Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Cilantro Slaw

By Kate Riley May 17, 2012

When I travel and eat something supremely delicious I can’t help but try to recreate a version at home.  Last weekend I was in Southern Cali and tasted some of the most delicious fish tacos I’ve ever had at BJ’s Restaurant.  The fish inside was grilled (not deep fried) and topped with copious amounts of a cabbage slaw dressed in the tastiest sauce, and yet it still felt light and healthy.  I made it my mission to make a similar version at home.

fish tacos with chipotle lime cilantro slaw


Ingredients for 8 tacos:

8 white corn tortillas

2 tbsp butter

3 or 4 fresh tilapia fillets

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt

¼ cup light mayo

3 limes (1 for dressing, 2 for tacos)

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 chipotle pepper (in adobo sauce)

½ tsp adobo sauce

pinch of salt

1/3 head green cabbage

1/2 head red cabbage

1 cup matchstick (thinly sliced) carrots

fresh cilantro

avocado (optional)


To make Chipotle Lime Cilantro Slaw you’ll need these:


chipotle slaw ingredients

You don’t need avocado until the end, in fact you really don’t need avocado at all, but I think every picture is better with an avocado in it.  Raise your hand if you agree.  Oh good, I’m not alone.

Let me introduce you to my little friend hiding behind the cilantro. You have not lived until you have experienced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they have the most wonderful subtle spice and smoky flavor and I love them with all my heart – you can blend them with a little mayo to make chipotle mayo which is fab on sandwiches, but I digress.

chipotle pepper in adobo sauce


Remove seeds from 1 chipotle pepper and dice.

chipotle peppers


Add diced pepper and a healthy handful of cilantro and ½ tsp of adobo sauce into a small mixer (or blender), mix until finely chopped.  Add yogurt, mayo, vinegar, small pinch of salt, and squeeze of 1 lime.  If you like it a little spicier add another ½ tsp of adobo sauce.

chipotle lime dressing


Slice thinly the green and red cabbage, mix in the matchstick carrots.


Pour chipotle lime cilantro dressing over slaw and blend it all together.



Prepare tilapia by grilling or sauté in pan with 2 tbsp butter 2-3 min on each side on medium high heat until cooked through.  Layer on top of a warmed corn tortilla and give it a squeeze of lime.

lime tilapia


Spoon chipotle lime cilantro slaw on top.

add slaw


How dare you forget avocado!

add avocado

Okay, you can skip the avocado if you’re not a fan (what?) or if you’re counting calories but in my world avocado is a healthy fat so I indulge often and whenever possible.

And since I like ‘em spicy I also add another teaspoon of adobo sauce because, well, it’s adobo sauce.

drizzle adobe sauce

Green taco sauce is nice too. And feel free to add extra pieces of fresh cilantro!

Now dig in.

 fish tacos chipotle lime cilantro slaw




  1. AHH! These are my favorite, I just made them on Sunday for my late Cinco De Mayo party. Even people that don’t eat fish will love these. Love your blog, good to know we love the same foods too.

  2. I have been looking for a great fish taco recipe, Kate! Thank you! :) hope your business trip to NYC went well… And that you caught a show while out East.

  3. yum yum! Anyone know what adobo sauce could be substituted with in the UK? I havn’t ever seen it at the supermarker!

  4. YUM! I love chipotles in adobe too…made a really yummy dip last summer for baked zucchini bites, and oh my. As always, you photographed everything so nicely!

  5. Thanks for the recipe. My husband and I love shrimp tacos (same style, just shrimp not fish) and he replicated our favorite dish at a Mexican restaurant at home. But he didn’t use yogurt – smart move! Love your blog and your style, thanks for sharing.

  6. Boom. Excellent. According to my food preferences I should live in Southern CA. This looks awesome. I made pork carnitas yesterday – put a tenderloin in the slow cooker all day with some other goodies, then topped it with a vinegar carrot slaw.

    And yes, corn tortillas are the way to go. I find that if I wrap 6 or 7 of them in a damp paper towel, then nuke for a minute, they turn out perfectly warm, moist and flexible every time. My wife is gluten free, so we had to make the switch from flour to corn tortillas a while ago. I’m very happy we did though. No comparison in flavor.

