Baja Fish Tacos with Pico de Gallo and White Sauce (Video)

Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos that are BETTER THAN ANY RESTAURANT with a one step dunk batter!  

These Baja Fish Tacos  are cocooned in a warm corn tortilla garnished with crunchy cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and creamy white sauce all finished with tangy lime.  You are going to love how easy this Baja Fish Tacos recipe is and bonus, almost all the components can be prepped and refrigerated beforehand for a quick weeknight meal or super fun dinner to serve for guests.   But above everything, they are just so ridiculously delicious.

I am beyond giddy for you to make these fried Baja Fish Tacos because I honestly think they are some of the best you you will ever eat in your entire life – and right in your own home!  They are wonderfully crispy with a depth of flavorful spices, texture packed between the cabbage and the crema and still wonderfully light and fresh!

Baja Fish Tacos Recipe Video

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

What are  Baja Fish Tacos?

There are Fish Tacos and then there are BAJA FISH TACOS!   Growing up and still living in San Diego (Carlsbad is a coastal city in northern San Diego), I have devoured my share of Baja Fish Tacos – they are everywhere!  You’ve probably seen them at Rubios, Mexican restaurants, or if you’ve ever visited San Diego or ventured as far as the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, you’ve probably sunk your teeth into some rendition of these Baja Fish Tacos.

They all have similar components but truly authentic Baja Fish Tacos are always fried (never blackened), served on corn (not flour) tortillas, with thinly sliced cabbage, pico de gallo, creamy white sauce and plenty of lime.   That’s the way its done.  And that’s the way it should be.  Because it is DELICIOUS.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

Where do Baja Fish Tacos Come From?

Baja Fish Tacos originated in Ensenada, a coastal city in Baja Mexico, about 75 miles south of the border of California.  It is a stones throw away from where I met my Patrick when it was safer to travel to Baja.  But that’s another story.  Ensenada is still considered the destination for fish tacos.

Thankfully, Ralph Rubio, a then SDSU student, couldn’t leave Baja Fish Tacos in Baja after love-at-first-bite on a spring break surfing trip in Ensenada in the 1970s.  I was able to meet Ralph Rubio at a private cooking demonstration and tasting at a Carlsbad Rubios (see IG pic HERE.  Carlsbad is actually Rubios headquarters) where Ralph described his epiphany while at his favorite Mexican fish taco stand:

“Why didn’t someone open a restaurant like this in San Diego?”  He thought to himself, “Well, maybe I could do it.”

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

Shortly after, with the help of his family, Ralph converted an old Orange Julius stand and San Diego was introduced to Baja Fish Tacos. He described how in the beginning, business was so slow that he would lay on the roof of his first restaurant and come down to make individual orders as they came in.  It didn’t take long though for his Baja Fish Tacos to catch on like wildfire and he eventually opened the now famous Rubios Coastal Grill with over 190 restaurants.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

So now that you know the backstory on Baja Fish Tacos, let’s get up to date with these Baja Fish Tacos!

How to Make Baja California Fish Tacos

For the tacos themselves, you want to use some sort of white fish.  I like halibut, but any firm white fish will do.  Slice them into ¾ x 4 inch strips.  Don’t worry about them being perfect or terribly uniform, just error on the side of slicing thinner than thicker so we keep our nice ratio of batter to fish.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

The batter itself is super quick whisking of crushed Ritz crackers, panko breadcrumbs, flour baking powder, egg, and sprite with a kick of flavor from chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and salt. The Ritz lend a wonderfully buttery taste to the tacos, the panko lends a nice crunch and the spices add a depth of subtle flavor without tasting overpowering – even with the cayenne pepper – they will not taste spicy – just flavorful.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

The most important thing about frying the fish is to pat the strips very dry after you slice them.  This will ensure the batter sticks.  Next, add your fish to the batter all at once and stir to coat- how easy is that?!

To fry, we don’t need to deep fry, just an inch or so of vegetable oil works beautifully.  Once hot, add your battered fish a few at a time and fry until golden, about 2 minutes on each side.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

Now its taco time!  You will want to use warm corn tortillas.  You can achieve this by microwaving 2 tortillas at a time between slightly dampened paper towels so they are warm and pliable or you can pan fry them as shown by heating 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a seasoned skillet over medium heat and cooking each tortilla for about 20 seconds, making sure you don’t overcook so they stay soft and not crispy.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

Fish Taco Sauce

Finally, assemble the fish tacos with thinly shredded cabbage, fresh Pico de Gallo, freshly squeezed lime juice, Creamy White Sauce and a drizzle of hot sauce to taste.  But above all, don’t skip the white sauce!  This Fish Taco Sauce brings all the components together and is so heavenly I actually doubled my original recipe to give you what is listed there now.  Because you will want more Fish Taco Sauce!

