Slaw for Fish Tacos

5 from 1 vote
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This slaw for fish tacos promises (and delivers!) an extraordinary (yet super simple) taco topper. You must try it with these crisp-battered Baja Fish Tacos and my viral Spicy Fish Tacos. You’ll love the layer of crunchy, cooling, tangy crunch.

Cabbage slaw for fish tacos in white bowl with wooden spoon

What Type of Slaw is Best for Fish Tacos?

A tangy and slightly sweet slaw usually does the trick. But remember, the world’s your oyster (or should I say fish?) – customize it to your liking! A fish taco slaw acts as a topping or accompaniment to fish tacos, providing a refreshing, crunchy contrast to the soft texture of the tortilla and the fish. The flavors should complement the taco and not overpower it. It can be as simple as a mix of cabbage, vinegar, and some seasoning, but many variations exist to suit different flavor profiles and preferences.

A typical slaw for fish tacos can be:

  1. Tangy: Made with vinegar (like distilled white vinegar) or citrus juices (such as lime or lemon juice), salt, and sometimes sugar. This type of slaw provides a zesty contrast to the richness of the fish.
  2. Creamy: Some slaws use mayonnaise or sour cream as a base for the dressing, giving it a creamier consistency – more like coleslaw for fish tacos.
  3. Spicy: Ingredients like jalapeños, chili flakes, or spicy mayo can be added for those who prefer a kick.
  4. Colorful: Besides cabbage, other vegetables such as carrots, radishes, or green onions can be added for color and variety.

The purpose of the recipe for slaw for fish tacos is multi-fold:

  • It adds crunch and a fresh element.
  • It provides a contrast in flavors, balancing the savory notes of the fish.
  • It can act as a cooling agent, especially if the fish or taco sauce is spicy.

What is Mexican slaw Made of? Gather Your Ingredients.

Mexican slaw often features cabbage (red or green), lime juice, cilantro, maybe a kick of jalapeño, and occasionally, a creamy dressing. Let’s break down what you’ll need to make my go-to recipe when I’m making fish tacos with slaw:

  • Shredded cabbage (red or green, or both): This is the main star – it gives our slaw its crunch and vibrant hues. Whether you’re Team Red, Team Green, or Team Mix-It-Up, there’s no wrong choice for cabbage slaw!
  • Green onions: A sprinkle of these bad boys adds a fresh, sharp bite. They’re like that pop of color in an outfit – small, but oh-so-necessary.
  • Distilled white vinegar: Think of this as the zing factor! It’s what gives our slaw that irresistible tang.
  • Kosher salt: Like the wingman at a party, salt subtly elevates and highlights all the other flavors. I’m keeping it kosher because, hey, it just dissolves better.
  • White sugar: A hint of sweetness to balance the tang.
The ingredients for cabbage slaw for fish tacos are laid out on a countertop. They include white sugar, distilled white vinegar, green onions, cabbage, and kosher salt.

Variations and Substitutions

If you’re seeking some alternative flavors or a twist on the traditional slaw, consider these variations:

  • Lime juice: Substitute white vinegar with lime juice to achieve a zesty, citrusy profile that pairs exceptionally well with fish tacos.
  • Mayonnaise: Integrate mayo into the dressing for a creamier texture and a richer taste, akin to traditional coleslaw.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Swap white vinegar for apple cider vinegar to introduce a subtle fruity undertone.
  • Chili flakes: Add a pinch for a hint of heat that contrasts nicely with the slaw’s coolness.
  • Herbs: Incorporate freshly chopped cilantro or mint for a fresh herbal touch.
  • Cumin and garlic powder: For a deeper, earthy flavor profile, sprinkle in some cumin and garlic powder. These spices add a warm and savory dimension to the slaw.
  • Alternative sweeteners: Instead of white sugar, consider honey or agave for a different kind of sweetness.
  • Coleslaw mix: If you’re pressed for time, use a pre-made coleslaw mix as your base. This usually contains a blend of shredded cabbages and carrots, offering both convenience and color variety. I personally love this shortcut.
  • Red onion: Swap thinly sliced red onion for the green onion for a pretty pop of color.

