Baja Fish Tacos

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Crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas and topped with slaw and a smoky chipotle sauce, Baja fish tacos are the perfect summer meal.

Baja fish tacos on a wooden cutting board.

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Many years ago, Michael and I rented a convertible and drove up the California coast. One of our favorite stops was La Jolla, where we strolled around town and stumbled upon a Mexican restaurant with great food and breathtaking views of the Pacific ocean. I don’t know if it was the scenery, the margaritas, or the fact that we were on vacation, but the Baja fish tacos were out of this world. To recreate them at home, I came up with this version made with crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas with a cabbage slaw and smoky chipotle sauce. I’m happy to say they come pretty darn close. To complete the meal, pair the tacos with chips, salsa, and guacamole.

“I have made these so many times – now my friends a family are all making them as well. The chipotle sauce is the star!”

Tamara W.

What You’ll Need To Make Baja Fish Tacos

Taco ingredients including lime, chipotle chiles, and apple cider vinegar.

Most of the ingredients are pretty straightforward, except maybe the canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. If you’ve never had them, get ready to add a new staple to your pantry! They’re small peppers (usually red jalapeños) that have been dried and smoked, and they come in a spicy tomato sauce that has a smoky flavor. You can find them in the Latin section of most supermarkets, and I have many recipes that incorporate them.

How To Make Baja Fish Tacos

Begin by making the slaw, which is a combination of shredded red cabbage, chopped red onions, cilantro, apple cider vinegar, oil and salt.

Vegetables and vinegar in a glass bowl.

Next, make the chipotle sauce by combining the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, mayonnaise, lime juice and garlic in a mini food processor or blender. I use three peppers for a spicy sauce; of course, use less if you prefer a milder sauce.

Chipotle sauce in a food processor.

When you’re ready to fry the fish, prepare the beer batter by whisking together the flour, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Whisk in a bowl of unmixed dry ingredients.

Slowly pour in the beer, whisking all the while.

Beer pouring into a bowl with a flour mixture.

Cut the cod into 1-inch wide x 4-inch long strips.

Strips of cod on a cutting board.

Then dip the fish into the beer batter.

Tongs grabbing a piece of cod from a bowl of beer batter.

Pan-fry the fish until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. As you can see, there’s no need to deep fry the fish. I use about a 1/2 inch of oil, which is plenty as long as you flip the fish midway through.

Battered cod frying in oil.

If you’re wondering if you can skip the beer batter and frying altogether and just grill or pan-sear the fish, the answer is yes but the tacos won’t be nearly as good. Fried fish has a wonderfully crispy texture and depth of flavor that really can’t be achieved any other way. It’s worth it! Plus, even with the fried fish, these tacos are still amazingly light and fresh.

When the fish is golden brown, drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Fried cod on paper towels.

Warm up the corn tortillas (I do it in the microwave), then assemble the tacos with a generous amount of chipotle sauce, a heap of cabbage slaw and a piece of crispy cod. Serve with lime wedges, lots of napkins and enjoy!

Baja fish tacos on a wooden cutting board.

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Baja Fish Tacos

Crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas and topped with slaw and a smoky chipotle sauce, Baja fish tacos are the perfect summer meal.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 40 Minutes


For the Cabbage Slaw

  • 5 cups (or one 10-ounce bag) shredded red cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons vegetable oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

For the Chipotle Sauce

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, from one lime
  • 2-3 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (canned), roughly chopped, plus 1-2 teaspoons sauce (see note below)
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped

For the Beer Batter

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup beer

For the Fish and Tortillas

  • 1½ pounds skinless cod, cut into 1-inch wide x 4-inch long strips
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas, warmed
  • Lime wedges, for serving


  1. Toss the cabbage, red onion, cilantro, vinegar, oil and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, chipotle chiles with sauce and garlic in a blender or mini food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Gradually add the beer, whisking until the batter is smooth with no lumps. Set aside.
  4. In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add enough oil to reach a depth of ½-inch. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F, or when the end of a wooden spoon sizzles when dipped into the oil.
  5. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, dip the fish strips in the beer batter and coat on both sides. Let the excess batter drip off, then fry the fish in the hot oil until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  6. Smear each tortilla with a generous amount of the chipotle sauce, then top with the cabbage slaw. Lay one piece of fish inside each tortilla and serve with lime wedges.
  7. Note: 3 chipotle peppers and 2 teaspoons sauce will give you a spicy sauce. Use less for a milder sauce. You can freeze any leftover chipotle peppers from the can.
  8. Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately 3 tablespoons of oil are absorbed into the fish when fried.
  9. Note: Nutritional Information does not include the chipotle sauce.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 577
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 66 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Protein: 39 g
  • Sodium: 1025 mg
  • Cholesterol: 73 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • Hi!
    Recipe looks delicious. Do you think the fish could be fried a few hours before serving and reheated in the oven?