To make this creamy white sauce, simply whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, 2 tablespoons lime juice and splashes of ground cumin, garlic powder and salt.

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

And the eat!

What to Serve with Baja Fish Tacos?

You can be as simple or as indulgent as you would like to be with these Fish Tacos.  Here are some topping and side ideas:

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

these Crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos are BETTER than any restaurant!!! I can't even believe how good these are and super easy with a one step batter. And don't skip the white sauce - its heavenly!

Crispy Baja Fish Tacos (Video)

These crispy fried Baja Fish Tacos BETTER than any restaurant!!! They are cocooned in a warm corn tortilla garnished with crunchy cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and creamy white sauce all finished with tangy lime.  You will be obsessed with these fish tacos and they are easier than you think with a ONE STEP BATTER!   
Servings: 12 -15 tacos
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

Fish Tacos

  • 1 1/2 lbs. halibut, mahi mahi or other firm white fish
  • 15 small corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil

Fish Taco Batter

Garnish

  • shredded cabbage
  • Avocados
  • salsa
  • lime juice
  • hot sauce

Pic de Gallo

  • 4 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • salt to taste

White Sauce

Instructions

White Sauce

  • Whisk the White Sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Pico de Gallo

  • Combine the Pico de Gallo ingredients together in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Tortillas (Microwave or Pan Fry)

  • MICROWAVE: Heat tortillas in the microwave by placing 2 tortillas between two slightly dampened paper towels and microwaving for 40 seconds. Place warmed tortillas on a plate with a paper towel in between and cover with a towel. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
  • PAN FRY: Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a seasoned skillet over medium heat. Add tortilla and cook until its golden and starts to brown in spots, about 20 seconds, then flip and cook until other side is golden. The tortilla should still be soft and pliable, not crispy.
  • Place warmed tortillas on a plate with a paper towel in between and cover with a towel. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, adding additional oil as needed after every couple tortillas.

Fish

  • Mix all the batter ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Slice fish into strips approximately 3/4” wide x 4" long (they don't have to be exact - error on the side of thinner). Pat fish very dry and add all of the fish to the batter and gently stir to coat.
  • Fill a 12-inch pan with about 1 inch deep oil and heat to 375 degrees F.
  • Working in batches, fry fish until golden, flipping halfway through. Place on paper towels.

Assemble

  • Add fish to tortillas (I use 2 strips per taco) and top with shredded cabbage, Pico de Gallo, freshly squeezed lime juice and White Sauce. Drizzle with hot sauce/salsa to taste and garnish with avocados if desired.

Notes

Don't miss the "how to make" recipe video at the top of the post!

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Reader Interactions

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82 Comments

  1. Layne says

    Are you kidding me?! These look AWESOME. Rubio’s is our go to dinner when I’m not up to cooking, that or our local awesome fish taco shop. Can’t wait to try these!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Layne! I’ve been wanting to post them for a while because they are seriously amazing so I can’t wait for you to try them!

    • Sheryl says

      These are the best fish tacos!!! I can’t stop eating them when I make them!!!

      • Jen says

        YAY! I’m so happy you love them! Thanks Sheryl!

    • Kat says

      OMG…I moved to Fargo and was just talking about Rubios. Miss them sooooo much. I came across these and my mouth started watering. I listed the ingredients I need. Thanks for this great recipe.

      • Jen says

        You are so welcome – I am SO excited for you to make them! They will definitely satisfy your Rubios Fish Taco cravings!

  2. Angelina says

    I just got hungry!!! I can’t wait to try these this weekend!!

    • Jen says

      yay! I am so excited you are making them so soon! I hope you love them as much as us!

  3. Allie says

    Jen, Are you up for a stupid question….oh….wait……….these taco look awesome……again…you did it again….another spectacular recipe! My question is about the tortillas..I see you doubled yours and are both tortillas fried? So, do we need 30 tortillas to make them as pictured?
    Sorry, it I missed this information, maybe you explained already….Hope you are doing well! It’s still cold here in Northern California…what I winter……but we do have lots of water…Shasta Lake is full 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Allie, no stupid questions! The double tortillas was just for looks in the photos – I would actually just use a single tortilla when serving to keep it proportional. Hope that helps and that you love the tacos!

