10 Best Fish for Fish Tacos

Fish is a light, healthy, and versatile protein that perfectly complements a spicy, flavorful Mexican flavor profile. It’s no wonder that fish tacos are world-famous crowd-pleasers served in restaurants and cookouts across the globe.

Salsas, cabbage slaws, citrus, guacamole, and cilantro make any fish taco taste great, but ultimately, the fish is the star of the show. Picking the right fish for the best fish tacos is critical, and there are plenty of fish up to the task.

We provide a list of our top 10 picks for the best fish for fish tacos, ranging in price, cooking method, flavor, and texture.

10 Best Fish For Fish Tacos

Some factors to consider when shopping for fish are whether they are freshwater or saltwater fish, farm-raised, or wild. The saltwater fish on our list are mild, flakey, buttery, and more often wild, which gives them a higher price than the freshwater fish on our list, which are farm-raised and mass-produced.

Farmed fish are more sustainable than wild-caught fish, but they have a distinct muddy or grassy flavor and can be denser or softer than saltwater fish. Whether you prefer saltwater or freshwater fish, it’s always important to see if they are from sustainable sources and in season. Local catches are the freshest, tastiest fish that make the best fish tacos. 

Here, we present you with a list of the 10 best fish for fish tacos to watch out for at the fish counter or on a menu.

1. Snapper

Price Range: Expensive

Snapper is a wild saltwater species found in all tropical and subtropical oceans around the world. There are different kinds of snapper we enjoy eating, the most popular of which in the U.S. are yellowtail and red snapper. These species inhabit the depths of the Gulf of Mexico and are commercially and recreationally caught in Florida. 

Both red snapper and yellowtail have a firm and moist texture, are white-fleshed, and have a mild and nutty flavor that pairs well with most flavor profiles. Snapper is also versatile, lending itself well to most cooking methods. 

Snapper is a tasty, high-quality fish, perfect for fish tacos because of its mild flavor that you can season with spices and chiles or pair with a flavorful salsa or slaw. 

2. Mahi Mahi

Price Range: Expensive

Mahi mahi are colorful, fast-swimming saltwater fish found in the tropical and subtropical oceans of the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. They are white-fleshed fish with a flakey, moist texture and a sweet, mild flavor. Even though this fish is flakey, the flakes are large and firm, so Mahimahi lends well to most cooking methods.

Mahi Mahi is one of the most delicious fish with a mouthwatering flavor and a luxurious texture that will take your fish tacos to the next level. Its moderate flavor goes well with spice rubs and cooks well on the grill with butter and lime juice. 

3. Sea Bass

Price Range: Expensive

Sea bass, also known as Chilean sea bass or Patagonian toothfish, are found in the Chilean coast’s frigid waters near Antarctica. Fishermen catch the fish and freeze them, even for domestic consumption. You can buy sea bass frozen or thawed in supermarkets.

While it’s an oily fish, it has a rich and buttery flavor that tastes best when grilled, broiled, or poached. Plus, the oil content makes it an excellent fish for smoking and a poor candidate for frying.

Sea bass tastes excellent in tacos and does not need elaborate salsas or rubs that may clash with its distinct, buttery flavor. We suggest slaw and pickled onion garnishes with a squeeze of lime juice to accompany your sea bass fish tacos.

4. Grouper

Price Range: Mid-range

Grouper is a widely available member of the bass family, with two main varieties on the seafood market: black and red. 

Red grouper has a sweeter and more moderate flavor than its stronger-tasting black counterpart, but black grouper is firmer and easier to handle. 

Both types of grouper are moist, firm, and buttery with practically no bones. The flesh is straightforward to cook and does not lose its moisture to over-cooking like many other fish. You can fry, grill, or skewer grouper for your fish tacos, applying a spice rub or pairing with a vibrant fruit or pepper salsa.

5. Halibut

Price Range: One of the most expensive

Halibut are saltwater flatfish that range from 10 to 600 pounds in size. They are available fresh for nine months of the year all throughout the Pacific Ocean, from Alaska to California and westward towards Russia and Japan. 