    • — Joelle Laberge on April 29, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Joelle, I don’t recommend it – The fish won’t stay crispy. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on April 30, 2024
      • Reply
  • Mind blown. Don’t think I can ever order fish tacos from a restaurant ever again. Thanks Jen!

    • — Tracy D on April 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • Thought I should make a comment as I have been using this fish taco resource for years now. The simplicity of the slaw, adobe mayonnaise, fish….spot on. I’ve had the good fortune of using fresh fish here in South Carolina. This is perfect. Thank you.l

    • — Monique ONeill on March 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • Delicious!! This is now my go to fish taco recipe – the only one I’ll ever need! I also make the coleslaw as a side to other dishes and use the fish batter when we “just want Fish & chips” ! Honestly, Jenn you are my go to chef for any meals or when I want to try something new and I have never been disappointed! Thank you so much for sharing your talent and recipes!
    Note: the only change I made was to sub parsley for the cilantro in the coleslaw bc my husband dislikes cilantro.

    • — Anita R on March 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is a good recipe except for the frying part. Too much oil, too much splattering everywhere, and not worth the trouble. I highly recommend a deep non stick pan, or deep fryer for beer batter. I will continue to use a light breading, pan fry in way less oil, and it still comes out very crispy.

    • — Patti on February 17, 2024
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,

    Just made these tacos for a Superbowl Sunday meal while watching the game. We also used tilapia, as we had it on hand. The tilapia is usually a firm fleshed fish, but we were amazed at how the fish seemed so light, fluffy and tender. Tacos were delish, with no left overs! Actually, I over ate bc they were so good! Also, I used a dutch oven on a induction burner, which kept the oil spay to a bare minimum. This recipe will definitely be in the rotation.

    • — Gary on February 12, 2024
    • Reply
  • These are the best fish tacos! We use shrimp with the batter too. My daughter makes these for our family when she is home. This has become our Christmas Eve meal served along with warm tortilla chips and salsa, mango salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and cherry lime margaritas. This meal is a celebration feast!

    • — Stefanie on December 22, 2023
    • Reply
  • This taco recipe is amazinggggg. The beer batter goes so well with the fish. (My favorite fish to use is Tilapia). I try to keep the heat on the lower side (level 2-3) to minimize splatter. The sauce really takes it to the next level. I had never made fish tacos before coming across this recipe, now it’s a family hit!

    • — Tacos everyday on November 27, 2023
    • Reply
  • What a delightful flavor combination! Due to my time constraints, I made the sauce and slaw a few hours earlier in the day. I can’t recommend this recipe enough!

    • — S Harvey on November 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • These tasted great, but my goodness, it was messy to prepare. The oil splattered so much and the batter got stuck to my skillet, even with the oil getting too hot and needing to reduce the heat. It definitely took me more than 2 minutes per side. I feel owning a deep fryer would’ve made preparing these easier.

    • — Frying fish is hard on September 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Loved it!! Great recipe…I made it for 2 people…and reducing the ingredients by half made it perfectly proportioned. Thank you!

    • — Trish R. on August 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made these tonight for the first time. I had another fish taco recipe that I’ve been making for a couple of years. This recipe blew that one out of the water!! We loved these so much! This is probably not quite as healthy because of the batter and frying but TOTALLY worth it. I will make these over and over. And they were really quite quick and easy. I could have made it even easier for a week night if I had made the sauce and slaw ahead of time. Thanks for another great recipe Jenn!! We’re huge fans in this house!

    • — Sharon G. on July 13, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I’ve made these for so many dinner parties I’ve almost claimed the recipe as my own ha, ha, ha. When they ask I always give you the credit though, well deserved! I also made the green sauce from the Peruvian chicken to go with these. SO much flavour packed in such a small package! I recently had a young lady from Ukraine that had never had Mexican food. I insisted she come for dinner, and made these. She couldn’t stop raving about it.

