Ceviche

Updated. Originally posted Jan 2004.

The first time I made ceviche, I was amazed. I could actually see the lemon and lime juice turning the color of the fish from translucent pink to opaque white. The acid from the limes and lemons change the structure of the proteins in the fish, essentially “cooking” the fish without using heat. I love ceviche rolled up in a freshly cooked, still warm corn tortilla with lettuce and salsa.

Ceviche Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4-8.

Preparation time: 15 minutes to prepare, 3-4 hours to let sit. Always use the freshest fish possible. Make the same day you purchase fresh fish.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of firm, fresh red snapper fillets (or other firm-fleshed fish), cut into 1/2 inch pieces, completely deboned
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup of chopped fresh seeded tomatoes
  • 1 serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Dash of ground oregano
  • Dash of Tabasco or a light pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado
  • Tortillas or tortilla chips

Method

In a non-reactive casserole dish, either Pyrex or ceramic, place the fish, onion, tomatoes, chili, salt, Tabasco, and oregano. Cover with lime and lemon juice. Let sit covered in the refrigerator for an hour, then stir, making sure more of the fish gets exposed to the acidic lime and lemon juices. Let sit for several hours, giving time for the flavors to blend.

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During the marinating process the fish will change from pinkish grey and translucent, to whiter in color and opaque.

Serve with chopped cilantro and slices of avocado with heated tortillas for ceviche tacos or with tortilla chips.

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66 Comments

  1. J T

    I find it refreshing to use a recipe that is simple & uncluttered as this. My ceviche turned out great. I however, used monk fish (since I already had some in the fridge). Thank you very much for this wonderful recipe. I heartily endorse this one.

  2. elise

    Hi JT – you are very welcome, this is one of my favorites, and so easy to make!

  3. Alan

    Also works wonderfully with Tuna or Swordfish steaks.

  4. Elise

    Hi Alan, that’s good to know. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Alicia

    Excellent! This turned out great. I made it for a party and it was such a hit. I am amazed at how simple it was to make. Good ingredients.

    I used fresh cod and cooked shrimp to make up the 2 lbs of seafood/fish. It was a hit!

  6. Elise

    Hi Alicia – Yum! Good to know about the cod and shrimp combo. Thanks.

  7. Jonathan Lam

    My brother has always loved this dish, thanks for having this recipe on this site so I could make it without killing him!

  8. Valerie

    This works well with Talapia & a little immitation crab as well!

  9. Jeff Abbott

    Great recipe My wife who is originally from Nayarit Mexico adores ceviche. Just a warning however, we tried it with tilapia and discovered the six hour limit must strictly be followed. We let sit over night and the texture was completely lost.

  10. Elise

    Thanks for the tip Jeff!

  11. John

    Great recipe!! What’s the longest you’d let the ceviche sit in the refrigerator before it looses its quality/flavor? Thanks!

  12. Rachael

    Growing up, I never had ceviche made with fish. I actually do not care for the fish and find that yes, you do have to let it sit longer. I prefer to make my ceviche with raw shrimp. Shrimp, red, green, yellow bell peppers, onion, tomato, cilantro, one jalapeno or cilantro, a little cucumber, and LOTS of lemon or lime, or a mixture of both! Some salt and voila! We like to eat it on a tostada with some mayo spread on it! Trust me, its delicious!

  13. Richard

    Hi Elise – I’ve been “fine tuning” my ceviche recipe for three years now. It’s almost identical to yours except for one ingredient….Mango. I read about using Mango in Ceviche, but couldn’t imagine it tasting right. Finally as a test, I made two batches (1 with, & 1 w/o Mango) and everyone who tried them (including me) preferred the batch with diced Mango! It seems to be just the right sweet to balance the acidity – Richard

  14. laurel

    Hi. Here are some more add-in’s i’ve tried: clamato juice as part of the lime marinade, avocado (after the 6 hours is up), celery, and jalapenos. all scrumptious!

  15. Howard

    Growing up we usually had this with shellfish. Shrimp, scallops, octopus or squid and mussels.
    Onions would be thinly sliced instead of diced. and finely diced cilantro and celery. Black pepper instead of red pepper and 1/4 cup of sour orange juice.

