45 Easy Summer Dinner Ideas

If you’re looking for new summer dinner ideas, you’re in the right place! Below, you’ll find 45 of my best summer dinner recipes. They include easy weeknight pastas, fresh summer salads, quick grilled meals, and more. These recipes ar…


If you’re looking for new summer dinner ideas, you’re in the right place! Below, you’ll find 45 of my best summer dinner recipes. They include easy weeknight pastas, fresh summer salads, quick grilled meals, and more. These recipes are the meals I make on repeat throughout the summer. I love them because they’re packed with the best produce the season has to offer—tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, basil, and more. Using these fresh ingredients is a simple way to add bold flavor to summer meals. I’ll be cooking with them as often as I can this season, and I hope you […]

Crispy Tofu & Eggplant Lettuce Wraps

Tofu and eggplant just teamed up to create one EPIC appetizer, friends! These lettuce wraps feature SUPER flavorful crispy tofu and caramelized eggplant with fresh, crunchy veggies, vibrant herbs, and a savory-sweet sesame dipping sauce. If you’re thin…

Crispy Tofu & Eggplant Lettuce Wraps

Tofu and eggplant just teamed up to create one EPIC appetizer, friends! These lettuce wraps feature SUPER flavorful crispy tofu and caramelized eggplant with fresh, crunchy veggies, vibrant herbs, and a savory-sweet sesame dipping sauce. If you’re thinking WOW now, just wait until the first bite!

These 10-ingredient flavor miracles make a crowd-pleasing appetizer for four or light spring or summer meal for two. Let’s get to it!

We’ve done tofu lettuce wraps before, but this time eggplant joins in on the fun!

Crispy Tofu & Eggplant Lettuce Wraps from Minimalist Baker →

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl assembled with extra herbs around.These Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls were an Instagram creation that needed a place on the blog! Spicy, fresh, and all…

The post Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl assembled with extra herbs around.

These Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls were an Instagram creation that needed a place on the blog! Spicy, fresh, and all around a great weeknight meal.

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl assembled with extra herbs around.

I love a weeknight chicken bowl and these bowls could not be more simple! To start, you will make the cucumber salad, which is the star of the dish. The cucumbers and herbs add a delicious freshness to the bowls while the rice vinegar and Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp add a zing. It is the perfect pairing! Once your salad is assembled, you will sear your simply seasoned chicken then be ready to assemble.

Close up of Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl in black bowl.

Ingredients:

  • Persian or Mini Cucumbers
  • Geen Onions 
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Fresh Cilantro 
  • Fresh Thai Basil 
  • Fresh Mint
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs 
  • Fly by Jing Mala Spice Mix 
  • Avocado Oil
  • Prepared Brown Cice
  • Lime Wedges
Ingredients for Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls scattered on counter.

Step-by-Step:

Step One: Prepare the Cucumber Salad

In a medium-sized bowl, add all of your cucumber salad ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Cucumber salad assembled in large white bowl.

Step Two: Season the Chicken

Season each side of the chicken with the Mala Spice Mix and salt.

Seasoned raw chicken on white platter.

Step Three: Sear the Chicken

In a large skillet and the avocado oil and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Seared chicken on white platter.

Step Four: Slice the Chicken

Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes then slice.

Step Five: Assemble the Bowls

Next, add your prepared brown rice to each bowl, then add the chicken and top with the cucumber salad. Add additional herbs and chili crisp, plus lime wedges. Serve and enjoy!

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl assembled in black bowl.

I hope you love these Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls as much as I do! Comment below once you make them!

For More Chicken Bowl Recipes:

Santa Fe Chicken Bowl

Harissa Avocado Chicken Bowls

Blackened Chicken and Sweet Potato Bowls

Chicken and Cilantro Rice Bowls with Tahini

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowl assembled in black bowl.
Print

Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls

Servings 2

Ingredients

For the Cucumber Salad:

  • 3 Persian or mini cucumbers thinly sliced
  • 3 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons loosely chopped cilantro plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons loosely chopped Thai basil plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon loosely chopped mint plus more for serving

For the Chicken:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons Fly by Jing Mala Spice Mix (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil

For Serving:

  • Prepared brown rice
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

Prepare the Cucumber Salad:

  • In a medium-sized bowl, add all of your cucumber salad ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.

Prepare the Chicken:

  • Season each side of the chicken with the Mala Spice Mix and salt.
  • In a large skillet and the avocado oil and heat over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken thighs and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  • Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes then slice.

Assemble:

  • Next, add your prepared brown rice to each bowl, then add the chicken and top with the cucumber salad. Add additional herbs and chili crisp, plus lime wedges. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

If you cannot get Fly by Jing Mala Spice Mix, salt and pepper works fine! You can do a total of 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.

