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Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar

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Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar Sauce is ridiculously delicious, inspired by my vacation to the Florida Keys. Bake the fish in the oven or air fryer!

Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar
Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar

Move over fish florentine, meet my new fish obsession!! I ate my weight in blackened fish while in the Florida Keys, always ordering the catch of the day. Most days, I had fish fish tacos, but I really enjoyed a blackened fish dish with key lime tartar sauce and wild rice that I had one night for dinner. Since I got home, I’ve been thinking about that meal, so I knew I had to recreate it ASAP! The tartar sauce came out perfect!! Some more healthy blackened fish recipes are Blackened Fish Tacos with Cabbage Mango Slaw and Blackened Salmon with Mango Salsa.

Blackened Fish

What is blackened fish?

Blackened fish is white fish coated in dried herbs, and spices and pan fried until charred and “blackened.” I spray my fish with olive oil and cook it in the air fryer ore broiler it to make it lighter, both ways are great.

Here are the ingredients I use in my blackened seasoning. It’s pretty mild, you can reduce or omit the cayenne if you prefer it milder or increase it if you like it spicier.

  • Paprika
  • Dried cayenne pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

What fish is best for blackening?

Most white fish is good for blackening, use whatever is local or freshest. Mahi mahi, grouper, red snapper, and tilapia are all great options. It’s also great with salmon or chicken.

Key Lime Tartar Sauce Ingredients

Key lime tartar sauce is common in the Florida Keys, and we had it pretty much everywhere we went. The one that stood out to me the most had chopped dill pickles, so I added them to my sauce. Key limes are common in Florida, but use regular limes if you can’t find them. You can also use Greek yogurt instead of mayo if you prefer.

  • Reduced-fat sour cream
  • Light mayonnaise
  • Finely chopped dill pickles, plus some of the pickle juice
  • Fresh chopped dill
  • Fresh key lime or regular lime juice

How to Serve

The restaurant in Key West served their fish with wild rice, which I enjoyed, but here are some other ideas:

  • On a potato roll as a sandwich with slaw
  • As a salad over mixed greens or romaine with avocado, cucumber, and cherry tomatoes
  • On tortillas as tacos with cabbage slaw

Air Fryer Blackened FishBlackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar and wild rice

More Fish Recipes You’ll Love:

Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar

5 from 19 votes
Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar Sauce is ridiculously delicious, inspired by my vacation to the Florida Keys. Make it in the oven or air fryer!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Yield: 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 piece fish, 3/4 cup rice, 2 1/2 tablespoons tartar


Blackened Fish

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • olive oil spray
  • 4 pieces fresh skinned white fish fillets 6 ounces each (mahi mahi, grouper, red snapper, tilapia)
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice or brown rice
  • lime wedges for serving

Key Lime Tartar Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped dill pickles plus 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh key lime juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  • Combine the ingredients for the tartar sauce and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    key lime tartar sauce
  • In a small bowl, combine the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper and mix to blend.
  • Spritz the fish with oil on both sides and rub all over.
  • Coat the fish on both sides with the spice mix.
    fish seasoned with Blackened spice

Air Fryer Method:

  • Spray the air fryer basket with oil. Working in batches, place the fish in the basket in a single layer and cook 400F until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5 to 7 minutes, turning halfway depending on the thickness of the fish.

Oven Method:

  • Broil fish 6" from heating element high, 4-5 minutes, no need to turn

To serve:

  • Place 3/4 cup rice on each plate, 1 piece of fish, and divide sauce in 4 tiny bowls. Serve with lime wedges.

Last Step:

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Serving: 1 piece fish, 3/4 cup rice, 2 1/2 tablespoons tartar, Calories: 374 kcal, Carbohydrates: 39 g, Protein: 36.5 g, Fat: 7.5 g, Saturated Fat: 2.5 g, Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 675 mg, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 1.5 g


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47 comments on “Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar”

  1. Made this tonight in my air fryer with rock fish, and my husband says it’s his new favorite way. Quick and easy!

  2. Omg. Made with mahi mahi. Broiled for five minutes on high. Fish was great, perfect blackened spices, but tartar sauce was AMAZING. I love tartar sauce, I eat it on everything and it’s SO hard to find a good one. Nothing beats this one. Ever. Good job, Gina. You created the best tarter sauce ever and thank you!!!

  3. This was delightful! The rub and the tartar sauce really complement each other. I had wild caught cod in the freezer and it worked great. It came together quickly — perfect for a weeknight meal. Thank you! 

  4. One of the most amazing fish recipes I’ve ever tried! Not a huge cooked fish fan, but this rub, with the wonderful homemade tarter sauce was perfect together! Served with baked Parmesan  zucchini and rice pilaf. This was also my first time cooking fish in the air fryer. I will never cook fish another way again! My husband said he has never had a better meal even at a restaurant! I’d say that’s a win, win! Thanks, Gina💕BTW, I used the Costco wild caught frozen mahi-mahi.

  5. This is my new favorite food! We make it with fresh wild caught salmon. My 9 year old is now insisting that I leave the skin on the bottom, but otherwise it’s perfect. Plus I can finally use the key limes that I grow😬 thanks for this awesome recipe 

  6. Absolutely fabulous! Easy and delicious. I made it with the Kroger mahi I had in the freezer and it was perfect. The tartar sauce was lights out. I served it with some sautéed spinach because I was too lazy to make rice. Totally satisfied because there’s so much flavor!