  16. Joe

    Wow, my neighbor treated me to some her father had made and was in heaven. Perfect for these dog days.
    I know my dad would love this, but unfortunately he is allergic to citrus fruits. Has anybody tried a substitute for the citrus like vinegar? If so, what kind and in what quantity? The citrus was perfect and think it would be hard to match its light acidity.

  17. Lesley Hilditch

    Great recipe, thanks. I live in England but have travelled well and have such good memories of ceviche in a beach shack in Loreto, Baja California (washed down with a bucket size margarita!) Today in our supermarket I found some wild Canadian salmon and loin of North Atlantic Cod, so combined these in my dish – fantastic.

  18. Michael

    Great recipe!

    My first cheviche was at “Los Canones”
    (tilda over first N)
    It was made with octopus rather than fish.
    Los Canones is an open air restraunt right on the beach on the north coast of Panama. The also have an awesme Conche soup…

  19. andrea

    In my ceviche recipe I use mango, pineapple, fish, shrimp, crab meat, cilantro, onion, avocado, cucumber, lemon and orange juice. Can you say Umm Umm gooood!!!

  20. dave

    I appreciate the recipe. I added a little bit of radish, cucumber, garlic, a few splashes of worstershire sauce, and a habanero pepper. Used tuna and shrimp as well… was incredible

  21. Mark

    Terrific recipe – made it this weekend. It was excellent.

  22. tex

    Shortcut – buy bottled lemon juice, put in bowl, cut fish when frozen as small as you can and add fish. Then add plenty of salt. The salt in the lemon juice will make the fish cook way faster. Add all other ingredients after fish is cooked as not to dilute the acid. Add ketchup to mellow out lemon juice.

  23. Ivan

    Fantastic recipe, it was very tasty.

  24. ben

    Hey ppl, ceviche has to be the easiest and finest of all seafood dishes. I have travelled through central and south america, and my girlfriend is Peruvian. I can honestly say that peruvian ceviche is the greatest. However, the six hours is way off mark, 20mins max is sufficient to cook the fish. The quickest way is as follows (this is street ceviche). In a blender liquidize 3 red chillies, 2 cloves garlic, inch cube ginger, juice of 2 limes, ad this to juice of further 5 limes, add salt and ajinomoto (flavour enhancer available in all good international supermarkets). Add this to 1lb white fish (or whatever)and diced celery, let sit for 10-15 mins, add chopped coriander stir and serve, top with finely sliced red onion and spoon some more juice over, serve with lettuce and half corn on cob, total prep time 20mins

  25. elizabeth

    Ceviche is probably one of my absolute favorite foods ! It is a perfect dish 24/7 ! For the last 15+ years, I have had the distinct pleasure of learning to cook many Ecuadorean dishes. My husband loves that I prepare dishes from his mother’s native country. We love to expose our children to the culture of one of the most wonderful places on earth.
    It is fascinating that ceviche differs so greatly from region to region in the latin world (just as it is with paella). In Ecuador, ceviche(or seviche/sebiche/cebiche) is made from many kinds of fish,seafood,crustaceans, even just mushrooms or hearts of palm ! Proportionately, there is more liquid than solid, but it is FULL of exquisite flavor ! No hot peppers at all ! A squeeze of orange adds sweetness. Of all of the varieties, my favorites are made with shrimp, bay scallops, heart of palm,or sea bass.

  26. karen

    Here’s another version……

    Peel raw shrimp and place in a bowl of lemon juice either fresh or from the bottle. Make sure the shrimp are fully covered in the lemon juice. Place in the fridge until shrimp have turned color approx a few hours depending on how many shrimp your using. You can also use cooked shrimp eliminating the lemon juice. Peel a couple of cucumbers and cut into bite sizes. Also cut tomatoes, onions, avacados, and a jalapeno into bite sizes and mix with the shrimp. Cut a hand full of cilantro and if you want add a little fresh garlic chopped. Last you want a bottle of clamato juice. Pour over shrimp and veggies until covered, more if desired. Fridge again for a few hours to chill and to mix flavors. Eat by itself or serve with tortilla chips. Mmmmmgood

  27. Jessie

    I learned to make ceviche in Mexico and I like it really spicy so I use habanero peppers (1-2). First batch I put 4 habaneros and my mexican friend and I ate it all but our faces turned red and we had tears in our eyes, runny noses etc. I’ve also tried it with rainbow trout and it turned out fabulous. I also use grated carrots, celery, onions, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and avocado slices, kinda like a ceviche salad. All the veggies add color and crunch factor.

