Chili Lime Fish Tacos

Char up the tortillas and slice up some avocados for these savory, fresh, and flaky Chili Lime Fish Tacos piled high with tender chunks of fish. Nothing says sunshine and good vibes like fish tacos. They will instantly turn any meal into a fiesta yet are easy enough for any night of the week.

Chili Lime Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are my favorite food group. I’ve always joked that if I ever win the lottery, I am starting a fish taco food truck at the beach. From chipotle grilled fish tacos to these pan seared halibut tacos, I love them all! A good fish taco is all about allowing the fresh fish to shine and be center stage with just the right supporting actors providing flavor and texture. The tacos caressed in an easy spice rub deliver. Just add a cold cerveza and you can instantly turn any weeknight into a mini vacation for the senses.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Chili Lime Halibut Taco
  • Easy Process – There’s no need to be intimidated about cooking fish. The fish for this recipe is simply seasoned with spices you probably already have and then seared in a hot skillet until golden on the outside and tender, moist, and delicious inside. Just squeeze on a little lime and dinner is done!
  • Quick Cooking – Fish is a lean, quick cooking protein that doesn’t require much prep or hours of marinating. The most time-consuming part is simply cutting up your favorite taco toppings!
  • Customizable – Not only can you have fun customizing your chili lime fish tacos with your favorite toppings, but you can serve up the Tajin fish however you like. Add it to a salad, serve it as a main with sides like charred asparagus or calabacitas con elote, or make it a part of a rice or grain bowl. The options are limitless.


  • Fish I like a firm, white fish for this recipe. I used sweet and buttery halibut sourced from Salmon & Sable where all of the fish is sustainable and wild caught. Other options you could use are cod, haddock, mahi-mahi, and grouper. Use what looks good to you, and what you like. The cooking time and temperature will vary slightly by the variety of fish and how thick it is.
  • Seasoning Blend – The base of the rub for these pan seared fish tacos starts with chili-lime seasoning. It has a sunny bright pop of lime with mild chili flavor. Cumin adds earthiness while chili powder reinforces the chilis used in the chili-lime seasoning. Onion and garlic powder add a savory note and kosher salt enhances all of the flavors. It’s completely optional but I also add chipotle powder for a little smoky heat. You could also use smoked paprika if you don’t like spice.
  • Oil/Butter – Olive oil helps bind the spice mix to the fish while unsalted butter helps create the golden crust on the fish.
  • Fresh Lime – A squeeze of lime at the end adds instant brightness.
  • Cilantro – This is optional but cilantro has its own citrusy flavor and freshness perfect for the final touch.

How to Make Chili Lime Fish Tacos

  • Prepare the rub. Add all of the seasonings to a small bowl and mix to combine.
  • Season the fish. Pat the fish dry. Brush olive oil on both sides of the fish making sure it’s evenly coated.
  • Heat your skillet on medium high. Add the butter and let it melt.
  • Sear the fish. Carefully place the fish into the pan. Allow the first side to cook for 2-3 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets. They should easily release from the pan before you flip them. When they easily release and are a golden color, flip them. Allow the second side to cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the fish is opaque, firm, but still has a spring when you touch it. Depending on the variety of fish you use it should be between 130-135 degrees.
  • Finish with lime and cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime over the fish and garnish with cilantro.
  • Build your tacos. Flake generous chunks of the fish into charred tortillas. Add your favorite toppings such as sliced avocado, grilled Mexican street corn slaw, jalapeno slices, and additional lime and cilantro.

Note on Cooking Temperatures for Fish

How many times have you read a recipe for fish, and the instructions are cook it until it flakes? Often times if you’re cooking fish until it flakes, you’ll wind up with slightly dry fish that you also risk having that fishy flavor. The longer fish cooks, the more its natural oils are drawn out (resulting it in being dry) which can also give it that flavor. Different varieties of fish cook to different internal temperatures. Even something like farm raised salmon vs wild-caught salmon will have different cooking temperatures.

