Vegan fish tacos with chipotle cashew crema will whisk you away to a beachside cabana. A satisfying lunch or dinner that is very easy to make!
Fish tacos weren’t a big thing growing up in the Midwest in the 80’s and 90’s. So it was with a certain amount of surprise that I realized how popular they were once I moved to California.
In Southern California, fish tacos are widely available in taquerias. They’re served in soft corn tortillas, grilled or fried with cabbage slaw, crema, and a lime to squeeze on top.
So while vegan fish tacos weren’t the first thing that came to mind when Gardein released their fishless filets a few years back, it was a close second.
(What was the first? Vegan fish and chips with peas. Plus, plenty of malt vinegar & lemon juice for splashing on Long John Silvers-style.)
Using packaged Gardein as the bulk of the filling, vegan fish tacos are very easy to make & weeknight friendly to boot.
These tacos are stuffed with:
- Gardein fishless filets
- Shredded cabbage mix
- A drizzle of chipotle crema (Made with cashews!)
- A sprinkling of cilantro (Optional)
Because it’s so convenient, I like to buy bagged shredded cabbage mix for the filling. (It’s one of my favorite vegan Trader Joe’s products. But it’s widely available in most grocery stores.) You can use the rest of the bag in vegan coleslaw or on top of a vegan BBQ sandwich.
Cabbage is a good choice in vegan fish tacos, because it really holds its crunch under the sturdy fishless filets and thick chipotle crema. It also has a mild flavor that lets the other elements shine.
But if you’d prefer to chop your own cabbage by hand, or use romaine or lettuce instead, go for it!
Where can I find Gardein fishless filets?
Gardein fishless filets are sold in the freezer section of many natural grocery stores, and in the health market of stores like Hy-Vee.
You can find them in the plant-based meat freezer section in some locations of Target and Walmart.
If you don’t have access to them and/or would prefer to make your own filling, use fried vegan shrimp instead!
Where can I buy chipotle peppers in adobo?
The bulk of the crema comes together with cashews and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. Chipotle chile peppers are made from jalapeño peppers that have been dried and smoked. They’re then put into smoky adobo sauce.
You can pick up canned chipotle peppers next to the jarred salsas and packaged tortillas in most grocery stores. The 7-ounce cans are usually a couple of dollars.
You’ll need just two peppers for this recipe. Put the remaining peppers and sauce in a container in the refrigerator for later use. (These sweet potato and black bean tacos, perhaps?)
I wrote this vegan fish taco recipe to make 6 tacos since that’s how many filets come in a package of Gardein. However, it’s easy enough to pull only as many filets as you need from the bag and reduce the rest of the ingredients accordingly.
I recommend making the full batch of crema, however.
One, if you get the amounts too small, it won’t blend as well since it will go below the blade.
Two, the crema is great in other dishes. Try it drizzled over sweet potato & black bean hash.
For a change of pace, these tacos are also great replaced with Gardein crabless cakes instead of their fishless filets!
How to make this recipe
Start by making the chipotle crema with raw cashews.
If you don’t have a high speed blender, you’ll need to soak the raw cashews first for several hours. Or you can grind dry raw cashews in a clean coffee grinder until the cashews turn into a flour. Then put the ground raw cashews into the blender with the remaining ingredients.
If you have a high speed blender, you can skip the soaking or coffee grinder step.
Blend the raw cashews in a blender with water, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, agave syrup, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. (You may need to stop and scrape down the sides once.)
Keep in mind that chipotle peppers vary in size. So if you’re heat averse, look for smaller peppers, remove the seeds from the peppers, or just use one pepper.
Remember that the spicy sauce will be drizzled on mild fishless filets, though. So even if it tastes pretty spicy right out the blender pitcher, the heat will be tempered by the rest of the taco.
Refrigerate the chipotle crema in a covered container until ready to serve. The crema will thicken as it cools.
How to cook Gardein fishless filets
You have several options when it comes to cooking the Gardein fishless filets. You can cook them in the conventional or toaster oven. You can microwave and then pan fry. You can use a deep fryer. Or you can do what I do and air fry them.
To cook Gardein fishless filets in a conventional or toaster oven, preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Then bake them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet for 10-14 minutes on each side until golden brown.
To microwave the fishless filets, microwave for one minute on high. Then brown in a dry skillet over a medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side.
To deep fry the Gardein fishless filets, preheat oil to 350 degrees. Fry the frozen skillet for about 3 ½ minutes, until they are crisp and hot.
To air fry Gardein fishless filets, put the filets into the air fryer basket with room between each of them. If you overfill a basket with breaded things, the breading doesn’t stick as nicely. But you should be able to fit all 6 fishless filets into the basket in an even layer, not touching.
Air fry at 400 degrees for 9 minutes. Once the filets are looking crisp around the edges, flip them. Then air fry about 7 minutes more until both sides look brown and crispy.
Put the tacos together!
Now it’s time to compile the tacos. Warm corn tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet for about one minute on each side on a medium heat. After each tortilla has been warmed on both sides, move it to a plate and cover with a clean dish towel to keep them pliable until serving.
Once the filets are fully cooked, slice the filets in four pieces on a bias. Put one sliced filet in each tortilla and stuff with cabbage mix or green leaf lettuce, onions, sliced avocado, and a sprinkling of cilantro.
Drizzle each taco with chipotle crema. Serve with lime wedges.
For more plant-based alternatives to fish & other sea life, check out these vegan seafood recipes.
Vegan fish tacos with chipotle crema
For the tacos
- 6 Gardein fishless filets
- 6 soft corn tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage mix or chopped romaine lettuce
- 3 Tablespoons chopped onions
- 2 avocados pit removed and sliced
- Cilantro chopped (optional garnish)
- 1 lime sliced (for serving)
To make the tacos
- Cook the Gardein fishless filets according to the directions on package.*
- In a skillet, warm the corn tortillas one at a time for about 1 minute on each side on a medium heat. After each tortilla has been warmed on both sides, move it to a plate and cover with a clean dish towel to keep them pliable until serving.
- Once the filets are fully cooked, remove from oven and slice the filets in four pieces on a bias. Put one sliced filet in each tortilla and stuff with shredded cabbage mix, onions, sliced avocado, and a sprinkling of cilantro (if using). Drizzle each taco with chipotle crema and serve with lime slices.
To make the chipotle crema
- If you don't have a high speed blender, soak the cashews in water for several hours, and then drain. If you have a high speed blender, you can skip this step.
- Put the cashews, 3/4 cup water, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, agave syrup, and lemon juice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate the sauce in a covered container until ready to serve. The crema will thicken as it cools.
Here’s what reader, Don, had to say about vegan fish tacos:
“⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ These fish tacos w chipotle crema are a dish we’ve made over and over, but especially when we have guests. Everyone loves them. We always make a full supply of the crema because we end up using it on other foods…..it’s soooooo good. Thx Cadry for this great recipe!”
Originally posted March 2016. Content, recipe, and photos updated October 2019.