The post Chili Crisp Chicken Bowls appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Easy Pasta Salad

Today’s recipe is a picnic-perfect pasta salad! Every cookout needs a great pasta salad, and this is the one that I make all summer long. It comes together in no time, it’s full of fresh ingredients, and it packs a flavorful punch. I took e…


Today’s recipe is a picnic-perfect pasta salad! Every cookout needs a great pasta salad, and this is the one that I make all summer long. It comes together in no time, it’s full of fresh ingredients, and it packs a flavorful punch. I took extra care to make sure that this recipe is not just easy, but also easy to make in advance… because I totally get that you don’t want to be futzing with your pasta salad when you could be spending time outside with your friends. Note: If you do decide to make this salad in advance, toss […]

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce

Close up of Grilled Fish Taco with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce.I can’t get enough of fish tacos so I am so excited to add another to the blog with these…

The post Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Close up of Grilled Fish Taco with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce.

I can’t get enough of fish tacos so I am so excited to add another to the blog with these flavorful Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce!

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce assembled on tray.

Don’t let the ingredient list or steps overwhelm you with this recipe. I promise you it all comes together beautifully! For this #DDGrillWeek 2024 recipe, you’ll start by simply marinating the fish with olive oil and dried spices. Next, you’ll toss together the simple slaw and let that marinate as you hit the grill.

Close up of Grilled Fish Taco with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce.

Once your grill is prepped, you’ll start by grilling the poblanos for your green sauce then set those aside as you grill the fish and tortillas. The fish and tortillas will be kept warm as you blend up your green sauce with the poblanos, Greek yogurt, cilantro, and more. After your sauce is blended up, flake your fish, assemble your tacos, and enjoy! With a Clayton Margarita if you are feeling extra festive.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce Ingredients:

  • Ground Cumin
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Mahi Mahi or Halibut
  • Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Freshly Squeeze Lemon Juice
  • Honey
  • Shredded Green Cabbage
  • Shredded Purple Cabbage
  • Green Onions
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Poblano Peppers
  • Garlic
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Jalapeño or Serrano Pepper
  • Lime Wedges

Recipe Step-by-Step:

Step One: Make the Fish Marinade

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Stir until well combined until it turns into a paste-like consistency.

Step Two: Marinate the Fish

Pat the fish dry and brush the spice mixture over the top flesh of the fish and rub it in so that it evenly coats the fish. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate while you prepare the slaw.

Salmon filets marinating on sheet pan.

Step Three: Make the Slaw

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, lemon juice, honey, salt, and black pepper until well combined. Add the green and purple cabbage, green onion, and cilantro. Gently toss to coat. Set aside.

Slaw for Grilled Fish Tacos on low plate.

Step Four: Prep the Grill

When ready to cook, heat the grill over medium-high heat (350-400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure-fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.

Step Five: Grill the Poblano Peppers

Add the poblano peppers to the hot grill and grill for about 12 to 15 minutes until the skin is charred and blackened, flipping here and there to achieve an even grill. Transfer the cooked poblanos to a bowl and cover with foil or saran wrap to allow to steam while you cook the fish.

Step Six: Grill the Fish

Add the fish to the greased grill and cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil until ready to serve.

Step Seven: Grill the Tortillas

Add the tortillas to the grill and char until just warm and more pliable, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Step Eight: Make the Green Sauce

After the poblanos have steamed, they should peel very easily. Peel off the skin on the top layer, then remove the stem and seeds. Add the peeled poblanos to a blender with the cilantro, garlic, Greek yogurt, lime, and salt to make the sauce. Blend until smooth.

Green sauce in small bowl for Grilled Fish Tacos

Step Nine: Serve and Enjoy!

To serve, flake fish and serve in the warm tortillas. Top with the slaw, a drizzle of the green sauce, and thinly sliced jalapeño or serrano pepper if desired! Serve with a wedge of lime.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce assembled on tray.

Recipe FAQs:

Is the green sauce spicy?

I do not find poblanos particularly spicy! If you want to spice up your tacos, serve with thinly sliced jalapeño or serrano peppers.

Could I omit the tortillas?

Yes! This is great served in a bowl over the cabbage slaw and with a side of rice if preferred.

For More Fish Recipes:

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Jalapeño Tartar Sauce

Cedar Plank Salmon and Corn with Serrano-Butter

Paleo Battered Fish Tacos

Close up of Grilled Fish Taco with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce.
Print

Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce

Gluten-Free
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the Fish:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs mahi mahi or halibut, cut into two 1-lb filets

For the Citrus Slaw:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups finely shredded purple cabbage
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

For the Green Sauce:

  • 2 medium poblano peppers
  • 1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

For Serving:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, very thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Instructions

Marinate the Fish:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Stir until well combined until it turns into a paste-like consistency.
  • Pat the fish dry and brush the spice mixture over the top flesh of the fish and rub it in so that it evenly coats the fish. Set aside for 15 minutes to marinate while you prepare the slaw.

