Fresh and irresistibly zesty, my Baja fish tacos are the perfect meal to tuck into when a classic, west coast-style beach meal is what you crave. Beer battered cod is fried until crispy and golden, stuffed into corn tortillas, then topped with a refreshing citrus slaw and a spicy garlic-lime sauce!
A Classic Taste of the California Beach Scene
Living in California definitely comes with perks, among them the sunshine and the opportunity to enjoy some of the delicious offerings of our food scene.
The beach communities of California are known for their fresh seafood offerings, filling the bellies of hungry surfers and beach goers after a long day in the water...
Baja fish tacos are one of our favorite “grab-n-go” meals to enjoy.
They have that utterly mouthwatering and irresistible flavor from the combination of beer battered, crispy fried fish, a cool slaw for brightness, plus a creamy sauce to douse over everything.
So if you've ever wanted to be able to enjoy these tasty fish tacos without having to make your way out to California, then my Baja fish taco recipe is definitely one to try.
It's a quintessential taste of the California beach scene that you can enjoy anytime (rain or shine!), made from scratch in your own kitchen.
My Recipe for Baja Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Spicy Garlic-Lime Sauce
Because the fish used in Baja fish tacos is dipped in a batter and lightly fried until crispy, the type of fish that is used is important.
A firm, flaky white fish is best for these tacos, and cod fits the bill perfectly.
Halibut is wonderful too, but it's quite a bit more expensive.
And since cod is so similar and can take on a beer-batter as well as halibut, it's the best (and most cost-effective) choice for preparing fish tacos, in my opinion.
Baja fish tacos also traditionally come complete with a fresh slaw, of course. It's what offers a zesty balance of flavor, and a crunch!
For my recipe, I love a simple combination of thinly sliced green and red cabbage tossed with a bit of olive oil or avocado oil, some fresh citrus juice, and a sprinkle of a few other simple ingredients to round things out.
And that irresistibly savory sauce that makes each bite of a Baja fish taco so extra enticing...?
Adding in lots of garlic, a hint of lime, and a sprinkle (or two, or three!) of cayenne gives the sauce zip and spice, making these Baja fish tacos extra flavorful.
Here's a sneak peek at my Baja Fish Taco recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I cut my white fish into short strips or bite-size chunks, and marinate it in a simple seasoning to impart even more flavor before frying.
- Next, I prepare the garlic-lime sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a food processor and processing until smooth and creamy. (I like to pour this into a squeeze bottle to make it easy to drizzle over top of the fish tacos, but a bowl is fine as well.)
- Then, I prepare the citrus slaw by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl, tossing to combine, and placing into the fridge to keep cool and crisp.
- Next, I prep the simple beer batter and bring my oil up to temperature (about 365°).
- Then, I dip each piece of fish into the batter and carefully fry (in batches) for a few minutes until golden-brown and crunchy.
- To serve, I add a layer of crispy-fried fish into a couple of warm corn tortillas, add some citrus slaw and garlic-lime sauce, and to enjoy with extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime!
Baja Fish Tacos
by Ingrid Beer
These fresh and delicious Baja fish tacos are filled with beer-battered cod, tangy citrus slaw and spicy garlic-lime sauce!
Yield: 12 Baja fish tacos
Nutrition Info: 422 calories per taco
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Fish Tacos Ingredients:
- 1 ¼ pound cod, cut into short strips or bite-size chunks
- Black pepper
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer (I used a Mexican lager)
- Vegetable oil, for frying (about 3 cups)
- Corn tortillas, warm (about 24 tortillas so you can double up on each taco)
- Cilantro leaves, sliced radishes, lime wedges for garnish
Spicy Garlic-Lime Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup mayo
- ½ cup sour cream
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon (slightly heaping) salt
Citrus Slaw Ingredients:
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Pinch salt
- Pinch black pepper
- 1 teaspoon agave or honey
- ¼ cup olive or avocado oil
- 4 cups thinly shredded green cabbage
- 2 cups thinly shredded red cabbage
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your spicy garlic-lime sauce ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare the sauce, place all ingredients into a food processor and processing until smooth and well blended. Pour into a bowl, or into a squeeze bottle, ideally, and keep chilled until ready to use.
- Next, gather and prep all of your citrus slaw ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare your citrus slaw dressing, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, lime juice, pinch of salt and pepper, agave or honey, and oil until well-combined (you can also shake these vigorously in a small mason jar for convenience), and set aside for a moment.
- Add both of your shredded cabbages and the cilantro into a medium-size bowl, and toss the dressing with the cabbage/cilantro mixture. Keep chilled until ready to use.
- Next, gather and prep all of your fish taco ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- To prepare you fish tacos, add your cod pieces to a bowl and season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, plus the cayenne, cumin, coriander and garlic powder. Allow them to marinate for a few minutes while you get your oil ready and prepare to fry.
- Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a place a wire rack over top to hold the cod once it's been fried.
- Next, add enough oil to a deep pan or a medium-size pot so that the fish can be submerged when you fry it (about 3 to 4 cups worth), and bring it to 365°.
- While your oil heats, whisk together the flour with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper, and slowly pour in the beer and whisk just until smooth.
- Once the oil is hot, dip the pieces of cod into the batter and fry in batches for a 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.
- To assemble the Baja fish tacos, add a couple of pieces of the fried cod to the bottom of a couple of corn tortillas, top with a generous amount of the slaw, add in some radishes (if using), drizzle the spicy garlic-lime sauce liberally over top, and finish with some extra cilantro and a squeeze of lime.
Tips & Tidbits for Baja Fish Tacos recipe:
- Prepare your slaw and your sauce before frying your fish: Having all of your other elements ready to go before you begin battering and frying your fish is essential. Have your slaw prepped and cold, as well as your sauce and any other finishing touches.
- Firm, flaky white fish is best: Cod is a cost-effective and perfect choice for these fish tacos, because it takes on the flavors from the marinade and keeps its shape and texture once it's fried.
- Corn tortillas are traditional: I would recommend that you use a very soft corn tortilla for these tacos, and double up so that they don't split and fall apart. However, we actually often use flour tortillas (the fajita size ones) because we prefer the texture and the convenience of these not falling apart on us—the choice is yours!
- Prepare your beer batter just before frying: I find that gently whisking the beer into the seasoned flour just before frying creates a crispier batter, because the carbonation is still very fresh. You can prepare the batter ahead of time, but know that it may “flatten” a bit.
- Tasty toppings for Baja fish tacos: Some other tasty touches to add to your Baja fish tacos are fresh sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, and a little squeeze of a lime wedge!
- Reheating fish tacos: We use our toaster oven set to 400° and bake the leftover battered fish until hot and crispy—it reheats really well. Then, simply warm up your tortillas and assemble your tacos.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2018, and has been updated with even more love!