Seared Salmon Tacos with Avocado Crema
Seared Salmon Tacos with Avocado Crema! It’s the perfect twist on the original fish taco recipe and a family favorite! These are super easy to make, heart-healthy, and full of flavor. Your family will love this Mexican favorite!
Oh my goodness… have I got a taco recipe for you today! You all know by now my love for salmon. Salmon is hands down my favorite fish. I eat it at least once a week at my house and it has so many health benefits like omega 3 fatty acids and DHA and EPA which help to prevent strokes. I eat salmon so many different ways but seared and stuffed into a taco might just be the best.
And to be sure and keep my heart healthy and my tastebuds happy, I’m going to be cooking up these salmon tacos on repeat and not just for taco Tuesdays! My family loves them, they’re so tasty and satisfying, they’re quick + easy, and when I serve these for dinner I know we’re getting a nutritious meal that everyone enjoys!
Salmon tacos are so easy to make and totally versatile. Add your favorite toppings for a personalized taco and leave out whatever you don’t really like or don’t have on hand. Here’s what I like to use:
- Spices. The homemade taco seasoning blend is super flavorful! I like making my own to control the ingredients and flavors. It’s a simple mix of garlic salt, cumin, paprika, onion powder, chili powder, and black pepper.
- Salmon. For the most health benefits and the tastiest salmon tacos, I recommend spending a little extra on high-quality wild salmon. You can definitely taste the difference! See below for more info on the best salmon to buy.
- Olive or avocado oil. For cooking the salmon.
- Avocado Crema. This avocado sauce is SO tasty and adds the perfect finishing touch to these tacos. It’s a simple combination of avocado, lemon or lime juice, Greek yogurt or mayo, hot sauce, olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.
- For serving. We like to serve our salmon tacos using corn tortillas, but flour tortillas work great too (or use any favorite tortillas). We also add in cabbage slaw, sliced jalapeño, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, avocado cream sauce and a drizzle of fresh lime juice. Feel free to add any favorite toppings that you prefer.
WHAT IS the BEST SALMON TO BUY?
For the highest quality salmon, you want to purchase wild-caught salmon, which is usually king, coho or sockeye salmon. Here’s a short note on each:
- King salmon, also known as Chinook, is considered to be the finest of the wild Pacific salmon. It has a high content of healthy omega-3 oils and because of the higher fat content, it tastes the richest and is considered the most delicious of all your salmon choices.
- Coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, has a lighter taste, which may appeal to some. It pairs well with sauces and it’s more versatile in cooking, making it possible to serve in a wider variety of ways. The flavor of coho salmon is similar to king salmon, but it’s more of an everyday kind of salmon. It’s a great, less expensive option than king salmon.
- Sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon, has the strongest flavor of the bunch, but is not overly fishy. It is rich and flavorful, and many prefer it over king salmon. It is leaner than both king and coho salmon, so you’ll want to be careful not to overcook it.
WHAT SALMON SHOULD I AVOID?
Always buy wild-caught salmon (preferably Alaskan) and avoid farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Farm-raised Atlantic salmon are particularly fatty and often fed an artificial diet, which means they are far less nutritious, filled with more water and don’t usually yield the best results when cooked.
WHERE TO PURCHASE SALMON?
High-quality salmon can be found at the seafood counter of most grocery stores. This is a great option because you know it’s fresh and you’ll be able to select fillets of similar size.
CAN I USE FROZEN SALMON?
If you happen to only have frozen wild salmon available – that works! Just make sure to thaw it before cooking. I often buy frozen Alaskan salmon from Costco – it’s priced well and is super tasty.
HOW TO MAKE SEARED SALMON TACOS
The full printable recipe is below, but let’s walk through it, so you understand each step before you get started.
To make these tacos quickly, we’re going to do a bit of simple multi-tasking. Here’s the order of steps I recommend:
- Mix the spices. While the skillet is heating over the stove, whisk together the spices in a small bowl. If you want to go an even easier route, you can use store-bought taco seasoning. Lightly pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and evenly rub with the seasoning mixture. Don’t forget the sides!
- Pan sear the salmon. Pan searing salmon is one of the quickest ways to make a healthy fish dinner. No need to heat up the kitchen with the oven and no standing over a hot grill. Less than 10 minutes of cook time on the stovetop is all you need to make pan seared salmon! Avoid overcrowding the fish while cooking, working in batches if you need to and add salmon fillets flesh side down, to an already heated pan. Cover pan and sear fish over medium-high heat, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes until crispy and golden, before flipping. If you don’t have a lid for your pan, just use a baking sheet.
- Flip salmon. After 3 minutes, uncover pan, and flip. Cook salmon for about another 5 minutes. You will know the salmon is done when the flesh is flaky, when checked with a fork. Be aware that the salmon will continue to cook, some, after removed from the heat and you don’t want to overcook the fish, as it will become dry. Once the salmon is fully cooked, you’ll easily be able to remove the skin with a fork.
Avocado Crema & taco assembly
While the salmon is cooking, whip up the Avocado Crema sauce by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. If you don’t want to take time to make the sauce, these tacos are even great topped with guacamole or a store-bought avocado cilantro dressing.
