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Pan Fried Fish Tacos with Chipotle Sauce {Gluten Free}

Gluten Free Fish Tacos made with pan fried Tilapia fish, fresh cabbage slaw and spicy chipotle sauce, is a perfect combination and is a great comfort meal for your family. These delicious pan fried fish tacos flavored with creamy chipotle sauce have a tender and flaky texture that is complimented perfectly by the crispy cabbage slaw!

pan fried fish tacos (gluten free)

Gluten Free Fish Tacos made with Tilapia, slowly pan fried is an easy recipe that uses  corn tacos and is a quick recipe to put together. The addition of freshly chopped cabbage, onions and spicy chipotle sauce to the soft tilapia fish makes it super delicious! 

Making this yourself at home allows you to have a truly authentic meal for Taco Tuesday! Feel free to experiment with your favorite sauces and veggies for the taco filling as well! Crispy, tender and delicious, these easy tilapia fish tacos are loaded with a freshly made, tasty cabbage slaw and topped with a smokey chipotle sauce. The whole family will love them and trust us, these fish tacos are totally irresistible!

Why This Recipe Works?

  • Gluten Free.
  • Super quick and easy recipe to make.
  • Each bite is bursting with a combination of  flavors of crispy corn tacos layered with tender flaky tilapia fish and spicy chipotle sauce.
  • Can be made vegan.
  • Healthy Fish Tacos.
  • Low Carb and High protein easy meal.
  • Easily available Ingredients.
  • You can prepare the various components in advance.
  • The Best Pan Fried Fish Tacos ever!!

Ingredients

This recipe uses super easy ingredients that can be obtained from a local store if you don’t already have them in your pantry. Read the Recipe Card for the measurements.

For the Red Cabbage Slaw:

  • Red cabbage – We have used shredded red cabbage for these fish tacos. Shredding the cabbage helps blend flavors easily. You may chop it in any desired shape! You may use any other cabbage, but our kids will tell you that the slaw with red cabbage tastes the best.
  • Carrots – Shredded orange carrots work great for these corn fish tacos. You can use any locally available carrots. 
  • Red onion – Red onions add a mild sweet and spicy flavor to the fish tacos filling.  If you do not have any red onions handy you may also use white onions. Another option is to try pickled onions if you love tangy flavor in your tacos!
  • Cilantro –  Cilantro adds a vibrant color to the tilapia tacos. The fresh cilantro leaves should be finely chopped. You may also use basil leaves as well. 
  • Cider Vinegar –  Adds the perfect tanginess to the cabbage slaw and all veggies added.  The Cider Vinegar gets easily distributed throughout the ingredients.
  • Salt & Black pepper – Add a hint of salt and black pepper to the slaw veggies and they become slightly juicy.

For the Smokey Chipotle Sauce:

  • Sour cream – Adds the perfect sour flavor to the Chipotle Sauce. Another alternative is to use greek yogurt in order to make low carb Chipotle sauce for healthy fish tacos.
  • Mayonnaise – Adds the creamy texture to this chipotle sauce and helps bind all raw veggies of slaw. Make sure to use a good quality mayonnaise, and we prefer to use low-fat Mayo.
  • Lime juice – Lime juice helps balance the sourness of sour cream and helps create a tangy sauce.
  • Chipotle and adobo sauce – These smoked and dried jalapenos mix very well with the mayonnaise and sour cream and are perfect to add some spice to these fish tacos.
  • Garlic clove: Garlic cloves add a nice  touch to the smokey chipotle sauce and can be replaced by oregano seasoning. We prefer the flavor of garlic and love the health benefits as well.
  • Pinch of salt – We have used sea salt. You may use the table salt as well. 
  • Honey – Honey adds mild sweetness to the spicy chipotle sauce. If  you prefer more spice, feel free to leave out the honey. 

For the Fish Tacos:

  • Tilapia – Fish Tacos made with Tilapia are super delicious. You may also use any white-fleshed fish. Remember to clean it properly before using.
  • Olive Oil – We have pan fried the fish fillets on a slow flame using olive oil. You can also use avocado oil or coconut oil. 
  • Corn Starch – Coating the Tilapia with cornstarch before frying helps create a crispy and crunchy fish. Corn starch is gluten free and you may also use rice flour or chickpea flour to coat raw fish pieces. 
  • Garlic powder – Adds an aromatic touch to the cornstarch mix used to coat the fishfillets.
  • Cumin – Cumin powder adds a slight sweet and warm flavor to the cornstarch mix.
  • Chili powder – Adjust the heat as per your taste. We have added a pinch as chipotle is also spicy and while our kids do love spicy food, we wanted to keep this meal kids friendly.
  • Salt & Black pepper – Adds a bit of umami flavor to our crispy fish tacos. You can use table salt or flaky sea salt. 
  • Corn tortillas (6 inch) – To keep it easier, we use store bought corn tortillas. You can use any brand that is locally available. These soft tortillas add great texture to the fish fillets. If you want to use flour tortillas, then this recipe will not be gluten free.
  • Lime – Is used for topping the fish tacos filled with cabbage slaw and chipotle sauce. You may also use green cilantro sauce or red spicy tomato sauce along with chipotle. 
pan fried fish tacos ingredients