  7. These look fantastic! Definitely going to try them. BTW Avocado has fewer calories than butter/margarine or cheese. So even if you are counting calories (count me in to that one at the moment, ugh), you can eat avocados. The thought of not eating them is just too hard …

  8. Great, now I’ve made a mess licking my screen. And now I need to go to the store, because these are for dinner.

  9. Did someone say FISH TACOS!?!? One of my favorite dishes during summer. Your recipes looks fabulous and I’ve been looking for a great sauce recipe – yours looks superb. Thanks so much for sharing.


  10. Ooooh, these are going to win me good wife points! Can’t wait to make them!

  11. I love fish tacos but we are not fans of talapia. Maybe we’ll substitute cod?

  12. I just had to let you know that I made these tonight and they were outstanding . And super easy on top of that! My husband ( who doesn’t really care for cilantro or peppers :) ) could not stop raving about them. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It will be a staple in our house from now on.

  13. this looks so. incredible. i have tried many versions of the fish taco–and though i love them all (what’s not to love about these fresh ingredients?) i haven’t yet found the “right” one. i will try this!

  14. I found these on pinterest and just made them. WOW! So good. thanks so much for sharing! Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum!!!!

  15. Made this for dinner tonight and my husband LOVED it! I’d been looking for a good fish taco recipe to try since we order them when we’re out all the time. Thanks!!

  16. I made these tonight and they were delicious!!! Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  17. My boyfriend and I love, Love LOVED these! They will be in regular rotation, not only because they were phenomenal but also because it was nice and quick!

  18. ooh, I just made PW’s BBQ shrimp tacos and slaw last night, but I’m still pinning this one! I think avocado is such a cali thing!

  19. My husband is SUPER picky. Made these on Thursday and he loved them. I’m so glad we have a new recipe to add to the rotation. Thank you!

  20. I made the slaw this morning to marinade during the day to do the tacos tonight….the dressing is AMAZING!!! I will be making this for my plain salads as well! I used fat free yogurt and mayonnaise and it is delicious and nutritious!! Added 2 peppers so it has awesome kick to it!…but I’m a Louisiana girl and love the spiciness!! Thanks for a great recipe!!!

  21. I’ve made them twice now I like them so much, once with tilapia and once with catfish (tilapia was best). Just one question, both times my dressing turned out very runny and I gently stirred it the 2nd time to see if over-blending was the issue. Your photos make it look quite thick, can you tell me what type of mayo and yogurt you used please? I used Hellman’s mayo and a full fat greek yogurt.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

    • Hi Autumn, I used a plain yogurt in a tub from the store (it’s usually a bit thicker) and regular ol’ Best Foods mayo. I’ve made it three times now and and I ended up tweaking the sauce, as half mayo and half yogurt and skipping the vinegar, kinda liked it better that way!

  22. Thanks Kate! I was wondering if the vinegar was the issue. I’ll try it next time with your tweaks!

  23. I made these fish tacos tonight and they were a HUGE hit with the entire family. Even my 5 year old gobbled his taco up! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe. We will definitely make these again and again.

  24. I made these tonight for my husband and two sons. My husband LOVED it. The kids liked it but didn’t love the sauce – so they basically liked the fish and tortilla shells! LOL! I had some frozen breaded flounder already so I just used that. Thanks for such a great recipe! :)

  25. I JUST realized I used regular vinegar instead of white wine vinegar. LOL! I thought the sauce tasted really vinegary and was going to try it without next time. I’ve never used the white wine kind. Is there a big taste difference?

    • Hi Daphne, I’m not sure which one you used but yes the white wine vinegars have a more delicate taste!

  26. These were delicious and surprisingly very easy. I took some shortcuts… I baked the tilapia, sprinkled with kosher salt, cumin and lime juice at 425 for 15 minutes. I chopped up the whole chipotle pepper- did not seed it. We are Texans so we like it hot ;). I also used a bagged slaw mix and added your delicious dressing. Thank you for this wonderful recipe!

  27. This receipe is AMAZING!! So so delicious!!!! Even my niece that won’t eat fish loved these fish tacos. Absolutely delish!!!

  28. I’m a huge fan of the tacos at BJ’s and you really nailed it with the flavors of this copycat :) I totally cheat to make these REALLY easy and buy some frozen fillets from Whole Foods, and they have a bag of shredded slaw already prepped there too. Makes for a super easy taco tuesday meal after work. Thank you for posting this!

  29. This is a family favorite recipe. I have it bookmarked onto my Home Screen. I’m pretty sure I’ve made these fish tacos 100+ times. Thank you!😊

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