  28. SHAKIRA

    Hi everyone. I’m from Belize, Central America, and we make and eat ceviche all the time. Some additions can include cucumber, tomatoe, cilantro, white Mexican onion, carrots. All raw and chopped of course. We also use shellfish as oppose to actuall fish. We usually use conch, a see snail like mollusk. Conch is actually sweeter in taste and it get more tender the longer it sits. We also use shrimp (raw). It’s best to use raw ingredients remember, because the acidity in the lime and lemon juices actually cooks the ingredients. We also serve ceviche with fried corn tortilla chips. We use raw habanero peppers (the flavour of habanero is amazing, although true it’s very very hot!). Just be sure to deseed the pepper and cut it into teeny tiny pieces. And please don’t use any more than you can handle.

    Thanks Shakira, for your explanation of ceviche in Belize. Here in the US I wouldn’t use raw shrimp unless it was fresh right off the boat. The acid in the lime and lemon juices “cooks” the fish, but it doesn’t kill bacteria. It’s too easy to get food poisoning from uncooked or undercooked shrimp to risk it. ~Elise

  29. Rick

    I love ceviche, never tried until I moved to Yuma a town bordering Mexico. The local hispanics that I befriended taught me how to make it and I use fresh raw shrimp and have not had a problem. I made a variation once with mangos, habaneros and scallops along with the regular ingredients of cucumber, peppers, tomato, onion, lemon & lime juice, cilantro and clamato. Delicious!

  30. maria

    I usually make mine with shrimp, diced tomatoes, onions, cilantro, green olives, and if you like a little spice with pickled jalapeños and top it with avocado. You can also make some Aguachile, it’s just serrano chiles and lemon/lime (blended), some salt to taste, and you can add some red onion to put it on top of your ceviche. I love mayo on my shells. When I don’t have time to chop all this I just make the Aguachile, it’s fast and delicious but spicy.

  31. NYfoodguy

    I love ceviche. You might even say I am OBSESSED with the dish. I have tried it from several different countries with many varieties of seafood. The preparation I make is very simple. I do not use cilantro because I detest it! I find fresh chopped parsley accompishes the same thing without making the whole dish taste like laundry detergent :)

    Sea Scallops are my favorite, but a delicate white fish (like flounder) is also excellent. Obviously freshness is the key. I typically use limes or key limes, and sometimes a little lemon in addition. I let my fish “cook” for only abt 45 mins- half that time if using scallops. I also find that a nice healthy pour of extra virgin olive oil on top just before serving adds nice flavor and mellows the citrus.

  32. The Boo

    Been making this dish for years-lots of good sugestions and ideas on this page–I like to use Orange Ruffy filets–(my family likes it this way) this fish was not mentioned but indeed is a good tasting fish and easy to work with–you might want to give it a try–myself I will try some of these good suggestions-NJoy

  33. Ryan

    Having different renditions of Ceviche from all around the world and now living in Yuma, AZ I finally decided to make my first batch and it came out spectacular! No measurements, no set recipe. Just a sharp knife and a little imagination. I used (real) Crab claw meat, shrimp, clams, grilled tilapia, cilantro, red onion, green onion, jalapeno, lemon and lime juice (more lemon than lime) cucumber, salt, pepper, a little clamato. I’m going to continue to experiment with different as well as more combinations of seafood. Some scallops, lobster, oysters and squid will make great additions, I’m sure. The great thing is, you can make it a different way everytime and it’s always fabulous.