Make the Slaw:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, lemon juice, honey, salt, and black pepper until well combined. Add the green and purple cabbage, green onion, and cilantro. Gently toss to coat. Set aside.

Grill the Fish, Poblanos, and Tortillas:

  • When ready to cook, heat grill over medium-high heat (350-400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure-fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.
  • Add the poblano peppers to the hot grill and grill for about 12 to 15 minutes until the skin is charred and blackened, flipping here and there to achieve an even grill. Transfer the cooked poblanos to a bowl and cover with foil or saran wrap to allow to steam while you cook the fish.
  • Add the fish to the greased grill and cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and cover with foil until ready to serve.
  • Add the tortillas to the grill and char until just warm and more pliable, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

Make the Green Sauce:

  • After the poblanos have steamed, they should peel very easily. Peel off the skin on the top layer, then remove the stem and seeds. Add the peeled poblanos to a blender with the cilantro, garlic, Greek yogurt, lime, and salt to make the sauce. Blend until smooth.

Serve and Enjoy:

  • To serve, flake fish and serve in the warm tortillas. Top with the slaw, a drizzle of the green sauce, and thinly sliced jalapeño or serrano pepper if desired! Serve with a wedge of lime.

Photography and styling by Eat Love Eats.

The post Grilled Fish Tacos with Citrus Slaw and Green Sauce appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Best Broccoli Salad

This broccoli salad recipe is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s my lighter spin on classic Midwest broccoli salad, and though you won’t find any cheese or bacon here, it’s every bit as delicious. A creamy, tangy dressing coats cris…


This broccoli salad recipe is one of my favorite side dishes. It’s my lighter spin on classic Midwest broccoli salad, and though you won’t find any cheese or bacon here, it’s every bit as delicious. A creamy, tangy dressing coats crisp broccoli florets, chewy dried cranberries, sharp red onion, and smoky roasted nuts. Even salad skeptics will love it. This broccoli salad recipe is easy to make, and even better, make ahead. A few hours or a day in the fridge gives the broccoli a chance to soften and soak up the dressing’s punchy flavor. Pack it up for a […]

Pork Pastor Skewers

Pork Pastor Skewers assembled on plate. Limes and pickled onions scattered around.I love the flavor of al pastor and knew I needed to bring the flavor into my kitchen. These Pork…

The post Pork Pastor Skewers appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Pork Pastor Skewers assembled on plate. Limes and pickled onions scattered around.

I love the flavor of al pastor and knew I needed to bring the flavor into my kitchen. These Pork Pastor Skewers are even more delicious than I could have imagined!

Pork Pastor Skewers assembled on plate. Limes and pickled onions scattered around.

Here’s another #DDGrillWeek 2024 recipe I cannot get enough of! Although al pastor is traditionally prepared on a rotating vertical spit grill, I brought the flavor to my grill by skewering the marinated meat and cooking until slightly charred but still soft. The meat is marinated in a sweet, tangy, and smoky sauce that is sweetened with pineapple and packed with so much flavor that I cannot get enough of!

Pork Pastor Skewers plated over rice in blue bowl.

You will also set aside some of the marinade to baste the pork while it is grilling and you will serve additional sauce drizzled over top of the final bowl. Which, let’s discuss how this is served! I like to serve these in a bowl over cilantro-lime rice (I make the rice from this recipe!), with guacamole, pickled red onions, cilantro, and a wedge of lime.

Ingredients:

  • Pineapple
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Ancho Chile Powder 
  • Chili Powder
  • Ground Cumin
  • Ground Cinnamon
  • Fresh Oregano Leaves
  • Garlic
  • Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
  • Low-Sodium Chicken Broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Pork Tenderloin 
  • Prepared Cilantro-Lime Rice
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • Lime

Recipe Step-by-Step: Gas Grill Method

Step One: Make the Pork Marinade

In a high-speed blender, combine all of the pastor sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the sauce and store in the fridge until ready to use when cooking and serving the pork.

Step Two: Marinate the Pork

To a large bowl, add the cubed pork, salt, and pepper with the remaining pastor sauce. Cover and marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Pork Pastor marinating in white bowl.

Step Three: Assemble the Skewers

Next, thread the pork and pineapple onto the skewers. Hold two skewers side by side, parallel to one another, upright, and carefully thread the pork and pineapple onto the skewers. I like to do 3 to 4 cubes of pork, then a pineapple cube, then repeat. Using two skewers together makes it easier to flip and less likely to spin or slither off.

