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Tilapia Veracruz

This quick and healthy Tilapia Veracruz recipe features a flavorful Mediterranean sauce with tomatoes, olives, and capers.
4.7 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
A plated serving of fish and potatoes.

Looking for an easy fish recipe? Try my easy Tilapia Veracruz. This quick and healthy recipe features a flavorful Mediterranean sauce with tomatoes, olives, and capers.

Confession time. I have a complicated relationship with fish. What I mean is that I love it when someone else cooks it, but I dislike cooking it myself at home.

A plated serving of fish and potatoes.

Maybe it’s the southern in me, but the only way I’ve ever prepared really tasty fish at home is deep frying. You give me a few fish, some cornmeal, grease, and a frying pan, and I’m in business.

Baking, broiling, and stovetop cooking with fish has usually meant disaster for me. It just never quite turned out “right,” you know? It was either overcooked, undercooked, or just plain not good. That is…until this recipe.

This Tilapia Veracruz features a delicious Mexican sauce with onions, tomatoes, and capers. It’s actually one of the few Mexican sauces made without any chilies.

And while an authentic Veracruz recipe is meant for red snapper, I’ve chosen to use tilapia in this one. I’m sure it would be delicious with the red snapper, but that’s not so easily sourced as tilapia. To be honest, tilapia is about as boring a fish as there is, but when combined with this luscious sauce, it becomes something pretty fantastic.

And speaking of the sauce! This sauce is just bursting with flavor. The combination of tomatoes with garlic, olives, capers, and wine puts me in mind of vacationing in some beautiful, sunny Mediterranean location.

Cooked fish in a rich tomato and olive sauce.

💗 Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • This extra flavorful sauce elevates any fish
  • Super quick for those busy evenings
  • The perfect weeknight dinner!

🥘 Ingredients You’ll Need

All ingredients needed for the recipe.

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  • Olive Oil – Use plain olive oil for sauteeing the garlic and tomatoes.
  • Minced Fresh Garlic – Garlic is a major aromatic component of this sauce. The recipe calls for one tablespoon (or about 3 garlic cloves minced), but use a bit more if you really like garlic!
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes – Be sure to include the juice from the canned tomatoes. My favorite brand is always Hunt’s.
  • Stuffed Green Olives – Green manzanilla olives stuffed with pimientos are what’s needed here. Lindsay is a fine brand for any olive product.
  • Capers – Capers are one of my favorite ingredients for any Mediterranean style recipe. If you’re wondering what they are, they’re actually the flower bud of a caper bush and grow wild throughout the Mediterranean region. The flavor is something of a cross between olives and lemons. 
  • Tomato Paste – A little tomato paste helps to enrich the sauce. Contadina is my recommended brand.
  • Dry White Wine – If you don’t have white wine on hand, you can always substitute chicken broth.
  • Tilapia Fillets – Tilapia is readily available both fresh and frozen in most U.S. supermarkets. You’ll need 1 1/2 pounds.
  • Salt and Black Pepper – To taste.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Tilapia Veracruz

Make the Veracruz Sauce

  1. You’ll start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let it warm for 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Then add the minced garlic and diced tomatoes with all their juices. Cook and stir that mixture until the tomatoes start to soften.
  3. Next, add the olives, capers, tomato paste, and wine. Stir it well, lower the heat a bit and cook it covered for 5 minutes or so.

Add the Fish

  1. While the sauce simmers, prepare the fish. Dry the fillets with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Add the fillets to the skillet, spooning the sauce over and around each fillet.
  2. Cover the pan and cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork. and is done throughout (about 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets).

🍽️ How to Serve

I often serve this with tiny red potatoes that have been steamed and tossed in butter, fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. A rice pilaf would be very good as well.

Finished tilapia in a rich sauce.

🍚 Storage Information

Leftovers should be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator and may be kept for 2-3 days. Reheat in a covered pan over very low heat on the stovetop.

A plated serving of fish and potatoes.

