We don't have to wait for Cinco de Mayo to host a fish taco party - any old Taco Tuesday (or Tostada Monday...or that's-my-tamale-Thursday) will do! Half the fun of planning a party is creating a menu that supports and complements your main dish. Those all-star side dishes that leave everyone talking.
So keep reading to discover 19 of the very best sides, sauces and toppings to serve with fish tacos. But before we start building out your supporting cast, let's talk about the main dish for your at-home taco bar!
How can I prepare fish tacos?
My favorite kind of fish taco is whichever kind is in front of me. They're all amazing. Spicy baked fish tacos are so easy to prepare any night of the week whether you have fresh fish or a bag of frozen tilapia in the freezer. Equally delicious when seasoned and thrown on a baking sheet in a hot oven for less than 20 minutes.
Easy fish tacos can also be fried. While they may not have the nutrition of healthy grilled fish tacos, they are truly delicious and a huge hit at parties. These Baja Fresh Fish Tacos are always a hit in my house!
And we can't forget shrimp tacos! Tasty and easy recipes like Sweet & Spicy Mexican Shrimp are perfect when you want to offer multiple proteins to your guests - fish tacos and shrimp tacos both like the same sides and toppings, so they are the perfect pairing.
What kind of tortilla is best for serving fish tacos?
Warm corn tortillas may be the most traditional, authentic pairing for tacos de pescado, or fish tacos. But flour tortillas have become more and more popular with baja-style fish tacos. I like to offer a stack of each at any taco party - that's the easy way to make sure everyone leaves happy. But whether you prefer corn or flour tortillas, there's one thing we can all agree on - you have to heat the tortillas! Throw them on warm grill grate after you've pulled your fish and shrimp, or heat tortillas by griddling them in a dry skillet until warm and slightly charred.
What kind of fish is best in fish tacos?
The most common kind of fish for tacos would be saltwater white fish fillets like mahi mahi, cod, flounder or grouper. Farmed white fish like tilapia and catfish are increasingly popular, and stand up well to strong flavors. While salmon isn't a traditional fish choice for tacos, it's rich flavor and texture can take heavy seasoning, and would be delicious topped with napa cabbage slaw and pickled onions.
What are the best side dishes to serve with fish tacos?
FINALLY. Let's talk about how to lay out a lovely spread for our fish taco party.
Arroz rojo, or Mexican red rice, is the perfect side dish for your fish taco dinner. The rice turns red thanks to homemade tomato sauce, made even tastier by fresh onion, cilantro and garlic. It's fluffy and super flavorful and worth every minute of cook time.
Pico de Gallo
Flaky white fish loves fresh, acidic sidekicks. A simple pico de gallo can add so much to a taco - heat, sweet, acid and flavor. Add your chunky pico to a food processor and you'll have a dippable salsa in about 12 seconds. (From our friends at Mexican Food Journal.)
Authentic Refried Beans
It's a great side dish for 52 different reasons - but being economical and wildly popular with kids and adults alike are two of the best reasons! This recipe is delicious and vegetarian and can be made with a bag of dried beans or a few cans of cooked beans. Either way, they're full of flavor and the perfect way to add fiber and nutrients to your easy side dishes menu.
Speaking of nutritious and economical - black beans are another popular legume side dish that would be the perfect side dish for any taco menu.
Fries are a kid-friendly side dish for a taco dinner (take them a little over the top with Parmesan Truffle Fries!) Throw in some sweet potato fries for good measure! Sweet potatoes are also a natural fit for many of the spices you'll be using in your fish tacos - chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and black pepper. Spread it around your sweet potatoes and plate a lovely, complementary side for your fish tacos.
Do I need to explain this one? They're crispy, addictive and delicious. They are perfect to dip into almost all of the sides and toppings we've listed here today. And you know you want them. Just add them to your list already.
Mexican street corn would be a dynamite option for a taco party. My Grilled Mexican Corn Casserole calls for salty cotija and pairs perfectly with sweet corn and creamy mayo. If you can use fresh ears and strip the corn kernels, your taste buds will thank you for eternity.
Mexican Caesar Salad
In the world of Tex Mex salad options, Mexican Caesar Salad is the very best. The dressing is a 5-minute situation thanks to food processors, and it adds remarkable flavor and texture, thanks to ground pumpkin seeds. One of my favorite creations of the year!
Napa Cabbage Slaw
Combine cabbage with a simple creamy dressing or lime crema, top with cilantro, and you have a little bit of the coastline in your own backyard. Napa cabbage has just the right crunch without being overwhelming to a tender fish taco. This Savory Napa Slaw is my favorite recipe.
Mango Habanero salsa
A simple salsa of fresh, ripe mangoes, crisp red bell peppers and red onion, cilantro and spicy, fruity habanero is one of the best sides or toppings for a great fish taco. Tacos provide so many savory notes, and this salsa elevates the game by introducing a bright, sweet element to balance the salty and savory taco flavors. It's also perfect as a dip for those tortilla chips on your list.
Guacamole or Avocado
Is it a side dish? Is it a topping? Or is it just the most delicious thing on the planet? Yes. Yes. And yes. This is my favorite recipe, with endless variation options available. If you don't have 5 minutes to mix the guacamole, just slice an avocado and call it a day. (Courtesy of Alton Brown.)
Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Ranch Dip
It's spicy and creamy and so craveable. This copycat recipe from a popular US-based Tex Mex joint is easy to mix together and so very delicious. Make a double batch of this magic dipping sauce and taco topper and grab an extra bag of tortilla chips!
Cholula, Valentino's, or good old Ortega's. Whatever your preference, be sure to offer hot sauce on the table. It's the best way to let your family and guests customize the spice level of their fish taco extravaganza. This Taco Truck Green Sauce has become a family favorite at my house, and I've included instructions in the recipe for making hot and mild versions of this flavorful taco dip and topper.
Fresh chili peppers
Serving a small bowl of fresh sliced chilis (and pickled chilis, if you're feeling adventurous) is another way to give your guests options to increase the heat level of their tacos. Jalapenos and serranos are great choices, and if you're feeling very adventurous, maybe some habaneros.
Baja Fish Taco Sauce
It's a delicious creamy sauce made with either sour cream or Greek yogurt. Baja fish taco sauce can be a dynamite addition to any good fish taco. This recipe is super flavorful and takes less than 5 minutes to make.
My favorite kind of fish taco sauce is a mayonnaise-based spicy garlic aioli. It's a flavor superstar, bringing savory and spicy along with that cream sauce feel. Bonus - it's perfect on shrimp tacos, too!
Fresh cilantro + onions
Fresh ingredients like diced cilantro add so much bright flavor to the richness of fish tacos. Combine with diced white white onion or serve the two toppings separately.
No fish taco recipe is complete without a squeeze of fresh lime juice. So be sure to serve a small dish for your guests - it's a little fancy, a little fresh, and the perfect topping for any fish taco.
Pickled red onion
I love everything on this list, but I can't call any dish of tacos "the perfect fish tacos" until they have pickled red onions all over them. It's one of the easiest side dishes or toppings you'll find, and these pickled rings of magic perfectly complement the flavors of the fish - whether grilled, blackened or fried. This is my favorite recipe and a jar of these beauties has a permanent home on my condiment shelf.
Bottom line: Taco Night at your house is about to get a whole lot more exciting! Mix and match your favorite sides and just wait for the standing ovation from your family and friends.
What did we miss? What else do you love serving with fish tacos? Leave a comment and we'll include your recommendation in the next article!
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