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Grilled Tilapia Tacos

Fresh and light, this grilled tilapia taco recipe is adaptable—use any firm white fish that is available and affordable—and always a crowd-pleaser.


Grilled Tilapia Tacos on a plate with cabbage, limes and avocado

Move Over, Burgers—It’s Time For Grilled Fish Tacos!

Don’t get us wrong, we still love to grill burgers. But lately, we’ve been crushing hard on the fresh, bright, light flavors of these easy fish tacos. Because they’re grilled instead of fried, they’re super healthy. Also, all of the cooking for these tacos happens on the grill, so they’re ideal for hot weather—no oven or stove time required!

A quick note on tilapia and sustainability. First of all, always buy fish from a fishmonger (this can just be the friendliest person at your local grocery store’s fish counter) that you like and trust. Secondly, inform yourself! Some tilapia is bad—bad for the environment, bad for your body—but there are types of tilapia that are just fine. Look for tilapia from raceways in Peru or ponds in Ecuador, and do not buy tilapia from China. As ever, remember you can always take a look at the latest up-to-date seafood safety recommendations at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch site. This recipe is really adaptable, so you can just buy whatever white fish looks great (and / or is on sale) the day you go to the store—it by no means has to be tilapia! Tell the fishmonger a bit about this recipe, and they’ll help you pick a fish that will work.

ingredients laid out for tilapia tacos, fish, tortillas, orange, lime, cilantro, mayonnaise, onions, avocado

Fish Taco Seasoning, AKA Season that Tilapia Within An Inch Of Its Life

Tilapia is not what we’d call an incredibly flavorful fish. However, that’s not always a bad thing! Tilapia, and other mild white fish like cod, halibut, rockfish and snapper, are great ‘gateway’ fish (in other words, fish your kids might actually eat) and they lend themselves beautifully to marinades and seasonings. For these fish tacos, we make tilapia a bit more exciting by marinating it in this bright and citrusy combination of things:

  • Onions
  • Lime juice
  • Orange juice
  • Oregano
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
onions, lime juice, orange juice, oregano, garlic and cilantro in a small glass bowl
3 tilapia filets marinating in a baking dish in onions, lime juice, orange juice, oregano, garlic and cilantro

How To Make Fish Taco Sauce

Tacos are sort of all about the toppings, and restaurant-style fish tacos seem to be kind of all about the little creamy drizzle of sauce. For our fish taco recipe, we echo the flavors of the tilapia marinade by making this lime-y mayo for drizzling. Simply whisk together:

  • Lime juice
  • Mayonnaise
  • Milk

How To Make Fish Tacos

Fire up that grill! Let’s make some fish tacos!

  1. Marinate the fish! About an hour, but not longer—all that citrus will begin to break down the fish.
  2. Grill the fish!
  3. Grill the tortillas!
  4. Make fish taco sauce!
  5. Fill the tortillas with the grilled fish and a million delicious toppings!
  6. Eat the fish tacos!
cream sauce for tilapia tacos in a small bowl mayonnaise, milk and lime juice

Fish Taco Toppings:

Again, these grilled fish tacos are only a little bit about the fish. It’s always all about the toppings when it comes to tacos, right? We like to lay out a ton of options, and let people go to town building their own. For these grilled tilapia tacos, we always set out:

  • Cilantro
  • Avocado slices
  • Raw shredded cabbage
  • Salsa verde (homemade, or store-bought)
  • Lime wedges for squeezing.
Grilled tilapia fish that has been marinated in lime, orange, onion, garlic, cilantro and oregano

What To Serve With Fish Tacos

This grilled tilapia taco recipe is one that can stand alone. For a simple family dinner, these tacos alone might suffice. However, if you’ve got bigger appetites, or friends coming over for dinner, you might want to whip up something to go with them. Here are a few of our most beloved fish taco side dishes:

Tools You’ll Need:

Grilled Tilapia on a plater with cilantro, salsa verde, cream, avocados and tortillas
Grilled Tilapia Tacos on a plate with cabbage, limes and avocado

Best Taco Night Ever

At least in the summertime, taco night usually becomes FISH taco night. We hope these earn a spot on your list of summer favorites, and if you make it, we’d really love to know! Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

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Grilled Tilapia Tacos

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  1 hr 15 min
  • Cook Time:  15 min
  • Calories: 621


  • 1 lb tilapia
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups white onion, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grill
  • 5 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
  • 3 tbsp fresh orange juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • corn tortillas
  • 2 avocados, peeled, pitted, sliced
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, cored, thinly sliced
  • salsa verde
  • pico de gallo
  • lime wedges


  1. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup of the chopped onion, 1/4 cup cilantro, olive oil, 3 tablespoons lime juice, orange juice, garlic, and oregano until combined.
  2. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread half of the onion mixture in the bottom of a baking dish. Arrange fish atop onion mixture. Spoon remaining onion mixture over fish. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Turn fish; cover and chill 30 minutes longer.
  4. Whisk mayonnaise, milk, and remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in small bowl, set aside.
  5. Using a silicon grill brush, brush grill grate with olive oil; turn grill on to medium-high heat. Grill fish with some marinade still clinging to it, 3 to 5 minutes per side, until fish easily flakes.
  6. Grill tortillas until slightly charred, about 10 seconds per side.
  7. Coarsely chop the grilled tilapia; place on platter.
  8. Serve with lime mayonnaise, tortillas, remaining 1 cup chopped onion, remaining 1/4 cup cilantro, avocados, cabbage, salsa verde or pico de gallo and lime wedges.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories621
  • Protein19 g
  • Carbohydrates34 g
  • Total Fat47 g
  • Dietary Fiber9 g
  • Cholesterol64 mg
  • sodium385 mg
  • Total Sugars8 g

Grilled Tilapia Tacos

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Jordan

    Could the tilapia be baked or broiled? It’s a little cold to be out at the grill right now :)

    Absolutely you can bake it on 400 degree Farenheit for about 8 minutes. Make sure the internal temp is 145 degrees before removing it from the oven. Hope you enjoy!

  • Nathan

    These were good although I wanted a little more of a flavor punch from the marinade. Id probably up the concentration on a few ingredients as well just more overall marinade proportions relative to the amount of tilapia. (I used a 1lb cold pack from Aldi's and this was fine). I used a cast iron grill pan and griddle for the fish and tortillas.

    Thanks for the feedback Nathan. Glad you enjoyed it. nothing wrong with adding some more flavor punch!

  • Jenn

    These were super yummy!

    Thank you Jenn!