Main dish Seafood Tex-Mex

Chipotle lime fish tacos

Chipotle lime fish tacos DSC0797

If you’re old enough to remember, you may recall a time when fish tacos were not popular in Texas. While I’m sure some people served them at home, my family did not nor did you see them very often on restaurant menus, even along the coast.

In hindsight it seems odd that my family didn’t think to make fish tacos as my dad often grilled fish for dinner and there were always plenty of tortillas in our kitchen, both corn and flour. Not to mention, my mom made us fish burgers, so why we didn’t make the more appetizing leap to fish tacos is a mystery.

But indeed, it wasn’t until I was living in New York and visiting my mom in Houston that I had my first fish taco at a place called Berryhill’s. The tacos there were all the rage and everyone was talking about them. In hindsight, that chatter reminds me of how people acted over fajitas when they hit the scene in the late 1970s. Moving beyond the Tex-Mex standards of cheese enchiladas and chili con carne was a revelation!

Chipotle lime fish tacos | Homesick Texan

Berryhill’s fish tacos were in the Baja style popularized in Southern California by a man named Rick Rubio. The fish was battered and fried then served in tortillas topped with crunchy cabbage and a creamy dressing. It was stupendous. Of course, fried food is always a pleasure, but fish can be just as delicious when it’s marinated in a flavorful sauce and then quickly cooked in butter.

My first cookbook has a marinated fish taco recipe that calls for a sauce made with guajillo chiles and I love it. (If you want a fried taco, my second book has a beer-battered fish taco that’s also incredible). Though with that guajillo-chile recipe you have to soak the chiles before you can make the sauce, which means a bit of foresight is in order. It’s not too much planning, mind you, but if you’re looking for a fast meal, waiting for the chiles may be a deal breaker.

Enter these chipotle lime fish tacos. During the past few weeks, I’ve been making these at least once a week and they’ve become a favorite addition to my dinner rotation as they take little time and effort to put together. In under an hour, I can have a healthy meal that takes me away from the city and back to the beach.

First you whip up a yogurt dressing with canned chipotle chiles, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. (If you prefer, you can do this a day or so ahead.) Then as you spoon some of the dressing over some firm white filets such as Mahi Mahi, you toss a few more spoonfuls with some shredded cabbage for a smoky, creamy slaw.

Chipotle lime fish tacos | Homesick Texan

You don’t want to keep the fish in the dressing too long as it might turn into ceviche. So after you’ve made the slaw, heat up some tortillas, melt some butter in a hot skillet, add the fish, and in a few short minutes your spicy, satisfying tacos will be done.

And if you’re not a seafood person, I suggest you at least give the chipotle lime yogurt dressing a try. It’s like a spicy, smoky, creamy ranch dressing but with fewer calories. And besides fish, it’s terrific on salads, with chicken, and as a dip for tortilla chips, too.

Chipotle lime fish tacos DSC0797
5 from 2 votes

Chipotle lime fish tacos

Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


Ingredients for the chipotle lime yogurt dressing:

  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle chile pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt

Ingredients for the fish tacos:

  • 4 6- ounce Mahi Mahi filets or other firm white fish
  • 4 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 small red onion, finely diced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup chipotle lime yogurt dressing
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 flour tortillas or corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced, for serving
  • Cilantro, for serving
  • Salsa, for serving
  • Lime slices, for serving


  1. To make the chipotle lime yogurt dressing, place into a blender or food processor the yogurt, mayonnaise, chipotle chile, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, cumin, allspice, and cayenne. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides down if necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings and add salt. You should have about 1 cup.
  2. For the tacos, place the fish in a food-safe, non-reactive container, and pour 1/4 cup of the dressing over the fish and toss to coat. Cover the fish, and let it marinate in the refrigerator from 30 minutes to 1 hour. (I wouldn’t go longer than that as the lime juice may begin to cook the fish.)
  3. Meanwhile, toss the cabbage with the cilantro, onion, lime dressing, lime juice, and cumin. Taste and adjust seasonings and add salt.
  4. To cook the fish, remove it from the marinade and lightly sprinkle the filets with salt. Heat a large skillet on high, and when hot, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the filets to the skillet and turn the heat down to medium. Cook the fish for 2 minutes and then gently flip it over. (If the fish doesn’t release easily from the skillet, let it cook for a few more seconds until you can move it.) Continue to cook on the other side for 2 more minutes or until the fish begins to flake.
  5. Remove the fish from the skillet and cover to keep warm. Heat up the tortillas and then either cut or flake the fish and evenly divide it between the 8 tortillas. Top the tacos with the cabbage slaw, avocado, and cilantro, and serve with salsa, limes, and the remaining chipotle lime dressing on the side.

