipe for extra crispy fried fish to put in your tacos.
If you want to change it up, check out these great flank steak taco recipes. For more Mexican ideas to serve or pair with tacos, check out What To Serve With Ceviche.
An oven with broiler is how I made these. If you don't have a broiler, you can use an air fryer or add some oil or cooking spray to a hot frying pan to cook the fish.
Storage And Make Ahead
The spicy crema taco sauce can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored, covered in the refrigerator. Crunchy cabbage slaw can be shredded a day ahead, covered in the fridge. Add the salt and lime juice no more than 2 hours before serving.
Leftover fish taco ingredients will last up to 3 days in the fridge. It is best to store each component (taco sauce, slaw, fish, veggies) separately for best results. Cover leftovers with plastic wrap or place in a covered airtight container and then refrigerate.
This recipe does not freeze well.
Be sure to buy fresh fish for tacos (or any recipe for that matter). If tilapia doesn't smell like a fresh sea breeze, choose another type of fish that has just been delivered. Old fish with a smell will turn off any diner. If there isn't fresh fish in the case, choose frozen fish.
Tacos go really well with other Mexican flavors. Tortilla chips or chicharones (fried and puffed pork rinds) are a great nibble on the table and fresh tuna or shrimp ceviche makes a great appetizer.
Serve some guacamole and various types of salsa like classic pico de gallo, tomatillo, salsa fresca or a homemade fruit salsa like mango or pineapple salsa. Guests can dip their chips in the salsa or customize their tacos with it.
And finally, don't forget the classic rice and beans or creamy refried beans.
Yes! Tilapia is a mild flavored fish that goes well in these easy fish tacos. It takes on the bold spice of the blackening seasoning and holds up to the crunchy toppings and creamy sauce.
Tilapia will take 7-10 minutes in a hot oven or broiler. It is best cooked quickly at a high temperature as done in this recipe.
Thanks for reading along, I hope you love these tacos as much as we do!
For more on what I'm cooking up, follow me on Instagram or Facebook. You might also like my FREE printable weekly meal planner.
Cheers friends! Sabrina
Cheers and happy cooking, Friends!
Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos With Crema And Cabbage SlawPrint Pin Rate
- 1 lb Tilapia Fillets
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoon Blackening Spice *See homemade blackening spice mix above.
Cabbage Slaw And Toppings
- 2 c Red Cabbage, shredded
- ½ c Poblano Pepper, sliced
- 2 tablespoon Cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Lime Juice or lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- 8-10 to Corn or Flour Tortillas 6 inch
- 1 c Onion, thinly sliced and divided
- 1 Avocado, sliced
Spicy Taco Crema Sauce
- ½ c Sour Cream or Plain Yogurt no fat, low fat or full fat are all fine
- 1 tablespoon Blackening Spice
- 1 tablespoon Lime Juice or lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Cook Fish And Warm Tortillas
- Preheat broiler, and position oven rack to about 6 inches below heating element.
- Place fish on a a baking sheet and spray or rub tilapia filets with olive oil and lightly coat with blackening spice.
- Place under broiler and broil for 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through (fish should flake easily with a fork).
- Remove fish from broiler when done, turn off oven. Wrap tortillas in foil and place in oven to gently warm in the heat of the oven before serving.
Prepare Slaw And Sides
- While fish is broiling, make the slaw. De-seed and dice poblano pepper, and dice ½ of the onion. Toss with cabbage, cilantro, lemon juice, and salt and set aside.
- Combine sour cream sauce, lime juice and spice blend in a separate bowl and mix well. Set aside along with remaining ½ sliced onion and the avocado.
- Assemble tacos by layering tortillas, with cabbage slaw, broiled fish, avocado, onion and spicy crema.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw fish or meat
- Wash hands after touching raw fish
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
I like the idea of making this as a taco salad. thanks for the delicious recipe.
Thanks Bernadette! I love a taco salad too, and it's handy if I've forgotten to buy the tortillas lol. Cheers and thanks for reading.
You’re so welcome! I often eat my second or third “taco” as a salad and skip a tortilla.
Amy Liu Dong
Such an easy and quick dish to make. I love fist taco and I am so excited to make this at home. Thank you!