Quick & Easy Crispy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

updated Jul 7, 2020
Quick & Easy Crispy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

These crispy fish tacos start with frozen beer-battered cod fillets, which makes them extra quick to prepare.

Serves4 to 5

Prep10 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Five fish stick tacos sit on a  table next to quartered limes in a bowl, salsa, and pepper.
Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

These crispy fried fish tacos have become a weekly quarantine staple in my household that everyone — including my children — eats with gusto. Not only are they super fast to prepare (just 20 minutes!) but they also transport me, if only for a minute, to my favorite fried fish taco at Gardenias in Cabo San Lucas. One bite of the crunchy fish fillets topped with fresh slaw, herbs, and hot sauce, and I’m practically there in the restaurant in Mexico.

These tacos are incredibly flexible to whatever you have on hand, and start with one smart shortcut that makes them extra quick and easy. Here’s how to make my family’s favorite Miracle Meal.

Credit: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Frozen Beer-Battered Fish Is the Secret to Faster Tacos

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you have to — and I’m all about not doing what I don’t have to, especially during a pandemic. Frying fish is something I’m perfectly capable of doing at home; I know how to batter and fry fresh fish to perfection. But it creates such a mess, the smell lingers for hours no matter how good your ventilation system is, and sometimes I don’t want to. My solution? Frozen beer-battered fish.

Credit: Kitchn

I came across frozen beer-battered cod fillets at my local Whole Foods one night, and gave them a whirl in these tacos to great acclaim. Even my pickiest eater had three. It satisfies my desire for a lighter taco filling for Taco Tuesdays, is an easy way to incorporate more fish into our diets, and significantly cuts down on prep work.

Feel free to use whatever brand you like (we’ve found that the SeaPak Budweiser fillets are extra crunchy and have a bit more of that beer aftertaste, which gives it nice flavor). You can cook the fillets in the oven according package directions, or pop ’em in the air fryer if you want them extra crispy.

All that’s left to do is make a simple slaw and heat up some tortillas. This is a lighter version of a Baja classic, but those missing the creamy element can drizzle sour cream on the finished taco or add a little mayonnaise to the cabbage slaw. We’re a house divided, so I serve these tacos with both corn and flour tortillas that I quickly heat over my gas burner.

Miracle Meals are the family-friendly dinners that save you time, money, and effort — but not at the expense of taste. They’re dishes that allow you to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with the people you love.

Quick & Easy Crispy Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

These crispy fish tacos start with frozen beer-battered cod fillets, which makes them extra quick to prepare.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 4 to 5

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 (12 to 12.5-ounce) packages

    frozen beer-battered cod fillets

  • 1/2

    medium head green or red cabbage

  • 1/2

    medium red onion

  • 5

    medium limes, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the slaw

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pint

    cherry or grape tomatoes

  • 1 bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 12 to 15

    corn or small flour tortillas

  • Salsa or hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare 2 packages frozen fish filets according to package instructions. (If you have an air fryer, it makes them even crispier.) Meanwhile, prepare the slaw and garnishes.

  2. Thinly slice 1/2 head medium cabbage and 1/2 medium red onion, and add both to a large bowl. Squeeze the juice from 2 medium limes over the cabbage. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Toss to combine and refrigerate.

  3. Quarter 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes and place in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and toss to combine. Coarsely chop 1 bunch cilantro. Cut 3 medium limes into wedges.

  4. Warm up 12 to 15 tortillas one at a time in a frying pan on the stove or directly on a gas flame. To assemble the tacos, break a fish filet in half and place in a tortilla. Top with the slaw, cilantro, tomatoes, and salsa or hot sauce if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Recipe Notes

Using pre-made slaw: You can use a bag of pre-shredded cabbage or a slaw mix to make your life easier.

Baja fish tacos: This is a lighter version of a Baja classic, but those missing the creamy element can drizzle sour cream on the finished taco or add a little mayonnaise to the cabbage slaw. Avocado is also an option.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 day.

Credit: Jennifer Zyman

Jennifer Zyman is a restaurant critic, food writer, and noodle enthusiast born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and raised in Atlanta where she lives with her family. She is a graduate of Emory University and California Culinary Academy whose work has appeared in Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Intown Paper, Creative Loafing Atlanta, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Bon Appetit, Serious Eats, Eater Atlanta, Thrillist, and The Blissful Glutton. Follow her on Instagram @jenniferzyman.