    Thanks for the recipes Jenn. I’ve made LOTS of recipes from your site, and I’ve never had one that we disliked. A rare occurrence for me, I’m pretty picky.

    • — Gary Cote on July 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Gary — thanks for taking the time to write and let me know! 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Absolutely top-notch recipe!! Thank you Jen for sharing your knowledge, time and talent. I run to your website most of the time:)

    • — Miha on July 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • I love your recipes and this taco one sounds delish. The last time I fried Cod, our home smelled for weeks afterwards! I googled all the remedies to eliminate the smell but it lingers. Can you offer any tips to manage the smell that comes with storing and cooking cod ? Thanks so much!

    • — Susan on June 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, so glad you like the recipes! I wish I had some creative suggestions for you regarding ridding your house of the odor, but whenever I fry food, I find that despite opening windows and turning on my exhaust fan, the odor lingers for quite a while. Sorry, I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on June 28, 2023
      • Reply
    • I find lighting candles helps with the smell!

      I made this recipe tonight and my husband said the best fish taco he’s ever had! He had one recently at a restaurant and he said it was dry and overcooked. These fish came out juicy and crispy 🙂

      • — Haslin on August 4, 2023
      • Reply
  • I haven’t made these yet and have used another recipe I found years ago from Gourmet magazine and the beer batter is the same except the recipe had it sit on the side for an hour. Am looking forward to adding the Cabbage Slaw and the Chipotle Sauce!

    Just wanted to share my trick for excess Chipotle peppers in a can! Place remaining peppers and sauce in a small Ziploc freezer bag. Clean out the can and place the bag of peppers in the can and freeze. Putting it in the can is the trick so you know what it is as opposed to excess little bags of canned Tomato Paste, Tomatoes, et al.

    • — Tissa Loehr on June 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • I’ve always shied away from batters because I don’t like all the deep-frying and the oil. However I decided to try your recipe since you wrote that it only required 1/4″ of oil in the pan.
    What a fabulous batter, WOW! Although my pan wasn’t quite hot enough for the first batch the 2nd batch was perfect, cooking up quickly and browning beautifully, The pieces looked as good as the best fish and chip place and the batter was light.
    I made the chipotle sauce and the purple cabbage slaw (prefer lime juice to the apple cider vinegar); also made a side salad of black beans, mango, diced red pepper with lime juice, olive oil, s+p, minced coriander and a bit of cumin.
    What a delicious dinner. Sadly, no leftovers (lol). Will definitely make this again!! Thank you so much.
    By any chance, do you have a sub for the beer that would give the same results but without the alcohol (if serving children or folks who are celiac)? Thanks again.

    • — Marilyn M. on April 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Marilyn, So glad you like these and had success with frying the fish! You can replace the beer in these with club soda. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 1, 2023
      • Reply
  • Amazing tacos!!! We absolutely loved them!! Frying the fish was a bit messy and I may choose a different option for that next time, but will definitely be having them again!

    • — Nadine on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • These tacos were amazing. I’m not a very good cook, and I generally don’t like frying things, and am not very good at it. But my husband loved these tacos! The sauce was especially insane! Used embasa chipotle peppers in adobo, tilapia for fish, and corona extra beer that was canned in Mexico.

    • — Jen on April 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • Like all your recipes this is a 10/10 , thank you Jenn!! Your shallow-fry cooking method has saved my counter and stovetop from countless oil spatters as well 😀

    • — Tyler on April 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • You demystified the Baja taco for me. It looked so intimidating but it turned out amazing. I was so proud of myself and I’m happy to say everyone raved about it. If I have a dinner idea, I always come to you first because I know you have the best recipes! Thank you!

    • — Gabriela M on March 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can these be made with tilapia instead of cod?

    • — Kris on December 28, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure, Kris, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on December 28, 2022
      • Reply
  • I would need to start with cod thawed from frozen – fresh just not feasible in Kansas. Does this change anything? (I also had fish tacos from my previous hometown of La Jolla and am missing them).

    • — Robin Wooten on October 3, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Robin, No, I don’t think it would change anything. Just make sure the fish is completely thawed. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 3, 2022
      • Reply
  • Incredible! As good, or better than any fish taco I’ve had at a restaurant, and very easy to make. I couldn’t find cod, so used haddock and was blown away. Definitely making this again, and highly recommend.

    • — Janice on August 1, 2022
    • Reply

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