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20 February 2017

A recipe for Florida-caught sheepshead whitefish, blackened with LOADS of seasoning, and drizzled with a homemade basil-lime cream. Perfect for a light yet tasteful meal.

OK, so here’s the story. Patty and I are hanging out in Florida, enjoying the sun and the warmth. It’s a nice getaway from the Chicago cold. We have some very cool neighbors upstairs, and let me tell you how COOL they are. Mark and Jan. Mark goes fishing every week and the other day we hear a knock at the door. Mark caught some sheepshead fish and says, “Hey, want some fish?” Um, yeah, man! Sure! Sheepshead is a wonderful whitefish, nice and flaky, with a mild flavor that lends itself to blackening or grilling.

Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce – Recipe

As with most whitefish, you don’t want to overdo it with the accompaniments. You want that fish to shine through! But! I can tell you that most whitefish, and particularly sheepshead, stands up to a healthy dose of seasoning, so please, FEEL FREE to season the HECK out of that fish and sear it up! Just like I didl Get that pan nice and hot and add plenty of seasoning, the sear these babies up until they are cooked through and still nice and moist on the inside.

As mentioned, I didn’t go crazy with the accompaniments. Just a simple basil-lime cream over the top, with a bit more lime juice splashed over everything, with a side of sliced avocado. Can we say “Perfection”? YES! I do love a good fillet of fish. Go grab yourself some sheepshead! Thanks, Mark and Jan! I owe you guys some dinner.

With extra seared jalapeno peppers, please. You already know – Mike’s #JalapenoObsession.

Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce – Recipe

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5 from 4 votes

Blackened Sheepshead with Basil-Lime Cream Sauce – Recipe

A recipe for Florida-caught sheepshead whitefish, blackened with LOADS of seasoning, and drizzled with a homemade basil-lime cream. Perfect for a light yet tasteful meal.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 60kcal


  • Olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce Sheepshead fillets
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeno pepper sliced into rings
  • Lime slices for serving
  • Avocado slices for serving if desired


  • ½ cup crema or sour cream
  • Juice from half a lime
  • Zest from half a lime + more as needed
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped basil


  • Heat olive oil in a large pan to medium-high heat.
  • Season the whitefish fillets with the cayenne, paprika, garlic, basil and salt and pepper.
  • Sear the tops of the fish in the hot pan for about 2 minutes, then flip and sear another 2 minutes. Add a splash of water and cover. Cook another few minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and moist within. Do not overcook or it can become dry.
  • While the fish is cooking, add the jalapeno slices to a hot pan with a splash of olive oil and crisp them up. It should take a couple minutes per side. Remove from heat.
  • Make your creamsauce by whisking together the sour cream, lime juice, lime zest and basil.
  • Drizzle the basil-lime cream over the whitefish and serve with crispy jalapeno slices, slices of lime, and a bit more lime zest over the top.
  • I like to serve mine with a few slices of avocado on the side.


Calories: 60kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 123mg | Potassium: 30mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 640IU | Vitamin C: 4.5mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 0.3mg


  1. 5 stars
    We had this for dinner tonight and everyone really enjoyed it. I was out of cayenne, so substituted cumin…a little less heat, therefore, but we compensated with a few more jalapeños. Great recipe…the basil-lime was the perfect cooler!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Great to hear, Donna! I appreciate it. Glad you all enjoyed it.

  2. 5 stars
    Simple and delicious! Used my Ninja Foodi on aircrisp and the spice mix in Mike’s recipe to blacken the sheepshead. The basil-lime cream sauce adds another dimension. Clearly my favorite recipe for sheepshead. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Outstanding, Bill! Super happy you enjoyed it! I need to get my hands on some sheepshead again very soon!

  3. 5 stars
    Delish!!!! Made this with sheephead we caught out of Tampa Bay. It’s definitely a do over!! 🙂 Me personally, I might cut back on the cayenne pepper, but the sauce and avocado helps cool it down. My hot spice heads of the family LOVED IT!!

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Excellent, Sherri! I love the local sheepshead! Glad you enjoyed it!

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