Tropical Mahi Mahi Tacos Recipe

Believe it or not, mahi mahi is actually even more fun than it sounds. Beyond the fun-to-say name, the fish itself is typically several feet long and bright blue and green in color. They swim fairly close to the surface, feeding on bait and ocean debris in warm waters. Because mahi mahi thrive in warmer waters, they're considered a tropical fish; fitting for the name, which has Hawaiian origins. According to Food Network, it means "very strong", indicative of their swimming ability.

If you haven't eaten mahi mahi, you should consider adding it to your meal rotation starting with these fish tacos. The fish is relatively affordable, and because it's so easy to catch, is considered a sustainable fish. It's also texturally pleasant, falling somewhere between flaky halibut and dense swordfish. That is to say, mahi mahi can be grilled, baked, marinated, and seared without issue.

In this recipe from Michelle McGlinn, the mahi mahi is marinated with lime, chili powder, and cumin, then seared in a hot skillet until crispy golden brown. The warm spices of the fish are paired with creamy avocado and refreshing mango for a perfect summer dinner. The best part? It's easy to put together, making taco night a breeze.

The ingredients needed for tropical mahi mahi tacos

For the tacos themselves, you'll need a large filet of mahi mahi, chili powder, cumin, lime juice, salt, pepper, oil, and taco-sized tortillas. If your store isn't selling mahi mahi, swap for tilapia, cod, or even halibut. Plan to serve each taco with two to three pieces of sliced fish.

For the mango coleslaw, you'll need fresh mango, red cabbage, jalapeño, cilantro, Greek yogurt, and a little more oil, lime, and salt. To save yourself some chopping, you can buy a pre-shredded coleslaw mix (which might include green cabbage or carrots). For a mild slaw, leave the jalapeño out.

Finally, for the avocado crema, you can use the Greek yogurt, lime, and salt you already have, and add ripe avocados, sour cream, and garlic.

Marinate the mahi mahi

Citrus has a funny way of changing the texture of fish, so you never want to let fish marinate for very long. With dense fish like mahi mahi, though, it's worth letting the spices sink into the fish for a few extra minutes. Combine the seasonings and lime juice with the mahi mahi and let sit for around 30 minutes while you make the salsa and crema.

Make the coleslaw

Wouldn't it be nice if you could throw a whole mango into the food processor? Slice the mango around the pit and dice the inside flesh, then chop the rest of the vegetables and put them in a bowl. Toss with the yogurt, oil, and lime juice until the slaw is moist and the yogurt coats every piece. Season to taste with salt; you may need just a pinch, or a more generous amount depending on your preferences.

Blend the crema

If you don't have a blender or food processor, you can still make the crema, but it will be a little chunkier. If you do have a blender, throw all of the crema ingredients into the basin and blend until smooth. If you make it by hand, mash the avocado as much as possible, then stir in the yogurt, sour cream, and lime juice. Press the garlic and stir it into the crema along with some salt.

Cooking the mahi mahi

This mahi mahi can be grilled, baked, or seared. If grilling, we recommend leaving the mahi mahi as a whole filet so none of the pieces fall through the grates. Otherwise, slice the fish before searing for cleaner pieces.

To sear, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add the mahi mahi once hot. Brown on each side, flipping often, until the mahi mahi starts to blacken slightly (we aren't quite blackening the fish, but the seasonings may start getting dark in color).

Serving mahi mahi tacos

Warm the tortillas before serving, then load up the tacos with the fish, slaw, and crema. We like to use two to three pieces of mahi mahi, a healthy dollop of crema, and a small handful of slaw. Make it a full taco night and serve these tacos alongside guacamole and chips, a strong margarita, and coconut rice. Pro tip: save leftovers in airtight containers and serve taco bowl-style over rice and beans the next day. Perfect summer lunch? We think so.

Tropical Mahi Mahi Tacos Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
This taco recipe takes marinated mahi mahi and pairs it with creamy avocado and refreshing mango for a perfect summer dinner.
Prep Time
Cook Time
closeup of fish taco
Total time: 33 minutes
  • For the fish tacos
  • 1 ½ pounds mahi mahi, sliced into 1 to 3-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • Oil, for cooking
  • 8 taco-sized tortillas
  • For the mango slaw
  • 2 mangos, diced
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ½ small jalapeño, stemmed and seeded, sliced
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice from ½ a lime
  • Salt, to taste
  • For the avocado crema
  • 2 large avocados, pits removed
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice from ½ lime
  • Salt, to taste
  1. Place fish in a large bowl and mix with chili powder, cumin, salt, and lime juice. Set aside.
  2. To make the slaw, add the mango, cabbage, jalapeño, and cilantro to a large bowl. Mix with yogurt, oil, and lime juice until well coated and combined. Season to taste with salt.
  3. To make the crema, add the avocados, sour cream, yogurt, garlic, and lime juice to a blender. Blend until completely smooth, then season to taste with salt.
  4. Heat an oiled skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the fish pieces and cook until deeply browned on either side, about 4-5 minutes per side.
  5. Warm the tortillas, then fill the tacos. Add a few pieces of mahi mahi, then top with mango slaw and avocado crema.
  6. Serve immediately.
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