Baja Fish Tacos

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

These Baja fish tacos are made from crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas, topped with a cabbage slaw and smoky chipotle sauce.

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 of 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.

What You’ll Need To Make Baja Fish Tacos

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.

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.

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.

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

Slowly pour in the beer, whisking all the while.

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

Then dip the fish into the 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.

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.

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!

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Baja Fish Tacos

These Baja fish tacos are made from crispy beer-battered cod tucked into corn tortillas, topped with a cabbage slaw and smoky chipotle sauce.

Servings: 4
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

For the Cabbage Slaw

  • 5 cups (or one 10-ounce bag) shredded red cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Chipotle Sauce

  • 3/4 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
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup beer

For the Fish and Tortillas

  • 1-1/2 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

Instructions

  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 1/2-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

Powered by Edamam

  • 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, Edamam.com. 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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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi there, it’s hard to find cod here, can I replace it with seabass? thanks

    • — Ahu on October 24, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, that should work. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2021
      • Reply
  • I was really excited to make this! I’ve made multiple recipes from your site and I loved them all! But this one didn’t work out to well… the batter stuck to the bottom of the pan which then caused the batter to come off the fish.. had to throw it all away. I used enough oil so I am not sure what happened.

    • — Katie on October 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Katie, I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you! It sounds like the oil wasn’t hot enough. A good way to ensure the oil is hot enough is to drop a cube of bread into the oil; if it sizzles when you drop it in, it’s ready. Also, you may want to use a nonstick pan and jostle the fish around a little before flipping it to ensure that it’s not sticking.

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2021
      • Reply
  • Love these tacos! We all overate the evening we made these, they were amazing.

    • — Autumn on September 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • Excellent fish recipe! I made the fish as written using Miller high life, what we had in the fridge. The batter was enough for 2lbs of fish, but what was left prob could have covered another 1/4lb or so.

    I added a julienned carrot, 1/2c frozen&thawed corn, a thinly sliced yellow pepper, and a scallion to the cabbage slaw because I like more veggies.

    I also didn’t have any Mayo or chipotles so I made a cilantro lime crema sauce using what I had in the fridge: yogurt, lime, cilantro, and garlic. It was a good pairing with the fish!

    • — Rosanne on August 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • These fish tacos look great. Do you have any alternatives for reducing the sodium content?

    • — lois on August 26, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Lois, I think the most efficient way to cut back on the sodium here is just to cut back on the added salt in both the slaw and beer batter. You can always add more salt to taste if needed. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 27, 2021
      • Reply
  • The wife and I love this recipe, this will be the 3rd time that I made this dinner. I added 2 teaspoons of Old Bay to the batter which gave the fish a little more kick. I did use 3 chipotle peppers but one of them I deseeded it. Delicious!!!

    • — Chef Randini on August 20, 2021
    • Reply
  • I can’t wait to try your recipe! Fish tacos are my absolute fave and finding good ones is really a crap shoot! My question: what can I substitute for the chipotle? I get really nauseated every time I eat it 🙁 . From the reviews that’s what really makes the recipe but I’m in a spot! Any suggestions?

    • — Kathy Frank on August 12, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, I’d replace the chipotle peppers with smoked paprika to taste. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 13, 2021
      • Reply
    • I also didn’t have any Mayo or chipotles so I just did a cilantro lime crema using 1/2c plain yogurt (Greek if you have it), 1/2c chopped cilantro, zest and juice of 1 lime, 1tbsp olive oil (if your yogurt is full fat you can skip), 1 clove fresh garlic minced, salt & pepper and blended in my mini food processor. It was lovely and perfect on the fish. It would have been even better with a jalapeño, but I didn’t have it.

      • — Rosanne on August 28, 2021
      • Reply
  • I am Latina and lived in SoCal and Baja. We do not use red cabbage or spicy sauce for Baja tacos. The fish should be very fresh, grilled and use lots of lime. The white sauce is on the internet. But, I will try your recipe for a Sunday.

