While a bit time-consuming, learning how to make this beer-battered fish taco recipe isn’t too difficult. Paired with charred jalapeño-avocado cream cheese and a sweet and spicy slaw, these beer-battered cod tacos will be your new favorite Taco Tuesday recipe.
This beer-battered fish taco recipe has three components: the slaw, charred jalapeño-avocado cream cheese, and battered fish. Because this recipe has many moving parts, I like to group the main steps.
How to make beer-battered cod fish tacos:
Step 1: Make the slaw, and if possible, make it a few hours before you eat. If you can’t swing that from a timing perspective, make it at the beginning of the recipe.
Step 2: Make the charred jalapeño-avocado cream cheese. This can also be made a few hours in advance if you want to reduce prep time. I recommend a few splashes of lime juice on top to reduce any browning.
Step 3: Prepare the accompaniments. Slice up the radishes, cucumber, and jalapeño, mince the onion and cilantro and cut up a few lime wedges. Arrange them on a platter for serving.
Step 4: Once everything is prepped, sliced, and diced, make the fish. You want the fish to be hot and crispy when it goes to the table, so save it for last. As the last batch of fish fries, warm up the tacos. I microwave mine with a damp paper towel on top because it’s easy and no fuss!
Tip: I recommend setting the fish out at room temperature for 15–20 minutes before battering it. This will increase its temperature a bit, so it won’t reduce the temperature of your hot oil too much when you fry them! Set the fish out during Step 3; it’ll be the perfect temperature for frying!
Keep reading to see all the steps come together and learn how to make the best beer-battered fish taco recipe!
Step 1: The Slaw
To me, a Taco Tuesday recipe isn’t complete without a sweet and spicy slaw. Whether made with shredded Brussels sprouts or cabbage, I love it on my tacos. This slaw is a simple combination of a few fresh ingredients: sliced cabbage, thinly sliced red onion, minced cilantro, lime juice, and minced jalapeño or serrano pepper. It’s dressed with a basic sweet and tangy dressing made from mayonnaise, distilled white vinegar, and sugar. Finished with plenty of salt, it’s a super basic all-purpose slaw recipe that goes perfectly with tacos or burgers or sandwiches, or anything else you can imagine.
If you’re short on time, buy it pre-shredded! No one will know the difference, and you’ll shave off some prep time! You can even throw in a few handfuls of pre-shredded carrots for a little extra veggie boost.
You definitely don’t want to skip the slaw for this fish taco recipe. It adds a perfect zingy, spicy, and sweet crunchiness to the tacos!
Step 2: The Charred Jalapeño-Avocado Cream Cheese
You absolutely cannot skip this cream cheese for your beer-battered cod tacos! It’s thick and creamy enough that it acts like glue between the tortilla and the fish, so the fish don’t fall out of the taco mid-bite! It’s also just so freaking delicious. When I served these tacos to my friend, we literally just threw a dollop of the cream cheese on our plates and dipped the fish like chicken nuggets. It’s THAT good.
I’ve made this recipe several times before. Sometimes I char the pepper and onion; sometimes, I don’t. But I highly recommend popping them under the broiler for a few minutes. The charring brings in a nice undertone of smokiness that works so well with the cream cheese.
I’ve also made this with serrano or jalapeño pepper. I like the extra heat that the serrano peppers bring, but use jalapeños if you prefer!
Simply broil the pepper and onion, throw everything in a food processor, and blitz until creamy and smooth. Transfer it to an air-tight container and refrigerate until needed. The cream cheese will last up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. If refrigerating for more than 4 hours, I recommend a few splashes of lime on top before chilling to prevent browning.
Steps 3 and 4: The Accompaniments and Beer-Battered Cod
As I mentioned earlier in the post, prepare the accompaniments before you start the cod! You want everything to be ready to go as soon as you finish frying the last batch of fish!
Before you make the batter, get the oil ready. You’ll need about 3 inches of vegetable or peanut oil in a large pot. Heat the oil to 350ºF to 375ºF. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, you can still use an instant-read meat thermometer. Just make sure the stem is long enough, so you don’t burn yourself! You’ll adjust the heat periodically to keep it at a consistent temperature. If your oil isn’t hot enough, the fish will sink to the bottom and stick (ask me how I know…), so make sure it’s hot! If the oil is too hot, it’ll become unwieldy and violently bubbly (also ask me how I know…).
The batter is easy to make: gather flour, baking powder, and a few spices in a bowl. Add beer and whisk until smooth and creamy. The batter will be thicker than cream but still runny.
