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!
Table of contents
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)
- Striped bass
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 your own 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
- 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.
Serve Cod Fish Tacos with…
- This Mexican Sweet Corn Cabbage Slaw would be delicious serve in or alongside the tacos.
- A scoop of this sweet Mango Salad is the perfect side dish for a spicy taco.
- The Avocado Crema from this recipe would be delicious on the tacos.
- Cilantro Lime Brown Rice is the perfect side dish for any Mexican-inspired dinner.
Shake Up a Margarita
Blackened Cod Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Sauce
- 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
- 4 –8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- Lime wedges
- 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.
- Pat fish fillets dry then coat fillets in spice mixture on all sides; rubbing in as needed.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
This recipe and article were originally published on July 30, 2020.