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Nut Crusted Fish Filets with Sour Cream Sauce

Nut Crusted Fish Filets with Sour Cream Sauce
Home » Recipes by Ingredients » Fish and Seafood » Pistachio crust on tuna fillets

This is an easy, delicious way to bring a low carb fish dinner to the table in a hurry! This recipe uses ground pistachio nuts to form a crust, or the “breading”, for fish filets. The recipe below uses the pistachio nut crust on tuna and pairs it with a sour cream sauce. There is also an example of using the nut crust on red snapper. A nut crust is an great option for many kinds of fish (salmon, cod, red snapper, tuna)!

2 pistachio-crusted tuna steaks with a cup of sour cream dip on the side, all on a white plate.
Pistachio-crusted tuna with sour cream sauce

Jump to: RECIPE | Best Fish for Nut Crusts | Illustrated Step by Step | How to Tell When Fish is Done | Best Nuts to Use for Breading

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What kind of Fish is Best for Nut Crusts?

Just about any fish filet can work with a nut crust. Just be aware of the thickness of the filets. Tilapia, sole, catfish, perch, and other thin filets will cook very quickly, whereas salmon, cod, sea bass, and sometimes red snapper tend to be thicker and will take longer to cook.

Red snapper filet sautéed  with a pistachio crust and a side of lemon slices.
Pistachio-crusted red snapper

Cod is the most common type of fish filet to make with a nut crust. This is partially because it is a thicker filet and partially because it is fairly bland and needs dressing up.

I chose tuna for the recipe below because I had some in the freezer, and also because it is robust enough to stand up to a pistachio nut crust, which is the nut I wanted to use. Here are the ingredients for the pistachio-crusted tuna along with the sour cream sauce:

Illustrated Steps

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

These steps are the same no matter what fish you use. Below are the basic process steps using red snapper. With tuna, the steps are the same but you will cook it for a slightly less time.

1/3 cup of shelled pistachio nuts in a food processor with panko and dill on the side.
Step #1: Pulse pistachio nuts in a food processor until they are a crumb without big chunks of nuts, but not a paste.
Bowl of ground pistachio nuts, 1/4 cup of panko, a teaspoon of dill and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Step #2: In a bowl mix together ground pistachios, panko, dill, and salt.
2 large red snapper filets coated with a pistachio nut crust.
Step #3: Sprinkle the fish with oil, and then rub the pistachio coating over both sides.
2 red snapper filets sautéed in a pistachio nut crust.
Step #4: Cook the fish in a skillet in hot oil for about 2-3 minutes per side.

How Can You Tell When Fish is Done?

The trick with seafood is always how long to cook it. It is easy to overcook fish and seafood can get rubbery if overcooked.

The best way to tell if most fish fillets are done is by testing it with a fork (this excludes tuna). Insert the fork at an angle, at the thickest point, and twist gently. The fish will flake easily when it’s done, and it will lose its translucent or raw appearance.⁠

Looking at the texture and the “translucency” is the easiest way to tell if your fish is done, and it gets easier with practice. Keep in mind that fish continues to cook for a couple of minutes after you take it off the heat.

If you want to get more technical, a conservative rule of thumb is to cook fish to an internal temperature of 120 degrees F using a digital thermometer. If your fish is freshwater or lake fish cook to a higher temperature (130 to 140 F), to avoid any potential parasites.

Photo of cooked whole trout surrounded by lemons with woman's hand holding digital thermometer stuck into the fish.
Using a Digital Thermometer for Fish

Also, know that medium-to-fatty fish with a firmer texture and richer flavor (like cod, salmon, or swordfish) can withstand more heat and therefore lend themselves to grilling or broiling.⁠

Tuna is a fish that is frequently undercooked to keep its texture. Notice the pink color in the photos below.

4 filets of nut-crusted tuna in a skillet with a hand using tongs to turn.
Pistachio-crusted tuna ready to flip
Tuna steak held above skillet with tongs showing pink interior of the steak.
Side view of nut-crusted tuna

Another excellent low-carb tuna dish, but without a nut crust is this seared tuna with a balsamic glaze.

Seared tuna steaks with a balsamic glaze and a white bean and tomato side dish.
Seared tuna with white beans

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.

Key Tips for Using Nuts as Breading?

The caution for using nuts as a crust is they tend to burn. Since the cooking process for fish is usually shorter it shouldn’t burn, but if cooking on the stovetop, cook over medium-high rather than high heat.

