Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce

Fish + Chipotle Aioli + Coleslaw + Corn Tortillas = Summer Fish Tacos! I love fish and grilling it just a little to give them that gorgeous blackened look makes them even more desirable. I don’t know the origin of fish tacos, some say Ensenada, Mexico, none-the-less I love them. The first time I ate fish tacos was just after college in Ensenada many moons ago. I remember sitting on the rooftop of a restaurant overlooking the Pacific Ocean watching the sunset and having a big plate of fish tacos and an ice cold beer (sigh). I remember the fish being lightly battered and perfectly fried, however, for this recipe I went with a lighter version and decided to go with a blackened finish instead.

I coated the tilapia with a wet and spicy paste and grilled it, piled some into a warm corn tortilla, added some coleslaw, drizzled some creamy chipotle aioli sauce over the slaw and fish, and finished it off with a squeeze of lime. The explosion of flavors is definitely worth repeating more this summer.

I couldn’t decide between a savory and sweet coleslaw so I made two and the jury is still out as to which one is better. The savory slaw is simple and screams summer with its fresh cabbage, lime juice, and cilantro while the red coleslaw is a sweet delicate contrast to the slightly spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Either way both slaws are great with this blackened tilapia.

If you are entertaining this summer and want to serve up an easy summer meal this definitely fits the bill. Give both coleslaws a try and let us know what your favorite is.

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos with Chipotle Aioli Sauce

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  • Sweet Red Coleslaw:
  • 4 cups red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
  • ½ carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Savory Cilantro Lime Coleslaw:
  • 4 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Chipotle Aioli Sauce:
  • 1 cup Crema Mexicana or sour cream
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet onion
  • Salt to taste
  • Tilapia Tacos:
  • 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 6 ounce tilapia fillets
  • Cooking spray
  • 4 to 8 corn tortillas
  • Lime wedges


  • Sweet Red Coleslaw:
  • Combine cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.
  • In a small saucepan bring the sugar, vinegar, coconut oil, celery seed, and salt to a low boil. Add to the cabbage and carrots, toss well, cover and store overnight. Drain all the liquid from the slaw before serving. This slaw was at its prime after 2 days of marinating. If you can, marinate for 2 days I’d highly recommend it.
  • Savory Cilantro and Lime Coleslaw:
  • Combine the cabbage, cilantro, lime juice, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Toss well and chill about 1 hour before serving.
  • Chipotle Aioli Sauce:
  • Combine crema, chipotles, adobo sauce, and onion in a food processor or blender. Blend until creamy and smooth. Salt to taste.
  • Blackened Tilapia Tacos:
  • Combine spices, honey, and lime juice in a bowl. Using your hands, coat both sides of the tilapia.
  • Spray the grates of your grill or hot griddle before heating. Heat the grill or hot griddle. I like using my small kitchen griddle that has ridges, leaving charred lines on my fish. Grill each side about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Warm corn tortillas on a comal (hot griddle); add chunks of blackened tilapia, coleslaw, and drizzle with spicy chipotle aioli sauce. Serve with lime wedges.


Calories: 689kcal, Carbohydrates: 89g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Cholesterol: 72mg, Sodium: 1467mg, Potassium: 920mg, Fiber: 9g, Sugar: 66g, Vitamin A: 3647IU, Vitamin C: 109mg, Calcium: 215mg, Iron: 3mg

I’d love to see what you cook!

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Written by Veronica / Photos by Veronica