  4. Courts says

    Made this tonight. Bloody tasty. Everybody loved them.

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m thrilled you made them already and they were such a hit! thank you!!

  5. Tricia says

    This looks like a fish taco to beat all fish tacos, definitely making these
    very soon !!

    • Jen says

      Thank you Tricia! I am SO Excited for you to make them, they are one of our absolute favorite recipes!

  6. Lori says

    I’ll be making these tomorrow night!!! My hubby loves fish tacos and these sound better than any I’ve ever had!!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Lori, I hope you both love these as much as we do!

  7. Vickie says

    These look fantastic!! Great pictures! I’m wondering if I could omit the Ritz cracker or if you could think of a substitute cracker so I can make these dairy-free for a friend. Or perhaps I should increase the amount of panko crumbs? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Vickie! I would increase the flour and the panko each by 1/2 cup – that should do the trick! Enjoy!

  8. Susan says

    What if you don’t have sprite? Help!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Susan! You can use another soda or substitute seltzer water. Enjoy!

    • Renee says

      I used light beer in place of sprite. It was delicious!

      Everything about these was perfect!! My husband and I LOVED them!!

      • Jen says

        yay! I’m so happy you both loved them! thank you Renee!

  9. carol bitterman says

    These are the same as my fish taco’s except for the batter and I am anxious to try that . After looking at your recipes I am definitely going to be a follower. Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Carol, I hope you love this version! Thanks for following along!

  10. Roxanne says

    How do you keep the fish & tortillas warm for a crowd? This sounds wonderful & I’m going to make for a group of 10. Thanks so much.

    • Jen says

      Hi Roxanne! The best way to keep the tortillas warm is to cover them with a warm towel and then a lid of some sort after they have been microwaved. For the fish, I would just cover them with foil but just be aware that the fish will lose crispiness when they are covered because of thee steam. Hope this helps!

  11. Eileen Thibeault says

    Thanks so much for your recipe. I have made up my own but will try yours (it sounds better). Always my first stop in Ensenada. Have you ever had the refried bean cones? I have only found them in a little downtown open-air shop. It’s a deep-fried tortilla cone (I can’t figure out how in make the cone) filled with refried bean and topped with cheese and radishes. I would love the recipe and directions for making them.

    • Jen says

      Hi Eileen! I have never had or heard of the refried bean cones but they sound super intriguing! I’ll have to look for them the next time I’m in Mexico!

  12. Linda says

    Hi Jen
    I made these Friday night and they were awesome . I’m going to make them again on Tuesday night for my daughter , my question is I have the white sauce left over from Friday night do u know how long the sauce is good for ?

    • Jen says

      Hi Linda, I’m so happy you loved these tacos! The white sauce will definitely still be good as its made of sour cream and mayo which last a long time. enjoy!

      • Linda says

        Thanks Jen
        I tried the white sauce a while ago and it was even better today !!

        • Jen says

          Awesome! love it when that happens:)

  13. Brandi says

    Making these now and I have no sprite in the house…. any suggestions for a substitute? 🙂

    • Jen says

      any other soda should work as long as its not cherry 🙂 Beer will work too – enjoy!

  14. Patricia says

    Hi, When Im looking at your pictures and video there’s 2 tortillas one that seem cook with some burn mark and 1 soft tortillas … Im just confuse because I dont see any remarks s regarding this in your description and in the video. It look soooo incredible and I want to make it perfect the first time. Waiting for your reply so I can make this delicious recipe ! Thanks for sharing I love, love your blog 😉

    • Jen says

      Hi Patricia! For the tortillas, you can use one or two – totally personal preference. To get the marks on them, I just place the tortillas straight on the burners of my gas stove thats on the low setting. This slightly chars them on the outside, adding a nice flavor, and heats them through – I’ll add this to the recipe tortilla options. Enjoy!

      • After about 45 seconds, check underneath the tortillas. They should be starting to char. When the color seems right, flip them and char the other side. They will usually begin to puff up at this stage.

      • Adjust the burners as needed, keeping them as low as possible. The second side will take less time than the first. It’s okay to flip the tortillas a few times to reach the desirable color.

      • When they are done, move them to the middle of the tea towel, stacking as you go. When the first batch is piled up, flip the corners of the towel over them to cover completely. This will keep them warm and steam them a little, which softens any stiffness they may have taken on from the charring.

      • Proceed with the remaining tortillas, adding to the stack as you go. Keep covered until you are done.