    • — Alegria on August 5, 2021
    • Reply
  • So very good! I loved the beer batter on the fish. Felt like we were eating at a restaurant.

    • — Kelly on July 17, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is the first dish I made from this site, and the one that led me to Jen and all her wonderful recipes. These fish tacos are the closest to the ones I’ve had on the coast of Mexico. Don’t skip the chipotle sauce! It really makes the dish. My husband refers to it as “tartar sauce” and asks for it all the time ☺️

    • — Vicki Frederick on July 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Our go-to fish taco recipe!

    • — Catherine V. on July 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am a dinner hero!!! This was a hit. The Chipotle Sauce really shined. I also had leftover green sauce from the Peruvian Chicken recipe – that it was a nice addition to the tacos and on our rice side dish. My granddaughter – who does not like fish – enjoyed her Baja Tacos – and asked for seconds on the meat…… 🙂 we just had to make sure our description did not include the word fish – and all was good…..

    • — jpatrash on July 8, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jen,

      I have made these before and they were amazing.
      I don’t want to fry the fish so I was wondering if you can put it in the air fryer?

      • — Rani on August 1, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Rani, Glad you like them! I don’t have an air fryer and don’t know much about using one so it’s hard to say for sure – I’m sorry! You may find these tips helpful in converting traditional recipes to air fryer versions. Hope that helps at least a bit!

        • — Jenn on August 2, 2021
        • Reply
  • We made these tacos today, and they were wonderful!!
    My first time cooking fish (!) – and was so pleased, with Jenn’s instructions, the process was incredibly quick and easy. Came together in a flash.
    The fish, my family decided, was the best they had ever eaten, and requested that it be put on fortnightly rotation!

    So fresh and flakey and juicy, with beautiful crispy batter. Far cry from anything you could buy in the UK (and we’ve eaten a lot of fish and chips!) One family member thinks it was even better than the fresh battered fish we had in a hotel in Scotland (a meal which has been our gold standard for fish for over a decade!)

    The mayo was also really great – I would make it regularly as a dip with other meals. Taste totally disproportionate to the effort involved!
    My only regret is I could only make 1/2 lb of fish for 4 people because of the inflated EU fish prices (£4.50 on sale from £5). Here’s hoping Brexit will bring a harvest of fish!

    Thank you once again, Jenn – you’re a genius!

    • — Savanna Faith on July 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • BEST EVER! Thank you these came out amazing. Our local supermarket did not have corn tortillas so we made a batch from scratch… all around delicious and will definitely make again. Already had to share the recipe with a bunch of people who saw our pictures of it on Instagram. thank you!

    • — Lauren on June 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • OMG!!! So I made these for my brother-in-law awhile back, & I was visiting again (they are out of state) & his 1 request was that I make these fish tacos again. I thought I had saved the recipes, because last time I made a different recipe for the beer battered fish & a sauce, & I made the chipotle sauce as well that I pulled from another recipe. I must not have saved them, cause I went into panic mode when I couldn’t find them. But I found this & he just remembered the chipotle sauce, so I made this entire recipe, and it’s clear that I didn’t make this one last time at all cause they were sooo much better this time. I don’t even have words for how good these tacos are. The garlic is everything in the sauce, & they turned out so good. If your in the mood for some great fish tacos & you like a little kick (you can always adjust the amount of chipotle peppers) you have to try these. Well done Jenn. 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

    • — Krysten Ferrante on June 7, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello,
    Made this recipe tonight and it was delicious! Everyone said it the best fish tacos they’ve had. Followed everything as instructed. Flavor was perfect 😋

    Thank you Jen!

    • — Cindy on May 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    I made the fish and they were very tasty! One small problem. Cast iron skillet was used with the appropriate amount of oil. Waited till oil was good and hot and my wooden spoon sizzled.

