Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Margarita Slaw: Panko crusted fish sticks that are baked in the oven instead of beer battered and deep fried make for THE BEST fish tacos! They have way less calories and are WAY more satisfying too!

Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Margarita Slaw

This is most definitely the time of year when I start craving quick and healthy meals. Because with the longer days and gorgeous weather, I don’t want to spend a ton of time cooking dinner! Know what I mean?

That’s where these crispy baked fish tacos with margarita slaw come in. A quick dip and roll through a basic flour-egg-panko trio and then 12-15 minutes in a high-heat oven is all this fish needs.

The process to bake the fish for these tacos is a lot like making baked chicken fingers. It’s an easy process and there’s no mess from frying the fish in hot oil!

And after you taste these tacos, I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that panko crusted fish sticks make a really excellent taco filling!

Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Margarita Slaw

I considered using our favorite beer-battered fish for these tacos but they do take a little extra time and contain considerably more calories than I was willing to sacrifice.

What Kind of Fish is Best for Fish Tacos?

For these crispy baked fish tacos, I used cod. It’s a sturdy white fish that holds up well to the breading process without falling apart.

Halibut would also be a great choice for these fish tacos but it tends to run a little pricey and unless it’s on sale at the grocery store, it’s usually out of my budget. So when given the choice for a recipe, I go with cod.

While my crispy fish tacos were stellar with some super easy margarita slaw (see also: honey lime grilled shrimp for more on my love of this margarita slaw) and a drizzle of sour cream, Kyle ate the fish as traditional baked fish sticks with some tartar sauce. One baked fish sticks recipe eaten two ways! Win-Win!

What to Serve with Fish Tacos

Honestly, these tacos don’t necessarily need a side dish to make them a full and satisfying meal. But if you wanted to stretch the number of servings, go ahead and make some cilantro lime rice, these fantastic refried black beans, or even this Mexican street corn salad.

We both declared these baked fish sticks to be one of the best “keeper” recipes we had in ages and since I’m a total sucker for tacos of all sorts, and in all forms, this one absolutely makes the list of favorite taco recipes now too.

Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Margarita Slaw

Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 44 minutes

Crispy baked fish tacos with margarita slaw are bound to be a new favorite taco in your house! Panko-crusted and baked in the oven instead of beer battered and deep fried, these fish tacos have way less calories and are WAY more satisfying!


For the crispy baked fish sticks:

  • 1 lb boneless cod or halibut fillets, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs, lightly toasted if desired
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs

For the margarita slaw:

  • 12 oz (about 7 cups) coleslaw or rainbow salad mix
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • Dash of sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ½ tsp lime zest
  • 1 shot tequila
  • Dash of Tobasco sauce or other hot sauce
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • Flour tortillas or hard taco shells
  • Chopped scallions or chives
  • Sour cream
  • Lime wedges


  1. To make the crispy baked fish sticks: Preheat oven to 450° F. Position an oven rack in the top third of the oven. Coat the bottom of a baking sheet with vegetable oil (a pastry brush helps here).
  2. In three shallow dishes: stir the panko, salt, and cayenne together in one dish, whisk the eggs in the second dish, and add the flour to the third dish. Roll each piece of fish in the flour, tapping off the excess, then coat each piece with egg, and lastly, coat each piece in panko. Press the panko lightly onto the fish pieces to ensure it sticks well before placing them on the baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through.
  3. To make the margarita slaw: Place cabbage and cilantro in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, lime and orange juices, lime zest, tequila, and Tobasco. Pour over cabbage and toss to coat completely. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To assemble: Layer the slaw on top of a tortilla, top with couple of hot fish sticks, drizzle with sour cream, and sprinkle on some chopped scallions. Serve with lime wedges.


Smells Like Home original | crispy baked fish sticks adapted from The Comfort of Cooking | margarita slaw adapted from this recipe

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  • April 19, 2014 at 12:00 PM

    These look so good! I love fish tacos but never make them at home. That is going to change this week.