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Fish Puttanesca

Puttanesca sauce—not just for pasta anymore! This briny, savory, easy white fish puttanesca recipe is so gorgeous and delicious, you’d never guess that it only takes about 30 minutes to make.


Homemade fish puttanesca made with cod, olives, tomatoes and parsley in a braising pot

Fish Simmered in Puttanesca Sauce Is as Easy as It Is Delicious

Fish puttanesca is such an easy sell. White fish of your choosing poaches to deeply flavorful, tender perfection to make for an easy homemade puttanesca sauce in this super quick, company-worthy dinner that’s ready in a snap. If you’ve made puttanesca for pasta before, this recipe will seem really familiar. Cooking the fish in the sauce—you’ll nestle the filets of white fish into the sauce after it has simmered for a while—keeps the fish wonderfully moist as well as fully saturated with the salty, herby, powerful flavor of puttanesca. As to the type of white fish, well, that’s up to you! Cod, haddock or snapper are always good, and halibut is divine. The nice thing about the flexibility of this Italian seafood recipe is that you can truly go to the store with an open mind and just buy whatever is fresh and looks best that day.

raw white fish on parchment, canned whole tomatoes, green olives, basil, garlic, anchovies, butter, white wine, cappers, salt
butter garlic and anchovies in a braising dish
butter garlic and anchovies in a braising dish with white wine
hand crushing canned whole tomatoes over a braising dish with butter garlic, anchovies and white wine

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Puttanesca Sauce—Briny, Tomato-y Heaven

The puttanesca sauce is all classic Italian goodness of the very best kind. Why? Because it comes mostly from pantry ingredients! If you’re new to puttanesca, it’s a wonderfully, brazenly full-bodied pasta sauce that hails from the bustling streets of Naples. And making it from mostly canned and jarred ingredients is exactly what you’re supposed to do—it’s not a shortcut, it’s a celebration of some of Italy’s finest culinary preserves! Anchovies, packed in oil and salt. Capers, pickled in that delicious brine. Olives and of course, tomatoes! Picked at peak ripeness and canned. Add a little wine, and some olive oil (or butter) and you’re in puttanesca heaven. Classic puttanesca ingredients are so easy to keep on hand, which means that when you get a hankering for this recipe, you can usually just make a quick grocery run for some fish and zip back home to get cooking. Here’s everything you’ll need to make a truly wonderful puttanesca sauce:

  • Garlic

  • Anchovies

  • White wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio

  • Canned whole tomatoes

  • Oregano

  • Thyme

  • Black or castelvetrano olives

  • Capers

puttanesca sauce with butter, garlic, anchovies white wine, salt and pepper in a braising dish
puttanesca sauce with butter, garlic, anchovies white wine, salt, pepper, capers and olives in a braising dish
raw white fish in puttanesca sauce with butter, garlic, anchovies, white wine, spices, capers and olives in a braising dish
homemade white fish puttanesca in a braising dish with garlic bread

How To Make Fish Puttanesca

Now you’ve got a really solid grasp of what exactly puttanesca is, you’re ready to use that heady sauce to cook some fish to delicious, flakey perfection. Here’s how to make fish puttanesca:

  1. Make the puttanesca sauce! Be sure to use a skillet big enough to hold all of the sauce and the four pieces of fish, too.

  2. Put the fish in the sauce! Once all of the puttanesca ingredients are in the skillet and have had about 10 minutes to simmer their way into cohesion, you’ll carefully nestle the pieces of fish into the sauce. Tongs are very handy for this job.

  3. Cook the fish in the sauce! You’ll move the pan (carefully) to the oven now. It doesn’t need to be covered, but do keep an eye on the fish. Depending on the type of fish you’ve chosen and the thickness of the filets (thicker pieces take longer) the cook time will vary quite a bit. Just watch for signs of flakiness and pull it as soon as you suspect doneness.

  4. Eat the delicious fish puttanesca! This is the easy part, clearly. Serve it simply with a big green salad and some good bread, and you’ll be having yourself quite a feast.

homemade white fish puttanesca in a baking dish with olives, capers and basil

Tools You’ll Need

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homemade white fish puttanesca in a baking dish with olives, capers and basil with garlic bread.