    The batter was nice and crunchy, BUT it fell off the fish and stuck to the bottom of the skillet. 🙁

    What did I do wrong, or do you have any questions? I would like to try it again. As I did enjoy the flavor and ease of the batter. I used club soda as I cannot have beer.

    Thanks!!!!
    PS
    Preordered your new cookbook. Can’t wait!!
    Kim

    • — Kim on April 30, 2021
    • Reply
    • Thanks so much for preordering the book! 🙂
      And sorry you had a problem with the batter sticking to the skillet. Although the spoon sizzled (and it’s a good way to gauge if the oil is hot enough) it’s not foolproof. To be certain, you could measure the oil temperature with a thermometer next time. Also, you may want to use a nonstick pan and jostle the fish around a little before flipping it to ensure that it’s not sticking. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 3, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn!

        I will be sure to give that a try!

        • — Kim on May 3, 2021
        • Reply
  • This recipe is delicious! My kids love it too.

    • — Kestrel on April 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hello, I love your recipes. Thank you!
    As I live in Europe, the metric system in the ingredient section would be very useful. It used to be there, but now I cannot see it.
    Is there a reason for the removal?
    Thanks!

    • — rb on April 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! I guess this recipe didn’t have the metric conversions, but I just added them. Hope you enjoy the tacos!

      • — Jenn on April 21, 2021
      • Reply
  • This was an absolute hit. The fresh and crunchy slaw was perfect, as was the tangy sauce. Thank you so much for this wonderful dish. We haven’t been out to dine with and we really miss our Mexican restaurants here in AZ. Actually, now that I’ve made your take on fish tacos, I’ll be sticking to it, rather than ordering it out. My only change to your recipe was that I marinated cod in a citrus/chili blend and then baked the chunks in a 450 oven. I have tried many of your recipes and they are all delicious.

    • — Dimar on March 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these tacos countless times over the years. This is one of my family’s all-time favorite dishes. It’s also a crowd pleaser for informal gatherings. I find that if I halve the slaw recipe, it’s still plenty. I have also subbed 1.25-1.5 teaspoons of chipotle powder for the canned peppers in a pinch. Just as delicious, imho 🙂 Thanks for this.

    • — Maisie on March 14, 2021
    • Reply
    • Can you use light beer- bought my mistake

      • — Judith Goldstein on June 19, 2021
      • Reply
      • Sure, that should be fine. Enjoy!

        • — Jenn on June 21, 2021
        • Reply
  • Super yummy and so easy to make!! Thank you for a new go-to recipe!

    • — Katrina Popa on March 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hey Jenn,
    I’m find myself looking to your recipes for SO MUCH of my meal planning, all your recipes have proven to be deliciously reliable. I love this fish taco recipe. Made it at least 3 times. The heat from the sauce, the crispness of the fish & crunch from slaw…WOW! Perfection!

    • — Darcy on March 5, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 8, 2021
      • Reply
  • This recipe sounds heavenly – quick question, could I substitute greek yogurt for the mayo? I’ve always substituted greek yogurt for sour cream but not sure about mayo (I know it’s a whole different animal but thought I’d ask. For example, I wouldn’t substitute mayo when making a canned tuna sandwich but was wondering about this). Thanks! Lorraine

    • — Lorraine Rossi Marier on March 1, 2021
    • Reply
    • I don’t recommend it here, Lorraine — it will be too tangy. Sorry!

      • — Jenn on March 1, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thanks, I thought so but just wanted to get an expert’s opinion. LOVE your site!

        • — Lorraine Rossi Marier on March 1, 2021
        • Reply
  • I have been disappointed by several mediocre fish taco recipes and was close to relegating them as a dine-out only dish until Jenn’s recipe! These are my absolute favorite fish tacos – would highly recommend giving them a go. The only changes I made were a) swapping out the cilantro in the slaw with two scallions, as I have the soap genes, and b) using the entire can’s worth of chipotle chiles for a nice kick.

