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

  • Is that apple cider vinegar?

    • — Dee on January 17, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • We loved this recipe! It was easy and so delicious,. I used one pepper versus three in the recipe. I can’t imagine three peppers just too hot for me. We will definitely make this again. I loved the batter for the fish. So crispy.

    • — Dianne Radcliff on January 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi, love the recipe. Can you confirm for me (and possibly other Brits), does “1-1/2” mean ‘1 to 1.5 pounds’, or ‘1 to 0.5 pounds’ please? It’s written as such for both the cod, and vegetable oil.

    • — Ant on December 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ant, It’s 1.5 – sorry for the confusion!

      • — Jenn on December 13, 2020
      • Reply
      • Wonderful, thanks Jenn. This is a massive hit with me and my children – thanks for publishing it.

        • — Ant on December 30, 2020
        • Reply
  • I consider myself a fish taco snob and these are FANTASTIC! I’m so glad a friend recommend your site/recipes. So many great points about this recipe! The fish was much easier than I thought it would be, the slaw has the perfect amount of “dressing and the sauce- oh the sauce! Looking forward to making these in the New England winter while dreaming of Southern California. Thanks for the great recipe!

    • — Heather on December 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • I only made the slaw, but it was DELICIOUS! The perfect complement to fish tacos.

    • — Lindsey on December 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Since I was making this on a busy weeknight I cheated. I bought some beer battered van de kamps fish and just made up the sauce and Cole slaw early in the day then at dinner time all I had to do is bake the fish. We put tomatoes and avacado on as toppings. Otherwise I left the recipe alone and it was very good!

    • — Rachelle on November 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • My husband made these tonight for our family and they were delicious! He couldn’t believe how incredibly easy they were to make! 5 stars all the way!

    • — Karen Valenzuela on October 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi I made the beer battered fish with tilapia and served it on a platter with your tartar sauce…it was a hit thank you so much

    • — Chaya Kurz on October 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • How many chiles should I use if I’m feeding a 2.5 yo picky toddler?

    • — Mimi on September 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Mimi, I’d probably cut it back to one pepper. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • For some of us who feed a crowd, here’s a tip! I used the Trident fish sticks (from Costco) which are baked instead of making pan fried cod. Nobody complained and the result was incredible!

    • — Susan Van Aartsen on August 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, thank you for the recipe! My husband and I loved it! I have one small question. Do you know if there is no alcohol left after frying so that kids can eat too? Thank you!

    • — Kasumi on August 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • The alcohol should burn off while cooking so it’s perfectly fine for kids to eat!

      • — Jenn on August 19, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn – I made these today they tasted wonderful – I make them a few times a year but this time I just couldn’t get the batter to stick on the fish. I mean it was on the fish but as it dries, it seemed not to puff up and coat like other times. Help!

    • — Lee Ann on August 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sorry you had a problem with these today! Did you have those issues before or after frying them?

      • — Jenn on August 17, 2020
      • Reply
      • No

        • — Lee Ann on August 18, 2020
        • Reply
        • Sorry for any confusion — what I’m trying to get at is whether the batter was a problem before you fried them or after you fried them.

          • — Jenn on August 19, 2020
          • Reply
          • The batter was fine . The right consistency . I dipped the fish in shook off the excess and put in batter which sizzled when I put wooden spoon in . But after the frying the fish was tanned but not crispy batter .

            • — Lee Ann on August 19, 2020
          • Hi Lee Ann, I suspect the oil wasn’t hot enough. The wooden spoon works well but unfortunately isn’t foolproof. If you plan to continue to make these, I’d recommend a deep-fry thermometer. They’re reasonably priced and they take all the guesswork out of it. This is the one I have. Hope that helps!