  34. April

    I tried soaking cod for 6 hours or more and my fish still doesnt seem cooked, it seems rubbery still. Any suggestions?

    Hmm. Fish when raw is not rubbery. It can become rubbery when cooked. The way to test if it is ready is to look to see how translucent it is. Raw fish has a translucent quality. Cooked fish is opaque. ~Elise

  35. Frank

    I used to go fishing all the time down near La Paz in “la bahia de los muertos”. We would go to a small cafe in La Paz after fishing, drink cold Mexican beer and eat good fresh sea food. The lady that owned the restaurant would always serve a large bowl of civiche and tortilla chips to munch on before dinner. The Mexicans in that area made it with a fish they called la sierra, (a type of sea trout), that was absolutely delicious. This recipe made with Red Snapper reminds me of it. Thanks for putting it on the webb for us, I love the Taste and it takes me back to memories of Fishing, cold Mexican beer, good food, and good friends.

    Thanks again, great recipe.

  36. Rhea

    Great recipe! I had this in California in Napa at the Greystone Culinary Institute of America, and your recipe taste identical (I added mango and they also used halibut). I was so afraid that the pepper would make it too hot, but it was delicious, heavenly. My husband and parents liked it too.

  37. Steve McG

    Nice recipe. I prefer speckled trout, and/or redfish with shrimp or scallops cubed a little smaller. About 1/4 inch. It “cooks” faster and is more scoopable. Keep up the great recipes. If you cook it, they will come…..

  38. i mcgregs

    I like to throw a shot of whiskey in per pound of fish. Gives it a nice kick and a subtle warming effect in the belly. It compliments the spicier flavors in ceviche.

  39. John

    I had ceviche in Argentia many years ago and really enjoyed it. We caught a bunch of Black Sea Bass while fishing this past weekend off the coast of NC and thought it would make good ceviche, so I surfed the web and found your recipe and all the comments to follow it. We used your recipe and added Mango. It was great. Thanks for sharing!

    JD
    Cape Carteret, NC

  40. T.C. WARNOCK

    Awsome! So glad you had this simple recipe, I’ve used it several times now with just minor changes to fit the meal, ie mixed seafood and fish. It’s always been a sue hit. You can’t mess it up and the longer it sits in the frig up to two days the better it becomes. thanks! PS
    The fresher the seafood the better.
    Todd, Miami FL

  41. Shannon

    Ceviche is delicious when made with shrimp! My boyfriend doesn’t even like seafood, but he will eat shrimp ceviche. One must in my recipe is to spread a little bit of mayo on a tostada, and top the tostada with the ceviche. I can’t believe no one has suggested this in the comments!

    Another good suggestion is adding cucumber to the ceviche once everything is cooked. It adds a great texture and if you like your ceviche spicy like I do, the cucumber also adds a little bit of cooling to your taste buds!

  42. Lisa_S.

    For any geek out there, cooking with acid (or base) is called “Denaturing.” You might remember an experiment in biology class where you poured sulfuric acid over an egg and it “cooked” in the test tube. Same process here, just a tastier end result.

  43. Jessica

    I’ve been obsessed with ceviche ever since I had a bite of my friend’s at Gotham Bar and Grill, a restaurant in NYC. I’ve been thinking about trying to make it myself, and this recipe isn’t too daunting! I think someone else described it as “uncluttered.” Love simple, but delicious recipes!

  44. Jeff

    Like mentioned early on, use fish the same day of purchase. When I know I’m going to be buying fish I take with me to the store an insulated lunch bag and one or two of those blue frozen ice packs. I then immediately put my fish and ice packs in the lunch bag for the trip home.

    Great idea! ~Elise

  45. Cecilia Height

    I love ceviche but may I recommend using a more sustainable fish? Red snapper numbers are dwindling due to overfishing. You can find sustainable fish options at the Monteray Bay Aquarium’s website and their Seafood Watch Guide:
    http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

    According to Seafood Watch, it depends on the specific type of red snapper and where it is caught. I buy fish at Whole Foods; they do a pretty good job at sourcing sustainable fish. ~Elise

  46. Gerry

    Hi! Thank you for this recipe! I’d like to try it. But I wanna do it with shrimp the first time. Should I use the same amount of shrimp, replacing the fish? And should I change anything else, when making it with shrimp? Also, could you suggest any other types of fish, and ones that are easy to find wild-caught (I don’t buy farm fish)? Thanks in advance!

