Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce

Fish + Chipotle Aioli + Coleslaw + Corn Tortillas = Summer Fish Tacos! I love fish and grilling it just a little to give them that gorgeous blackened look makes them even more desirable. I don’t know the origin of fish tacos, some say Ensenada, Mexico, none-the-less I love them. The first time I ate fish tacos was just after college in Ensenada many moons ago. I remember sitting on the rooftop of a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching the sunset and having a big plate of fish tacos and an ice cold beer (sigh). I remember the fish being lightly battered and perfectly fried, however, for this recipe I went with a lighter version and decided to go with a blackened finish instead.

I coated the tilapia with a wet and spicy paste and grilled it, piled some into a warm corn tortilla, added some coleslaw, drizzled some creamy chipotle aioli sauce over the slaw and fish, and finished it off with a squeeze of lime. The explosion of flavors is definitely worth repeating more this summer.

I couldn’t decide between a savory and sweet coleslaw so I made two and the jury is still out as to which one is better. The savory slaw is simple and screams summer with its fresh cabbage, lime juice, and cilantro while the red coleslaw is a sweet delicate contrast to the slightly spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Either way both slaws are great with this blackened tilapia.

If you are entertaining this summer and want to serve up an easy summer meal this definitely fits the bill. Give both coleslaws a try and let us know what your favorite is.

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce

Yield: 2 to 4 Servings


Sweet Red Coleslaw:
4 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
½ carrot, shredded
1 cup sugar
1 cup white distilled vinegar
2 tablespoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon celery seed
¼ teaspoon salt

Savory Cilantro Lime Coleslaw:
4 cups finely shredded cabbage
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste

Chipotle Aioli Sauce:
1 cup Crema Mexicana or sour cream
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
Salt to taste

Tilapia Tacos:
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon crushed red peppers
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray
4 to 8 corn tortillas
Lime wedges


Sweet Red Coleslaw:

Combine cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.

In a small saucepan bring the sugar, vinegar, coconut oil, celery seed, and salt to a low boil. Add to the cabbage and carrots, toss well, cover and store overnight. Drain all the liquid from the slaw before serving. This slaw was at its prime after 2 days of marinating. If you can, marinate for 2 days I’d highly recommend it.

Savory Cilantro and Lime Coleslaw:

Combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well and chill about 1 hour before serving.

Chipotle Aioli Sauce:

Combine crema, chipotles, adobo sauce, and onion in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Salt to taste.

Blackened Tilapia Tacos:

Combine spices, honey, and lime juice in a bowl. Using your hands, coat both sides of the tilapia.

Spray the grates of your grill or hot griddle before heating. Heat the grill or hot griddle. I like using my small kitchen griddle that has ridges, leaving charred lines on my fish. Grill each side about 3 to 4 minutes.

Warm corn tortillas on a comal (hot griddle); add chunks of blackened tilapia, coleslaw, and drizzle with spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Serve with lime wedges.

Written by Veronica / Photos by Veronica

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  1. Ay que rico! My mouth is literally watering right now looking at this pics.

    • Hola Eliana, glad you like the pix. My mouth is watering just remembering the tacos from last week’s dinner. My husband fell in love with these tacos too.

  2. I probably won’t make this today, but I may just have to go to my favorite fish taco restaurant and have a reasonable substitute. These look wonderful and the coleslaw and aioli are such lovely condiments to serve with them.

    • Thank you, the aioli sauce does compliment the fish beautifully. I love fish tacos, lucky you to have a restaurant that caters to your fish taco cravings. These were soooo easy to make, I just may have to make them again this weekend.

  3. I love this recipe. I don’t have a good blackened fish taco recipe and will be trying this one very soon. But how will I ever decide on which coleslaw? 🙂

    • Ahhh, that is the hard part, but I do have to admit I love both slaws for different reasons. The red one is a delicious contrast to the aioli spicy chipotle crema. You will have to try both and give us your thoughts on both…good luck…look forward to hearing back.

