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Air Fryer Fish Tacos: Spicy, Delicioso & Guilt-Free!

Fish Tacos Air Fryer

These spicy fish tacos with jalapeño-flavored cabbage slaw and pickled red onions are Chicago cook Vivi Abeja’s No. 1 pick when we asked her for a Mexican dish that is waist-friendly and super delicioso. She explains that she especially likes to make these flavor-packed tacos in January, when new year’s resolutions and post-holiday weight loss goals are still top of mind for so many of us. Vivi says she keeps making them the rest of the year due to popular demand, and notes that shrimp tacos are a go-to for many of her friends and family during the no-meat Fridays of Lent.

Watch Vivi Abeja of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood make her guilt-free, air-fryer, spicy fish tacos with 3 layers of authentic flavor to make up for the ditched calories: 1) Coleslaw with Greek yogurt, 2) Pickled red onions, and 3) Cilantro, lime and avocado salsa. The result? These tacos are ”show-stoppers!” says Vivi.

But their healthy-for-you factor is not why she loves making them and her friends love eating them, she adds. It’s because they taste that good.

”These tacos are show-stoppers!” says Vivi, one of our forever-favorite Mexican food cooks.

Vivi lists her three recipe tweaks to reimagine these fish tacos as calorie-friendly: 1) Vivi uses an air fryer instead of deep frying the fish in oil, 2) She doesn’t coat the fish tacos in flour, instead using a lot of spices to give the white fish fillets crunchy texture and extra sabor, and 3) She tops the tacos with creamy cole slaw that uses a lot of low-fat Greek yogurt and less mayo .

The best thing of all is that you don’t sacrifice an ounce of sabor, she promises. It’s something of a taco miracle. How can these fish tacos taste so decadently good and still be part of a weight-conscious diet, unlike a lot of other tacos we know and love (yeah, you: carne asada)?

Turns out it’s all about her garnishes. “I’ve seen a lot of fish recipes that either have slaw or pickled onions, but I love them both, so they both go on my tacos. Plus, the cilantro, lime and avocado salsa. I love recipes that require layers of flavor,” says Vivi, who lives in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, famous for its multi-generational Mexican heritage. 

”These are the details that make a meal memorable,” says Vivi.

Memorably delicious and low-cal.

”These tacos are a treat, but it’s one of those guilt-free treats because of all the vibrant layers packed with all things good for you. So, I make this for special occasions like friends and family coming over, celebrate a milestone or even just Friday night and wanting to celebrate with something healthy. ”

Fish tacos air fryer green sauce
These fish tacos are made in an air fryer for healthy, diet-friendly delicioso results. Vivi makes these regularly every January for friends and family who are sticking to their new year’s weight-loss resolutions and year-round — because they are that delicioso and crave-worthy.

Happily, everyone loves them and don’t even notice they’re made healthied-up and use an air fryer, reports Vivi. “This recipe makes me feel good about eating tacos because it’s not so heavy with the tilapia, and it makes me feel like I’m treating myself.”

Unlike most of the traditional Mexican recipes Vivi shares with our Familia Kitchen community — dishes she learned to cook by watching her tías and Abuelita in their kitchens — this one Vivi created herself. From scratch, she proudly tells us.

”I taught myself to make these. Ever since I started to cooking, I can remember going to a restaurant, loving my meal so much, and wanting to come home and replicate it. I didn’t grow up eating a lot of fish tacos, so this was a nice treat once I learned how to make it.”

Whether you are trying to knock off a few libritas or like to cook Healthy & Delicioso Latino food year-round, we invite you to make Vivi’s air fryer fish tacos at home. And then check out more of Vivi’s family-famous Mexican recipes, including her huevos divorciados, fajitas with chicken, gorditas with beans and queso, Michoacan-style red enchiladas, creamy poblano pasta bake, and enchiladas suizas.

Ready to Make Vivi’s Guilt-Free, Air Fryer Fish Tacos?

Air Fryer Fish Tacos: Spicy, Delicioso and Guilt-Free!

Recipe by Vivi Abeja
3.8 from 18 votes
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings

6 (two tacos each)

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

20

minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 filets tilapia, or your favorite white fish

  • 12 corn tortillas

  • For the Fish Seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp smoked paprika

  • 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper

  • 1 Tbsp onion powder

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp oregano

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • For the Red and White Cabbage Coleslaw
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, thinly sliced (or 1/4 large cabbage)

  • 1/2 small white cabbage, thinly sliced (or 1/4 large cabbage)

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1 jalapeño, sliced

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • For the Pickled Red Onions
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

  • 2 lemons, juiced

  • For the Cilantro, Lime and Avocado Salsa
  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 jalapeño

  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees.
  • Combine the spices for the fish seasoning in a small bowl.
  • Rub the seasoning on the tilapia filets. Set aside to let the flavors soak in.
  • Make the Red and Green Coleslaw
  • Using a sharp knife, thinly slice both types of cabbage and place in a bowl
  • In a second bowl, mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, jalapeño, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Combine, gently mixing until all the cabbage slices are well coated with the creamy sauce. Set aside.
  • Pickle the Red Onions
  • Slice the red onion and place in a bowl.
  • Squeeze juice of 2 lemons into the bowl, making sure the onion slices are covered in lemon juice. Mix well and set aside.
  • Blend the Cilantro, Lime and Avocado Salsa
  • In a blender, place the cilantro, lime juice, salt, garlic, jalapeño, avocado and water.
  • Blend until smooth. Add more water if you want your salsa on the watery side.
  • Air Fry the Fish Filets
  • Spray the preheated air fryer racks with avocado oil, which has a higher smoke point and can handle the 400° heat.
  • Add tilapia filets and cook for 5 minutes on their first side.
  • Flip the filets and cook for 5 minutes on their second side.
  • Warm the Corn Tortillas
  • While the tilapia is in the air fryer, warm tortillas on a hot comal or cast-iron pan until they are toasty warm.
  • Wrap the heated tortillas in a kitchen towel or tortilla warmer, until you are ready to assemble your tacos.
  • Assemble Your Tacos
  • When the tilapia is done in the air fryer, use a fork to break the filets into 2-inch pieces onto a plate.
  • Place the warmed tortillas on your kitchen work surface, in a single layer.
  • It’s time to make your tacos. On top of each flat tortilla, add, in this order:
    • 1 Tbsp coleslaw
    • 2 to 3 Tbsp tilapia
    • 1 Tbsp pickled red onion
    • 1 to 2 tsp cilantro, lime and avocado salsa
  • Serve hot and enjoy the guilt-free, delicioso fish taco goodness!

Notes

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