This homemade fish taco seasoning is going to take your Taco Tuesday to a whole new level! Bursting with bold spices like ancho chili powder, paprika, and cumin, you’ll find it’s the perfect blend of spicy and savory flavors to make the best fish tacos!
When you want to make incredible fish tacos, this fish taco seasoning is the answer! Paired with our classic fish taco recipe, fish taco slaw, and fish taco sauce - you can make some of the best seafood tacos around in less time than it takes to get takeout.
While fish taco seasoning can technically refer to any combination of herbs and spices, it often showcases bold Mexican flavors. This particular blend is smoky, savory, and just the right amount of spicy. It elevates any fish recipe, whether it's grilled, fried, or baked.
This homemade spice rub is made with a simple mixture of ancho chili powder, paprika, cumin, garlic, onion, and oregano, but it can easily be customized to suit your preferences! Increase or decrease the spice level, add more or fewer herbs, or omit the salt.
Although we love using it on white fish, this versatile seasoning blend works wonders on other types of seafood like shrimp or prawns. Sprinkle a bit on your next dish and watch it come to life!
Why You’ll Love Fish Taco Seasoning
- Versatile: Don’t feel limited to using fish taco seasoning on just fish or seafood! Try it on any type of protein like chicken, pork, or even tofu for a vegetarian option.
- Quick: It takes 5 minutes to throw this recipe together. Make it in a large batch to have on hand for busy weeknight dinners. Your life just got so much easier!
- Customizable: Use our recipe as a guideline, then adjust the measurements and spices to make it your own! Try different chili powders, white pepper, thyme, etc.
- Flavorful: When you make your own fish taco seasoning, you can choose fresh spices, resulting in a much more aromatic and intense flavor.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make this tasty homemade seasoning.
- Ancho chili powder: Adds smoky and slightly sweet flavors with a mild to medium heat. Use regular chili powder or smoked paprika if you are sensitive to spice.
- Paprika: Regular paprika works great for fish taco seasoning. For a change, try sweet paprika, hot paprika, or smoked paprika.
- Cumin: Imparts warm, earthy, and slightly nutty notes. You can replace it with coriander in a pinch, but cumin is our preferred choice.
- Garlic and onion powder: Both provide savory, zesty, and roasted flavors. Feel free to use one or the other, just depending on what you have stocked in your pantry.
- Salt: We prefer adding salt directly into the seasoning mixture. For a low-sodium option, omit the salt and add it on an individual basis.
- Black pepper: Black pepper has a savory and slightly spicy flavor profile that adds depth to the seasoning. If you don’t have black pepper, you can substitute it with white pepper or red pepper flakes.
- Oregano: If you can get your hands on some, we recommend Mexican oregano since it has underlying anise and citrus notes that pair incredibly well with Mexican dishes. If you can’t find any, marjoram or Mediterranean oregano will also work!
- Cayenne: Cayenne is quite spicy, so only add it to the seasoning blend if you prefer extra heat! Alternatively, you can substitute it with red pepper flakes or a small amount of chipotle chili powder for a smoky and spicy flavor.
How to Use Fish Taco Seasoning
When you’re ready to create taco magic, season each pound of fish with about two tablespoons of the blend. Thoroughly massage the mixture right onto the fish, making sure it’s evenly coated.
Let the fish sit for a few minutes to absorb the flavors. Then, cook it in a skillet, pop it in the oven, or sizzle it on the grill.
Here are some of our favorite recipes to incorporate fish taco seasoning into:
- Fish Tacos and Avocado Crema
- Fish Tacos with Lime Slaw
- Blackened Fish Tacos
- Baked Crispy Chicken Tacos
- Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Slaw
Easy Fish Taco Recipe
Ready to use it now? Here is our favorite quick and easy fish taco recipe.
- 1 lb sturdy white fish (cod, haddock, tilapia, halibut, snapper, mahi mahi, salmon)
- 2 tbsp fish taco seasoning
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 8 corn tortillas (or flour tortillas)
- 3 cups homemade fish taco slaw (or shredded cabbage and cilantro)
- 1/2 cup fish taco sauce (or pico de gallo, salsa of your choice, or lime infused Greek yogurt, crema, or mayo)
Follow these simple steps to make delicious fish tacos in less than 15 minutes.
- Preparation: Brush the fillet with olive oil and squeeze fresh lime juice over top. Then coat the fish in the spice rub, making sure to coat it well on both sides. Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to sink in.
- To bake: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the fish on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on thickness) until fish is flaky and cooked through.
- Cook in a skillet: Heat olive oil or butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the outside is golden brown and the inside is cooked through and flaky.
- Grill: For best results, grill the fish with the skin on or grill in a grill basket or on foil. Cook for 6-8 minutes until cooked through.
- To serve: Warm up the corn tortillas. Serve the cooked fish with cabbage slaw and fish taco sauce.
Once your fish taco seasoning is mixed, it should stay fresh for up to a year. Since you’ll be combining more than one ingredient, it’s best to check the expiration dates on each individual spice for a better gauge of how long your blend will last.
For the most optimal storage, keep it in an airtight container or spice jar with a tight-fitting lid. It will last longer in a cool, dark, and dry place (like a cupboard) since light or moisture can affect the flavor and quality.
Variations and Recipe Ideas
Make this seasoning mix fit your exact tastes and preferences.
- Smoky: Swap the paprika for smoked paprika for more depth and complexity.
- Spicy: Increase the amount of cayenne pepper or add some crushed red pepper flakes to add an extra kick!
- Herbaceous: Experiment with other herbs to create a different flavor profile. Try options like parsley, basil, coriander, or thyme.
- Sweet and spicy: If you like a touch of sweetness in your tacos, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar to the spice blend.
Tips for Making Fish Taco Seasoning
Follow these tips for the best results.
- Use quality spices: Use fresh, high-quality spices for the most aromatic and potent fish taco seasoning.
- Adjust the heat: Adjust the spice level by increasing or decreasing the amount of ancho chili powder, paprika, and cayenne.
- Toast the spices: For a more intense flavor, toast whole spices and grind them yourself.
- Make a large batch: Double or triple the recipe and store the extra seasoning in your pantry for quick meals during busy weeks.
- Make marinade: If you prefer to marinate your dish, combine this spice rub with lime juice, fresh cilantro, and olive oil. Marinate the fish for 30-60 minutes before cooking. Do not marinate the fish for too long because the lime juice will cook the fish, like in ceviche.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making this spice blend.
Yes, this fish taco seasoning is gluten-free as written. If you are celiac, it’s always best to double-check each individual spice that you use.
Of course! This seasoning works on chicken, beef, pork, tofu, and vegetables!
Homemade Fish Taco Seasoning
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- 2 tbsp ancho chili powder (regular for less heat)
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional, to taste)
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Use about two tablespoons of seasoning for every pound of fish (cod, tilapia, halibut, Mahi Mahi, salmon, etc) for tacos. Rub right onto the fish and cook in a skillet, in the oven, or on the grill until flaky and opaque. For even more flavor, also drizzle fresh lime juice over the fish before adding the spices.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
If you can't find ancho chili powder, swap in regular chili powder. Ancho chili powder is smokier and spicier than traditional chili powder.
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