Pork Pastor Skewers assembled on sheet pan before grilling.

Step Four: Prep the Grill

Heat grill over medium-high heat (350-400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.

Step Five: Grill the Skewers

Place the pork skewers directly on the preheated grill grates. Line up the skewers side by side without overlapping. Cook the pork skewers, brushing with ½ cup of the reserved sauce (saving the rest for serving) every so often, for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the skewers and grill another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, painting with sauce. When done, the edges will be slightly charred and the middle of the pieces should be soft, juicy, and cooked through.

Step Six: Serve and Enjoy

Serve the skewers over cilantro-lime rice and drizzle with a bit of the remaining pastor sauce. Add a scoop of guacamole alongside the skewers. Top with pickled red onions, a little cilantro, and a wedge of lime on the side!

Pork Pastor Skewers assembled on plate. Limes and pickled onions scattered around.

Recipe FAQs:

Could I serve this in tortillas instead?

You can serve this however you prefer! I like serving in bowls, but you can always set up a taco bar instead.

I am worried about the spice level, any suggestions?

While I do not find these too spicy, I know others can be more spice-sensitive. Try 1 teaspoon of the ancho chile powder instead if preferred!

I hope y’all enjoy these skewers as much as I do! Comment below once you try them!

For More Skewer Recipes:

Grilled BBQ Chicken Skewer Salad

Spicy Curried Shrimp Skewers with Grilled Veggie Couscous

Grilled Sesame Chicken Skewers

Bang Bang Shrimp Skewers with Sesame Slaw

Pork Pastor Skewers plated over rice in blue bowl.
Print

Pork Pastor Skewers

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Paleo (if modified), Whole30 (if modified)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Marinating 2 hours
Servings 5

Ingredients

For the Pastor Sauce:

  • 2 cups medium-diced pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder (see note)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ cup freshly squeeze orange juice
  • ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Pork:

  • 2 pounds pork tenderloin excess fat removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Skewers:

  • Ten 6-inch skewers (if wooden, pre-soak for 15 minutes)
  • 1 cup medium diced pineapple

For the Bowls:

  • 1 cup prepared cilantro-lime rice (sub cauliflower rice for paleo and Whole30)
  • Pickled red onions
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Instructions

Marinate the Pork:

  • In a high-speed blender, combine all of the pastor sauce ingredients and blend until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the sauce and store in the fridge until ready to use when cooking and serving the pork.
  • To a large bowl, add the cubed pork, salt, and pepper with the remaining pastor sauce. Cover and marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Assemble the Skewers:

  • Next, thread the pork and pineapple onto the skewers. Hold two skewers side by side, parallel to one another, upright and carefully thread the pork and pineapple onto the skewers. I like to do 3 to 4 cubes of pork, then a pineapple cube, then repeat. Using two skewers together makes it easier to flip and less likely to spin or slither off.

Grill the Skewers (Gas-Grill Method):

  • Heat grill over medium-high heat (350-400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.
  • Place the pork skewers directly on the preheated grill grates. Line up the skewers side by side without overlapping. Cook the pork skewers, brushing with ½ cup of the reserved sauce (saving the rest for serving) every so often, for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the skewers and grill another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, painting with sauce. When done, the edges will be slightly charred and the middle of the pieces should be soft, juicy, and cooked through.

Grill the Skewers (Weber XL Searwood Method): 

  • Add Mesquite pellets to the grill and preheat to 375℉ 
  • Place the pork skewers directly on the preheated grill grates. Line up the skewers side by side without overlapping. Cook the pork skewers, brushing with ½ cup of the reserved sauce (saving the rest for serving) every so often, for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the skewers and grill another 3 to 4 minutes on the other side, painting with sauce. When done, the middle of the pieces should be soft, juicy, and cooked through. 

To Serve:

  • Serve over cilantro-lime rice and drizzle with a bit of the remaining pastor sauce. Add a scoop of guacamole alongside the skewers. Top with pickled red onions, a little cilantro and a wedge of lime!

Notes

Ancho Chile Note: Ancho chile powder packs a punch of heat. If you want milder, use 1 teaspoon.

Photography and styling by Eat Love Eats.

The post Pork Pastor Skewers appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Baja Fish Tacos

We are both huge taco fans and agree that Baja Fish Tacos are very high on our list of favorites. We love the crispy goodness of the battered and fried fish paired with crunchy, shredded cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and creamy, (slightly) spicy baja sauce! Although we both prefer corn tortillas when it comes to tacos, we agree that flour tortillas are the best for baja fish tacos! What are Baja Fish Tacos? Baja…

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The post Baja Fish Tacos appeared first on Spoon Fork Bacon.

Baja Fish Tacos recipe on a board.