      • Do not use oil as it will cause too much smoke. The tortillas should easily lift off the burners. I have not tried this with electric burners as I imagine that the tortillas will stick, but please let us know if you have had success with them.

  15. John A. Morillon says

    Thank you for adding this recipe! I have missed delicious fish tacos and I have found only one place that does a decent fish taco down here in Mississippi, The Blind Tiger. But they are not like the ones I remember growing up in California. I left Cali in 1985 for the military and I must say, I miss the food, the festivals, and the multi ethnic diversity and culture.
    Also thanks for the white sauce, I think it’s the one I been looking for to use on my carne asada tacos!
    Funny thing is I am a second generation US born American of Mexican decent!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome John! I hope these hit the spot so you can get your fill of fish tacos at home! And yessss, the white sauce- so good – it is amazing on everything! Hope you love it on your carne asada tacos!

  16. Jessica says

    Can you please tell me the exact tortillas you use. I think the tortilla can make or break the taco! Thanks!!

    • Jen says

      Hi Jessica, I am not sure the exact name of the tortillas I use (don’t have them on hand) but they are some of the fresh, thin tortillas from Costco.

  17. Stephen says

    Is there a way to substitute the sprite for something else? I know America is one of the most obese countries in the world, but if we try to avoid soda, is there something else we can use?

    • Jen says

      Hi Stephen, sorry but the carbonation is needed in this recipe.

  18. Carla says

    These were delicious!!!! My family were not too excited when I said fish tacos, but after trying them. …They were yum yum. Thank you for sharing!
    I don’t know what I would do without your site.
    Responding to John…Just an idea. Maybe he can use seltzer water instead?

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Carla, I’m so happy they were a hit! And thank you so much for your kind words, I am honored you are enjoying my recipes!

  19. Kristi says

    Hello. Super excited to try these. Can we make these a little healthier. Like almond or coconut flour. Or bake them not fry. And in sauce use Greek yogurt in stead of mayo. Same questions on the Panko and cracker question. Sorry. I love everything u did just trying to eat better

    • Jen says

      Hi Kristi, you are welcome to try but I have not personally experimented with almond or coconut flour. I also do not recommend baking them as this batter is very wet and and will not become crunchy. As far as the Greek yogurt goes, totally personal preference 🙂

  20. Frans Nieuwenhuis says

    Suddenly it was there again…. Out of nowhere. It attacked me… Out of the blue… . I feel like a junky, addicted . I need to make this again. The best Fish tacos I ever had and with all the fixes…… So Good. The Pico de Gallo. I have to make that all the time for my wive now. Thank you!! I made this dish so many times and…. can’t get enough of it.

    • Jen says

      LOL! I LOVE your comment so much, thank you Frans!!! I am thrilled these are the best tacos you’ve ever had and that you make them all the time! You made my day!

  21. Samantha D. says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this recipe – my family loves it! We enjoyed our fish tacos while in California and delighted to find this recipe to make at home. Will be making it again this evening for our special dinner.

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome Samantha, I am so happy it is a hit with the fam and you are able to bring the flavors of Baja/Southern California home!

  22. Christie says

    WHOAH!!! These are riiiiiidiculously AMAZING. the taste blew my whole family away and now they claim they can’t eat fish tacos anywhere else. You really are right about drying the fish before putting it in the batter. And the batter is funny bc I had to apply the batter to each piece of fish, but whatever. Mind blowingly good. And we eat a LOT of fish tacos so thank you for raising the bar yet again!!!

    • Jen says

      Wahoo! Thank you for such an awesome comment Christie! I am thrilled your whole family of fish taco connoisseurs loved these!

  23. Claire says

    Finally! At long last! I used to live in Corona del Mar years ago. There was a street vendor that sold the most delish fish tacos!
    Thank you for providing us with that great recipe! We have them on a very regular basis now. My hubby fishes almost every weekend and those tacos are the BEST! CRISPY BAJA FISH TACOS ! YES!!!!

    • Jen says

      Your comment made my day, thanks Claire! I’m thrilled you finally found your Crispy Baja Fish Tacos worth making on a regular basis!

  24. Kathleen Perrelet says

    Holy Buckets (my new Midwest term) these tacos are the bomb!!! I’m from San Diego and now living in Fargo, ND. You just can’t find good Mexican food here. I just finished making these and I tell ya, better than Rubios. Seriously insanely good. Don’t leave off the white sauce. I could eat spoonfuls of that stuff. My family went crazy for these tacos!! Woman…you can cook!!