Any ground nut will work for the crust. Here are a few of the more popular nuts to use:

  • Pistachio nuts
  • Mix of pistachio and panko
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts

The ingredients for pistachio-crusted fish filets are the same whether you use tuna or another fish filet. The photo below shows the ingredients when using red snapper.

Ingredients for pistachio crusted red snapper.
Ingredients for pistachio-crusted red snapper

Best Side Dishes for Fish Dinners

Making an entire healthy dinner with nut-crusted fish can be quick for weeknight dinners or a little more fancy for guests or special occasions. Below are some suggested side dishes that work well for casual or fancy!

Complementary Vegetable Side Dishes

Vegetables are the crux of a good Pesco Mediterranean diet (and most diets for that matter). Here are a few of my favorite veggies to pair with nut-crusted fish:

Romano beans with roasted cherry tomatoes in skillet with bowl of sun gold tomatoes on the side.
Romano beans with roasted cherry tomatoes

Complementary Grain Side Dishes

Because I come from a long-term lifestyle of low-carb eating, I don’t usually include grains with my dinners. If you are eating for health and not weight loss, however, whole grain side dishes are great, especially if complemented with vegetables.

A photo of 3 types of quinoa (red, beige and dark brown).

Complementary Sauces

The nutty crust of the fish pairs beautifully with a wide variety of creamy sauces. Here are a few of my favorites, from low carb to tropical to sweet:

  • Simple Dijon cream sauce: 1 cup heavy cream, 1/2 cup Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper — heated and stirred over low heat for 3 minutes
  • Tropical sauce of coconut milk, lime juice and jalapenos
  • Sweet mango sauce with pear juice and coconut cream (quite sweet)
  • Sour cream dill sauce: see recipe below

Enjoy this Recipe? Here are a Few More Healthy Fish Dinners:

Fish tacos with avocado cream and pickled onions
Baja Fish Tacos

Like this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a quick comment too!

Pistachio Crusted Tuna

2 pistachio-crusted tuna steaks with a cup of sour cream dip on the side, all on a white plate.
Using nuts as a “breading” for fish is a great way to add flavor and texture. This recipe uses ground pistachios as a crust for tuna filets, but any nut can be used with a wide range of different fish filets for delicious low carb dinner.
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 209



For the Sour Cream Sauce:

  • ¼ cup chopped onion finely chopped
  • 2 bay leafs
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt add more if desired

For the Tuna:

  • cup shelled pistachios finely chopped in food processor
  • ¼ cup panko
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 4-ounce tuna steaks about 1-1 1/4 inches thick


For the Sauce:

  • Place chopped onion, bay leafs and wine in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce over med-high heat until the wine is almost evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and discard bay leafs.
    1/4 cup chopped onion, 2 bay leafs, ½ cup white wine
  • In a small bowl, stir together sour cream, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dill, mustard and 1/4 teaspoon salt. 
    Add the reduced onion/wine mixture to the bowl and stir in. This is the sauce.
    3 tablespoons sour cream, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Tuna:

  • Place pistachios in food processor or blender and pulse or mix until finely ground.
    In a separate medium to large bowl, add the chopped pistachios, panko, the remaining 1 teaspoon dill and 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir together thoroughly.
    Pat the tuna filets dry and then sprinkle a bit of olive oil over them and rub it in. Dredge both sides of the tuna in the pistachio mixture pressing it in so that it sticks.
    1/3 cup shelled pistachios, 1/4 cup panko, 1 teaspoon dried dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the coated tuna filets and sear until golden brown, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent burning.
    After 2 to 3 minutes flip the filets and cook the other side 2-3 minutes for medium-rare. Use tongs to turn over so that nut breading doesn’t fall off.
    Do not overcook. Serve with the lemon-dill sauce.
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 4 4-ounce tuna steaks



**NOTE: The caution for using nuts as a crust is they have a tendency to burn. Since the cooking process for fish is usually shorter and since the recipe below is baked vs. seared, it shouldn’t burn.   Just don’t cook over too high of heat, use medium-high.
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Calories: 209kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 6gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 672mgPotassium: 339mgFiber: 3gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 189IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 2mg
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  1. Deb Seuren says:

    We have a new favorite! This was amazing….and on the table in 30 minutes! We added a chopped Asian salad. Perfection!5 stars

    • I’m so glad it turned out for you, and I appreciate you telling me that it actually took 30 minutes. The timing is always such a guess because some cooks are really careful, some are beginners and some just do it their own way anyway. So appreciate the feedback.

  2. Jane says:

    Side dishes are “complementary”, not “complimentary”.

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