Once the salmon is fully cooked, remove it from the skillet to a plate and use a fork to roughly shred it into large pieces. Add slaw and then salmon to warmed tortillas. I like to heat a couple of tortillas at a time in a large skillet over the stove. Top with other taco favorites! I added a few spoonfuls of feta cheese, some diced avocado and sprinkled on fresh cilantro. Finally, add a drizzle of the Avocado Crema sauce. For the “drizzle look” of the avocado cream over the tacos, cut off the very end of one corner of a plastic baggie (a very small cut). Load the baggie with a couple of spoonfuls of sauce and then squirt the sauce out of the cut as you move back and forth across the tacos. Voilà… enjoy!
HOW TO KNOW WHEN SALMON IS DONE Cooking
This seared salmon requires about 8 minutes in a hot skillet. The cooking time will depend on how thick your salmon is and how well done you like your salmon. You can accurately check the temperature of your salmon with an instant-read thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the salmon.
The FDA advises salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145ºF., HOWEVER, if you cook your salmon to this temperature it will be overdone because the temperature will continue to rise even after the salmon is removed from the heat.
Instead, America’s Test Kitchen suggests cooking farm-raised salmon to about 125ºF and wild-caught to 120ºF to avoid dry, overcooked salmon. This is the recommendation that I follow and the results are always perfect after a 5-minute rest.
Don’t have an instant read thermometer? Not sure if your salmon is done? The salmon will flake a bit when you insert a knife or fork into the thickest part. The salmon will still look a little translucent in the center, but it should not look red or raw.
Beyond the salmon tacos, it’s nice to have some accompaniments to round out the meal. Here’s some ideas:
- Appetizer. Chips and salsa! This homemade salsa is a family and reader favorite. You’ll also probably want to stir up some fresh guac!
- Drinks. Don’t forget the skinny jalapeño marg, or if it’s summertime, my watermelon cocktail is a fan favorite.
- Sides. A simple batch of cilantro lime cauliflower rice or cilantro lime rice would pair perfectly with these tacos.
- Dessert. White chocolate macadamia nut cookies or cherry delight are always delicious options!
You are going to fall in love with these tacos with the very first bite. The flavors going on in these tacos will blow you away. You get the spicy flavor from the salmon and the cool rich flavors from the Avocado Crema sauce. Oh man. These are incredible.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT Salmon TACOS
- Storing leftovers. Salmon is best the day it is made, but can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The slaw and other fresh fixings can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, and any extra avocado sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
- Reheating leftover salmon. Since salmon tends to dry out when reheated, I prefer to use the leftovers on top of salads, still cold. However, you can rewarm the salmon in 20-second increments in the microwave or for a minute or two in a hot skillet on the stovetop or reheat in a 300ºF preheated oven or air fryer for 5-10 minutes until warmed through.
- Large Cast Iron Skillet – You can really use any large skillet for cooking salmon, but I prefer using a cast iron skillet because the heavy bottom retains heat. This ensures even cooking and cooks the fish quickly. Lodge is a great budget-friendly brand.
- Wüsthof Two Piece Prep Set (Knives) – This is the knife set that I use most often and I can’t say enough great things about these high-quality knives.
- Small Food Processor – I love this mini food processor for whipping up salad dressings, dips and sauces.
I could literally go on and on about the wonderful flavor of this salmon, not to mention the cooking method that gives it the most lovely flakiness and texture. Even if you’re not in the mood for tacos, this is a salmon recipe that could totally stand on its own. The salmon would work well paired with myriad of side dishes or use it as the protein in a salad. If you’ve been trying to find a way to love salmon, give this seared salmon recipe a try… you WON’T be disappointed!
If you try this seared salmon taco recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Seared Salmon Tacos with Avocado Crema
For the salmon:
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound fresh wild-caught salmon
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
For the avocado crema:
- 1 large avocado
- 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or mayo
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste, as needed
- 6 corn tortillas or other favorite tortilla/wrap
- 1 bag of slaw mix
- fresh cilantro, salsa and any other favorite taco toppings
- Mix all seasonings for the salmon in a small bowl. Feel free to just use about 5 teaspoons of taco seasoning, if preferred. Pat salmon dry and then rub evenly with seasoning mix (don't forget to rub down the sides of the salmon). You will probably not need to use all of the seasoning mix.
- In a nonstick pan, add oil and heat to medium-high. When pan is hot, add the salmon, flesh side down and cook for 3 minutes with lid on the pan. Flip the salmon and cook fish all the way through (uncovered), about 5 more minutes. You can check the middle of the salmon with a fork to make sure it is heated and beginning to flake. (This timing is usually perfect for me – you don’t want overcooked salmon and it will continue to cook a bit even after removed from heat.)* Set aside.
- While salmon is cooking, combine all Avocado Crema ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Heat tortillas in a skillet over the stovetop or according to package instructions in the microwave and until hot on both sides. Top tortillas with slaw/salad mix and fresh cilantro. Remove skin from salmon and use your fingers to pull chunks of salmon to divide it among the tortillas and top with Avocado Crema or guacamole and/or any other favorite taco topping. Enjoy… I know you will! One of my personal favorite recipes on the blog!
- Nutritional information is calculated with seared salmon and tortilla only, additional toppings and Avocado Crema are not included.
- The recipe for Avocado Crema will make more than enough for these tacos. I love having extras for egg wraps, omelets, salad dressing and sandwich spread. If you prefer not having leftover sauce, consider cutting ingredients in half for the tacos.
- For the “drizzle look” of the Avocado Crema on tacos, cut off the very end of one corner of a plastic baggie (a very small cut). Load the baggie with a couple of spoonfuls of Crema and then squirt Crema out of the cut as you move back and forth across the tacos.
- If your salmon fillets are extra thick, you may want to cook them for 1-2 more minutes.