The Best Fish Tacos You’ll Ever Have (With Panko!)

fish-tacosAlex makes tacos every Sunday night (we’re trying to create family rituals:), and of all the versions we’ve tried, this panko recipe has become the crowd favorite, by far. I’d highly recommend it…

The Best Fish Tacos You’ll Ever Have
By Jess Dang of Cook Smarts

As the founder of Cook Smarts, I’ve worked with many families struggling to find dinners that everyone will enjoy. One recipe I always recommend are these panko-crusted fish tacos. They’re incredibly simple to make, and I promise they will please even the pickiest eater.

If you haven’t heard of it before, panko is a light Japanese breadcrumb that can be found in the international aisle of your grocery store and will make a great addition to your pantry. For these tacos, we flavor the panko with spices, and then coat the fish pieces in the panko mixture, which provides a light crispy coating. Served with a lemony, creamy coleslaw, this winning combination will become your family’s favorite dinner recipe.

Recipe: Panko-Crusted Fish Tacos with Lemony, Creamy Coleslaw
Serves 4

You’ll need:
For the slaw:

1/2 head of cabbage, sliced
2 carrots, grated
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. creme fraiche
2 tbsp. olive oil

For the fish
1 lb. tilapia, sliced
1 egg, whisked
1 cup panko
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. oregano
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. canola oil
8 tortillas
1 lime

Since coleslaw tastes best when it’s had time to marinate, start it first. If you’re a planner, you can even do this the night before. Place sliced cabbage, grated carrots and chopped parsley in a large bowl. Next combine lemon juice, creme fraiche and olive oil for the dressing. Generously salt the cabbage mixture, pour in the dressing and toss everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.

For the fish tacos, preheat oven to 425F.

Next, rinse the tilapia fillets and dry them with paper towels. Slice them into 2″ long pieces and place them onto a plate. Pour the whisked egg over the fish and make sure each piece gets covered in the egg wash. This will ensure that the panko mixture completely coats the fish.

In a Ziploc bag, mix panko, paprika, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and oil. Place your egg-coated fish into the bag, seal and shake. (If you have a child that loves being a kitchen helper, this is a great activity for them. No kid can resist a shake-and-bake!)

Once the fish is coated in panko, spread the pieces onto a foil-lined sheet pan. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes until the panko is golden brown. Wrap your tortillas in foil and throw them in the oven for the last 3 to 5 minutes of baking.

When everything is done, have everyone assemble their own tacos with as much slaw and crispy fish pieces as they want. Serve with lime wedges, which gives the perfect finish to these fish tacos. (Also, in my humble opinion, fish tacos are always better served with a margarita.)

Thank you so much, Jess! And if you’re looking for ideas for simple weeknight dinners like this one, check out Jess’s weekly meal plan service.)

P.S. More best recipes, including guacamole and a lazy egg sandwich.

(Photos and recipe by Jess Dang of Cook Smarts. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)

  1. Sarah says...

    made the fish tonight with your direction, it was yummy and hit the spot! Great addition to our fish tacos.
    I make up a spicy sauce and serve them with shredded cabbage, green onion, tomatoes and and lime wedges.


  2. You’re definitely right! This is the best fish taco recipe i’ve ever tried. I never thought fish recipes could be this simple yet so delicious. Thanks for making me realize that.

  3. I just started cooking fish tacos recently and i never got it right. Not until i saw this blog post! Thanks for the easy fish recipes

  4. These sound delish! I’m on a cooking kick so I’ll have to try these out.

  5. Every since you posted this, I have been completely focused on trying to make it ASAP. And I did! I’m a taco lover and think the idea of taco night is brilliant. These were as good if not better than you said! My 2.5 year old was with his grandparents, but I know he’ll like them too. One of my guests didn’t like fish so I made chicken too and the recipe worked great for both.

    • Elizabeth! Wow, so glad you already made this and I’m so glad they turned out well. Definitely drop by our site for more simple recipes!

  6. Oooh. These look so delicious, but oven recipes are a no-no for me in the summertime. Perhaps a toaster oven would work?

    • Yes, toaster oven can totally work. I cook for two and that’s what I do. Great idea!

  7. These sound delicious! Does the stint in the oven just warm the tortillas up? I’m never a fan of those nasty crispy taco shells, too messy! Can’t wait to give this a try- I’m so sad I just used the last of the fish I had stored in the freezer or I could’ve made them right away!

    • Rosie, yes the oven just warms up the tortillas so they’re nice and soft. Enjoy!

  8. Yum! And with the gluten free panko crumbs found in lots of natural food stores these days (and online), this is an easy one for gluten free guests!

    • Indeed. EllaY, what’s your favorite gluten-free tortilla to use?

  9. Hmm, I have always been a little skeptical about fish tacos. Must give these a try!

  10. I’m yet to try fish tacos, but these look absolutely amazing! I think I may have to attempt these with the leftover panko crumbs in my pantry

    • Mani, I hope you do! Also, crumbs might stay fresher in your fridge!

  11. Mmmmm, looks and sounds delicious! Any suggestions about what could be substituted for the creme fraiche? Greek yogurt, maybe?

    • Greek yogurt or sour cream would be great! Enjoy!

  12. Do you use corn tortilla’s or flour ones?

    • I prefer corn ones for fish tacos but it’s really your personal preference!

    • OK thanks! I couldn’t tell from the pictures and I’ve only ever had them with corn but I’d be willing to try them with flour if that’s how you’d prepared them, they look delicious and I can’t wait to try them! Thanks

    • I’ve been eating mostly corn tortillas these days but was just in New Mexico where flour tortillas were served with everything. Forgot how good those can be too!

  13. Mayo with chipotle on the tortilla, a little lime juice and pickled red onions, mmm.

  14. Making this immediately! Thank you for the simple and delicious recipe!

  15. joanna, the meal service looks amazing! thanks for referring it to us. –suzanne

    • Hi Suzanne, I hope you do sign up for the free service. We’d love to have you as part of the Cook Smarts community!

  16. jm says...

    I love this best of series and these look great. I haven’t tried fish tacos yet.

  17. Great recipe. We do taco night often in our house…ground beef… steak… pulled chicken, we haven’t tried fish so I’m excited to test out this recipe. Thanks!!! :)

  18. Oh my, these are really a step up from the fish stick tacos I used to love as a kid. Must try!

  19. Tummy is growling!

  20. Looks absolutely delicious. I have a major taco craving now despite having spent the day eating Toblerone!

  21. Ooh. What a spectacular-looking summertime meal. This is going in my recipe collection immediately!

    • Wonderful! We hope you love them as much as we do all summer long!

  22. What a fun tradition, and what a yummy recipe!