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

  • 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
  • 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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