  4. Not quite my usual fare in Australia, tho’ tacos are on many restaurant menus. Love the savoury coleslaw and the chilli enriched aioli and the way you do your fish – the sweet coleslaw perchance has a tad too much sugar for yours truly 🙂 !

    • Hola EHA, wow, all the way from Australia?? Benvenida amiga!! We hope you give both recipes a try as is on your first go around and then perhaps change it up a bit next time around. I do have to admit that the sweet red slaw is a delicious contrast to the spicy chipotle aioli crema bringing all the flavors together. Thanks for stopping by and we hope you visit us again.

  5. I’m breathless…..WOW! …..and hungry! Thank you!

    • Gracias Jill…they are super easy tacos to prepare. I think that’s why I loved the recipe so much. Just got some fresh honey from a neighbor here in Germany so I may just have to make some more using the fresh batch of honey.

  6. Wow, these fish tacos truly look amazing and your recipe for chipotle aioli sauce sounds delicious. Seafood is the perfect meal for summer! Thanks for sharing! – Ramona from Sam’s Club

    • Hola Ramon from Sam’s Club…Thanks for stopping by to visit. I hope you’ve had a chance to dive in and try out the recipes. Please make sure to stop by again soon.

  7. I made these tonight and the family loved them!!! Definitely a winning recipe! I am so glad I printed it out to make! This was my first foray into making fish tacos. I made the cilantro coleslaw….WOW!!! JUST WOW!!!

    • Hiiiiiii Lisa, so GREAT to hear from you. I’m so glad you tried the recipe and loved it. Next time you will have to try the red cabbage coleslaw, it too is pretty yummy. Thanks for stopping by to visit and leaving a comment. I hope to hear from you again on our comment section of our blog…hope all is well in California.

  8. it looks amazing and u described very well. i will try this and let u know. u also visit to my website check some indian recipe u may like.

  9. I found your blog via Design Sponge and I’m so glad I did. I write a blog about tacos and your recipes are very inspiring! I’d love to try one and write about it if that’s quite alright with you.

    • Hi Tee, we’re glad you found our blog too, Welcome! Of course you can try our recipes and write about it. Thank you for wanting to share the Muy Bueno food amor! Please let your readers know that we inspired you to try our recipe by mentioning our blog with a link to the actual recipe on our blog. We’re very excited to hear what taco or other recipe you choose. Keep us posted!

  10. These were incredible and SO fresh-tasting! I’ve yet to find good fish tacos in my city (Kentucky is lacking in great seafood options), but these tasted like I was back in California with saltwater in my hair and an ice cold beer in hand. I went with the savory cole slaw and it’s amazing– I might make another batch just to eat by itself! I’ve already written this one down and added it to my recipe box. This is my first time to your blog and if these tacos are any indication, I’ll be spending a lot more time browsing your recipes! Thanks for sharing, ladies!

    • Hi Shawn, we are so glad you found us too! I love fish tacos and I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe as much as I enjoyed trying to replicate the very soul of a great tasting and fresh fish taco from Mexico. I agree, these go perfectly with an ice cold cerveza. Feel free to look around and try some more recipes. If you want some other recipes not posted on this site, we just published our first cookbook, now available on Amazon. Enjoy! Hope to hear from you again! Besos!

  11. With The Lent season beginning, I plan on making this our Friday night staple.
    I have made this recipe numerous times and each time I make it for someone new, they fall in love with it! I even made a non fish lover like fish! There really are no negatives for these tacos! Thanks for posting such an easy and great tasting recipe!

  12. These were delicious! Thank you so much for sharing the recipie. I made the savory coleslaw with a bag of broccoli slaw. Combined with the great seasoning on the fish, it was delightful!

  13. Made these dishes for dinner tonite, my family loved the Blackened Tilapia-it’s a keeper!

    • Thanks for trying one of my favorite ways to have Tilapia. I need to make this again this week. Love blackened fish tacos!

    • Yay, glad we could add to your family’s dinner experience…we like “keeper’s” too! thanks for visiting our sight and taking the time to leave such a great comment!

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