    • Jen says

      LOL! Thank you Kathleen – and so can you! I’m thrilled these were a huge hit with your family and “better than Rubios!” Thank you! I think you’ll love my other Mexican dishes too! Check out my Beef Barbacoa – its my fav! Happy cooking!

  25. Hanne Lunday says

    I lived in Oceanside/Camp Pendleton for a couple years and fell in love with Rubio’s Fish Tacos. I found a recipe years ago that just didn’t make the cut. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe soon! Thank you!

    • Jen says

      You are so welcome! I hope you love it as much as us!

  26. lisa scannelli says

    hello,

    would i be able to air fry the fish?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lisa, I don’t own an air fryer so I honestly know nothing about them – sorry!

  27. Karen says

    Our family loves these! Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

    • Jen says

      You’re so welcome! I love hearing they’re a family fav!

  28. Keli Lanclos says

    These are really GREAT! I left the fish in the batter that I did not cook….. how many days do you think it will last uncooked like that in the fridge?

    • Jen says

      I’m so happy you loved them! I would let it sit more than 1-2 days but I love the idea of keeping the leftovers in the batter!

  29. Willis says

    Could I sub beer for the sprite?

  30. Dave S. says

    Made these tonight and followed the recipes for each component exactly, except that I did add some fresh jalapeño from my garden to the pico. My family loved these tacos! Yours will be my go-to for Baja fish tacos from here on. Thank you for a great recipe!

    • Jen says

      Awesome Dave! I’m thrilled these Baja Fish Tacos were such a hit and I love the addition of jalapenos to the pico – yum! Thanks for taking the time to comment and make my day!

  31. Jenny E says

    I just made these for my husband and kids to celebrate Fathers Day here in Sydney Australia. You are SO right, these are the best Fish Tacos we have ever had. I prepped everything at lunch which was relatively quick. Then all I had to do was to heat the oil , cook the fish and eat… and eat we did. Sensational flavours, will definitely do these again. Thankyou

    • Jen says

      Happy Father’s Day! What a fun idea to make Baja Fish Tacos for Father’s Day – I’m thrilled they were such a hit! Thanks Jenny!

  32. Kc says

    Would it be ok to use water instead of sprite?

    • Jen says

      Hi Kc, the aeration in the soda creates a lighter batter so while you can use water, it will create a different result.

  33. Amanda says

    This was so delicious!! I was able to convert to gluten free by using gluten free crackers, flour, and panko crumbs, and it was some of the best fried fish I have ever had, yum!!! The white sauce puts it over the top, thanks for a great dinner!

    • Jen says

      YAY! You’re so welcome Amanda! I’m thrilled they were “the best” and you were able to make them gluten free! Thanks Amanda!

  34. Amy Kruse says

    Hi,

    I am making these for 8 people. Will the fish stay crispy, as I’ll need to cook it in batches? Also, I have the same question for the corn tortillas; will they stay crispy as I’ll need to make a bunch? Looking at your pictures, it appears that you double up the tortillas. Is that correct? Thanks!

    • Jen says

      Hi Amy, the fish will stay crispy as long as you line it on paper towels in a single layer. The tortillas don’t get crispy, just charred if cooked on a gas stove. You actually don’t want them crispy or they will break when folded. You can prepare the tortillas according to this recipe (1 of 4 ways look at the recipe notes): https://carlsbadcravings.com/carne-asada-street-tacos/ Good luck!

  35. Dave says

    unfortunately when inputting the amount of tacos I want to make the ingredient list doesn’t regenerate the correct info.
    So if the recipe shown is for 4 tacos, can I just increase everything 3 fold and everything be fine?

    • Jen says

      Sorry Dave, I’m working on getting that fixed! The recipe makes 15 tacos.

  36. Lauren Tilbury says

    I’m pretty sure you are going to be my most favorite blogger…. ever!! I am from Huntington Beach, so like you, We know our Mexican food. I’m going to start with your Carne Asada first. My husband and I used to drive to TJ just to eat tacos. Thank you. You come highly recommended!!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so much Lauren! It sounds like you also have great taste 😉 I LOVE Mexican food, so I hope you discover many favorites here!

  37. Lisa Kelly says

    This recipe looks amazing – I can’t wait to try it. I’m not an experienced fish cooker. Are you able to tell me approx. how long it takes to cook the fish?

    • Jen says

      Hi Lisa, I would fry for about 2 minutes per side, enjoy!