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These easy fish tacos with a creamy cilantro lime slaw take advantage of frozen fish sticks for a shortcut dinner that’s ready in just 20 minutes! Serve the crispy fried fish tacos with tortillas and all of your favorite toppings — like sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro, cheese, and avocado. They’re delicious alongside tortilla chips, salsa, guacamole, or grilled fresh corn!

Overhead shot of a table with chips, limes, beer, and easy fish tacos on a plate

Fried Fish Tacos

When you’re craving crispy fried fish tacos, but you don’t have the time to deep-fry fish, or when you want grilled fish tacos but the weather isn’t cooperating, these easy fish tacos — made with fish sticks — are the perfect solution! The shortcut dinner is ready in about 20 minutes, and it’s bursting with fresh flavor from the cilantro lime slaw. Set out all of the toppings and let your family members customize their plates. This is a simple meal that keeps everyone happy!

Which fish is best for tacos?

The good news is that almost any kind of fish can be thrown into a taco! It’s really a matter of personal preference, availability, your budget, and whether you like fried crispy fish tacos, or if you prefer grilled fish or pan-fried fish. The key to easy fish tacos? Store-bought frozen fish sticks that you can bake in minutes for a crispy, golden brown exterior! They’re the perfect size for corn or flour tortillas, and they have a mild flavor that pairs well with any of your favorite toppings.

Other good options for fish tacos include:

  • White-fleshed, mild, saltwater fish like cod, snapper, grouper, mahi mahi, flounder, and halibut. These can be pricey, so keep the toppings simple and let the fresh taste of the fish shine through.
  • Salmon works well for grilled fish tacos, and has a stronger flavor that stands up well to spicy rubs or seasoning.
  • Farmed, freshwater fish like tilapia and catfish are also popular options for fish tacos. Since the flavor of these varieties isn’t as good as their white-fleshed, saltwater counterparts, you’ll want to load them up with plenty of zesty toppings.
Process shot showing how to make easy fish tacos with frozen fish sticks

Fish Taco Slaw

A cool, crisp cabbage slaw is a classic component for almost any fish taco. Some fish taco slaws are creamy, with a mayo or yogurt-based dressing, while others are dressed in vinaigrettes for more acidic flavor. This particular slaw includes both mayonnaise and lime juice, so you get the best of both worlds: a cool, creamy base that’s brightened up with citrus. The crunchy, tangy slaw is a delicious contrast to the rich, warm, fried fish sticks.

Tossing together fish taco slaw in a bowl

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for our favorite easy fish tacos with slaw. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Frozen fish sticks: I buy a big bag of Gorton’s crunchy breaded fish sticks, but just about any brand or variety will work.
  • Mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar, kosher salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper: make the dressing for the slaw.
  • Cabbage: the base of the slaw. I’ve shown red cabbage here, but you can use a head of green cabbage, or even purchase a bag of coleslaw mix for another great shortcut.
  • Green onions: add mild onion flavor to the coleslaw.
  • Fresh cilantro or fresh parsley: herbs that give the slaw even more fresh flavor. Cilantro is a classic taco ingredient, but parsley is a great alternative if you don’t care for the taste of cilantro.
  • Jalapeño pepper: an optional ingredient that makes the slaw spicy. Use as much or as little as you like, or omit the hot pepper altogether.
  • Tortillas: small corn tortillas or flour tortillas will both work well. Warm the tortillas in the microwave, in the oven, or on the stovetop for the best flavor and texture.
Side shot of crispy fried fish tacos with coleslaw on a plate

How to Make Fish Tacos

Frozen fish sticks are a key shortcut to getting these easy fish tacos on the table in less than 30 minutes. Perfect for hungry families on busy nights!

  1. Bake the fish sticks according to the package directions.
  2. While the fish is in the oven, make the slaw by whisking together the dressing in a large bowl.
  3. Add the cabbage, green onions, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper. Toss to coat the veggies in the dressing, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Set the slaw aside until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.
  4. Place two fish sticks on each warm tortilla.
  5. Top each taco with some of the slaw, as well as any other toppings of choice.
  6. Serve immediately!
Square side shot of a dinner table with easy fish tacos and slaw

Toppings

We like to set out a taco bar and let each person assemble his own plate of tacos. Here are some toppings that work well with fish tacos:

  • Salsa or chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Sliced avocado, or use the fresh avocados to make this easy homemade guacamole
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions, minced red onion, or quick pickled red onions
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Sliced olives
  • Lime juice squeezed from fresh limes; lime wedges
  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Black beans or pinto beans
  • Canned corn, grilled corn, or frozen (thawed) corn
  • Sliced radishes

What to Serve with Crispy Fish Tacos

Here are some easy sides that are usually served with fish tacos:

Fish Taco Sauce

Top your fish tacos with salsa and the creamy cabbage slaw, or make your own fish taco sauce to drizzle over each serving. A typical fish taco sauce (or “lime crema”) includes a lot of the same ingredients that I use in the slaw dressing here, such as sour cream, greek yogurt, mayo, lime juice, garlic powder, and cayenne or hot sauce.

