Our pescadillas recipe is made of canned tuna, tomatoes, onions, and chili peppers to deliver the most delicious crispy tuna tacos that can be served with Mexican slaw, salsa, and a squeeze of lime.
About the recipe
Pescadillas are a Mexican appetizer popular in Guerrero, Oaxaca, and many other coastal states where is common to consume fish on a daily basis.
The dish consists of a corn tortilla folded and filled with a fish mixture and fried until golden and crispy.
The name comes from the combination of two words: Pescado and Quesadilla = Pescadilla. And even though those tacos don’t include any cheese to be considered a quesadilla, they still share the half-moon form of one.
The recipe is consumed all year round in some states but is especially popular during the Lent season (Cuaresma) when fish and seafood recipes are prepared all over the country.
What type of fish to use
Traditional pescadillas are made with local white fish, such as cazón (dogfish), tilapia, or huachinango (red snapper).
Even though the recipe is usually made with fresh fish boiled and shredded, or stewed directly with vegetables; a popular recipe these days is made using canned tuna.
Our suggestion is to either use canned tuna as in this recipe or just any firm fish that you have locally available.
Related Article: Health Benefits of Fish.
*The ingredients list can be found below, in the recipe card.*
Heat the olive oil in a medium pan, add first chopped onions and jalapeño peppers and stir fry over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
Add tomatoes, cilantro, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and have released their juices.
While the tomatoes are cooking, drain well the tuna then add it to the pan. Mix and cook for 3-4 minutes or until most of the liquids are gone (read notes).
Adjust with salt to taste and leave the mixture to cool down.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or a comal over medium-high heat. One by one, heat up the tortillas for about 20 seconds on each side or until they are soft and pliable.
Place them between a kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft.
Now let’s make the pescadillas. Place a flat tortilla on your hand or a working surface and add a spoonful of the tuna mixture in the middle.
Next, fold the tortilla in half and secure it with two toothpicks near to the edges, making sure the filling is nicely placed in the middle.
Repeat the step until all tortillas and tuna mixture are gone. If you have some mixture leftovers, heat up more tortillas to make more tacos.
Now, heat about 1 inch of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Carefully, slide a batch of tacos into the oil and fry on both sides until nicely golden.
As pescadillas are coming out of the oil, place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Once you’re finished with the frying, is time to serve. You can either place all fried tuna tacos on a serving platter and place the toppings on the side, or you can place 3-4 tacos in each place, add some Mexican slaw on top, and drizzle with salsa.
Is up to you, but I prefer the first option so everyone can fix their tacos as they want.
- Make sure you allow most of the liquids to evaporate from the tuna mixture to prevent any moisture to spill into the hot oil when frying the tacos.
- Don’t skip warming up your tortillas, if you use them cold, they will break when you fold them.
- Don’t forget to remove the toothpicks before eating your tacos!
- You can either fix the toppings before starting with the recipe or make them while you frying the tacos.
- You can also make this recipe using fish leftovers from other recipes.
You can serve the crispy tuna tacos with various toppings, here are some suggestions:
- Mexican slaw salad.
- Shredded lettuce.
- Chipotle creamy salsa.
- Cilantro lime cream sauce.
- Avocado slices.
- Sliced or pickled red onions.
- Lime wedges.
Storage and Reheating Suggestions
My first recommendation is to make and eat immediately those crispy tuna tacos, as they can lose some crispiness the longer they sit.
But, if you have some leftovers or want to make these tacos to bring them to a potluck or party, here is what you can do:
- Make sure your tacos are at room temperature and not hot, as the heat could create some moisture and ruin them.
- Line with paper towels a glass or plastic container.
- Place the tuna fried tacos inside and close tight the lid.
- They keep crispy for a few hours at room temperature.
- Or you can pop them in the fridge and store them for up to 3 days, then reheat them.
Store the mixture: On the other hand, you can make the tuna mixture, allow it to cool down, and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months.
For reheating: Preheat your oven to 360°F/180°C. Place pescadillas on a baking sheet arranging them in a single layer. Heat for
More Fish Recipes
Pescadillas (crispy tuna tacos)
- 14 corn tortillas
- 2 cans tuna (5.6 oz each, drained)
- ½ lb tomatoes (diced)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 jalapeño peppers (seeded and chopped)
- 1 small bunch cilantro (chopped)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- oil for frying
- Heat olive oil in a medium pan, add onions and jalapeño peppers and sauté over medium-low heat for 2 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, cilantro, and a pinch of salt.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and have released their juices.
- Mix in canned tuna and cook for 3-4 minutes or until most of the liquids are gone (read notes).
- Adjust with salt to taste and allow the mixture to cool down.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or a comal over medium-high heat.
- Heat up the tortillas for about 20 seconds on each side or until they are soft and pliable.
- Place them between a kitchen towel to keep them warm and soft.
- Place a flat tortilla on a surface and add a spoonful of the tuna mixture in the middle.
- Next, fold the tortilla in half-moon and secure it with two toothpicks near to the edges.
- Repeat until all tortillas and tuna mixture are used.
- Heat about 1 inch of frying oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Working in batches, add the tacos into the oil and fry on both sides until nicely golden (about 3 minutes per side).
- As pescadillas are coming out of the oil, place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- Serve with Mexican slaw, salsa, and a squeeze of lime (read notes).
- Allow most of the liquids to evaporate from the tuna mixture to prevent any moisture to spill into the hot oil when frying the tacos.
- Don’t skip warming up the tortillas, if you use them cold, they will break when you fold them.
- Remove the toothpicks before eating your tacos.
- For toppings, please read the post section “serving suggestions” for some ideas.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.