Pacific rockfish is the star of the show in these rockfish tacos with cilantro lime tartar sauce. The fish is perfectly seasoned and blackened then the juicy chunks are tucked into warm tortillas with crunchy cabbage slaw and drizzled with a tangy tartar sauce. They're quick and healthy to make for a light dinner that's ready in 20 minutes!

Rockfish tacos are a fun, easy meal to make on a Friday night with a watermelon margarita or fresh pineapple margarita with sweet and spicy rim salt in hand.

Blackened Rockfish Tacos on a plate with cilantro lime tartar sauce

When it comes to tacos, they need a few key components: something hearty (rockfish), something crunchy (cabbage slaw), and something creamy (cilantro lime tartar sauce), with lots of fresh cilantro and lime. This simple yet intensely delicious fish dish is all that and more. You'll want to add it to your weekly meal rotation because it's also the perfect light and healthy dinner, and it's ready in just 20 minutes!

What is rockfish

Pacific rockfish—also known as rock cod or Pacific snapper is a versatile lean white fish with a delicate flavor profile. It's a common near-shore fish found in the waters along North America's west coast. There are many different types of rockfish and they can vary in shape and size but what they have in common is their firm texture and mild flavor. Cooking rockfish is easy and quick, and because it's so adaptable, it makes a great choice for using in recipes where a fish type isn't specified.

blackened rockfish in a pan for tacos

How to make rockfish tacos

It's easy to make rockfish tacos in just a few simple steps:

  1. Make the tartar sauce. In a small bowl, mix some tartar sauce, lime juice, and cilantro.
  2. Prepare the rockfish. Pat the fish dry with paper towels and then season it on both sides.
  3. Cook the fish. Heat some oil and butter in a pan and sear it until it's deeply colored then break it into several smaller pieces.
  4. Make the slaw. Mix shredded cabbage with some of the cilantro lime tartar sauce.
  5. Assemble the tacos. Pile some slaw into a tortilla, top it with a few rockfish pieces and any other toppings, then drizzle the top with a spoonful of cilantro lime tartar sauce.

Full recipe instructions are in the recipe card below.

Ingredients you'll need to make these fish tacos

You'll need just three ingredients for the cilantro lime tartar sauce:

  • Tartar sauce – a store-bought version works perfectly as a base for the sauce.
  • Cilantro – adds its unique fresh flavor.
  • Lime juice – adds tang and brightens it up.

Here's what you'll need to make the rockfish tacos:

  • Rockfish – has a juicy, delicate flavor. You can substitute another white fish like tilapia or snapper.
  • Blackening spice – if you don't have blackening spice, cajun seasoning makes a great (and spicy!) substitute. Or taco seasoning and fajita seasoning also work well and only have a little heat.
  • Oil – any neutral cooking oil.
  • Butter – adds a rich flavor to the fish and helps prevent it from sticking to the pan.
  • Cabbage – for that wonderful crunch.
  • Tortillas – you can use your favorite kind, flour or corn work great.
  • Toppings – minced red onion, avocado slices, and lime wedges are what we used in the pictures, but you can have fun and add your favorites. Our easy guacamole recipe goes really well with these tacos!
rockfish tacos on a plate with cilantro lime tartar sauce

Rockfish Tacos: Frequently Asked questions

Can I use a different type of fish?

Yes! Any type of firm white fish like lingcod, red snapper, or tilapia works well. Or go for a richer flavor and try salmon.

What kind of tortillas should I use?

Either corn or flour tortillas work great. We like using small, 4-inch soft tortillas, but larger ones work, too.

How long does the fish last in the fridge?

The fish will taste best when it's freshly cooked. However, leftovers will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 3 days.

How to serve rockfish tacos with cilantro lime tartar sauce

These tacos are a meal on their own, but we love serving them with a side of crispy tortilla chips and some easy guacamole, chipotle guacamole dip, or corn salsa.

To make it a heartier meal, or for serving to a crowd, try them with our spicy mexican rice or loaded food truck mexican nacho fries.

When to serve rockfish tacos

Tacos are such a festive and fun food to eat. Here are some times we love to enjoy them:

  • On a patio in the sun with a fizzy lime margarita!
  • A quick and healthy weeknight dinner or afternoon snack.
  • Any kind of gathering like a summer backyard hangout, by the pool, birthday party, cinco de mayo, or other special occasion (tip: a Pacific red snapper tacos on a plate
    rockfish tacos on a plate with cilantro lime tartar sauce

    Blackened Rockfish Tacos

    Pacific rockfish is the star of the show in these rockfish tacos with cilantro lime tartar sauce. The fish is perfectly seasoned and blackened then the juicy chunks are tucked into warm tortillas with crunchy cabbage slaw and drizzled with a tangy cilantro lime tartar sauce. They're quick and healthy to make for a light dinner that's ready in 20 minutes!

    If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!

    5 stars (3 ratings)
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    Ingredients

    Cilantro Lime Tartar Sauce

    • ¾ cup tartar sauce, use your favorite brand
    • ¼ cup minced cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice

    Rockfish Tacos

    • 1 ½ lb rockfish
    • 2 tablespoons blackening spice, see notes
    • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 2 cups shredded cabbage
    • 12 4-inch tortillas, warmed
    • Minced red onion, cilantro, and avocado slices, and lime wedges, for serving

    Instructions 

    • In a small bowl, mix the tartar sauce, cilantro, and lime juice.
      ¾ cup tartar sauce, ¼ cup minced cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice
      image for recipe instruction
    • Dry the rockfish with paper towels then season both sides with blackening spice.
      1 ½ lb rockfish, 2 tablespoons blackening spice
      image for recipe instruction
    • Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the rockfish. Let it cook undisturbed for 4 minutes then give the pan a shake so the fish releases from the pan. Flip the rockfish over and let it cook for 2 more minutes then take the pan off of the heat and break the fish into many smaller pieces.
      1 tablespoon cooking oil, 1 tablespoon butter
      image for recipe instruction
    • While the fish is cooking, make the slaw by mixing ¼ cup of the cilantro lime tartar sauce with the shredded cabbage.
      2 cups shredded cabbage
      image for recipe instruction
    • To serve the tacos, pile some slaw on a warm tortilla, top with a few pieces of blackened rockfish, any or all of the toppings, and a spoonful of the cilantro lime tartar sauce.
      12 4-inch tortillas, Minced red onion, cilantro, and avocado slices, and lime wedges
      image for recipe instruction

    Notes

    If you don't have blackening spice, cajun seasoning makes a great (and spicy!) substitute. Or taco seasoning and fajita seasoning also work well and only have a little heat. 
    Serving: 1 = 3 tacos, Calories: 492kcal, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 96mg, Sodium: 1410mg, Potassium: 834mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 288IU, Vitamin C: 16mg, Calcium: 139mg, Iron: 3mg
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