Storage

Store leftovers in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner the next day! The slaw will last in an airtight container for 3-4 days, but the cabbage will definitely get softer the longer it rests. Leftover fish sticks will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days. To reheat the fish sticks, microwave until warmed through, or bake in a 350°F oven until crisp and warm again, flipping halfway through. I do not recommend freezing the slaw or the baked fish sticks.

Hands holding a fish taco with slaw and other toppings

Recipe Variations

  • Season the fish sticks with spices like cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder for even more taco flavor.
  • Instead of using frozen fish sticks, you can grill salmon, use blackened salmon, skillet shrimp, or other grilled or pan-fried white fish fillets such as cod, tilapia, or halibut.
  • Skip the homemade slaw and use a store-bought coleslaw instead. You can even add some lime juice and/or lime zest to a prepared slaw for that bright, citrus touch.
  • In lieu of the jalapeno pepper, make the slaw spicy with cayenne pepper, sriracha, or another hot sauce.

Tips for the Best Fish Tacos Recipe

  • Warm the corn tortillas of flour tortillas before serving. You can do this by wrapping them in foil and putting them in the oven for a few minutes, by wrapping them in damp paper towels and microwaving them, or by charring them over a gas burner on the stovetop.
  • Flip the fish sticks halfway through the baking time so that they get crispy on both sides.
  • Scale the recipe up or down to accommodate the number of folks at your table. For instance, double all of the ingredients to feed 8 people, or cut everything in half to serve 2. The frozen fish sticks make these adjustments particularly easy!
Close up side shot of easy fish tacos with slaw on a plate with fresh herbs and lime wedges

More Taco Recipes to Try

Square side shot of easy fish tacos with slaw on a plate with chips in the background

Easy Fish Tacos with Slaw

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 11 minutes
Total: 21 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 320 kcal
These easy fish tacos with a creamy cilantro lime slaw take advantage of frozen fish sticks for a shortcut dinner that’s ready in just 20 minutes!

Ingredients
  

  • 16 frozen fish sticks (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (red or green cabbage is fine, or use a prepared coleslaw mix for a shortcut)
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 8 small flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • Optional, for serving: salsa, guacamole or sliced avocado, lime wedges, sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, sliced radishes, hot sauce

Instructions

  • Bake the fish sticks according to the package instructions.
  • While the fish is in the oven, prepare the slaw. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, sugar, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. Add the cabbage, green onions, cilantro (or parsley), and jalapeño pepper (if using). Toss to coat the vegetables in the dressing. Taste and season with extra salt and pepper, if necessary. Let the slaw sit until ready to serve.
  • Place two fish sticks on each tortilla; top with some of the slaw. Add extra toppings if desired; serve any remaining slaw on the side.

Notes

  • Season the fish sticks with spices like cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder for even more taco flavor.
  • Instead of using frozen fish sticks, you can grill salmon, use blackened salmon, skillet shrimp, or other grilled or pan-fried white fish fillets such as cod, tilapia, or halibut.
  • Skip the homemade slaw and use a store-bought coleslaw instead. You can even add some lime juice and/or lime zest to a prepared slaw for that bright, citrus touch.
  • In lieu of the jalapeno pepper, make the slaw spicy with cayenne pepper, sriracha, or another hot sauce.
  • Warm the corn tortillas of flour tortillas before serving. You can do this by wrapping them in foil and putting them in the oven for a few minutes, by wrapping them in damp paper towels and microwaving them, or by charring them over a gas burner on the stovetop.
  • Flip the fish sticks halfway through the baking time so that they get crispy on both sides.
  • Scale the recipe up or down to accommodate the number of folks at your table. For instance, double all of the ingredients to feed 8 people, or cut everything in half to serve 2. The frozen fish sticks make these adjustments particularly easy!

Nutrition

Serving: 2tacos plus 1/4 of the slawCalories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 10gFat: 13gSodium: 449mgSugar: 32g
Keyword: crispy fish tacos, easy fish tacos, fish taco slaw, fish tacos with slaw
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Mexican, Tex-Mex
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I was looking for a quick kid friendly dinner and I was a little skeptical due to the frozen fish sticks, but I really enjoyed this! Very fast and tasty. Thanks!