Tilapia Ceviche

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Tilapia Ceviche is a light and refreshing salad made with citrusy fish and fresh vegetables. Serve it with chips or crackers, avocado, and plenty of hot sauce.

Taliapa ceviche in a pink bowl on a white platter with tortilla chips.


 

Sometimes, the best souvenir is learning a new recipe from the locals while on vacation. I learned this version of ceviche in Aguascalientes where tilapia is plentiful, sustainable, and locally caught.

It’s the perfect light meal on a hot day and easy to make in giant batches for your friends and family at parties. Please feel free to tweak the recipe and make it your own!

Ceviche ingredients in bowls.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Tilapia: Thaw frozen tilapia in a bowl or on a tray overnight in the refrigerator. For quicker thawing, thaw raw fish in a bowl of cold (not warm) water. Turn the faucet on and let a thin trickle of cold water run into the bowl, letting the excess water overflow out of the bowl and down the drain.
  • Citrus juice: The acid that “cooks” the fish. Lime juice is the most common, but lemon, grapefruit, and orange juice are all great options.
  • Carrots: I don’t see carrots in most ceviche recipes on the Internet, but that’s how they make it in Aguascalientes, and I love it.
  • Jalapeños: Remove the seeds for less heat. At fiestas in Mexico, they prepare a separate bowl of spicy chiles (like serrano chiles and habañero chiles) so the adults can load them up and the kids don’t have to suffer.
  • Cilantro: Cut off the main batch of stems at the bottom of the bunch, then cut up the remaining stems along with the fresh cilantro leaves. Please omit if you hate cilantro (parsley or chives are good substitutes).

Step-by-step instructions

  1. To break down tilapia filets for ceviche, first cut each piece into strips about 2 inches wide, rinsing your knife in cold water between cuts. Holding your knife at a 45-degree angle and following the muscle fibers of the fish, slice the fish into chunks. Continue cutting the tilapia into 1/2-inch pieces.
Someone slicing tilapia on a wooden cutting board.
  1. In a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, add tilapia and citrus juice and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until the tilapia is opaque and “cooked” through, about 4 hours.
Cubed tilapia in a clear bowl.
  1. Drain off and discard excess citrus juice. Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro and toss until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and more fresh citrus juice if desired.
Cubed tilapia in a clear bowl.
  1. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips, or saltine crackers, passing hot sauce and mayonnaise separately. 
An overhead shot of taliapa ceviche in a pink bowl on a white platter with tortilla chips.
Light and refreshing Tilapia Ceviche served with tortilla chips, mayonnaise, creamy avocado, hot sauce, and served with a cold beer.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Safety: Citrus juice does not kill bacteria or parasites in fish (neither will your home freezer), so choose commercially frozen or high-quality fresh fish for ceviche.
  • Yield: This recipe will make about 4 cups of ceviche.
  • Storage: Ceviche is best consumed the same day you make it. You can probably get away with consuming the leftovers on day 2, but that’s about it.
  • Denaturation: The technical term for the reaction between the citrus juice acid and the proteins in the muscle fibers of the tilapia.
  • Avocado: Mixed in or scattered on top, avocado tempers the heat and a creamy texture to ceviche. Guacamole is a great option, too.
  • More mix-ins: Get creative with cucumber, jicama, or pineapple. Bright salmon ceviche and tasty shrimp ceviche are great options, too.

More seafood recipes

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Taliapa ceviche in a pink bowl on a white platter with tortilla chips.

Tilapia Ceviche

Tilapia Ceviche is a light and refreshing salad made with citrusy fish and fresh vegetables. Serve it with chips or crackers, avocado, and plenty of hot sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4 servings (1 cup each)
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 147
5 from 3 votes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound tilapia thawed (see note 1)
  • 1 cup citrus juice plus more for serving (see note 2)
  • 1 medium onion finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot peeled and finely chopped (about ½ cup, see note 3)
  • 1-2 Roma tomatoes seeded and finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers minced, seeded if desired (see note 4)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro stems removed and minced (see note 5)
  • Salt
  • tortilla chips or tostadas or saltine crackers
  • hot sauce or mayonnaise

Instructions 

  • To break down tilapia filets for ceviche, first cut each piece into strips about 2 inches wide, rinsing your knife in cold water between cuts. Holding your knife at a 45-degree angle and following the muscle fibers of the fish, slice the fish into chunks. Continue cutting the tilapia into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • In a medium glass or stainless-steel bowl, add tilapia and citrus juice and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate until the tilapia is opaque and “cooked” through, about 4 hours.
  • Drain off and discard excess lime juice. Add onion, carrots, tomatoes, jalapeños, and cilantro and toss until evenly coated. Season to taste with salt and more fresh lime juice if desired.
  • Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips, or saltine crackers, passing hot sauce and mayonnaise separately. 

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Tilapia: Thaw frozen tilapia in a bowl or on a tray overnight in the refrigerator. For quicker thawing, thaw in a bowl of cold (not warm) water. Turn the faucet on and let a thin trickle of cold water run into the bowl, letting the excess water overflow out of the bowl and down the drain.
  2. Citrus juice: The acid that “cooks” the fish. Lime juice is the most common, but lemon, grapefruit, and orange juice are all great options.
  3. Carrots: I don’t see carrots in most ceviche recipes on the Internet, but that’s how they make it in Aguascalientes, and I love it.
  4. Jalapeños: Remove the seeds for less heat. At fiestas in Mexico, they prepare a separate bowl of spicy chiles (like serrano and habañero chiles) so the adults can load them up and the kids don’t have to suffer.
  5. Cilantro: Cut off the main batch of stems at the bottom of the bunch, then cut up the remaining stems along with the leaves. Please omit if you hate cilantro (parsley or chives are good substitutes).
  6. Safety: Citrus juice does not kill bacteria or parasites in fish (neither will your home freezer), so choose commercially frozen or high-quality fresh fish for ceviche.
  7. Yield: This recipe will make about 4 cups of ceviche.
  8. Storage: Ceviche is best consumed the same day you make it. You can probably get away with consuming the leftovers on day 2, but that’s about it.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 cupCalories: 147kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 24gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 75mgPotassium: 567mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 3340IUVitamin C: 28mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 1mg
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. question: Can the fish be cut into the smaller portions while it’s still frozen? Seems like it would cut easier when stiff like that, would thaw faster in small pieces, and then prep would be so easy later because the cutting would be all done. In fact, I could probably make lots of bite size pieces and get them back into the freezer quickly so the next time I want to make cerviche, the cutting would already be done. Thanks!

    1. Hi Milo, seems like you answered your own question. That seems like a great idea, let me know how it works out! – Meggan

  2. Thank you for showing what the ‘cooked’ tilapia looks like compared to the raw tilapia. Really helped determine when to pull the fish and serve. Your tips (where and tilapia freshness) was great advice. Thank you thank you! :)5 stars

    1. Thank you so much John! That means a lot. There are plenty of poorly-written recipes in the world; I try not to contribute to that. Take care. -Meggan

  3. I’ve heard of ceviche but I don’t think I’ve ever had it… I never realized it had fish in it! It sounds delicious so I’m definitely going to have to give it a try.

    Tiffany
    5 stars