Easy Spice Rubbed Fish Tacos

It's so super easy to make your own fish tacos at home: Here I just pan-seared some tilapia after letting it sit for a short time in a lime/spice rub, but grilled is great too.
Course dinner
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Author Rachel Singer


  • 1 pound fresh tilapia fillets (or other firm white fish of choice)
  • Juice from 1 small lime
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (omit if sensitive to spice)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 a medium yellow onion, diced
  • Taco fixings of choice, such as tortillas, pico de gallo, black beans, cabbage slaw, fresh lime wedges, sour cream, salsa, avocado, cilantro...


  1. Place the tilapia in a baking dish or on a large plate. Combine the lime juice with chili powder, cumin, cayenne, smoked paprika, oregano, black pepper, and Kosher salt to create a paste.
  2. Rub the lime/spice rub into both sides of the tilapia and let it sit to marinate for about ten minutes.
  3. While fish is marinating, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and garlic and saute for two minutes.
  4. Add tilapia to the same skillet and cook it for 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness), until fish becomes opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Flake the tilapia into pieces and serve with any taco fixings of your choice!

Recipe Notes

You'll definitely want to use your oven fan if pan-searing the fish as I did here, but can grill instead if you prefer. If using frozen fish, let it thaw before doing the spice rub.