Throw all the cod in the batter and mix gently to coat. From there, it’s time to fry! Slowly lower the cod into the oil using metal tongs, one piece at a time. If your cod was still too cold, it may dramatically lower the temperature of the oil and still sink to the bottom. Don’t fret. Let them fry for a few seconds on the bottom, and gently push at the pieces with a metal spoon to lift them from the bottom. You may lose a little bit of batter, but they’ll float right back to the top and fry up just fine.
Fry the cod for 3–4 minutes per batch until golden and crispy. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate and continue on until all the cod is fried. Depending on the width of your pot, you may only need to fry in 1–2 batches. I use a small pot, so it was about 7 batches for me, and it took a while. I definitely recommend a wide pot if you have one!
Now you’re ready to assemble the beer-battered cod tacos! Warm up the tortillas, smear a dollop of avocado cream cheese on the shell, and pile the beer-battered cod on top of each taco. Pile the slaw on top and garnish with cilantro and minced red onion. A few slices of jalapeño on top are perfect if you like to bring the heat to this fish taco recipe!
I hope you loved this Taco Tuesday recipe! If you made these fish tacos, let me know how you liked them in the comments!
Beer-Battered Fish Tacos
- Food processor
- Skillet or baking sheet
- Large pot
- Meat or deep-fry thermometer
- ½ small head green or red cabbage, trimmed and sliced paper-thin
- ½ small red onion, peeled and sliced paper-thin
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, trimmed and minced
- ⅓ cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juiced
Jalapeño-avocado cream cheese:
- ¼ of a small red onion, peeled
- 1–2 jalapeños or serrano peppers, depending on heat tolerance, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 large avocado, halved, peeled, and pit discarded
- ⅓ cup loosely packed cilantro
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1½ pounds cod, patted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 16- ounce can of Corona or your favorite lager or pilsner
- Veggie or peanut oil, for frying (you’ll need a couple cups!)
- 3–4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 small cucumber, sliced into rounds
- ¼ red onion, minced
- ⅓ cup loosely packed cilantro, minced
- Small flour or corn tortillas; I recommend 2–3 per person
- Sliced serrano or jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
Prepare the slaw:
- Place the cabbage, red onion, serrano pepper, and cilantro in a large bowl. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pour the lime juice on top.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add the vinegar and sugar. Microwave for 1 minute until the sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 5–10 minutes.
- Add the mayonnaise and whisk until completely smooth.
- Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss to combine. Taste and season to your preferences. Transfer to the refrigerator until needed.
Prepare the jalapeño-avocado cream cheese:
- Turn on your oven’s broiler to high.
- Place the red onion and jalapeños in a small oven-proof skillet or baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Transfer to the oven under the broiler. Broil for 3–5 minutes (depending on the intensity of your broiler) until the peppers begin to blister and blacken. Remove and set aside.
- Combine the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, charred jalapeño, and red onion in a food processor. Place the cream cheese on top and pulse until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and season with salt. Pour into an airtight jar or a bowl and cover tightly with foil. Transfer to the refrigerator until needed.
Make the cod:
- Pour oil into a large pot, about 3 inches deep, and heat the oil to 350º–375ºF. Note: If you don’t have a deep fat thermometer, use an instant-read meat thermometer, provided the stem is long enough! You’ll want to regularly check the oil’s temperature and ensure you stay at a consistent 350ºF–375ºF.
- Pat the cod pieces dry and season lightly with salt. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, chili powder, salt, baking powder, paprika, cayenne powder, and garlic powder in a bowl.
- Pour in the beer and whisk until completely smooth and free of lumps. The batter will be thicker than cream but still a tad runny.
- Place all of the cod pieces in the batter and toss to combine.
- Using tongs, lift a piece of cod from the batter and lightly shake off any drippy excess batter. Slowly drop it into the hot oil. Fry 4–6 pieces at a time, depending on the width of your pot. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot! Cook for 3–4 minutes until golden brown all over. Use a slotted spoon to transfer a paper towel-lined plate. Continue frying in batches, checking and adjusting the temperature periodically.
- Arrange radishes, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, sliced jalapeño, and lime wedges on a serving platter.
- To assemble the tacos, smear a spoonful of the jalapeño-avocado cream cheese onto a warm tortilla. Place a few cod nuggets on top and finish with a spoonful of slaw. Sprinkle minced red onion and cilantro on top. Add one or two slices of jalapeño on top for extra heat, if you like. Serve cucumber, lime wedges, and radishes on the side. Enjoy!
Did you love these beer-battered cod tacos? Need more Taco Tuesday recipe inspiration? Check out these Shredded Duck Tacos!