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

  • Easy easy easy and scrumptious. I make these fish tacos all the time for my family, who never tire of them. I keep the chipotle sauce in a squirt bottle in the fridge and always have mahi mahi fillets in the freezer. Cabbage lasts forever, so in my book this is an easy pantry meal. Instead of breading, I sauté the fish in avocado oil and then finish with a splash of beer. Great recipe and excellent cookbook, good for tasty-but-easy weeknight meals.

    • — Renee D. on March 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was Delicious! The whole family loved it!

    • — julieb on February 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I found your site this week. So far this week I have made 3 of your recipes! They were all delicious! These baja tacos remind me of me favorite restaurant. They were spectacular. The sauce and the cabbage slaw layer beautifully with the fish. These are definitely going into my monthly rotation! Thanks for the great recipe……keep them coming!

    • — Salee on February 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Welcome to the site, Salee. Happy Cooking! 😊

      • — Jenn on February 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi, it’s me again, your fangirl. Oh Jenn, have I told you lately how much joy your recipes give me? Tried these fish tacos the other night and they were magnificent! Best tacos I’ve ever made. So easy, too. The slaw was so tasty, I can use the leftovers in other applications.

    Only change I made was to replace the salt with Old Bay seasoning in the batter. Btw, I love how I don’t need like a gallon of oil to fry the fish, yet still end up with deep-fried results! Used my wok for this.

    Seriously, I don’t remember the last time I used anyone else’s recipes. I don’t trust them anymore because there’s always something not quite right. Jenn Segal will always steer you in the most amazing direction. Thank you for always delivering such perfect recipes.

    • — Listen Linda Listen on January 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Thank you for your support Linda!! So glad you’re enjoying the recipes. ❤️

      • — Jenn on January 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • One of the best dishes/foods in the entire planet! It’s so easy to make and yet so sophisticated and wonderful! Every dish I make from this site/blog is exceptional and amazing! Jenn Segal is one of the best chefs ever! Thank you for these wonderful recipes

  • Loved this recipe – it was such a hit at a dinner party I hosted. I swapped out 1/2 the mayo serving for sour cream instead, better flavor and more of a ‘cool’ aftertaste vs mayo-y 🙂

  • I want to try this recipe, and I was wondering if I could use mahi mahi instead of the cod? I have some mahi mahi in the freezer. Thanks. Love your recipes.

    • Sure, Kathy, mahi mahi should work here. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

      • Hello
        Made this recipe tonight…I’m just wondering about the batter. 1 cup flour to 1 cup beer made the batter more like a paste….is this how it is suppose to be? I ended up adding more beer to make the batter a little thinner, however when I went to fry the fish, all the batter stuck to the bottom of the pan (did not stay on the fish).
        Please help! I would like to try it again as I loved the rest of the recipe.
        Thank you!

        • — Tammie Good on February 17, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Tammie, the batter for this should be thick but not like a paste. It’s fine if you add more beer, just add 1 tablespoon at a time so it doesn’t get too liquidy. Also, when measuring the flour, make sure to use the spoon and level method explained here so you don’t end up using too much flour. Also, if your batter stuck to the pan, it could be that your oil was not hot enough. Here’s a link that shows how to tell when the oil is the right temperature. Hope you have more success next time!

          • — Jenn on February 18, 2020
          • Reply
  • We loved this recipe and the “delicious” meal it provided us. Thank you!!🤗

  • What a great recipe! I used tilapia and substituted basil for the cilantro. Restaurant quality results!

  • Flavor was amazing…especially the sauce. My challenge was that the batter would stick to the frying pan and peel off when I flipped the fish. Is there something I can do to avoid that from happening? Maybe pan got too hot?

    • Hi Inna, Sorry you had a problem with the batter sticking. It could be that your oil was not hot enough. Here’s a link that shows how to tell when the oil is the right temperature. Hope you have more success next time!

      • One of my favourite recipes!

        • — Tanja on April 3, 2020
        • Reply
  • Love this recipe. Always make fish tacos when I’m craving it with my husband.

  • SUPER DELICIOUS!

  • My family loves tacos and now we have another style of fish tacos to enjoy. Loved the batter and the crispiness it brings to the fish. I think I made the cabbage slaw too far ahead as it was a bit limp and lacked much crunch. Those who thought the Chipotle sauce was too spicy diluted some with more mayo.