We are both huge taco fans and agree that Baja Fish Tacos are very high on our list of favorites. We love the crispy goodness of the battered and fried fish paired with crunchy, shredded cabbage, fresh pico de gallo, and creamy, (slightly) spicy baja sauce!

Although we both prefer corn tortillas when it comes to tacos, we agree that flour tortillas are the best for baja fish tacos!

What are Baja Fish Tacos?

Baja fish tacos are fish tacos that uses beer battered and fried cod fillets, served up in soft tortillas with a spicy crema. The tacos are also topped with either shredded cabbage, pico de gallo or both. Our version uses both shredded cabbage and pico de gallo, to maximize the texture and flavor or the tacos!

How to Make Baja Fish Tacos

Baja Sauce Ingredients

Baja sauce ingredients all ready to make.

Process

  1. Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together and set aside until ready to use.
Baja sauce on a bowl ready to be mixed.
Baja sauce in a bowl mixed together.

Beer Battered Fish Ingredients

Baja fish tacos ingredients ready to be fried.

Process

  1. Preheat oil to 350˚F in a wide skillet with tall sides.
  2. Season cod pieces with salt and pepper.
Preheat oil to make fish tacos.
Seasoning cod pieces to make baja fish tacos.
  1. Place flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper together in a mixing bowl. Whisk dry ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Add beer to flour mixture and whisk together until smooth.
Flour for baja fish tacos.
Baja fish taco batter.
  1. Dip fish into beer batter until fully submerged, a couple pieces at a time.
  2. Shake excess batter off each piece and carefully drop them into the hot oil. Fry fish for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place onto a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack . Season with salt and pepper.
Cod fillets in batter to make baja fish tacos.
Freshly fried baja fish tacos.

Assembly Ingredients

Fish taco ingredients.

Process

  1. Spread a couple spoonfuls of baja sauce in the center of each tortilla.
  2. Top with a couple pieces of fried fish.
Making baja fish tacos with baja sauce.
Process of making baja fish tacos recipes.
  1. Top each taco with a small handful of shredded cabbage.
  2. Next, top baja fish tacos with a couple spoonfuls pico de gallo (and an extra drizzle of baja sauce, if you want!). Serve with lime wedges on the side.
Building baja fish tacos recipe.
Baja fish tacos recipe built.

Tips and Tricks for Baja Fish Taco Success

  • Don’t skip out on the cornstarch in the batter. It really helps to get the fried batter super crispy around each piece of fish. It also helps the crispiest last, so you don’t have to worry about the batter getting soggy while frying all the pieces up.
  • Transfer fried fish to a cooling rack that sits in a rimmed baking sheet. This will also greatly aide in the fried fish remaining crispy, while allowing any excess oil to drip onto the baking sheet.
  • Fry the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding and to maintain oil temperature.
  • Charring the tortillas aren’t completely necessary, but we think it adds a nice, subtle smoky flavor to the overall tacos. We simply char the tortillas by placing them directly over the stovetop flames on each side for about 30 seconds.
Baja fish tacos with limes and pico de gallo.

Variations

  • Increase or decrease the amount of adobo sauce used in the crema to adjust the spiciness level based on personal preference.
  • If you can’t find crema, replace it with sour cream, creme fraiche or mayonnaise.
  • Add a smear of guacamole or mashed avocado to the center of the tortillas, before adding the fried fish pieces to double the creamy goodness!
  • While we love using flour tortillas for our baja fish tacos, use corn tortillas, if that’s your preference. They’ll be just as delicious!
  • Use a different white fish such as tilapia or halibut.
  • Use seltzer water instead of beer for the batter for a nonalcoholic version.
  • We love the unadulterated shredded cabbage for the crunch and balance it adds to the tacos, but you can also create a simple and delicious cabbage slaw by adding a little vinegar, pinch of sugar and chopped cilantro to the cabbage, tossing everything together and allowing the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes before using it in the tacos.

Make Ahead Instructions

While we don’t recommend frying the fish ahead of time, you can definitely prep parts of the recipe ahead of time!

  • Make the baja sauce up to 3 days in advance. Store the sauce in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
  • Shred the cabbage up to 2 days in advance. Store the shredded cabbage in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
  • Make the Pico De Gallo up to 3 days in advance. Store the pico in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
Baja fish tacos recipe with beer on the side.

