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Easy Mexican Fish Veracruz: Low Carb Dinner

Easy Mexican Fish Veracruz: Low Carb Dinner

This elegant, but extremely simple low carb fish dinner blends Pesco Mediterranean cuisine with the abundant seafood found in Veracruz, a region that lies along the Gulf of Mexico.  The sauce is the star of this dish, made with lightly simmered onions, tomatoes, olives, capers and a little dry sherry or white wine.  Any flaky white fish works well (I used cod in the recipe below), but the fish most often associated with this coastal Mexican dish is red snapper.  Healthy, visually pleasing, delicious and easy!

Fish veracruz made with wahoo fish.
Fish veracruz made with wahoo fish.

Jump to: RECIPE | Best Fish for Veracruz | Flavor Tips | Illustrated Step by Step | Serving Suggestions

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Ingredients for the Veracruz Sauce

The sauce is the star of this dish, made with lightly simmered onions, tomatoes, olives, capers and a little dry sherry or white wine. 

It is one of the few Mexican sauces that doesn’t call for chile peppers, although pickled jalapeños are frequently seen in a Veracruz sauce.

I added a little smoked chile spice blend, which complemented the full flavors of the olives, capers and tomatoes, adding complexity to the dish.

Golden raisins are sometimes added to a Veracruz sauce to cut the acidity and add a little sweetness. Raisins are quite high in sugar so I left them out, as I prefer to minimize sugar while following the Pesco Mediterranean lifestyle.

Seafood and fish are an integral part of the Pesco Mediterranean Diet. This article will fill you in on the details of the Pesco Mediterranean Diet to see if it might be something you want to try.

Ingredients on board: cod, onion, tomatoes, spices, capers, garlic, green onions, red peppers, sherry
Ingredients: fish filets, onion, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, smoky chile spice, Mexican oregano, green olives, capers, can diced tomatoes, lime, dry sherry

Which Fish is Best with a Veracruz Styled Dish?

Almost any white fish can be used in this dish.  I used frozen cod, as I live in Minnesota which is a landlocked state. Other fish that works well with Veracruz include:

  • Tilapia
  • Red snapper
  • Halibut
  • Barramundi
  • Flounder
  • Catfish
  • Wahoo

What Makes the Flavor so Exceptional?

The standout flavor of this dish comes from combining the mild flavor of tender, flaky white fish with the robust flavors of olives and briny capers.  I added red peppers to my version because I wanted to add a few more nutrients, but this is not a typical variation. 

Low carb fish veracruz dinner in iron skillet
Low carb fish Veracruz dinner in iron skillet

Here are a few other things that make this dish exceptional:

  • It is made with dry sherry rather than white wine for a bit more acidity. 
  • It is a truly easy dish with very little chopping, no lengthy cooking and stirring and easy to find ingredients.  It is one of those recipes that actually does come together in under 30-minutes.
  • It’s low carb and packed with nutrients.
  • It can be a casual weeknight dinner or an elegant dinner for entertaining.
  • And finally, the Fish Veracruz sauce is versatile and great to pair the next day with another seafood protein like scallops, salmon or mussels.

I also added a bit of chile spice I had on hand.  I chose a mild smoked ancho/pasilla blend and it was perfect IMHO.

All in all, fish Veracruz is a delicious blend of Old World and New World ingredients!

For another classic Mexican fish recipe that is exceptional, try this Mexican Fish Stew It is perfect for using frozen fish.

Illustrated Step by Step:

Here are the steps lined out with photos. For the details of the recipe itself, see the recipe card below.

Six cod filets on a white plate on a cutting board
Step #1: Pat fish dry and sprinkle with salt.
Chopped onions and bell peppers ready to cook in a large skillet.
Step #2: Sauté onions and peppers in oil for 5-10 minutes.
Capers, spices, olives, tomatoes and broth in preparation for fish veracruz.
Step #3: Prep the rest of the ingredients to add to skillet.
Skillet with tomatoes, olives, capers and onions simmering for fish veracruz.
Step #4: Add olives, capers and spices to skillet and simmer 15 min.
Cod filets nestled into veracruz sauce in a skillet.
Step #5: Nestle the cod pieces into the vercruz sauce, cover and cook 5 min.

