Veracruz Sauce (for Fish or Chicken)

Veracruz Sauce (for Fish or Chicken)

The Spruce / Danielle Moore

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
171 Calories
15g Fat
11g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 19%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 407mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 4g 15%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 18mg 91%
Calcium 86mg 7%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 339mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The port of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico, was one of the first places where the Spanish initially settled, which explains the strong Mediterranean elements in this very Mexican sauce. One of the area´s iconic dishes is Huachinango a la Veracruzana, Red Snapper Veracruz Style, which consists of a whole fish cooked with these same flavors. (See instructions below.) The sauce is just as delicious, however, with much more simply-prepared proteins such as grilled chicken or fillets of white fish.

Veracruz Sauce is not intended to be very spicy; a small amount of mild chile güero or jalapeño pepper called for, more for flavor than for piquancy. The use of jalapeños in the recipe is doubly appropriate given that its name is derived from Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz State.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 2 cups tomatoes, seeded and diced

  • 1 medium onion, sliced

  • 4 pickled jalapeños, chopped

  • 5 green olives, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon capers

  • 1/4 cup water

  • Kosher salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Veracruz Sauce (for Fish or Chicken) ingredients

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

  2. Warm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic briefly to release its flavor.

    oil and garlic in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

  3. Add tomatoes and onions and cook over low heat until tomatoes soften, about 20 minutes.

    tomatoes and onion in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

  4. Add jalapeño, olives, oregano, capers, water, and salt, to taste. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes.

    jalapeño, olives, oregano, capers, water, and salt added to the tomato and onion mixture in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore

  5. Serve Veracruz Sauce over grilled or pan-fried white fish or chicken breast. Accompany this with white rice, if you like.

    Veracruz Sauce (for Fish or Chicken), served over fish on a platter

    The Spruce / Danielle Moore


  • Vary your olives: use black olives instead of green—or a few of each. Leave olives whole (with or without seeds), halve them, or cut them into slices.
  • Simmer a bay leaf or two in your sauce; remove before serving.
  • If you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand, use canned ones. If all you have is tomato sauce (puree) or paste, use that instead of diced tomatoes.
  • Control the heat in this dish: remove the seeds from the jalapeño peppers if you prefer a milder dish. Leave the seeds—and even add more peppers—if you want to increase the piquancy.
  • For an added touch of acidity, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar to the sauce together with the water.


  • Substitute chicken or fish broth for the water for even more flavor.
  • Add a little bell pepper, diced or cut in long strips. Saute it together with the onions and garlic.

How to Make Huachinango a la Veracruzana

  1. Use one whole red snapper of about 3 pounds or two pounds of snapper filets. If using the whole snapper, clean it and remove the scales, but leave the head and tail on for presentation.

  2. Prick the fish with a fork on both sides.

  3. Lay the fish (or the filets) in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Whisk together 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and 2 cloves (diced) of garlic. Pour this marinade over the snapper and refrigerate for about an hour.

  4. Make Veracruz Sauce (above), but reduce garlic to only 2 or 3 cloves. Simmer sauce for only about 5 minutes after adding jalapeños and other ingredients, as it will finish cooking in the oven.

  5. Cover the fish with the sauce and bake in a 300 F (150 C) oven for about 30 minutes, turning once.

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