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Baja Fish Tacos

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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 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.

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, 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.

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


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

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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  • 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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