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Baja fish tacos recipe.
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Baja Fish Tacos

The best Baja Fish Tacos you'll ever taste! Our batter produces the lightest, crispiest coating on each pieces of flaky fish. The best part is the crispy coating LASTS! So there's no need to worry about soggy fried fish as you fry up the whole batch! Served with a simple spicy crema, finely shredded cabbage and a squeeze of fresh lime juice for the most delectable taco experience!
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine baja, Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 695kcal

Ingredients

baja sauce

  • 2/3 cup mexican crema
  • 3 tbsp adobo sauce
  • 1 lime zested and juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

beer battered fish

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 2 pounds cod fillets cut into 3" x 1" pieces
  • 4 cups vegetable oil for frying

tacos

  • 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 8 small flour tortillas
  • lime wedges for serving

Instructions

baja sauce

  • Place all ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk together and set aside until ready to use.

beer battered fish

  • Preheat oil to 350˚F in a wide skillet with tall sides.
  • Season cod pieces with salt and pepper.
  • Place flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper together in a mixing bowl.
  • Whisk dry ingredients together until smooth.
  • Add beer to flour mixture and whisk together until smooth.
  • Dip fish into batter until fully submerged, a couple pieces at a time.
  • Shake excess batter off each piece and carefully drop them into the hot oil. Fry fish for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oil and place onto a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack . Season with salt and pepper.

assembly

  • Spread a couple spoonfuls of baja sauce in the center of each tortilla. Top with a couple pieces of fried fish. Top each taco with a small handful of shredded cabbage and a couple spoonfuls of pico de gallo. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Video

Notes

Tips and Tricks for Success
  • Don’t skip out on the cornstarch in the batter. It really helps to get the fried batter super crispy around each piece of fish. It also helps the crispiest last, so you don’t have to worry about the batter getting soggy while frying all the pieces up.
  • Transfer fried fish to a cooling rack that sits in a rimmed baking sheet. This will also greatly aide in the fried fish remaining crispy, while allowing any excess oil to drip onto the baking sheet.
  • Fry the fish in batches to prevent overcrowding and to maintain oil temperature.
  • Charring the tortillas aren’t completely necessary, but we think it adds a nice, subtle smoky flavor to the overall tacos. We simply char the tortillas by placing them directly over the stovetop flames on each side for about 30 seconds.
Make Ahead Instructions
While we don’t recommend frying the fish ahead of time, you can definitely prep parts of the recipe ahead of time!
  • Make the baja sauce up to 3 days in advance. Store the sauce in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
  • Shred the cabbage up to 2 days in advance. Store the shredded cabbage in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.
  • Make the Pico De Gallo up to 3 days in advance. Store the pico in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, until ready to use.

Nutrition

Calories: 695kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 118mg | Sodium: 4294mg | Potassium: 1190mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 607IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 209mg | Iron: 5mg

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Monterey Melt Smash Burgers

Monterey Melt Smash Burger assembled on parchment paper.Whataburger fans rejoice — I’ve brought a classic home with these Monterey Melt Smash Burgers! Spicy, creamy, and just a…

The post Monterey Melt Smash Burgers appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Monterey Melt Smash Burger assembled on parchment paper.

Whataburger fans rejoice — I’ve brought a classic home with these Monterey Melt Smash Burgers! Spicy, creamy, and just a guilty pleasure I am so happy to now be able to make at home.

Monterey Melt Smash Burgers on parchment paper.

If you are not familiar, Whataburger is a fast-food chain that started in Texas and has since made it s way out of the state to other locations. Whataburger’s Monterey Melt is a fanatic cult classic, but unfortunately not on the menu year-round. It’s a favorite order for Clayton when it is on the menu so I finally decided to remake it for #DDGrillWeek 2024!

Monterey Melt Smash Burger assembled on parchment paper.

The Monterey Melt consists of two beef patties topped with Monterey and American cheese, peppers and onions then finished with Whataburger’s Jalapeño ranch sauce. I’ve followed this pretty closely with even making my own Jalapeño Ranch, but with a Greek yogurt base that adds a delicious tanginess, plus makes it easier to make than a mayo-based dressing.

Ingredients:

  • Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Jalapeño 
  • Garlic
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Fresh Dill
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Ground Beef
  • Poblano Peppers 
  • Yellow Onion 
  • Avocado Oil
  • White Bread Buns: Sub Gluten-Free Buns
  • Salted Butter
  • Yellow Mustard
  • American Cheese
  • Monterey Jack Cheese

Step-by-Step:

Step One: Make the Jalapeño Ranch

In a blender or using an immersion blender in a wide-mouth jar, combine all of the Jalapeño Ranch ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This keeps well for 5 to 7 days in the fridge.

Jalapeño ranch for Monterey Melt Smash Burgers in glass jar.

Step Two: Portion the Ground Beef

Divide the ground beef into 8 equal portions (about 3 ounces each). Roll them into balls, being careful not to overwork the meat, and set them on a baking sheet. Set aside.

Step Three: Cook the Peppers and Onions

Heat the grill over medium-high heat (between 400 and 450℉) with a griddle on top. When the griddle is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the sliced peppers and onions. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes total. When the veggies are cooked through, transnfer them to a plate or bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Set aside.