    I recommend our shrimp ceviche recipe. ~Elise

  47. Karol

    This is really great!
    Thank you for the information.
    I also wanted to add based on the an individual’s comments posted here-
    Quote-
    This is a typical Peruvian recipe… one of the most famous dishes in the World… it’s really delicious!!!
    Unquoted
    Peruvians have their own recipe of making cerviche but if you try the Ecuadorian cerviche you will find the difference. It’s not all these mixed ingredients like avocado or cucumber. That is only the Peruvian way!

  48. Liza

    Delicious. I made this the other night and it was perfect. I just subbed parsley for the cilantro since that’s what my family likes. I couldn’t have asked for a more refreshing summer dish!

  49. Aya

    The typical peruvian recipe does not carry avocado… Though this one is quite close to it.

    Other than that ceviche is typically served with “choclos”[in Peru they are large kernels of corn] or if unattainable a normal steamed ear of corn will do and steamed sweet potato. The contrast between the spicy sourness flavor and the potato is quite delicious. But this is how my family and typical Peruvian cuisine restaurants will serve it.

    In Peru there are several different types of ceviche depending on the region, and because of that the fish is sometimes cut differently and the recipes include additional things like shrimp for example.

  50. Michelle

    I couldn’t choose whether to make the fish ceviche or shrimp ceviche, so my fiance and I made both last night! Both were absolutely delicious. Thank you for the recipes. I love your website!

  51. Maya Demontaigu

    All your versions sound great, here’s mine. I use 1 1/2 lbs. of finely chopped tilapia. I add the juice of 10 limes, (2) 6in cucumbers (diced), half a large white onion (diced) and a large handful of chopped cilantro. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients, cover and let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. I then serve over a tostada with chopped avocado and some Tapatillo on top. If the recipe is too sour for you add a little oil or some fresh squeezed orange juice for sweetness. The funny thing is, I hate fish and will only eat it in fish ceviche.

  52. nery el chapin

    I love ceviche. To my taste, now I prefer the shrimp simmer in hot water for 5 mins. no more. The fish, tilapia, red snapper, raw and cooked with lime juice, eat it right away or let it cool for 15-30 mins, no more than that, it gets soggy. I hate it when you add ketchup, it kills and changes the flavor. use mint or cilantro. Enjoy and eat ceviche every day, fish, shrimp.

  53. Gayloyd

    The reason it takes 3 – 4 hours is because you added the onion along with the lime juice (they do not have lemons in Peru). The onion slows down the “cooking” time considerably. This can be ready to eat in less than an hour if you add the onion just before serving.

  54. Rene

    I’d like to thank Gaylord for his comment on 3/29. I’ve never made ceviche before & couldn’t figure out why some recipes recommended 6 hour marinate time & some recommended 20 min to 1 hour. All these suggestions sound wonderful.

  55. GwendolynShea

    So glad to find this recipe! I’ve been craving ceviche for a while now (haven’t had it in a few years) and all the recipes I found online had all sorts of additions to them when all I wanted was simple classic ceviche. Thanks for supplying it, I’m planning on making it Saturday! It will be the first time for my husband.

  56. wendy

    My friend, back in the 80’s was from Lima and her mother made Ceviche. I love it. Now, when I tried making it with haddock. sorry, should have been halibut(close, ha, at least the H part) and used lemon and lime juice(bottled) and apparently I should have waited to put the red onion slices in(I can’t taste onion, darn it all) and it did take a bit to finish the inside(my fish was a bit too big(should have cut into cubes, duh!) I had to add salt, and want to add a lot more, but am trying to watch it. used homemade hot sauce, just enough I didn’t notice it though. I had fresh cilantro, but broke it, stems and all by hand. I just screwed it all up!:( BUT, I’m trying to like it. but too sour! I even had black olives(they help if I take a bite with them). SO, maybe adding olive oil(not ketchup, got it) and if I only had orange juice, wonder if I can freeze it, probably would make everything squishy. I also had ground oregano. should have been fresh, i bet. well, everyone else had positive words. sorry

  57. Giovanna Vogt

    Delicious! I used some frozen mixed seafood (thawed first and chopped) and some frozen squid (thawed and chopped first) and added some extra serrano chillis, some garlic, cilantro and sliced green olives! DELICIOUS!!!!!