            • — Jenn on August 20, 2020
  • Hi Jenn,
    It has been such a pleasure to try so many of your recipes! You have helped me improve my cooking skills and I now have several tried and true go-to recipes I know my family and friends think are wonderful! Tonight we all had a great experience eating your Baja Fish Tacos! Question: I used avocado oil to fry the fish. Is it ok to reuse the oil more than once? If so how many times and how would you recommend I store it?
    Thank you!
    Robin

    • — Robin on July 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Robin, So glad you enjoy the recipes! Unfortunately, oil used to fry fish can only be used once. I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on July 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • This recipe was so simple and delicious! I followed it exactly but I used Mahi Mahi instead of cod. I have always been afraid to use batter for some reason but this turned out perfectly. My kids liked it too minus the sauce which was a little too spicy for them. Next time I’ll make a kid friendly version with more mayo.
    Even in a restaurant I have not had fish tacos this good.

    • — Rose on July 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Not a big mayo fan, could you use plain Greek yogurt instead of mayo?

    • — Jeff on July 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jeff, It will work, but the sauce will definitely be on the tangy side – maybe use half each?

      • — Jenn on July 27, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, I love so many of your recipes! You’re my go-to site when I’m looking for ideas.
        Is it possible to use a gluten free flour instead of regular white flour?

        • — Sarah on August 28, 2020
        • Reply
        • So glad you like the recipes! I haven’t made these with gluten-free flour, but I think it should work. Enjoy 🙂

          • — Jenn on August 28, 2020
          • Reply
  • Imagining myself eating these after a long day at the beach… What a moment that’d be!

    • — Charlotte on July 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • The best. The chipotle sauce takes the tacos over the top.

    • — Susie on July 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely loved it! Three teenage boys made grunting noises 🤣. Note for next time, triple recipe. I didn’t make enough. Also had a little batter left over. Tossed in some yellow squash and fried that up. I love your book as well. Teaching my foster sons how to eat and cook real food is my heart’s mission. Appreciate you ❤

    • — Kimberly on July 17, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad it was a hit (and I love that you have foster kids AND that you’re teaching them such an important life skill)! ❤️❤️

      • — Jenn on July 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was really good, I’ve made this a few times. Question: has anyone used the fish batter for chicken, if so how did it come out?

    • — Elizabeth on July 13, 2020
    • Reply
  • My mom and I just made your Baja fish tacos and they were INCREDIBLE! I rarely go back for seconds but I couldn’t help myself. The chipotle sauce had the perfect amount of heat. I will never use another fish taco recipe again. My mom and I have made a couple of your recipes and we’re blown away by everything! Keep up the awesome work bringing delicious food to people who are cooking at home more often than ever ❤️

    • — Jodie on July 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • Cant express how amazing this recipe is…everyone raves on it.

    • — Cook on June 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • For some reason, the idea of fish tacos never much appealed to me, but my husband loves seafood so I decided to give it a go. Boy, did this recipe make a convert out of me! Hands down one of the most delicious things ever to come out of my kitchen!! Thanks so much!! This will be a go to recipe of mine! (I’ve made the fish by frying it as called for in the recipe, and by cooking it in an air fryer. Both ways produced great results!)

    • — Harper Grace on June 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • I love this recipe, especially that sauce! OMG! Our bellies are very happy after this meal and I think I may have to make once a week from now on! Thanks, Jenn, for all your wonderful recipes and inspiration!

    • — Nathalie on June 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this recipe at hubby’s request for Father’s Day. It was a big hit. Recipe was easy to follow. Thank you!

    • — JenS on June 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • These were amazing Jenn! So good especially when paired with your guacamole recipe. I followed them both to the tee and everyone loved them.

    Only change I made was warming the tortillas in a pan with a little bit of butter. That made all the difference for us.

    Thank you!

    • — Aman on June 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Just made this and it was delicious!

    I used more peppers and sauce and garlic than recipe called for and I used 1/4 cup of coconut flour, 3/4 regular, in the beer batter. I bought a big bottle of corona for the beer batter and was able to drink the rest while cooking.