Step Four: Toast the Buns

Butter and toast buns over medium heat until golden on the buttered side. Transfer to a platter and set aside.

Step Five: Begin Cooking the Burgers

Place 4 burger balls onto the hot griddle. Working quickly, firmly smash straight down into a thin patty. Season the patties with a pinch of salt, pepper, a drizzle of yellow mustard. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side, or until seared and juices start to come to the surface.

Step Six: Add Cheese and FInish the Burgers

Scrape under the burger with a sturdy spatula and flip. Cover and cook for 1 more minute. Top half of the burgers with American cheese, and half with the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the cooked smashed burgers to a platter and continue until all of the burgers are done.

Step Seven: Assemble and Serve!

Place one American cheese-covered smash burger on the bottom of the bun, then top with a Monterey Jack cheese-covered smash burger. Top the double patties with the onion and pepper mixture and then a very generous drizzle of the Jalapeño Ranch. Serve and enjoy!

Monterey Melt Smash Burgers being assembled on parchment paper.

Recipe FAQ:

Can I make the Jalapeño Ranch in advance?

Yes! This keeps well for 5 to 7 days in the fridge.

Can I make this gluten-free?

You can make some swaps when serving to make this gluten-free! You can serve on a gluten-free bun, in a lettuce wrap, or over greens!

Monterey Melt Smash Burgers on parchment with ranch in background.

I hope y’all love these Monterey Melt Smash Burgers as much as my husband and I do! Comment below once you make these!

For More Recipes:

Juicy Indoor Burgers with Burger Sauce

Greek-Inspired Grilled Lamb Burgers

Avocado Turkey Burgers

Oven Fries

Monterey Melt Smash Burger assembled on parchment paper.
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Monterey Melt Smash Burgers

Gluten-Free if Modified
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

For the Jalapeño Ranch:

  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 jalapeño, stem and seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped dill fronds
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt

For the Smash Burgers:

  • 1.5 lbs ground beef
  • 2 medium-sized poblano peppers, seeds and stem removed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 soft white bread buns, sub gluten-free buns for gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 4 slices Monterey jack cheese

Instructions

Make the Jalapeño Ranch:

  • In a blender or using an immersion blender in a wide-mouth jar, combine all of the Jalapeño Ranch ingredients and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This keeps well for 5 to 7 days in the fridge.

Make the Smash Burgers, Grilled Onions, and Peppers:

  • Divide the ground beef into 8 equal portions (about 3 ounces each). Roll them into balls, being careful not to overwork the meat, and set them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
  • Heat the grill over medium-high heat (between 400 and 450℉) with a griddle on top.
  • When the griddle is hot, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the sliced peppers and onions. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, until the veggies are tender, about 8 minutes total. When the veggies are cooked through, transnfer them to a plate or bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Set aside.
  • Butter and toast buns over medium heat until golden on the buttered side. Transfer to a platter and set aside.
  • Place 4 burger balls onto the hot griddle. Working quickly, firmly smash straight down into a thin patty. Season the patties with a pinch of salt, pepper, a drizzle of yellow mustard. Cook 2 minutes on the first side, or until seared and juices start to come to the surface.
  • Scrape under the burger with a sturdy spatula and flip. Cover and cook for 1 more minute. Top half of the burgers with American cheese, and half with the Monterey Jack cheese. Transfer the cooked smashed burgers to a platter and continue until all of the burgers are done.

Assemble and Serve:

  • Place one American cheese-covered smash burger on the bottom of the bun, then top with a Monterey Jack cheese-covered smash burger. Top the double patties with the onion and pepper mixture and then a very generous drizzle of the Jalapeño Ranch. Serve and enjoy!

Photography and styling by Eat Love Eats.

The post Monterey Melt Smash Burgers appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps assembled with additional limes and picked shallots surrounding.I have plenty of chicken wrap recipes on my website but these Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps are in…

The post Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps appeared first on The Defined Dish.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps assembled with additional limes and picked shallots surrounding.

I have plenty of chicken wrap recipes on my website but these Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps are in a league of their own! So much flavor packed into such a delicious bite.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps assembled with additional limes and picked shallots surrounding.

Grilled chicken is a go-to at my house during grilling season but I am always trying to think of new ways to keep it interesting! So for #DDGrillWeek 2024, I wanted to pack some delicious flavor into chicken thighs and then pile them into lettuce wraps.