  58. Ken

    I made this using the original recipe… but after letting everything set as described I took out the seafood and blanched it in olive oil because my wife refuses to eat raw stuff. It actually came out great! I used fresh shrimp, (devained and cleaned) scallops and tilapia. After mixing the cooked seafood back into the pot of seasonings, peppers and lime juice I let it sit for another two hours to get cold again and served with wedges of avocado. It was wonderful… Oh, I also added chopped poblano peppers to give it a nice smooth flavor and served with hot sauce for those who wanted it hotter. This might be a good option for anyone worried about raw seafood. (of course any bacteria is still in the lime juice mixture…but I didn’t explain that to my wife and we both survived!)

  59. kristen

    I used fresh Pacific rock cod in mine and for some reason the fish just did not cook, even in 4 hours. I had to cut into way smaller than 1/2 in pieces. I ate a few pieces raw in the middle before giving up and chopping the fish up and putting back in the fridge, hopefully the fish was fresh enough I won’t die…

  60. angabange

    Has anybody ever tried it with fresh walleye?

  61. Marina

    I made this today using red snapper; it turned out very delicious and fresh!
    Elise, I have already made several dishes from your blog: Peanut butter cookies, Oatmeal raisin cookies, Lemonade, Limeade, Strawberry and watermelon agua fresca, Egg nests, Mango lassi, and this Ceviche. Everything has turned out great; your proportions are very precise. On my “to-do” mental list are now sweet potato fries and pumpkin pie :) Thanks for great recipes!

  62. ruth lee

    i just returned from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico where I attended a cooking class on cerviche.all the ingredients were finely chopped with the fish marinating in lime juice for 30 minutes while we cut up white onion, plum tomatoes , cucumber (seeded) jalapeno pepper (seeded) cilantro (fresh) and garlic cloves. They used a whitefish. Not one I was familar with. After the fish was done, they then added all the chopped ingredients and added avacado on top. it was delicious. and my first time having this appetizer.

  63. Marcia

    Aquí en Perú optamos por el método tradicional, admito que con palta o aguacate como le dicen en México, para mi tendría un sabor diferente, Aquí se usa el camote, el choclo, lechuga… y un poco de ají limo. Excelente!, Es la forma más facil y tradicional de hacerlo amigos. Inténtenlo. A veces muchos ingredientes, no siempre significa más delicioso. :)

    Thank you for your comment Marcia. For those who don’t read Spanish, here is the Google translation: “Here in Peru we opted for the traditional method, I admit that with avocado, for me would have a different flavor.Here you use the sweet potato, corn, lettuce … and a little chili. Excellent!, Is the easiest way to do it and traditional friends. Try it. Sometimes many ingredients, does not always mean
    delicious. :) ” ~Elise

  64. SouthernBelleNumero1

    Not that Google Translate didn’t get a majority of it, but here is a little clearer translation:
    “Here in Peru we opt for the traditional method. I admit that with avocado, like those in Mexico say, it would have a different flavor to me. Here [in Peru] they use sweet potato, corn, lettuce..and a little chile with lime. Excellent! It is the easiest and most traditional way to make friends. Try it. Sometimes more ingredients do not always mean more delicious. :)”

    And for the record, I prefer it with crab meat and served with tostadas!

  65. Mike

    I just used the recipe but used lionfish. Tastes great and they are taking over the reefs here in Florida.

  66. Spencer

    I use powdered 100% lime uice, it’s handy when needed. If you do a search for it make sure it is the 100% pure, no other indredients added, lime juice which I buy by the pound. Delicious.

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