A good rule of thumb when cooking firm white fish is to cook them to 130-135 degrees and then allow them to rest. While the FDA calls for fish to be cooked to 145 degrees, this leads to fish being over cooked. Keep in mind that just like steak, once you remove the fish from the heat it will continue to cook because of carry over cooking. I like to pull most fish at the 130 mark.


My favorite pan for cooking fish is a good cast iron skillet. Not only can I take this to the grill, but it also evenly distributes the heat while also giving fish that gorgeous golden crust. This is an especially great tool if you’re cooking fish skin on and want that crispy skin.

Fish Spatula

Another good tool to have your seafood cooking arsenal is a fish spatula. This flexible spatula easily slides under delicate fish and its slotted texture allows any grease to drain. It’s not just great for fish but for any protein.

Toppings for Fish Tacos

Halibut Tacos
  • Grilled Mexican Street Corn Slaw
  • Pickled Jalapenos
  • Raw Jalapeno Slices
  • Cotija or Queso Fresco Cheese
  • Avocado Slices
  • Cilantro
  • Crema or Sour Cream
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Salsa Verde
  • Roasted Habanero Tomato Salsa


Make sure to store any leftover chili lime fish in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’ll last for up to three days. To reheat it gently warm it in a skillet on low until just warmed through.

Tips From the Beach

Chili Lime Fish Tacos
  • There is nothing worse than over cooked fish. Always cook your fish to temperature, and not until it flakes. Most firm white fish are done at between 130-135 degrees.
  • Make sure your skillet is hot before adding the fish. This will give the fish a beautiful color and crust and allow it to sear instead of steam.
  • Don’t force the flip. If your fish seems like it’s sticking give it another 30-60 seconds of cooking and then try flipping again. It’ll release from the pan when it’s ready.
  • Char or warm your tortillas. This will instantly make them taste fresher and give them better structure.
  • Have fun with your toppings. Think about things that will bring different textures like crunchy slaw or cabbage, and creamy avocado or crema.

Chili Lime Fish Tacos

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Char up the tortillas and slice up some avocados for these savory, fresh, and flaky Chili Lime Fish Tacos piled high with tender chunks of fish.

  • Author: Nicole Stover
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Searing
  • Cuisine: American


Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white fish such as halibut, cod, mahi-mahi, or grouper, cut into fillets
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili lime seasoning, plus extra for serving
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (optional, can also use smoked paprika)
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped, optional


  1. Add all of the spices to a small bowl and mix together.
  2. Pat the fish dry. Brush the olive oil onto both sides of the fish. 
  3. Sprinkle the seasoning evenly over both sides making sure the fish is coated.
  4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add the butter, allowing it to melt.
  5. Carefully place the fish into the hot skillet. Allow the first side to cook for 2-3 minutes or until it easily releases from the pan.
  6. Flip the fish and allow the second side to cook for another 2-3 minutes until golden. The internal temperature should be between 130-135 degrees. The fish should be opaque and firm to the touch but still have spring.
  7. Remove from the heat. Squeeze lime over the top.
  8. Garnish with cilantro and an additional sprinkle of chili-lime seasoning if desired.


  1. Cooking times will vary by the thickness of the fish. 
  2. Always cook to temperature. Most firm, white fish are done at between 130-135 degrees.
  3. Don’t force the flip. Fish will release from the pan when it’s done.
  4. Any firm, white fish can be used for this recipe, but thicker fish is recommended. Cod, grouper, mahi-mahi, and halibut are all great options. Thinner fish like snapper will work but cook much faster and you risk over cooking. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are chili lime fish tacos spicy?

No. Chili lime seasoning is mild and tangy. You can add heat to this by adding the option of chipotle powder.

Do I have to use butter to cook the fish?

No. You can use a high heat, neutral oil like avocado oil if desired.

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