The best-tasting fish award has to go to the halibut with its mild, sweet, and nutty flavor. Plus, the moist, decadently flakey texture makes it enjoyable to eat. 

It is an incredibly versatile fish, lending well to most cooking methods and any flavor profile. Halibut is thus a great grilled fish taco candidate that would taste great with pineapple salsa, pico de gallo, or hot, spicy salsa toppings.

6. Cod

Price Range: Affordable

Cod, or Bacalao, is the most popular fish for fish tacos. Since it is found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, numerous countries on the Pacific and Atlantic coastlines enjoy cod meals. While the Pacific cod is small, mild, and moist, the Atlantic cod is sweet with large, firm flakes.

Both types of cod are excellent choices for fish tacos. You should cook them in moist heat, whether steaming, frying, sauteing, or baking in a marinade. We recommend using plenty of cilantro and lime when cooking this fish for tacos, as its flavor brings out herbal tones.

7. Flounder

Price Range: Mid-range

Flounder, or flatfish, are side-swimming bottom-feeding saltwater fish found up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the U.S. There are various species of flounder that are caught wild and commercially for widespread consumption across the American continent.

As the name flatfish implies, flounders are sold in various sizes as thin fillets that require careful cooking and accompanying liquids to maintain their moisture. They are white-fleshed with a firm, chewy texture that varies in size and cooking methods depending on the species you purchase. 

Flounder is an excellent choice for fish tacos because it requires sauces, fats, and flavorful cooking juices to uphold its texture. You can therefore cook flounder using any number of saucy, spicy authentic Mexican fish taco recipes. 

8. Wahoo

Price Range: Mid-range

Wahoo is a member of the mackerel family, found in tropical and subtropical areas of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Hawaii is the biggest producer of U.S. Wahoo stock, and the name Wahoo is derived from the Hawaiin word “Ono,” meaning “good to eat.” 

This fish is mild and lean with a large, firm flake that tastes the best grilled or broiled. Considering an entire American chain of fish taco restaurants named after it, we think it’s safe to say that Wahoo is one of the best fish for fish tacos.

9. Catfish

Price Range: Cheap

Catfish are freshwater bottom feeders that are farm-raised and mass-produced in large ponds across the southern United States, namely in the Mississippi Delta. The FDA regulates catfish farming, ensuring uniform quality and taste. It is very affordable and one of the most versatile fish on this list.

Catfish is denser and heavier than white-fleshed fish, but it has a sweet and mild taste that fits any flavor profile. As a freshwater fish, it is odorless and has no fishy taste whatsoever. This fish would make great battered and fried fish tacos with tangy pico de gallo or habanero-mango salsa.

10. Tilapia

Price Range: Cheap

Tilapia is a freshwater fish that originated in the Nile River and is now farm-grown worldwide. Like catfish, Tilapia are bottom feeders. They include many different species that thrive easily, making Tilapia one of the most widely mass-produced fish for consumption in the world.

This fish has a flakey and tender texture with a mild flavor. Depending on the conditions in which Tilapia are raised, the meat can have a muddy or grassy taste. Tilapia is an excellent choice for fish tacos because it is cheap, widely available, and easy to cook, whether you sautee, steam, or bake it. 

Wrap Up

Are you ready to start cooking? There are plenty of excellent options for fish that work well in fish tacos. Freshwater and saltwater fish have distinct flavors and textures, both compatible with the spicy and tangy flavors that comprise Mexican cuisine. 

Some of the fish on our list taste better grilled, while others are better fried, broiled, or baked, so you have the option to experiment with an array of different recipes to determine which makes the best fish taco. 

Whether you’re throwing a fish taco Tuesday cookout or ordering fish tacos at your favorite beachside joint, you can use our list of the ten best fish for fish tacos to select the winning ingredients. Just remember to pick the freshest meat available for the most delicious final product.

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