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
Print WW Personal Points
5 from 19 votes
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Blackened Fish with Key Lime Tartar

374 Cals 36.5 Protein 39 Carbs 7.5 Fats
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Yield: 4 servings
COURSE: Dinner
CUISINE: American
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!


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.



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

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  1. Wow! This is restaurant quality. I used frozen grouper from Publix, and it was delicious. Served it alongside Cuban beans and rice.

  2. As with all Gina’s recipes, they’re delicious but this one is on another level. The key lime tarter sauce is unreal. This is a must make. You won’t be disappointed.

  3. I made this last night. My husband and I thought it was excellent !  I used flounder and while at Whole Foods I picked up some of their fresh tropical mango pineapple salsa to go with it. The sweetness of the fruit in contrast with the spiciness of the fish was so delicious.
    I served it over brown Basmati rice with Asian slaw on the side. Thanks for a great recipe I’ll be making a lot!

  4. I’ve probably made this about 6 times since the recipe was posted. I’m obsessed. This is ABSOLUTELY delicious. It’s a perfect dish when having friends over for dinner since it’s SO simple to put together yet packed with flavor!! My mother-in-law doesn’t like tarter sauce but she couldn’t get enough of this one. 

    I’ve used both flounder and Mahi Mahi when making this and although both were amazing, I prefer the flounder. But that is just my preference. Also, I did not have key limes for the tarter a few times so I made with regular limes and it was still delicious.

    I cooked in both oven and air fryer but prefer air fryer because it gives a little crisp to the fish without over cooking it. I’ve been following your recipes for many years and this has gone down as one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing with us!! 

  5. Your recipes are all so great-
    To air fry- do you need to preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees first?

  6. Made this with tilapia and really enjoyed it except for the thyme which always tastes intense to me… will probably make this again some time but will omit the thyme!

  7. Hello,
    I would like to make this recipe, however, I have frozen haddock filets. What do you recommend as far as thawing haddock, then cooking it?

    Thank you!

  8. Can I use lemon instead of limes?

  9. I made this with Barramundi and it was delicious; light and perfectly seasoned. I used sour cream for the tartar sauce, which was delicious but will try next time substituting Greek yogurt. The only thing that would improve this dish is eating it while in the Keys. Thanks for sharing.

  10. This looks like a great recipe and can’t wait to try it!! I haven’t been on Skinnytaste in a while, and I’m not seeing the WW points now. Are you still providing that information for your recipes? By the way – my husband and I have loved almost every recipe of yours that we have tried! Thank you!

  11. Gina,
    I am truly one of your biggest fans! I love to cook and to eat healthy.
    I have printed and tried SO MANY of your fantastic recipes that I have made
    FOUR 3-ring binders full of Skinnytaste recipes!! Just wanted to tell you
    thank you for all of your hard work. I have never tried one of your recipes that my
    husband and I did not like!! And I can always count on them being delicious and
    loaded with flavor!!
    Just wanted to thank you for what you do so well.
    Peggy Ford

  12. We lived in Key West many years ago and it will always be my happy place. This recipe was very good and I truly enjoyed it, I tried it mainly because I saw the KF notification and mistakenly thought it might be a Kidney-Friendly recipe I could try. Always looking for new ones to adapt to my needs. So happy I made that mistake, it was great!!!

  13. Can I use filet of cod?

  14. Hi Gina
    Am I missing how the cayenne, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper are divided? You say in step 2 you say to mix the paprika with the remaining spices.
    Thanks, I’m looking forward to trying this one.

  15. Going to make this tomorrow!! I can’t wait! Sounds delicious!!

  16. Looks delicious!! Any recommendations for substituting the sour cream in the sauce? I have a dairy allergy. 

  17. Where does that amount of carbs come from? The rice? I thought fish was relatively low-carb?

  18. I plan to make this before the week is out.  What fish did you use Gina?

  19. Wow!! So good. Had some flounder thawed for another recipe, but made this instead. So glad I did. The tartar sauce is the best I’ve ever had. Thought it might be too tangy with the key lime juice, but it was perfect. Thanks for another great recipe Gina!

  20. Just had this for dinner and wow! So easy and so so delicious!!! Loved it and will definitely make it again. Not sure which I enjoyed more, the tartar sauce or the fish. Yum!