There’s Nothing Fishy About How Awesome this Recipe Is

If you don’t make a “nothing fishy” joke, did you even share a fish recipe? It’s impossible to say, but as you can see, we’re playing it safe. All jokes aside, though, we really hope that you’re into this fish puttanesca! It feels like a “make all the time” recipe to us, and we hope it earns a spot in your rotation, too. Let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Fish Puttanesca

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  35 min
  • Calories: 359


  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces or 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets, oil packed
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 (28 Oz) can whole tomatoes, preferably san Marzano Italian plum tomatoes, crushed with hands
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup halved, pitted black or castelvetrano olives, about 15-20
  • 2 Tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 1/2 lbs mild, white fish cut into 4 pieces
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil or flat leaf parsley, chopped, optional
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, for serving, optional
  • garlic bread, for serving, optional


  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large ovenproof skillet or braising pan, heat the butter or oil over medium heat, until bubbling. Add the garlic and the anchovies, breaking them up with a wooden spoon, as they cook into the butter, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the white wine and cook until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes (crushing them with your hands). Season with oregano and thyme.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are broken down and sauce begins to thicken. Add the olives, capers and stir to incorporate.
  5. Season the fish with salt and nestle it in the sauce.
  6. Place the skillet or pan in the oven and cook until fish is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork. The timing of this step will differ depending on the size and thickness of your fish (do not over cook your fish) about 6 to 12 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, spoon some of the sauce over the fish. Sprinkle with fresh basil and red pepper flakes.
  8. Serve the fish along with the sauce. We like to serve with rice pilaf, a salad or garlic bread.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories359
  • Protein33 g
  • Carbohydrates12 g
  • Total Fat18 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol103 mg
  • sodium678 mg
  • Total Sugars1 g

Fish Puttanesca

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Amy Rice

    Would flounder work in this recipe?

    It sure would! Hope you enjoy Amy!

  • Amy Rice

    Can I make the sauce a few hours in advance then add fish at last minute?

    That should work fine. Hope you enjoy Amy!

  • Paula

    If I use chicken any idea hiw long this should cook in oven for the chicken to reach 165 internal temp? Thank you!

    Chicken breast at 400F in the oven usually takes 22 - 26 minutes to cook to a 165 internal temp. If you cut it into smaller pieces it would go faster than that. Hope this helps!

  • Debbie

    Hi amazing recipe but can i make the sauce in advance and freeze it ? Many thanks for your advices!

    We haven't tried freezing this sauce before.

  • Betsy

    How can I use frozen cod filets for this recipe?

    we recommending fully thawing the cod then following the written method. Hope you enjoy Betsy!

  • Linda S

    Very good and easy to make! I used Sable fish and served it with creamy Parmesan polenta and garlic bread. I would definitely make this again!

    Thanks Linda, so happy you loved it!

  • Jesse

    Unreal good. Made with cod. Served at a small dinner party with crusty bread, salad. First off it smells so impressive it lays the groundwork upfront that your guests will like it. Then do a little bit about puttanesca means whore in Italian. Last, serve in shallow bowls for guests. It’s a real hit! Will def make again.

    Thanks Jesse, so happy you loved it!

  • Lisa

    My husband and I made this with cod - had friends for dinner - everyone thought it was delicious! Loved the saltiness - but not too salty - of the olives and capers. (because my husband doesn't like them, we omitted the anchovies and it was still delicious!)

    Thanks Lisa, we are so happy you both enjoyed this!

  • Carol

    This was fantastic! I used anchovy paste instead of anchovies. It was so delicious. Served over cauliflower mashed faux potatoes and some wilted spinach. My husband doesn’t like seafood and he liked this!

    That's great to hear Carol! We are so glad you both enjoyed it, thank you!

  • Prudence Bowers

    This is a terrific alternative to my usual Julia Child method of cooking rock fish and cod (floured, buttered and sauteed). I finished the cooking on the stovetop rather than the oven, so as not to heat up the kitchen. That worked out fine. I had to reduce the sauce a little bit after the fish was done, and served it all over pasta. I did add some lemon juice and garlic to the fish. Also used a jar of Roasted Garlic Chunky Pasta sauce, instead of whole tomatoes. My husband wants me to serve it like this more often.

    Thanks Prudence, we are so happy you and your husband loved this!