❓ Questions About Tilapia Veracruz

Why is the sauce called “Veracruz”?

This style of sauce originated in the Mexican state of Veracruz. The cuisine of that region was greatly influenced by both Spain and France.

Can I use another type of fish with Veracruz sauce?

Yes, you absolutely can use other fish for the recipe. The original recipe from Veracruz is meant to be served over a whole cooked red snapper but it’s really delicious with almost any fish you like. 

Can I use frozen tilapia for this?

Frozen tilapia works great in this recipe. Thaw the fish before starting to cook and make sure to pat it as dry as possible before adding it to the pan.

Lana Stuart.

More Questions? I’m happy to help!

If you have more questions about the recipe, or if you’ve made it and would like to leave a comment, scroll down to leave your thoughts, questions, and/or rating!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

📖 Recipe

A plated serving of fish and potatoes.

Tilapia Veracruz

This quick and healthy Tilapia Veracruz recipe features a flavorful Mediterranean sauce with tomatoes, olives, and capers.
4.73 from 11 votes
Print It Rate It Save Text It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 291kcal
Author: Lana Stuart


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juices
  • cup stuffed green olives chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ pounds Tilapia fillets


  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes.
  • Add the olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes with their juices.
  • Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the tomatoes begin to soften.
  • Add the green olives, capers, tomato paste, and wine.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the fillets to the skillet, spooning some of the sauce over the fish.
  • Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.


  • If using frozen fish, be sure to thaw it before starting to cook, and make sure to pat it as dry as possible before adding it to the pan.
  • Leftovers should be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator and may be kept for 2-3 days. Reheat in a covered pan over very low heat on the stovetop. 

Nutrition Information

Serving 1 | Calories 291kcal | Carbohydrates 7g | Protein 36g | Fat 12g | Saturated Fat 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat 2g | Monounsaturated Fat 7g | Cholesterol 85mg | Sodium 560mg | Potassium 790mg | Fiber 2g | Sugar 3g | Vitamin A 235IU | Vitamin C 12mg | Calcium 65mg | Iron 2mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Tilapia Veracruz - tilapia cooked in a flavorful Mediterranean sauce with tomatoes, olives, and capers. https://www.lanascooking.com/tilapia-with-tomato-olive-caper-sauce/

— This post was originally published on July 22, 2011. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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Recipe Rating


    1. In this recipe, I think you could easily substitute a little chicken stock or even just water. Of course, the wine gives a distinct taste and substituting will change that.

  1. Will this recipe work in the oven? I need a recipe for a large number of people and this sounds great… Would love any feedback

    1. This recipe wasn’t developed for oven cooking and I have never tested it that way. I wouldn’t recommend it.

  2. Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite dinners at our neighborhood restaurant. I order it every single time. Am definitely bookmarking this

  3. THAT is a GORGEOUS dish my friend; i’m the opposite when it comes to fish – prefer it unbreaded and either grilled or baked so am in love with this Lana!

    1. I don’t think I’ll ever totally give up my old-fashioned fried catfish, but I’m trying to cook in more healthful ways these days. Gotta experiment with grilling next. Maybe some rainbow trout, huh?

  4. This really appeals to me, looks and sounds delicious. :)
    I am the opposite, I love to cook fish and seafood but hate to heat up a pan of oil to fry it (so I rarely do!).

    1. Shelby, I’m really trying to like fish cooked other ways than fried. I think a really tasty, rich sauce like this is the key to that.

  5. Lana, I use to be the same way, now that’s not saying my mouth don’t water when thinking ’bout a big ol’ plate of fried brim or catfish, but I have found to ‘like’ other ways too….I like grilling, baking and sautéing the best, broiling to me is a little hard sometimes, esp when I’m not paying attention…
    This recipe sounds right up my alley, like the capers and olives working with the wine and acids…

    1. The very reason I wanted to try this recipe, Drick, was for the capers. I love those little things! So briny and salty and good.