I’ve found my new favorite fish taco recipe. Maybe even my favorite TACO recipe (whoa). These spicy Chipotle Salmon Tacos are topped with a cool, creamy Cilantro Lime Crema for a wonderful gluten-free meal that comes together in only 15 minutes!
I’ve made a new discovery in the world of spices. Chipotle Pepper Powder. Ohhhh boy. It’s spicy and smoky and potent and delicious. In the past, when I wanted a chipotle flavor, I’d use canned chipotle peppers in adobo. But I LOVE the powder because you only need a teeny bit of it for tons of flavor and it stays fresh in your pantry for a long time. With canned chipotle peppers, I found I was always left with half the can unused and I’d be scrambling to figure out what to do with them. With the powder, there is no waste. And since it’s dry, it’s perfect for seasoning fish and meat and getting an awesome crispy sear on the outside (the moisture in canned peppers can make this difficult to achieve).
Did you know that chipotle peppers are just smoked jalapeño peppers? I only found out about that a little while ago- I thought it was an entirely different pepper. Nope. Just jalapeños.
So, needless to say, this powder is SPICY since it’s made from ground up jalapeños. I used 1/2 teaspoon to cover a pound of salmon for this recipe- you can use more or less depending on your spice level tolerance. And I got it in the bulk spices section of my grocery store- it’s so much cheaper than the aisle!
And the SAUCE! The cilantro lime crema is everything. Zach asked me if we could just keep a stash in our fridge always. It’s great on these tacos, but it would be awesome on sandwiches, drizzled on nachos or enchiladas, or even as a salad dressing.
I’d like to clarify one thing: I used sour cream to make it, but you can use Mexican crema (similar to sour cream) if you want. There is a slight difference between the two: crema is a bit thinner and tangier than sour cream. The added lime juice had a similar effect on the sour cream, which is why I called it crema. Plus, it’s got a nice ring to it. Right? Right.
The best part about the chipotle salmon tacos (besides the sauce) is the awesomely crispy, seared crust on the outside of the fish. Here’s how I got it.
I used a cast iron skillet on high heat with butter. The dairy particles in the butter help get a dark color on the fish (like a blackening technique), and the high heat from the cast iron allows the outside to sear and char. Make sure your skillet is well-seasoned so it doesn’t stick, and don’t add the fish to the skillet until it’s very hot. Then, don’t move the fish or try and flip it until it’s seared sufficiently (4-5 minutes). If you try and flip it too soon, it will likely stick to the pan and fall apart. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, a non-stick will work as well.
Looking for more salmon deliciousness? Try these:
- Garlic Butter Sheet Pan Salmon and Veggies
- 15-Minute Perfect Poached Salmon with Chive Butter
- Orange Glazed Salmon
- Salmon, Arugula, and Feta Frittata
- One-Pan Garlic Butter Salmon and Swiss Chard
- Seared Salmon with Scallion Butter
- Seared Salmon with Avocado, Lemon, and Garlic Aioli
- Garlic Poached Salmon with Creamy Lemon Caper Sauce
- Oven BBQ Salmon
Here’s the printable recipe! Happy Taco Tuesday :-)
Chipotle Salmon Tacos with Cilantro Lime Crema
- 1 lb. salmon skin removed (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- zest and juice of one lime
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- 8 corn tortillas
- thinly sliced red cabbage, chopped red onions, and more fresh cilantro for serving, optional
- Season the salmon on both sides with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder.
- Melt butter (2 tablespoons) over high heat in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet. Add salmon when the skillet is hot and cook for 5 minutes on each side until seared and cooked through.
- Meanwhile, to make the cilantro lime crema, blend together sour cream (3/4 cup), cilantro leaves (1/2 cup), lime juice and zest, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
- In another skillet, heat up the corn tortillas until warm and browned in spots (about 1 minute on each side on high heat), or toast them directly over your gas burner.
- Top each tortilla with the cooked salmon, desired fixings, and the cilantro lime crema.
- Time saving tip: prep the fixings and sauce in advance, and season the fish ahead of time. Keep in the fridge for up to 2 days or freezer for up to 6 months.
- To remove the skin from the salmon, you can do this yourself carefully with a sharp paring knife, or just have them do it at the fish counter when you buy it at the store (it's free!).
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.