Blackened Fish Tacos are the ideal weeknight meal—quick, easy, healthy and satisfying. The blackened cod is smoky and slightly spicy, but pairs perfectly with the cool and tangy creamy yogurt sauce. Stuffed into tortillas with arugula, black beans and pickled onions, these fish tacos are unique and absolutely delicious!

Type of Fish to Use

I prefer to use firm, lean white fish like cod, mahi-mahi, or halibut for blackened fish tacos. For one thing, firm white fish tends to hold up better during cooking than thinner white fish. And two, quite frankly, I like the flavor of firm white fish much better than thin watery white fish like tilapia.

Firm and lean white fish include:

  • Cod (our preferred fish for this recipe)
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Halibut
  • Grouper
  • Pollock
  • Haddock
  • Striped bass
corn tortilla filled with flaked blackened fish, arugula, a creamy sauce, black beans and pickled onions

Ingredients in Blackening Seasoning

Many blackened seasonings are a mile long, we wanted to keep it simple so we kept the spices to a bare minimum. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • sweet paprika (or smoked paprika, or a combo!)
  • ground cumin
  • dried oregano (we prefer Mexican)
  • ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • cayenne pepper

Other classic blackening spices include:

  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • dried basil
  • dried thyme

If you don’t want to go to the effort of mixing up a homemade blackening seasoning, you can use a Cajun seasoning blend or chili powder. Most chili powders should have ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano, among other spices. If you so use chili powder, be sure to add some regular or smoked paprika if you have it.

Test Kitchen Tips

  • The process of blackening fish is quick, 4 minutes per side is all this fish needs! Keep in mind, cook time depends on how thick your fillets are. I prefer to use fillets that are ¾-inch to 1-inch thick. If you have thinner fillets, drop the cooking time down by a minute or more.
  • Preheat the cast-iron skillet for 3 to 5 minutes before adding the oil. This allows the skillet to evenly heat throughout without burning the oil.

How to Make Blackened Cod Fish Tacos

  • Make the pickled red onions and set aside (you can do this up to a week ahead of time).
  • Make the blackening spice blend.
  • Fat the fish dry with paper towels then coat them in the spice blend.
  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet for a few minutes then add the oil, swirl the pan to coat and add the fish.
  • Cook the fish until blackened on both sides.
  • Make the creamy sauce then char the tortillas on the stove top (or wrap the tortillas in a slightly damp paper towel and microwave for a few seconds).
  • Flake the blackened fish then assemble the tacos and enjoy.

Variations on This Cod Fish Tacos Recipe

  • Make blackened salmon instead of blackened cod! Then Try our Blackened Salmon Tacos!
  • Skip the arugula and use shredded cabbage. Toss a few tablespoons of the onion pickling liquid with the cabbage and season with salt and pepper.
  • Serve tacos with a mango salsa and creamy avocado sauce instead of the arugula and beans.
  • Make a taco bowl! Serve the blackened fish over cilantro lime brown rice, top with diced avocado, green slaw, pickled onions, the creamy sauce from this recipe, and cilantro.
  • Keep it classic, serve the blackened fish in tortillas with shredded lettuce or cabbage, cilantro, tomatoes, Cotija cheese, sour cream, cilantro and lime.
three corn tortillas filled with blackened fish, arugula, black beans and a creamy sauce on a plate with picked onions and bubbly water set around

Serve Cod Fish Tacos with…

Shake Up a Margarita

Blackened Cod Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Sauce

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 4 servings
Category Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican Inspired
Author Lauren Grant


Blackened cod gets stuffed in a charred tortilla with (super) quick pickled red onions, a creamy lime sauce, black beans and arugula, these tacos are unique and delicious. The best part? They’re ready in 30 minutes!


Pickled onions:

  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced


  • 1 tablespoon paprika*
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano (marjoram or regular dried oregano also work)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ –½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 (4-ounce) cod fillets (halibut or mahi-mahi also work well)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil


  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, juiced and zested
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

To serve:

  • 4 –8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro


  • Bring vinegar, ½ cup water, honey, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Add onion to a medium bowl. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over onion mixture and let sit at least 15 minutes.
  • Combine 1 tablespoon paprika, cumin, oregano, remaining teaspoon salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a shallow bowl.
    spices in a shallow white dish
  • Pat fish fillets dry then coat fillets in spice mixture on all sides; rubbing in as needed.
    fish fillets coated in an orange spice blend
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet set over medium for 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to skillet, swirl to coat, then add 2 fish fillets. Cook fillets just until starting to blacken, about 4 minutes. Flip the fillets and cook 3–4 minutes more until blackened on second side and a thermometer inserted in the thickest parts registers between 140ºF and 145ºF; transfer to a plate.
    blackened fish fillets on a small white plate
  • Repeat cooking process with remaining oil and fillets.
  • Combine mayonnaise, yogurt, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, and ½ teaspoon paprika; season with salt and pepper to taste.
    yogurt, lime zest and cayenne pepper in a glass bowl
  • Using tongs, char tortillas over an open flame on the stove top, turning frequently to char all over.
  • Serve blackened fish in charred tortillas with arugula, black beans, pickled onions and sauce. Finish with a squeeze of lime and fresh cilantro.


* use a combo of sweet paprika and smoked paprika if you want the tacos to be extra smoky!
MAKE DAIRY-FREE: skip the yogurt in the sauce and use ½ cup mayonnaise.
TIMING: cook time largely depends on how thick your fillets are. My fillets were 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick. If you have thinner fillets, drop the cooking time down by a minute or more. 


Serving: 2 tacosCalories: 337kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 26gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 487mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
three corn tortillas filled with flaked blackened fish, arugula, a creamy sauce, black beans and pickled onions

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This recipe and article were originally published on July 30, 2020.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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