How to Make Slaw for Fish Tacos: Easy Step-By-Step Directions

Alright, let’s dive in! We’re just a few simple steps away from slaw nirvana.

  • Combine cabbage and green onions: This is where the magic starts. Get those veggies mingling, make some introductions, and let the party begin!
  • Whisk vinegar, salt, and sugar: In this mini potion-making session, you’re creating the flavor-packed elixir that’ll bring our slaw to life. Whisk like you’ve never whisked before!
  • Pour and coat: Time to drench those veggies! This step ensures every strand of cabbage gets a taste of that zesty dressing we just whipped up.
  • Toss it all together: Whether you’re hands-on (literally) or prefer to use tongs, mix everything around till it’s all good and friendly. The more you toss, the better it all blends. Give that slaw some love!
The shredded cabbage and minced green onions are combined in a large mixing bowl. A mixture of distilled white vinegar, kosher salt, and sugar is prepared and poured over the cabbage and onions. Everything is tossed together to coat well and create a flavorful cabbage slaw for fish tacos.

Make the Best Fish Tacos: Here’s How to Serve This Amazing Fish Taco Slaw Recipe

Fish tacos and slaw go hand in hand. You must try my viral Spicy Fish Taco recipe. Here are some fish options to consider for your tacos:

  • Mahi-mahi: A popular choice, mahi-mahi offers a firm texture and mild flavor that marries well with the zesty slaw.
  • Cod: With its flaky texture and subtle taste, cod acts as a blank canvas, allowing the slaw and other toppings to shine.
  • Tilapia: A budget-friendly option, tilapia is versatile and can be grilled, fried, or even baked for your tacos. Snapper is also great.
  • Halibut: On the pricier side, but its steak-like consistency and clean taste make it a top-tier choice for white fish.
  • Shrimp: Not technically a fish, but an excellent choice for seafood lovers. Grilled or sautéed shrimp tacos make a delightful twist to the traditional fish taco.
Fish tacos with a flavorful cabbage slaw are presented, accompanied by a small cup of sliced onions and lemon wedges for that extra zesty touch.

While I really love my fan-favourite spicy fish tacos this Baja fish taco recipe is totally out of this world, too. OR, you could go ahead and serve it with these incredible street-style Chicken Tacos.

This slaw recipe goes beautifully as a simple side dish to other Mexican recipes as well.

Whichever delivery system you choose, finish with a drizzle of a delicious fish taco sauce to really knock your socks off, like Baja sauce, Cilantro Lime Crema, or Avocado Crema.

Make Ahead and Storage Tips

  • Preparation: You can prepare the slaw ingredients ahead of time. If making ahead by more than a few hours, store the dressing separately from the cabbage mixture to prevent sogginess.
  • Storage: Keep the slaw in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal freshness and crunch.
  • Reviving: If the slaw becomes too dry after storage, you can freshen it up with a splash of vinegar or freshly squeezed lime juice before serving.
  • Freezing: It’s not recommended to freeze the slaw, as it may compromise the texture and freshness of the cabbage.
Cabbage slaw for fish tacos in white bowl with wooden spoon

Expert Tips and Tricks

Dishing out some behind-the-scenes secrets because we’re pals, right? Here’s how to take your slaw game from awesome to legendary:

  • Finer shred: The thinner the cabbage, the quicker it absorbs flavors. Think of it as giving your veggies a stylish, razor-thin haircut.
  • Salt massage: Before mixing, give your cabbage a brief massage with a pinch of salt. It softens it just a tad, making for a more pleasing bite. Plus, who doesn’t love a good massage?
  • Taste and adjust: Everyone’s palate is a unique snowflake. Before serving, take a taste and adjust your seasonings. Your future self (and guests) will thank you.
  • Color pop: Want to wow visually? Toss in some shredded carrots or purple cabbage for a carnival of colors. Your slaw will look straight outta a food magazine!

Remember, it’s not just about making food; it’s about creating edible art (and having a darn good time while at it)!


Got questions? I’ve got answers! Dive into our FAQ ocean, where I tackle everything from fish taco fillings to slaw subtleties.

What do you serve with fish tacos?

Typically, fish tacos are paired with sides like Mexican rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and of course, our star – the slaw! For a refreshing drink, try a tangy margarita or a chilled beer.

What’s the difference between raw slaw and coleslaw?

Both involve cabbage, but coleslaw typically has a creamy dressing, often mayo-based. Raw slaw, on the other hand, usually goes for a lighter, vinaigrette-style dressing.

What does a fish taco contain?

Fish tacos typically have a base of grilled or fried fish, topped with slaw, and perhaps some salsa, guacamole, or a drizzle of creamy sauce, all wrapped up in a soft tortilla.

How to make spicy slaw for fish tacos?

Add some finely chopped jalapeños or a splash of hot sauce to the basic slaw recipe for that fiery kick.

How to make Asian slaw for fish tacos?

Tweak your basic slaw with ingredients like sesame oil, soy sauce, grated ginger, and maybe some crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.

Hope I’ve reeled in all your fish taco and slaw curiosities! Anything else on your mind? Drop a line! (Pun very much intended.)

Favorite Mexican Recipes to Try Next

Love Tacos? Try my Spicy Fish Tacos for a crispy and flavorful dinner option. Or, try the Crispy Baked Chicken Tacos for a crunchy twist on a classic. For a street food taste of Mexico, whip up the Chicken Street Tacos with a spicy kick and a drizzle of Cilantro Lime Crema. And if you’re looking for a truly authentic taste, give the Beef Tacos a try! They’re packed with flavor from fresh ingredients and a blend of spices.

If you’re looking for more lip-smacking dishes, how about trying out some Pulled Pork Tenderloin that will leave a fiery kick in your mouth? Or maybe you can indulge in some Chili Con Carne, a tasty Mexican chili that’s perfect for a cozy night in? And if you’re in the mood for something more Tex-Mex, why not try out some Chicken Fajitas – juicy chicken strips sizzling with peppers and onions, wrapped in warm tortillas.

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5 from 1 vote

Slaw for Fish Tacos

This slaw promises (+ delivers!) a tasty topping for our viral fish taco recipe, adding layers of cooling, tangy crunch. Best. Slaw. Ever.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 Cups of slaw


  • 4 cups loosely packed shredded cabbage red or green, or a combination
  • 2 green onions minced
  • 3 tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp white sugar
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  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the shredded cabbage and minced green onions. You can use red cabbage, green cabbage, or a combination of both, depending on your preference.
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the distilled white vinegar, kosher salt, and white sugar until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.
  • Pour the vinegar mixture over the shredded cabbage and green onions in the large mixing bowl.
  • Toss the ingredients together thoroughly, ensuring that the cabbage is well coated with the dressing. You can use your hands or salad tongs to gently mix the slaw.
  • Taste the slaw and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more vinegar, salt, or sugar according to your taste preference.



  • Finer shred: Thinly shred the cabbage for quicker flavor absorption.
  • Let the slaw sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before serving. This resting time allows the flavors to meld together and for the cabbage to slightly soften.
  • Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings according to your preference.


Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 2381mg | Potassium: 551mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 518IU | Vitamin C: 108mg | Calcium: 135mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Yulia says:

    5 stars
    So refreshing! I was wondering, have you ever tried adding fruits like pineapple or mango to the slaw for a tropical twist? I’m thinking it might add a sweet and tangy element to complement the savory flavors of the tacos. What’s your take on that?

    1. Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD says:

      Hi Yulia, I personally love the slaw as the “crunchy” element to a taco. I wouldn’t necessarily add pineapple or mango because it would take away from the crisp, tart vibe. Having said that, a fruity salsa alongside it would be delicious.