Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Crema

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Inspired by a Bon Appétit article from a few summers ago, I set my cast iron skillet on my grill as it preheated, and when it was smoking hot, I added a little oil, then lowered in a thin fillet of haddock. The result? Perfectly seared, unmangled fish in just about 3 minutes. I will be using this technique to grill fish all summer.

I've been grilling tortillas directly on the grates after the fish finishes cooking, then breaking the fish into pieces and serving it taco-style with slaw, cilantro-lime crema, and lots of fresh lime juice. The slaw and crema can be made a day in advance.

Here's the slaw recipe I've been making.

On the fish, I like to use cayenne for both color and heat, but if you are sensitive to heat, you can use other dried spices such as paprika, cumin, or dried ancho chile.
Alexandra Stafford

Serves: 2
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 8 min


Cilantro-Lime Crema

  • 1 cup (heaping) cilantro, about 1 ounce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos

  • 1 pound fillet of haddock, cod, or grouper (or other), 1/2- to 1-inch thick
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste, see above
  • Grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • Tortillas, (I like Whole Foods' soft corn tortillas)
  • Slaw, see above
  • Lime wedges for serving
In This Recipe


Cilantro-Lime Crema

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the cilantro with the lime juice until fine. Add the sour cream, sugar, and salt, and purée until smooth. Taste, adjusting seasoning with more salt or lime juice. Alternatively, mince the cilantro by hand, then add the remaining ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos

  1. Set a cast iron skillet on a grill. Close the grill, set it to high, and let it heat up to 550° F or 600° F.
  2. Meanwhile, if the fillet of fish is long, cut in half so that it will fit in your skillet. season the fish generously with salt on both sides. Season with cayenne according to your heat tolerance—go light if you are sensitive to heat. Gather your tools for the grill: a reliable potholder, a spatula, a clean platter for the cooked fish, the grapeseed oil, the tortillas, and a plate to put them on.
  3. Lift the lid of the grill. Pour a tablespoon or so of grapeseed oil into the hot skillet—enough to coat the bottom in a thin layer. Using the potholder if necessary to bring the skillet closer to you, carefully lower the fish into the skillet. If you are slow and controlled, the oil won’t splatter.
  4. Close the lid. Set a timer for 3 minutes. Check the fish by prodding it with a spatula—it should flake fairly easily. If it doesn’t, close the lid and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the fish with a spatula, using the potholder as needed, and transfer it to a platter.
  5. Turn off the grill. Throw the tortillas on the grill, leaving it open. Check after 20 seconds or so, flip, and cook for another 20 seconds or until tortillas are soft and have nice grill marks on each side. Transfer to a platter.
  6. To serve: Spoon slaw into tortillas. Break fish into pieces over top. Drizzle with crema. Squeeze fresh lime over top and serve with more lime on the side.

More Great Recipes:
Fish Taco|Mexican|Lime Juice|Seafood|Sour Cream|Cilantro|Grill/Barbecue|Cast Iron|Summer|Entree

Reviews (15) Questions (0)

15 Reviews

marilyn September 23, 2018
Has anyone tried making these in a wood-fired pizza oven?
Tad August 22, 2017
I always wondered about putting any milk products on my fish and any Iberian I talked to about it said it's a no-no for them.
Kait R. July 26, 2017
Substituted sour cream with Greek yogurt – was a success!
gail April 14, 2017
Just made this tonight, it was great and taught me a new way to fry fish outside! What else can I use the slaw with as it was delicious also
Author Comment
Alexandra S. April 15, 2017
So happy to hear this! If you have leftover slaw, you could add poached, shredded chicken to it and more vegetables: shredded carrots, scallions, more herbs and turn it into more of a main course salad.
Lorrie H. September 14, 2016
My family and I loved this! The only change I might make is to skip the dressing for the slaw as the cilantro lime crema made enough for the slaw and for topping the tacos and was so yummy. Thanks for the recipe!
Author Comment
Alexandra S. September 14, 2016
Fantastic! So happy to hear this. Always nice to know when you can skip a step, too :)
Ceege August 21, 2016
How do I find the slaw to go with these fish taco' page only shows the
Cilantro-Lime Crema and Skillet-Grilled Fish Tacos.

Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 22, 2016
Sure thing! It's up in the notes section of the recipe, too, for future reference.
Cat50 August 21, 2016
These were amazing. The cilantro-lime crema was so good-we had the leftover crema on salads and ate the remaining slaw on it's own the next day! The only change I will make next time will be to probably just broil or pan fry the fish in a skillet as my well-seasoned (I thought) cast iron pan was a giant mess of stuck fish! If your pan isn't seasoned it will stick! This is a new, quick weeknight favorite. Thanks!
Author Comment
Alexandra S. August 21, 2016
So happy to hear this! Everything except the sticking of course :( Broiling is a great idea! Love the idea of drizzling the creme on salads. Yum.
Kevin F. July 10, 2016
Can't get enough of these tacos! Super easy to make, and they were a huge hit with the family. Loved the slaw recipe too, as I am a bit of a slaw nut and enjoyed trying this variation.
Author Comment
Alexandra S. July 10, 2016
So happy to hear this, Kevin! And I'm so glad you like the slaw, too. Thanks for writing in!
Chloroph July 3, 2016
Where is the recipe for the slaw?
Author Comment
Alexandra S. July 3, 2016
Here you go: