Blackened Fish Tacos are the ideal weeknight meal—quick, easy, healthy and satisfying. These fish tacos are smoky and slightly spicy, but get cooled down with a creamy yogurt-mayo sauce. Stuffed into tortillas with arugula, black beans and pickled onions, these fish tacos are unique and delicious!
These tacos are:
- Slightly spicy
What kind of fish to use for blackened fish tacos
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, lean white fish include:
- Striped bass
What’s in a blackening seasoning?
Many blackened seasonings are a mile long, I wanted to keep things simple so I kept the spices to a bare minimum. Here is what you’ll need for this recipe:
- sweet paprika (or smoked paprika, or a combo!)
- ground cumin
- dried oregano (I 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.
How to make blackened fish tacos
- The very first thing I do is make my quick-pickled red onions. They’re super simple to make, take very little prep and add a ton of flavor to these tacos. They’re best if they sit at least 15 minutes before using, so get them started first.
- The second thing I like to do is arrange the fish fillets on a paper-towel lined plate. This way the exterior of the fish can start to dry before I coat it in the spice mixture.
- The third step is to mix together the spice blend in a shallow bowl. Coat each fillet in the spice blend, rubbing it in as needed.
- Next, it’s time to preheat a cast-iron skillet or nonstick skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. (I like to preheat the pan first, then add the oil to avoid smoking out my kitchen.) Once the pan is hot, add the oil. Heat the oil just until shimmering, then swirl to coat the pan and add the fish; cook until blackened on both sides, about 3–4 minutes per side.
- While the fish cools a bit, I quickly whisk up the creamy sauce and char the tortillas over my gas stove. If you don’t have a gas stove top, char the tortillas under the broiler or simply warm them up briefly in the microwave wrapped in a damp towel.
- Flake the blackened fish fillets then stuff the fish into the charred tortillas with arugula, black beans, pickled onion, and some of the creamy sauce. Finish the tacos with a squeeze of lime and some fresh cilantro.
The thing to keep in mind when baking blackened fish—the process is quick! Don’t leave it alone, 4 minutes per side is all this fish needs!
However, 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.
Variations on these blackened fish tacos
- Skip the arugula and use thinly sliced green 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 blackened fish tacos with…
Fill out the menu with a marg!
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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!
- 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 oregano (I prefer Mexican oregano)
- 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) tortillas (I like the super-thin corn 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.
* 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 Size: 2 tacos
- Calories: 337
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 487mg
- Fat: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 31g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 26g
- Cholesterol: 44mg
Keywords: blackened fish tacos, blackened cod, blackened fish, fish tacos