The star of the show here is the combination of the green curry paste and coconut milk! Those two along with ginger, cilantro, and a few other ingredients come together to make a beautiful marinade for your chicken, plus you will reserve some of it to drizzle on top of your lettuce wraps when serving. Paired with some quick-pickled shallots, more cilantro, mint, and peanuts, you will be going back for seconds with these Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Ingredients:

  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk  
  • Green Curry Paste: I like Mae Ploy brand
  • Grated Ginger: From a jar
  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves
  • Fish Sauce 
  • Coconut Aminos  
  • Coconut Sugar 
  • Lime Zest
  • Kosher Salt
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
  • Shallots
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Butter Lettuce
  • Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Crushed Unsalted Peanuts  

Recipe Step-by-Step:

Step One: Make the Chicken Marinade

In a high-speed blender or wide-mouth jar using an immersion blender, combine the coconut milk, green curry paste, garlic, ginger, cilantro, fish sauce, coconut aminos, coconut sugar, lime zest, and salt. Blend until smooth. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade and refrigerate until ready to use.

Marinade for Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps in blender.

Step Two: Marinate the Chicken

Place the chicken thighs in a food storage container and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and let marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 6 hours.

Spicy Coconut Chicken marinating in white bowl.

Step Three: Make the Quick-Pickled Shallots

Meanwhile, make the quick-pickled shallots by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and tossing to combine. These keep well in the fridge for about 4 days.

Quick-pickled shallots in glass bowl.

Step Four: Prepare the Grill

When ready to cook, heat the grill over medium-high heat (350- 400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure-fire way to start a good flare-up— a little goes a long way here.

Step Five: Grill the Chicken

Cook the chicken over the heat for 4 minutes per side, until the pieces turn golden and grill marks appear. The lid should be closed throughout the cooking process. Flip the pieces once more and turn the heat to medium-low, about 300°F. Using some of the reserved coconut sauce (saving some for serving), use a grill brush and brush the chicken so that it is coated in more of the sauce. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through and the internal temp is 165°F.

Step Six: Let the Chicken Rest

Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 8 minutes before slicing into 1-inch strips.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken on large white platter with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Step Seven: Serve and Enjoy!

To serve, place the sliced chicken in lettuce leaves and drizzle with some of the remaining sauce. Top with pickled shallots, crushed peanuts, fresh mint, cilantro, and a wedge of lime for squeezing.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps assembled with additional limes and picked shallots surrounding.

Recipe FAQs:

Can I marinate the chicken in advance?

Yes! You can let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 6 hours. I would not suggest longer than this due to the coconut milk.

What is the best way to serve this to a crowd?

This recipe is great for a “build-your-own” set-up! I place the chicken on a platter, the lettuce leaves on a platter, then have all of the toppings in bowls for people to pick and choose how they want to top their lettuce wraps.

I hope y’all enjoy these lettuce wraps all season long! Comment below once you make them!

For More chicken Lettuce Wrap Recipes:

Gochujang Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Honey-Garlic Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Easy Rotisserie Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce

Whole30 Chicken Lettuce Cups

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps assembled with additional limes and picked shallots surrounding.
Print

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 47 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

For the Marinade:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons green curry paste I like Mae Ploy brand
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

For the Quick-Pickled Shallots:

  • 2 large shallots very thinly sliced
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar

For the Lettuce Wraps:

  • 2 heads of butter lettuce leaves separated
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup crushed unsalted peanuts

Instructions

Marinate the Chicken:

  • In a high-speed blender or wide-mouth jar using an immersion blender, combine the coconut milk, green curry paste, garlic, ginger, cilantro, fish sauce, coconut aminos, coconut sugar, lime zest, and salt. Blend until smooth. Reserve ½ cup of the marinade and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a food storage container and pour the remaining marinade over the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and let marinade at room temperature for 30 minutes or in the fridge for up to 6 hours.

Make the Quick-Pickled Shallots:

  • Meanwhile, make the quick-pickled shallots by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl and tossing to combine. These keep well in the fridge for about 4 days.

Grill the Chicken:

  • When ready to cook, heat grill over medium-high heat (350- 400℉) and oil the grill grates. To do this, dip a wadded paper towel in a little avocado oil and, using tongs, wipe the oil evenly over the grate. Be careful not to use too much oil, because that’s a sure-fire way to start a good flare-up—a little goes a long way here.
  • Cook the chicken over the heat for 4 minutes per side, until the pieces turn golden and grill marks appear. The lid should be closed throughout the cooking process. Flip the pieces once more and turn the heat to medium-low, about 300°F. Using some of the reserved coconut sauce (saving some for serving), use a grill brush and brush the chicken so that it is coated in more of the sauce. Continue to cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through and the internal temp is 165°F.
  • Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 8 minutes before slicing into 1-inch strips.

Serve:

  • To serve, place the sliced chicken in lettuce leaves and drizzle with some of the remaining sauce. Top with pickled shallots, crushed peanuts, fresh mint, cilantro and a wedge of lime for squeezing.

Photography and styling by Eat Love Eats.

The post Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps appeared first on The Defined Dish.