Fish Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Cabbage Slaw

This fish tacos recipe with creamy chipotle cabbage slaw is composed of pan-fried fish, creamy coleslaw, lime, cilantro, and corn tortillas. Perhaps even better than what you find in Baja California.

A plate with a fish taco topped with creamy chipotle cabbage slow with a bowl of slaw beside it.

Okay, so these fish tacos with cabbage, lime, and cilantro aren’t exaaaaaactly like what we’ve experienced in Baja. But they’re close. Close enough, anyways. Maybe even better thanks to the creamy chipotle slaw. (You can always make it a touch more traditional by doubling up on the tortillas. See, thin, delicate corn tortillas have a tendency to fall apart due to the moisture from the hot fish. A second tortilla wrapped around the first deftly keeps your fish and slaw from dropping in your lap.) Originally published July 30, 2013.Renee Schettler Rossi

Fish Tacos with Creamy Chipotle Cabbage Slaw

  • Quick Glance
  • (8)
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
4.9/5 - 8 reviews
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  • For the slaw
  • For the fish tacos
  • For the assembly


Make the slaw

Combine the cabbages, carrots, onion, scallions, and jalapeño in a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream, lime juice or lime juice and vinegar, sugar or honey, and the cumin and chipotle powder, if using, until smooth and creamy.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving and up to 2 days. (If refrigerating for more than an hour or so, drain off any liquid that pools at the bottom of the bowl just prior to serving.)

Make the fish tacos

In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, chipotle powder, and 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste. Pat each fish fillet dry and lightly dredge in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat and place 2 fillets at a time in the pan. Gently fry for 3 to 6 minutes, until the underside of the fish turns opaque. Use a spatula to flip the fillets and cook until opaque throughout. Place on a paper towel-lined plate, drain the remaining oil from the pan, and repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining 2 fillets.

To serve, for each fish fillet, heat tortillas in a clean skillet in batches with the 1 remaining tablespoon oil, flipping them once, then place them on a plate.

Assemble the tacos

Cut each fillet in half and divide the fish evenly among the tortillas. Toss the slaw to recombine and then add a spoonful to each taco along with some cilantro, if desired. (Chances are you will have excess slaw. Just cover it and stash it in the fridge and serve it alongside pulled pork, grilled chicken, or just about anything.)

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    Gluten-Free Fish Tacos Variation

    • Simply skip the step where you dredge the fish in flour and instead sprinkle the fish with the chipotle powder and salt.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I love fish tacos, and these were really good. I used tilapia, and it held up really well to the frying. I think that a little more salt could be used in the flour and chipotle mixture, but this was fixed with a light salting after removing the fish from the oil. I especially liked the slaw and think that it really made the dish. The slaw held up nicely after the initial refrigerator time. The next day, it was also okay but did require some mixing because there was more liquid. The flavors were still there and undiluted. If you like things a bit spicier, you could definitely increase the chipotle, or add a nice spicy salsa. Although the recipe didn’t include these items, I think that the addition of a nice salsa and even guacamole would really bring together the flavors. The tacos are good on their own, but these items would just take it to another level. These were really good fish tacos that I will definitely be making again in the future.

    How would I describe this fish tacos recipe? Simply delish! I used a nice Pacific cod, which was the perfect complement to the bold chipotle slaw. My intention was to make the recipe exactly as written. I must say I was on track to do so until I saw the basket of market-fresh cherry tomatoes on the counter. At the last moment I added a handful of these flavor bombs, diced in half, to the slaw. We really enjoyed the freshness and bright flavor the tomatoes added to the slaw as well as the beautiful color. I did find that the recipe made much more chipotle dressing than required to dress the slaw. This worked perfectly for me as I used a bit of the remaining sauce to dress the tortilla before layering the pan-fried fish and slaw on the tortilla. As my kids like white extra-sharp Cheddar cheese on their fish tacos, I made half the batch with the addition of the cheese. Both versions were divine. My teenage daughter said we should have these more often. Some augmentations that would be fun to try in the future: Add jicama for crunch and a way to tone down the sauce, should it be too spicy for your diners. Although totally out of the norm for Baja-style fish tacos, I enjoy a garnish of fresh tomato salsa on my fish tacos and, if I’m really hungry, a slice of avocado as well. I also plan to make the slaw separately to serve with other dishes—grilled/fried/baked chicken, pork roast, pulled pork, and just about any seafood plate. This slaw would be the perfect zesty side dish or salad for picnics or buffets. The ingredients are available year-round, which makes this recipe good for any day of the year.


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    1. I made a variation (a wide variation) of this last night and it was DELICIOUS!! My youngest daughter initially said, “ewwww fish tacos??? I’m NOT eating THAT! I will make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!!” I told her she HAD TO at least try it! So, that is where the variation came in.

      All 5 of us are overweight, 4 are obese. We are trying to eat healthier, preferably Paleo-type eating or GF at least. So, I made my slaw which is close to this recipe. I added the lime juice, 1/4 of a very thinly sliced red onion, and one jalapeño. My slaw also includes celery seeds. I didn’t bread the fish nor did I use oil in the pan. I used a GOOD non-stick pan. I did not have the spices here either. We just got snow and ice. Our roads are pretty bad so I didn’t go out. I just made do w what I had. I used taco seasoning. It was pretty good but I believe the cumin & chipotle powder would have been better. Will do a review when I can do it up RIGHT!! 🙂

    2. Just made the coleslaw and it’s delicious. Substituted chipotle powder for smoked paprika, as that’s all I had, and I omitted the cumin. It’s my favorite coleslaw. (Every time I try a new one, I’m never quite happy, but I will need to search no further in the future.) Thank you!

    3. If you salt your cabbage and let it drain in a colander for a couple of hours before adding the dressing you won’t get that weeping.

    4. Yes! This is almost exactly my fish taco. Never liked the battered version — the batter gets soggy and ick! I do give my fish a bit of a ceviche treatment first and fry them in coconut oil. Those two steps really make a fish taco for me.

        1. It’s not a true ceviche. I don’t want to cook the fish that way, but I put fillets in a zipper bag with some sliced onion, a few cracked peppercorns and a good squeeze of lime juice (I salt them before frying) — maybe as much as a tablespoon per fillet. I only leave it there for about 10 minutes, while I prep the rest of the stuff so it’s all ready when I start to fry the fish. I like the little tang it gives the fish with making it taste pickled. And frying in coconut oil gives it a light tropical kind of hint. Works for me anyway. 😉 Oh, and I usually use snapper or tilapia. Sometimes I fry the onion from the marinade until crispy and use it for a garnish.

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