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At this time of the year, it’s always nice to think about summer recipes. Cooking outside is a lot of fun, and you can make some awesome dishes like this with garlic cilantro lime coleslaw. Although you might not find tacos with smoked tilapia at your local Mexican restaurant, when you’re cooking at home you can make Traeger grilled fish tacos your way – and as often as you want!

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these tacos with smoked tilapia!

You simply can’t go wrong with these tacos. If you’re in the mood for south of the border food you’re going to love them. This is also the best ever coleslaw for fish tacos and you must try it!

A close up view of tilapia tacos.

Why You’ll Love These

  • Authentic: Although fish tacos such as these smoked fish tacos aren’t served all over Mexico, they are popular in coastal areas and this recipe is an authentic way of making this south of the border delight.
  • Tasty: The key to great Mexican flavour is using the best fresh ingredients you can find. The fresh fish and fresh vegetable toppings make these oh so flavourful.
  • Unusual: Tacos are often made with meat such as pork or beef, or chicken, but using fish makes a change from the meat-based ones and tilapia is a budget option that works beautifully here.
A close up of tilapia tacos on a plate with a bite taken from one.

Grilled Fish Tacos Ingredients

The main ingredients in this recipe are the tortillas and the fish itself. In addition, you’re going to be using chilli, cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper to add flavour. The coleslaw is made with shredded cabbage, Greek yogurt, oil, vinegar, basil, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these tacos with smoked tilapia!

What Kind of Fish is Best for Homemade Fish Tacos?

These tacos with smoked tilapia are also good with other kinds of fish. Tilapia is a budget option which has a neutral flavour, which is good because it soaks up the tasty seasoning rub.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these tacos with smoked tilapia!

Alternative fish options include cod, roughy, flounder, catfish, or mahi-mahi. Even though the fish will be cut into bite-sized pieces, that doesn’t mean you want it falling apart on the grill. Some types of fish, such as halibut, fall apart really easily, especially if thawed rather than fresh.

How to Season the Fish for Tacos

A spice rub adds plenty of south of the border flavour to these tasty fish tacos. Chili powder, cumin and garlic, as well as some salt and black pepper, are all you need to flavour the fish. You don’t have to marinate the fish or leave the rub on for a long time. So it’s fine to add the rub right before cooking.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these tacos with smoked tilapia!

Once the spice rub ingredients are combined you can rub it over both sides of the fish. If you want to adjust the amount of chili powder in there you can. Go ahead and adjust any of the ingredients or omit those you don’t like.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these tacos with smoked tilapia!

You could even just use salt and black pepper for a plainer result but the chili powder, cumin and garlic are just so amazing I always use them.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these pellet griller or Traeger grilled fish tacos.

Best Ever Slaw for Fish Tacos

This garlic cilantro lime coleslaw is really special. Shredded cabbage is the main ingredient and you can use green cabbage, red cabbage or some of each. Oil, vinegar, cilantro, basil, lime juice, and garlic, along with Greek yogurt, make the sauce. Sub sour cream for the Greek yogurt if you wish, or use some of each. When you make grilled seafood tacos, you decide what goes into them.

Ingredients to make tilapia tacos.

This slaw is simple to make because you just have to blend all the ingredients in a food processor then toss the mixture with the cabbage. I love this garlic cilantro lime coleslaw. It would also be nice with plain grilled chicken or steak, as well as with smoker grilled fish tacos.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these pellet griller or Traeger grilled fish tacos.

These Traeger grilled fish tacos take about 20 minutes to make. The fish itself takes 10 minutes to cook and you can prepare the coleslaw while the fish is on the grill, and cut the lime wedges and so on.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these pellet griller or Traeger grilled fish tacos.

I like these served with corn tortillas but flour tortillas are another option. Corn tortillas would be the most authentic in Mexico but there are different kinds of tacos so just pick which you prefer.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these pellet griller or Traeger grilled fish tacos.

History of Fish Tacos

You might be curious about the origins of smoker fish tacos as well as the garlic cilantro lime coleslaw. Fish tacos are street food in Baja, Mexico. They combine the creamy with the crispy and the spicy with the salty.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love these pellet griller or Traeger grilled fish tacos.

Both Ensenada and San Felipe in Baja claim to have made the first fish taco. Head to this popular tourist destination that straddles Mexico and California and enjoy this regional seafood delicacy.

