Spicy Fish Tacos

Crisp halibut based in chili butter is the perfect taco filling with soft corn tortillas. Add a dollop of homemade avocado crema and a sprinkle of pickled red onions for what just might become your new favorite taco recipe. 

Making Spicy Fish Tacos

Tender whitefish like halibut can always use a little help in the flavor department. That’s why I love to baste the flaky fish in butter as it cooks in a hot pan. The hot butter helps tenderize the meat, while garlic and chipotle peppers infuse it with plenty of flavor. Then all you need to do is wrap your chili butter-basted halibut filets in warm corn tortillas for a satisfying and fresh-tasting dinner on taco Tuesday or any night!

Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions

You can use this same flavor-infusing basting technique to make fish tacos with another flaky white fish like cod or tilapia. It even works for shrimp for chili shrimp tacos. 

Topping Ideas

When it comes to topping your tacos, I can’t get enough avocado crema. It’s light and fluffy like whipped cream, but so savory and flavorful, thanks to lime juice, roasted garlic, and cilantro. I like to use plain Greek yogurt to give my crema some heft without weighing it down with sour cream. The yogurt is just as tangy and delicious. 

For brightness and crunch, other topping ideas include:

  • Pickled red onions. You can make a batch of quick pickles in a matter of minutes. They add a necessary splash of acid to each bite of taco. If you don’t have an onion on hand, try pickling another crunchy veg like radishes, cabbage or carrots. 
  • Fresh cilantro to amp up the green and herbal flavors. 
  • A squeeze of lime for another dash of citrusy brightness. 

Of course, the mixing and matching possibilities are pretty endless when it comes to topping these tacos. The fish is naturally spicy, but if you want another hit of chile you can always add your favorite hot sauce. 


The best part is that this recipe is made for a DIY dinner, so let guests assemble their own tacos with as many toppings as they likes. 

Spicy Fish Tacos

Spicy Fish Tacos

Yield: 4 servings

We love halibut for many reasons, but if you can’t find it or out of the budget this month, you can easily swap out for any firm white fish! Cod, striped bass and tilapia are all great options. If you use a thinner fish like tilapia keep an eye on the cook time as it will need to be reduced pending how thick your cut is. We recommend using a cast iron skillet, as it will support the best buttery crusting and the butter will maintain stability at high heat to avoid smoking or burning the fish. If taken care of properly, a good cast iron pan can be passed down for generations, if you don’t have one already we cannot recommend this invaluable tool enough! If you enjoy spicy foods feel free to double the chilis in adobo to kick up the heat. 



  • 1 pound halibut, cut into 3-4 filets
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

Avocado Lime Crema

  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, skinned and quartered
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon plain Greek yogurt
  • 15 grams (¼ cup) cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (roasted if possible)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt, to taste



  1. Season the halibut filets on both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large cast iron skillet (preferred), melt the butter over medium heat. If you have an apron handy you may want it as the butter can spurt a little. When the butter is melted, immediately add garlic and chopped chipotle peppers. Sauté for about 1 minute to infuse the butter. As soon as the butter starts to sizzle, carefully add the halibut filets and tilt the pan to coat the fish in butter on both sides. 
  3. Cook until a golden brown crust forms around the edges of the fish, 6–8 minutes (depending on thickness, thinner cuts of fish will require much less cooking time!). Carefully flip the filets with tongs and a spatula and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes longer. While the fish cooks, tilt the pan and spoon the chili butter over the fish to baste until the filets are opaque throughout and the butter is brown. Remove from heat.
  4. To make the avocado crema, place the avocado, yogurt, cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, and salt in a blender and purée until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste. 
  5. Optional: Place tortillas on a warm grill or skillet and heat for a few seconds, until pliable. 
  6. To serve, divide the fish between taco shells. Top with avocado crema, pickled red onions, cilantro and lime wedges. 

Storing Fish Tacos and Avocado Crema

If you end up with leftovers after taco night, you’re in luck. You can pack up the fish and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To enjoy it for lunch the next day, reheat it in a 350°F. Oven for 8-10 minutes, until warm. Toss a couple tortillas on the oven rack during the last minute of cooking and you have a tasty and hot chili fish taco for lunch. 

Likewise, the avocado-lime crema will stay fresh for up to 2 days in an airtight container. The lime juice helps keep the avocado green and perky. 

If you’re on board with these spicy and crispy fish tacos, then I think you’ll love what’s coming next! Be sure to follow along on Instagram so you never miss a recipe. Don’t forget to say hi!

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