    Thank you!

  • Hi Jenn, this was fantastic! I used half cod and half chicken tenders. Per your suggestion I marinated the chicken in buttermilk. The slaw and chipotle mayo are perfect with both chicken an cod. I had no problem with the batter falling off until I put it on paper towels, then it stuck to the towels, won’t do that again. And your tip with the wooden spoon to check oil temp was spot on. Thanks for another great recipe. Your recipes never disappoint. Karin

    • What was the tip on checking the oil temp with a wooden spoon? and maybe place cooked fish on a wire cooling rack over paper towels so they don’t stick to the paper? I want to make this for a party, without having made it before …so any suggestions would be great!

      • Hi Amy, here’s a link to the wooden spoon tip. And regarding putting the cooked fish on paper towels, I’ve never had a problem with them sticking, but if you feel more comfortable, feel free to put them on a rack over paper towels.

  • Loved the beer batter!!

    • — Margaret Brown
    • Reply
  • Love all your recipes and plan to make this soon. Just an FYI that you have a typo in the first line of your description. “This Baja fish tacos are made from crispy . . . ” should be “These Baja fish tacos . . .”

    Thanks for all the delicious recipes!

    • Thank you for catching that, Marianne!

      • Hey! I absolutely love your recipes and just recently bought your book. I have a question about this recipe – is there any way to make this without any alcohol?? Let me know. Thanks!

        • Rafia, thanks for buying the cookbook! ❤️ You can replace the beer in these with club soda. Enjoy!

          • I agree. I make this with club soda and it turns out great every time. It’s one of my favorite dishes to serve guests. Thanks Jenn for the great recipe.

            • — Paul
  • Hi Jenn,

    I love all your recipes and your cookbook! I even bought a few as gifts. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for the perfect tortilla recipe. I’ve a tried a few but haven’t found the one yet.

    • So glad you like the recipes (and thanks so much for purchasing the cookbook)! Unfortunately, I don’t have a proven recipe for tortillas, but I will add it to my list — stay tuned!

      • Jenn,

        You might check out this recipe, which I have had good luck with: https://www.mexicanplease.com/homemade-corn-tortillas/#comments

        It uses only three ingredients: Maseca (instant corn masa flour), salt, and water. The key is getting the proportion of flour to water correct. It’s also helpful to have a tortilla press, which you can order on-line or buy at stores that carry ingredients for Mexican food.

        • Thanks for sharing the link, Ray – I’ll have to check it out!

  • Made these wonderful tacos twice now and my whole family loves them! They are easy to put together and the sauce and cabbage slaw can be made ahead of time – which I like!
    We use a cast iron skillet and fry the fish outside on the barbecue so no fish smell in the kitchen. Fantastic taste!! Will be making these again and again. Thanks Jenn – love your recipes!

    • This may be a silly question, but how do you fry the fish on the barbeque? Do you just heat the oil in the pan using the grill heat? Or is there something further I should know? I like the thought of keeping the splatter out of the kitchen.

      • — Chithra Baylis
      • Reply
  • I read all the reviews and at the very bottom found an answer but need to ask you what you think. I have non fish lovers in my house and was wondering if I could use the same recipe and also make up some chicken to go along with the fish? A reviewer said they used chicken tenders, marinated in buttermilk and salt. Do you think the marinating is a necessary step? Can I just batter and fry the chicken? Thank you in advance for your reply. PS I have your book and have made many recipes, just love everything.

    • Hi Karin, Chicken tenders should work well. Marinating is not absolutely necessary, but a little soak in buttermilk (even for just a few hours) will make the chicken extra tender. Hope that helps and so glad you enjoy the recipes!

  • Ever since we had amazing fish tacos on Sunset Island in Key West, we’ve been looking for a recipe that was close to those amazing bites. These were a close second. Not hard to make the chipotle mayo..just slather that on everything! Total yum!

  • A great recipe for authentic fish tacos. You won’t be disappointed!

    • — Heather McMullan
    • Reply
    • What temperature would you fry the fish at? I was thinking 375 F.

      • Hi Lon, Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Hope you enjoy!