Known as ‘tacos de pescado’ locally, Baja tacos were the inspiration for smoker grilled fish tacos and the tasty slaw for fish tacos. The fish for Baha tacos can be fried or grilled and served with various salad vegetables, hot sauce, lime juice, sour cream, and more.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love this slaw for fish tacos!

A ‘street taco’ (the best kind) is served in 2 tortillas in case one breaks. You won’t want the tortilla falling apart in your hand is why!

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love this slaw for fish tacos!

You can find smoked tilapia tacos in the Northwest of Mexico as well as Baja, but they aren’t that common outside of those areas. Fortunately making your own tasty tacos with smoked tilapia is pretty straightforward.

How to Serve Grilled Fish Tacos

These are a meal in one although you could make some Mexican appetizers, some Mexican rice or elote (Mexican style corn). If you just want a snack for a balmy evening though, you don’t need to make anything else with these Traeger fish tacos.

One or two fish tacos (or three – who’s counting?) makes a wonderful snack. You can sit outside if the weather is nice and enjoy the aroma of these smoker grilled fish tacos as they cook.

Food blogger, Bella Bucchiotti of xoxoBella, shares a recipe for smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime slaw. You will love this slaw for fish tacos!

Smoked Fish Taco FAQs

Can you use frozen fish to make grilled fish tacos?

You can if you thaw it well beforehand and pat it dry on paper towels. If you’re doing this, make sure you use a firm-fleshed fish like tilapia, cod, haddock, or similar, else it will be even more delicate after thawing and you don’t want to completely fall apart.

Can you make this recipe ahead?

You can season the fish ahead of time if you like, since there’s nothing acidic in the spice rub. The coleslaw can be prepared up to 2 days in advance too. If you’re adding other toppings, like sour cream, don’t add them until you assemble the tacos.

How do you store leftovers?

They’re best served fresh, so if you’re going to make smoked fish tacos decide how many to make. Don’t assemble more tacos than you’re going to serve. The cooked fish, coleslaw and toppings will all keep (separately!) for a few days in the refrigerator. I’d recommend using any leftovers within 3 days at most.

A plate full of grilled tilapia tacos.

Grilled Tilapia Fish Tacos Recipe

5 from 8 votes

Grilled Tilapia Fish Tacos

By: Bella Bucchiotti
Check out these smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime coleslaw. You might not find tacos with smoked tilapia at your local Mexican restaurant. At home you can make Traeger grilled fish tacos anytime! This is the BEST slaw for fish tacos to try, too.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 8 tacos

Ingredients 

  • 2 Pounds Tilapia , filets
  • 1 Teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 corn tortillas, street taco size

Garlic Cilantro Lime Coleslaw 

  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup basil, chopped fresh
  • 1/2 Cup cilantro , fresh leaves
  • 6 Cloves garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon sea salt 
  • 2 limes, juiced 
  • 1 Cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Cups cabbage, shredded

Instructions 

  • Preheat the smoker to 375 degrees F with lid closed for 15 minutes 
  • Prepare the coleslaw. Add all ingredients but the cabbage to a food processor or blender and puree for 15 seconds. Pour sauce into a medium mixing bowl and set aside ¼ cup to use atop the tacos. Add shredded cabbage to the remaining sauce and toss to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.  
  • In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, and salt.  
  • Rub seasoning onto both sides of the fish
  • Place fish directly onto the grill grates and cook until opaque and reaches 145*F (about 10 minutes) 
  • Remove the fish from the smoker and place onto a wooden cutting board. Cut into bite size pieces 
  • Add tortillas to the smoker to warm for 5 minutes.  
  • Prepare tacos by adding grilled fish to the centre. Top with coleslaw, red onion, and a drizzle of the cilantro lime sauce. Garnish with cilantro. 

Notes

This recipe can also be done on the grill over indirect heat. Check to be sure the internal temp has reached 145 degrees F before removing. 

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 455mg | Potassium: 535mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 330IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 92mg | Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

Tasty smoked fish tacos are best served with a cold beer and great company. If beer isn’t your thing, consider a refreshing summer cocktail such as homemade sangria or paloma.

Let me know if you try these smoker grilled fish tacos with garlic cilantro lime coleslaw. They are a summer hit and perfect if you want to make tacos with smoked tilapia. Pellet grilled or Traeger grilled fish tacos are a summertime BBQ favourite.

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Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

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