Fish Taco Sauce

Battered and fried fish tacos with pico de gallo, sauce and limes

 The Spruce / Pete Scherer

  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 5 mins
  • Servings: 6 to 8 servings
  • Yield: 1 cup

That tangy, slightly spicy white sauce that often accompanies Baja style fish tacos is usually made with sour cream, mayonnaise, and lime juice. Some variations have more ingredients, often including things like cumin, cilantro, or hot sauce. This recipe is the basic idea, but you should feel free to improvise with whatever you have on hand. The roasted jalapeno adds some smoky depth and gives the sauce a pleasant pale green hue. If you don't want to go to the trouble of preparing the pepper, any prepared hot sauce makes a good substitute. Use a teaspoon at a time until you reach your desired level of spiciness.

This sauce is delightful on all kinds of other things besides fish tacos. Try it on shrimp tacos, all kinds of enchiladas, burgers, sandwiches, or as a dip for fish sticks, calamari, onion rings, or jalapeno poppers. Pretty much anything fried or sandwich-like will taste good with this sauce.

The sauce couldn't be easier to make. The hardest part is roasting and processing the pepper. Be careful when handling hot peppers—we've all had the experience of handling hot peppers and then touching our eyes or face. Ouch!


  • 1 small jalapeno pepper
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (or Mexican crema)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Roast the jalapeno pepper over an open flame or under the broiler until the pepper has softened and the skin is charred and blistered all over. Remove to a cutting board. Remove the stem and blistered skin. Cut the pepper in half and remove the seeds and membrane.

  3. Add the roasted jalapeno and all remaining ingredients to the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Remove to a covered container or squeeze bottle and chill before using.


  • The easiest way to roast a jalapeno pepper is to use a long pair of tongs to hold the pepper over the open flame of a gas stove. If you don't have a gas stove, you can pan roast the pepper or char it under an electric broiler. You can use a toaster oven for this, too, which makes a little more sense than firing up the big oven when you're only roasting one little pepper. Turn the pepper as it roasts so that it chars on all sides, and let the flesh get nice and soft so that it purees into the sauce.
  • Putting the pepper into a bag or other covered container for a few minutes after roasting will loosen the skin and make it easier to remove. When handling the skin, seeds, and membranes, use gloves or take care to wash your hands thoroughly before moving on.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.