Recipe Notes


  1. Like you, I had my first fish tacos after I moved away from Texas. I was living in Phoenix while attending graduate school, and I ate my first fish tacos at Rubio's (I also frequented Rubio's during my time in LA/OC and still go there when I visit). When I returned to Texas a couple of years later, a Houston friend introduced me to Berryhill, which was life changing at the time. A few years later, a San Diego friend took me to South Beach Bar and Grille, where I had the best fish tacos I've ever eaten. I consider fish tacos, both fried and grilled, to be more of a Southern California dish, although they are now ubiquitous and many places in Texas (especially Berryhill) do them quite well.

    With all of that said, I am excited to try your recipe. I've been thoroughly enjoying working my way through your two books, and I even have some of my PNW friends ready to buy your books as well.

  2. thejameskitchen

    Lisa, I love both fish tacos (first & second book) and this one is a great addition, especially since you are mentioning time and a faster fish taco is exactly what we need some evenings! Gorgeous chipotle-lime yoghurt sauce with decidedly more yoghurt than mayonnaise – that's what I am doing to lighten pure mayo sauces for years and while we are on the subject, your ranch ahem jalapeno-buttermilk dressing – the best I know. Nicole

  3. THE Tough Cookie

    These sound perfect for a casual weekend dinner when we go to Fire Island! Thanks, Lisa!!!

  4. Lisa Fain

    Travis–You're not alone! I believe most people think of them as Southern Californian but that doesn't mean we Texans can't enjoy them! And I'm so glad you're enjoying my cookbooks!

  5. Lisa Fain

    thejameskitchen–That jalapeño buttermilk dressing can be dangerous! And I was surprised how good the dressing tasted with more yogurt than mayonnaise. I'll be making that switch more often myself.

  6. Lisa Fain

    Gail–They're perfect for the beach! Hope y'all enjoy them!

  7. Anonymous

    Mention of your two books here got me wondering if there are any plans for a third?

  8. So happy to see this recipe! I'll be making it next week for dinner. I love both of your cookbooks and use them all the time.

  9. Lisa Fain

    Pete–Funny you should ask! I just may be working on an idea or two. Y'all will be the first to know!

  10. Lisa Fain

    Ginger–Thank you and enjoy the tacos!

  11. Midnight Agenda

    That makes sense since fish tacos are more of a Baja-Mex food. So glad you enjoyed them. I went to my local Houston Berryhill about 6 years ago and wasn't super impressed. BUT I do appreciate the new converts to fish tacos! YUM!!!

  12. Mike @ Optional Kitchen

    Well you already know I love your battered tacos; I'll have to try these on for size, too! (Though just by looking, I'm pretty sure they fit…)

  13. Lisa Fain

    Midnight Agenda–Yes, they might not have originated in Texas but I'm definitely a fan!

  14. Lisa Fain

    Mike–They're definitely one size fits all!

  15. Good old HEB is selling frozen Mahi Mahi in perfect "stick" portions for fish tacos. Bought some but haven't tried yet. Also love Casique crema for a sauce. Chipotle would be a great addition.

  16. Lisa Fain

    Gail–It was meant to be!

  17. Rocky Mountain Woman

    I had my first fish tacos in Ft. Lauderdale years ago. They were and still are one of the best things I've ever eaten! Can't wait to try your recipe, I'm sure it will be perfect.

  18. Jill Westwood

    Realized it had been too long since visiting your site and here I found Fish Tacos.
    Rubio's actually discovered them in our little fishing village of San Felipe.
    You must come visit sometime. No fast food restaurants but tons of little taco stands where you can eat fish tacos, shrimp cocktail and ceviche to your hearts content.
    Would love to have you visit someday.

  19. I’m a 51 year old Texan from South Texas, by the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve been eating fish tacos since I was a little girl, back in the 1970’s. My parents would take us across to Nuevo Progreso, Mexio and we would eat the best fried fish tacos with cabbage, lime, and guacamole.

  20. Just made these fish tacos last night! My Indian husband had never had fish tacos before, and he was raving about them all night. They were excellent- Thank you!

  21. I forgot to say, though– you have pasted the chipotle dressing ingredients twice in the recipe! so you need to delete one of them, as it’s confusing.

    • Lisa Fain

      Molly–I’m so glad y’all enjoyed the tacos! And thank you for the editing advice. It’s now been corrected.

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