    • — Julia on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • I love all your recipes. Your blog has become a staple in our home. My Hubbie and I have our hands full with a four month old and have found the recipes to be easy to follow and consistently tasty, so thank you for igniting life back into our kitchen:)!
    I usually prep the meal in the morning when my little one naps. Is it possible to make the beer batter for the fish ahead of time and, if so, any modifications I should make?

    • — Holly on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Thee BEST Fish tacos ever, I’ve already made these twice!! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Gigi B on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Do you think shrimp prepared the same way as your grilled shrimp recipe would be good here with the slaw and sauce? Also, can’t wait for the new cookbook at the end of this year. We will be supporting!

    • — Yooko on February 9, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure – I think it would work nicely. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it! And thanks in advance for your support of the cookbook. 💗

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • These tacos are amazing. My kids and husband love them. The adobo sauce is clutch, and if you have leftovers, you can use the sauce and cole slaw for breakfast the following morning with scrambled eggs and tortillas.

    • — Nicole on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I am so glad you and Michael rented a convertible and drove up the California coast many years ago and you were so inclined to recreate tacos you had along the way! These are the most delicious fish tacos I have ever made and are a family favorite recipe. The ingredient list is not long, and it all comes together rather quickly. I love everything about this recipe, especially the chipotle sauce! I do fry these, outside, in my fry daddy and when the fish is done, using tongs I will dip individual tortillas in the oil for 10-15 seconds (I want them to still “fold”), then drain on a paper towel lined plate – good for me, maybe not, but good, yes!

    • — Shellie on February 1, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this today for dinner per my husband’s request. It turned out delicious! I did not have the chipotle in adobo sauce, so I made my own version. I followed another recipe online for the sauce. I also added some cayenne pepper to spice it up more. Thank you for this recipe!

    • — Shefali Das on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn…made the fish tacos tonight for family dinner.
    I followed the recipe exactly and they were delicious.
    The chipotle sauce was exceptional and the fish light and crispy.
    Thank you for another great recipe!
    Leslie

    • — Leslie Richards on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • Jenn,

    I love making these Baha Fish tacos! My husband and I traveled to Punto Mita, we had Baha Fish Tacos at the Four Seasons.
    So much they we had to get another order before we headed back to the airport. So when I saw your Baha Fish Taco recipe, I was excited to make it for my family. It’s so easy and flavorful!

    My tip is I found that after breading the cod, I would store in the fridge for 30 minutes before frying.

    Thank you for your recipe!!

    • — Penny Dodd on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is a great summertime casual party meal. Everything tastes supper fresh and it is easy to make. I made them with the Grilled Shrimp tacos and the Chicken tacos. There was something fro everyone. A real crowd pleaser!

    • — Howard Roth on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • These tacos are hands-down delicious! Easy, simple prep and, in the end, a flavor bomb.

    • — Leona on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • This recipe is killer and not complicated, particularly if you already have leftover slaw of some sort (cabbage, kholrabi, carrot, beet) in your fridge, which we did when we first gave this a crack and saved some time. Also added some pickled ramps and avo. This is one of those recipes that is fun to play with what you have on hand.

    Adobo sauce was excellent and not to be skipped – so yummy!

    Definitely stick to a cod, haddock, halibut so you have something to grab onto when frying.

    For those who worry about wasting oil, I filter spent oil back into a jar by lining a fine mesh strainer with some paper towel/cheesecloth/clean old cotton rag and slowly pouring it in. It takes some time but you can reuse 2-4x, depending on what else you’ve fried in it! Peanut and olive oil store well for up to a month or two in a cool, dark cabinet without going rancid.

    • — Leah K on January 29, 2021
    • Reply
  • Tried these last week and loved them! Followed the recipe without any adjustments. Used the 3 chipotles and 2 tsp’s of sauce and found it to be the right amount of heat without being over the top. I might use the deep fryer next time for the fish so I don’t need to fuss so much maintaining the right temperature. Thanks for another awesome recipe!!!

    • — Barb on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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