How to Serve Spanish Cod Pil Pil

Typically cod in pil pil sauce would be served with potatoes, grains or rustic breads. It really doesn’t need carbs to be a filling and tasty dinner however.

I have become so accustomed to eating proteins with flavorful sauces on their own that I rarely miss the rice or potatoes.

If you are serving different dietary palates at your table, feel free to add some roasted potatoes or some hearty rustic bread to sop up the juices!

If you enjoy all types of Mexican food, check out this category of ALL Mexican recipes, where you will find over 40 Mexican recipes, from casual, to low carb, to fancy.

Low Carb Cod Veracruz

Low carb fish veracruz dinner in iron skillet
This is a easy way to cook a low carb fish dinner that is full of robust flavor and easily modified to your particular dietary needs.
4.83 from 23 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 428



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced (can use garlic from a jar)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin ground (boost the flavor by toasting the seeds first and then grinding)
  • 1 teaspoon mild smoky chile spice (I used an ancho/pasilla blend)
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 cup pitted green olives pitted and sliced in half
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • ½ cup dry sherry (alternatively can use white wine)
  • 14 ounce diced tomatoes can use caned diced tomatoes
  • 2 pounds cod fillets other white fish or red snapper can be used instead
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • parsley optional- for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high.  Add the onions and peppers and saute until onions are caramelized (about 7-10 minutes).
    2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 onion, 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • Add the garlic and saute with the onion mix for about 30 seconds.  Then add the spices, olives, capers, sherry, and tomatoes and simmer over medium to low heat about 15-20 minutes.
    2-3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon mild smoky chile spice, 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, 1 cup pitted green olives, 2 tablespoon capers, 1/2 cup dry sherry, 14 ounce diced tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper the cod filets and nestle them into the skillet.  Spoon some of the sauce over the filets, cover the skillet and raise the heat a bit to medium-low.  Cook for 7-10 minutes or until the fish flakes apart easily.
    2 pounds cod fillets
  • Squeeze lime juice over the fish and serve.  Garnish with parsley if desired.
    salt & pepper, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, parsley



** Although red snapper is the typical fish used in this dish, I have made it with cod and with wahoo.  Just know that you may have to cook the fish a little longer if you use thick filets.
If you enjoy all types of Mexican food, check out this category of ALL Mexican recipes, where you will find over 40 Mexican recipes, from casual, to low carb, to fancy.
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Calories: 428kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 43gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 991mgPotassium: 1425mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1999IUVitamin C: 85mgCalcium: 130mgIron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating

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Janice McDivitt

Thursday 18th of January 2024

Outstanding flavor and easy preparation. Would be great for company; prepare sauce ahead of time, add cod just before serving, and I’m sure you will get raves. I only cooked cod about five minutes until it flaked and garnished with cilantro because I didn’t have parsley. Looking forward to making recipe again soon!

Dorothy Stainbrook

Thursday 18th of January 2024

Thank you so much for your comments and noting the substitutions you used. It is really helpful to others (and to me). So glad you found it tasty and easy….two of my favorite things!

Michelle McDonald

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Easy and delicious! Didn't have cod so subbed defrosted, raw, peeled + deveined shrimp, and it was wonderful. Looking forward to trying with cod, as that texture is probably optimal for this recipe. Definitely putting this in our dinner recipes rotation!!

dorothy stainbrook

Thursday 11th of August 2022

Thank you for commenting and letting me know Michelle. It’s one of my favorites for sure!


Saturday 11th of June 2022

Is there a by chance a modification to make this in the oven? I'll be making dinner for 10-12 people, and I think that trying to make this in multiple skillets wouldn't work so well.

dorothy stainbrook

Monday 13th of June 2022

I hesitate to say yes because I haven’t tested it that way. Maybe someone else could chime in if they know.


Sunday 30th of January 2022

This was easy and delicious. Thanks!

dorothy stainbrook

Monday 31st of January 2022

Thanks for commenting Beth, and happy to hear it worked out. Now I need to get to work on redoing some of those quick bread recipes!

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