  • I’m not even kidding when I say these are some of the best fish tacos I have ever had! Making them for a fourth time. Thank you for the amazing recipe!

    • — Rachael Campbell
    • Reply
  • These are amazing! Replaced mayonnaise with sour cream (just personal preference) and used green cabbage (no red available). Flavor combination of crispy fish, corn tortilla, slaw and spicy sauce were perfect. We will certainly be making these again.

  • I adore this recipe! They are the best fish tacos ever, rivaling any you’ll have in Southern California! Each aspect adds a layer of flavor that enhances the fish, without overpowering it. They are a little time consuming to make, but you can easily make the cabbage slaw and chipotle sauce ahead of time. Perfection!!

    • — Eileen Raywood
    • Reply
  • As a California native, I have to say these are well deserving of 5 stars! I have MISSED Baja Fish tacos since living in the southern United States it’s not something I’ve seen on any menus out here sadly. Jen, you’re story driving down the California coast and stopping in La Jolla brought me back home! I had no idea how easy these were to make! SUPER delicious and the sauce really makes it!! I used olive oil to fry the fish, and also substituted green cabbage for red in the slaw! It came out great! These will be a staple now in our home!

  • I loved all the flavors together. They were delicious. I had problems with frying the fish. The batter on the fish kept sticking to the pan and ended up falling off the fish. I know I had it hot enough because I used an electric fry pan and had it at the correct temperature. Any suggestions to make them look crispy and look like yours in the picture?

    • Hmmm… I would guess that the oil wasn’t hot enough, but you mentioned you had the correct temperature. Next time you may want to try using a non-stick pan.

  • Hello, We tried this recipe from your book and the fish stuck to the pan during frying. We used a half inch of oil heated to approximately 350. Even so the batter stuck to the bottom. Any ideas what we didn’t do correctly?? We still liked the tacos! JD and Karen

  • I made these for a potluck. They were amazing. I love getting fish and chips out and I love fish tacos, but I never make them myself. this was so easy. I didn’t change any of the ingredients, but I was trying not to break the bank, so I cut smaller pieces of the fish and I was able to find these small/mini tortillas called street size in Mission brand. Everyone loved them and finished them all. Thank you. I’ll be making them again for myself at home.

  • DELICIOUS!!! I would give this recipe 10 STARS

    So I made some variations:
    1. Used Broccoli Slaw instead of Cabbage
    2. Used Frozen Costco Tilapia Filets (3-3.5 min per side) and cut them in 1/2
    3. 1.25 cup vs 1 cup of beer since my batter was too dry

  • These are amazing. We make them at least once per week! Is it possible to use something besides vegetable oil for the cabbage, and frying the fish? Or could the fish be baked in the oven, perhaps?

    • Hi Gigi, I suggest vegetable oil for the slaw because it has a mild flavor, but you can substitute another oil if you’d prefer. And, while I think you get the best result from frying the fish, a few readers have commented that they’ve baked it and have been happy with the results. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it this way!

    • Hi! I LOVE your recipes! I have a question about this one. I don’t like putting any form of alcohol in my food. What can I replace with the beer that’ll still provide a similar texture and taste? Thanks!

      • Hi Rafia, So glad you like the recipes! You can use club soda in place of the beer–they will still be delicious!

  • Fantastic! That sums up this recipe. I made this recipe using prebought slaw salad and the store didn’t have cilantro so I omitted it. The food was amazing and my kids and my husband licked their plates!! I did too! Easy to prepare. Super tasty. Messy kitchen 😉

  • Amazing

  • Bangin’ recipe! I’ve tried loads of Baja fish taco recipes, but this was fast, straightforward and DELICIOUS. My mouth is happy; my stomach is happy; my beloved is happy and thinks I”m awesome for making this. Great job, chef (and I mean you, Jenn!) Besos!

  • These tacos are delicious! My husband who is not a fan of fish asked me to make these again. The combination of the battered fish, crunchy slaw, and creamy sauce is perfect. Definitely a new favorite at our house.

  • This really is an incredible recipe.
    My whole family loves this.
    My 8 year old frequently requests fish tacos.
    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.