Equipment 

Variations 

  • Vegan Fish Tacos: This recipe of fish tacos can be made vegan by using a vegan protein like Tofu or Paneer or any vegan cheese. Pan fry the chunks of marinated Tofu and the same recipe would work without any substitution. 
  • Make Ahead Fish Tacos: For busy mornings, you may make ahead the cabbage slaw and chipotle sauce a day in advance. Also, pan fry the tilapia fish and store it in an airtight container. Reheat the fish fillets in a pan or in the oven and assemble the tacos just before serving. 
  • Air Fryer Fish Tacos: These pan fried fish tacos can be easily made a bit more healthy by frying fish fillets in an air fryer. Be sure to  place the cornstarch coated fish fillets in the air fryer basket. Brush some oil and cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees F. Flip them and apply some oil on the other side and cook again. 
  • Add another fish: You may use any white variety of fish for this recipe of crispy fish tacos. 
  • Add another Protein: You may add scrambled egg along with cabbage slaw to add more protein to these fish tacos. You can also add beans to these fish tacos for the crunchy and crispy flavor. This High Protein fish tacos is a perfect way to have a healthy breakfast or lunch as well!
  • Add another topping: Add Cilantro sauce, avocado chunks, walnut or pecans to make these tacos more delish!

cropped-FishTacos_Hero-scaled-1.jpg

Serving Suggestions

These Gluten Free Fish Tacos can be served with our Easy 4 ingredient Guacamole or a Salsa Dip. For a quick meal, you may have these fish tacos with:

How To Store Leftover Gluten Free Fish Tacos?

You may store the leftover fish tacos in an airtight container and reheat them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F.  

If pan fried fish is leftover, you may always make fresh taco the next day by reheating the fried fish in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes flipping to bake from both sides.

How To Make Pan Fried Fish Tacos

Step 1: Make Red Cabbage Slaw

  • In a large bowl, add all of your slaw ingredients; red cabbage, carrots, red onions, cilantro, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
make red cabbage slaw

Step 2: Make Smokey Chipotle Sauce

  • In a medium bowl, combine all chipotle sauce ingredients; mayo, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle in adobo sauce, garlic, salt and honey. Whisk until well blended and set aside.
make the smokey chipotle sauce

Step 3: Fish Taco Spice Mix

  • In a medium size dish or bowl whisk together cornstarch and all of your spices; salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and chili powder. 
  • The bowl should be large enough to hold the tilapia (or any white fish) for dusting in corn starch spice mix.
fish taco spice mix

Step 4: Dust It

  • One at a time, dip each piece of tilapia in the cornstarch mixture, coating all sides. Place coated fish on a baking sheet or large plate and set aside for frying.
coat the tilapia with corn starch

Step 5: Fry It

  • From the fish market or grocery store, the tilapia fillet usually comes with a thick and a thin piece. We usually fry the thick and thin pieces separately – this way they cook evenly. 
  • Heat a large frying pan or cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Carefully, place fish in hot oil and cook for 4 minutes and flip. Fry for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Fish is done when both sides are golden brown. Remove and place on a draining rack.
fry the tilapia

Step 6: The Thinner Piece

  • We typically fry the thinner pieces last because they use less oil and cook faster. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the remaining fillets. 
  • Fry for 2 minutes per side or until golden brown-remove and place on a draining rack.
golden brown - fully cooked

Step 7: Assemble The Tacos

  • Enjoy right away or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven.
  • You may assemble the pan fried tilapia over the corn tacos along with cabbage slaw smothered with chipotle sauce.
good enough to eat!

Expert Tips

  • We usually fry the thick and thin pieces separately – this way they cook evenly. 
  • Fish is done when both sides are golden brown.
  • We typically fry the thinner pieces last because they use less oil and cook faster. 
What kind of fish is best for fish tacos?

Most commonly used fish for the fish tacos are white fish. Our favorite is Tilapia because of its light and easy texture. Tilapia is packed with vitamins and minerals and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

How long does it take to fry fish in a pan?

Depending on thickness, it takes about 3-5 minutes in total to fry tilapia in the pan, flipping halfway through.

Are fish tacos healthy for you?

These Fish tacos are indeed healthy as they are low calorie high protein and keep you full for longer.

Are soft tacos gluten free?

Yes, the soft tacos used in our recipe are corn tacos and are absolutely gluten free. If you use flour tacos they will not be gluten free.

More Healthy Meal Recipes

fish tacos

Pan Fried Fish Tacos with Chipotle Sauce {Gluten Free}

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Gluten Free Fish Tacos made with pan fried Tilapia fish, fresh cabbage slaw and spicy chipotle sauce, is a perfect combination  and is a great comfort meal for your family. These delicious  pan fried fish tacos flavored with creamy chipotle sauce have a tender and flaky texture that is complimented perfectly by  the crispy cabbage slaw!

Ingredients

  • Red Cabbage Slaw:
  • 3 cups purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (approximately 1 medium sized carrot)
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  •  
  • Smokey Chipotle Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 1 medium sized lime)
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle and adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  •  
  • Fish Tacos:
  • 1 pound tilapia (or any white-fleshed fish)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Lime for serving

Instructions

Red Cabbage Slaw:
In a large bowl, add all of your slaw ingredients; red cabbage, carrots, red onions, cilantro, cider vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Smokey Chipotle Sauce:
In a medium bowl, combine all chipotle sauce ingredients; mayo, sour cream, lime juice, chipotle in adobo sauce, garlic, salt and honey. Whisk until well blended and set aside.

Fish Taco:
1. In a medium size dish or bowl whisk together corn starch and all of your spices; salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and chili powder.

2. One at a time, dip each piece of tilapia in the corn starch mixture, coating all sides. Place coated fish on a baking sheet or large plate and set aside for frying.

3. Heat a large frying pan or cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

4. Carefully, place fish in hot oil and cook for 4 minutes and flip (depending on thickness of fish - thinner pieces will cook for less). Fry for an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Fish is done when both sides are golden brown (Fry the tilapia in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan). Remove and place on a draining rack.

5. Enjoy right away or keep warm in a 200 degree F oven.

Notes

  • We usually fry the thick and thin pieces separately - this way they cook evenly. 
  • Fish is done when both sides are golden brown.
  • We typically fry the thinner pieces last because they use less oil and cook faster. 
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