    • — Spencer Burgin on June 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • I would visit Ensenada often in the 70’s and 80’s and the cali-mex fusion of taco styles of today has been amazing, but I still think its all about the batter and I have a simple recipe that I received from a street vendor – They would use Talapia fish, slice into strips, almost room temp, place strips into luke warm saltwater for 10 min (it cleans the fish). The batter, mix in a bowl Bisquick, Corona beer, mexican oregano, mustard, pepper. Place the fish in the batter and marinate for at least 2 hrs. Cabbage, salsa, guacamole, mayo and splash of lime.

    • — David on May 25, 2020
    • Reply
  • I always trust your recipes but THIS, THIS is just amazing! I made this with homemade corn tortillas and was out of this world!

    • — Christy on May 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Best fish tacos! I used fresh haddock from our local source and followed the recipe with the small addition of thinly sliced radishes to the slaw! It’s now a weekly request from our two teens! Thanks for all your amazing recipes.

    • — Sheila kageleiry on May 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • Excellent, very easy to make however it does take a little time, but for us it was worth it!

    • — Gail Hamilton on May 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made these tacos for Cinco de Mayo a couple days ago and my family absolutely LOVED them!! I’m 16 and I have always wanted to make fish tacos, so I decided to use this recipe. Everything was so simple but cohesive and SO delicious. My dad caught fresh haddock that day so I used that fish instead and it was still perfect. Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s my new favorite!

    • — Megan on May 7, 2020
    • Reply
    • Your parents are lucky that you’re cooking for them — so glad they were a hit! 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hello Jenn,
    I have made this before with cod but I don’t have enough cod to make it again. I was wondering if tilapia would work in this recipe.

    • — Rani Lohana on May 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Rani, tilapia will also work nicely here. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 4, 2020
      • Reply
  • This is a fantastic recipe–the fish, the slaw, the chipotle sauce–all of it. I made this yesterday and didn’t have beer and didn’t want to make a special trip, so I substituted a cup of seltzer water and it worked perfectly. I also dredged the fish in 1/4 cup of flour mixed with 1/4 cup of corn starch, which helped the batter to stick to the fish. Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Lisa on May 2, 2020
    • Reply
  • Can the beer-battered fish be cooked in an air fryer instead?

    • — Shannon Pound on April 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Shannon, I don’t have an air fryer I 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 May 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. I am a former Californian, now living in France. I would LOVE to make these, but I will not be able to find chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. Can you suggest any sort of substitute ingredients more commonly available, such as smoked paprika or sundried tomatoes or anything you could think I could combine to get a similar flavour? I could blacken some red peppers, any other idea please?? Thank you for your help!

    • — Jennifer D. on April 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, you could use about 1/4 tsp. of chipotle chile powder in place of the peppers. You can add more to taste but be careful because it adds heat. You could also just omit the peppers without adding the chipotle chile powder and it would still be tasty. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • Delicious!

    • — Marlene on April 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you for this recipe; we love fish tacos but cannot use beer. Any substitute for the beer in the batter?

    • — Ayesha on April 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ayesha, You can replace the beer with club soda. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thank you so much for your quick reply. We love your recipes, can’t wait to try this one!

        • — Ayesha on April 17, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I have looked and looked but cannot find canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce… any suggestions for a substitute?

    • — Michelle on April 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Michelle, you could use about 1/4 tsp. of chipotle chile powder in place of the peppers. You can add more to taste but be careful because it adds heat. You could also just omit the peppers without adding the chipotle chile powder and it would still be tasty. Hope that helps and that you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi. Question, please: I made this recipe, and taste-wise it was very good; however, in the frying process the battered fish stuck to the bottom of the pan, causing the batter and fish to sort of fall apart during the flip step. Should I have used a non-stick pan? Or put in more oil? Or what else can I do next time to prevent the battered fish from sticking to the bottom?
    Thank you.

    • — Dot on April 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Dot, It sounds like your oil was not hot enough. Here’s a link that shows how to tell when the oil is the right temperature. Hope that helps 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 5, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have a lot of halibut from a fishing trip. Can I substitute halibut for the cod? I have made this recipe in the past and it was delicious! but made it with cod last time.

    • — Daphna on March 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Daphna, halibut should work here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 15, 2020
      • Reply

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