    • — Jennifer Hobson
    • Reply
  • Fish tacos are my families favorite and this one one is now going to be our new staple. My son is an avid fisherman, and fortunately for me I often have fish in my fridge. I was running out of ways to prepare it so turned to my trusted source (Once Upon A Chef) and found this recipe! Everyone love love loved it! The cabbage was sweet and complimented the chipotle sauce just right. The beer battered fish was so good I had trouble deciding to eat it on its own or wrap it in a tortilla. Both ways worked for me. My kids, parents, brother, and husband devoured it. I couldn’t fry the fish fast enough. Thank you for making me look like a pro. My family and friends praise my cooking, and I always give the credit to you! Thank you for another terrific recipe!

  • I made these tacos for a group of 10 people and everyone loved them! The chipotle sauce is so delicious and the slaw is a great added healthy crunch! The batter makes the fish taste light, not fried and heavy like most fried food. To save some time, I used a bag of already chopped cabbage.

  • What would be the Nutrition facts for this? Curious as a Type II Diabetic.

    • Hi Daniel, So sorry about the delay! I’ve added the nutritional information to the recipe.

  • My husband said three words: WOW … WOW … WOW. Made exactly as written (except cut everything in half for two) and it was amazing!

  • Love these tacos and have made them several times. They are fabulous as is- but for a larger group when frying individual pieces is tedious I bake fish (I used cod) with a little oil and chili powder. Still very tasty with baked fish and a bit healthier too!

  • Hi Jenn,

    I’m not one to usually leave reviews on cooking sites (or any sites, for the matter). But these tacos were outrageously good. I’ve always been disappointed with homemade tacos, mainly because I find store-bought flour tortillas to be kind of dull. So one thing I did differently was actually cook the tortillas a bit on a buttered/oiled pan until they were bubbling, slightly charred and crunchy. It made a world of a difference. I live in NYC and there is pretty good food around here, but these were legitimately the best fish tacos I’ve ever tasted. Girlfriend agrees. Thanks, and keep up the good work.

  • Delicious! I cheated and baked batter fish from Wegman’s (regional northeast grocery store). I’ve made it twice now and it’s been a hit both times.

    My only issue is the corn tortillas I bought fell apart. I bought them refrigerated and then heated them in the microwave wrapped in wet paper towels. I like conr tortillas much more than flour tortillas – any suggestions on how to make them more pliable?

    • Hi Elizabeth – that’s the method I use. What brand are you using?

      • Corn tortillas are the far superior choice for Tacos; the only authentic choice for that matter!
        The best way to warm them is in a hot skillet with a touch of oil. flip them often. At the point of maximum softness or pliability, fold them gently in half, and continue to warm them (folded) until slightly toasted. They will tend to maintain that ideal shape for tacos…

  • This fish tacos are amazing!! I can eat this every day 🙂 Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Fast, easy, and delicious! Thank you for another top notch recipe Jenn!

  • Absolutely fabulous. Even my fish sauce loathing son had seconds. Served them with your guacamole and bean and corn salad. Will do this for a dinner party in a few weeks.

  • Love love love these!!! So delicious!! Any chance you would know what the sauce used on the fried fish tacos at Berryhill Grill in Texas is? It’s a sweet sauce.. trying to replicate it!

    • Glad you like these! Unfortunately, I don’t know what the sauce is from the restaurant you mentioned – sorry!

  • We ordered fish tacos from a mexican restaurant last week and it was not good. I had this recipe on my mind when i promised my hubby that I am going to make him the best fish tacos he will ever have and it didnt disappoint. This is so Delicious. Hands down the best fish tacos we’ve ever had !

  • Could you substitute Mahi Mahi for the cod? Any adjustments in cooking time?
    I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of your cookbook today, and hope to see you in Rockville, MD. on May 24th! Wishing you lots of success with your new book.

    • Hi Rita, Mahi Mahi should work just fine with no modifications needed. Thanks for your support with the cookbook — I hope to get to meet you face to face on May 24th! 🙂

  • I’m going to make this tonight, only with a jicama/apple slaw. I’m certain it will be a hit!

  • These fish tacos were a major hit with my family who came to dinner last night. Easy make-ahead cabbage slaw. The chipotle sauce was a winner and any leftovers could easily be used for sandwiches. Even the fish can be done in advance and kept warm in the oven without forfeiting the crunch! Another “keeper”! Thanks Jenn!

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