No-Fuss 20-Minute Steamed Fish with White Wine Sauce – An Instant Classic!
Every so often, I whip up a dish that strikes the perfect balance of tasting so special but being so easy to make. I like to think of them as “instant classics” – tried & true recipes to come back to time & time again. The line-up of PWWB instant classics includes Baked Shrimp Scampi & my favorite Castelvetrano Olive Chicken Skillet, & today we’re adding to the collection with this incredible White Wine Steamed Fish with Burst Tomatoes.
The magic of this recipe is its simplicity. Steaming fish in white wine is a beautiful way to create a ton of flavor with very little effort. The only prep involved is arranging hearty cod fillets in a skillet with some aromatics, cherry tomatoes, butter, & dry white wine. From there, the stove does all the work! Just as the wine begins to simmer, cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid to trap in all the moisture. The steam gently cooks the fish until the fillets are meltingly tender, while the white wine transforms into a built-in pan sauce. It’s so good!
And since it’s the prettiest one-pan recipe with very little prep & super hands-off cooking, this white wine steamed fish is perfect for everything from weeknight cooking to easy entertaining. Whether you enjoy it for girl’s night, date night, or just Tuesday night, it’s the type of recipe you’ll come back to time & time again.
White Wine Steamed Fish Recipe Highlights
Steamed white wine fish will be an instant classic for your kitchen. You’ll be obsessed! It’s…
PERFECTLY TENDER & FLAKY. Steaming is a wonderful way to cook a delicate protein like cod. Simply dot the fillets with butter, drown them in white wine, & simmer! Steaming the fish is as simple as placing a lid on a simmering skillet to trap all of the moisture from the fragrant wine, which slowly cooks the fish until it’s beautifully flaky & tender.
READY IN 20 MINUTES OR LESS. This 2-step steamed fish recipe is a fast, one-skillet operation with mostly hands-off cooking. Assemble the skillet in 10 minutes or less, then let the fish cook for another 10 minutes on the stovetop – easy!
A VERSATILE CLASSIC. Once you learn the basics of how to steam fish, you can make this recipe with any variety – from salmon to sea bass! Enjoy for dinner on casual weeknights or as an impressive, easy meal for entertaining.
A tried & true dish you’ll come back to time & time again! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make White Wine Steamed Fish with Burst Tomatoes, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
This all-in-one-skillet recipe packs a big punch of flavor despite using only 8 simple ingredients. Cooking the steamed fish, tomatoes, & white wine sauce all in one pan is the easiest way to ensure no flavor goes to waste. Plus, there are hardly any dishes to wash at the end of the night. Win-win! 🙌🏼
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
- White fish – Delicate, flaky fish is perfect for steaming, so choose whatever variety of fish you like most! You’ll see cod pictured here but halibut, tilapia, & haddock are also great choices. More fish tips below!
- Cherry tomatoes – Juicy, bite-sized cherry tomatoes cook alongside the steamed fish, bursting open to infuse the white wine sauce with natural sweetness.
- Aromatics – Sprinkle a generous amount of finely chopped shallots & garlic over the fish & tomatoes. The steam carries their aromatic qualities as the skillet simmers, perfuming the flaky fish with even more flavor.
- Capers – Capers are unripened, green flower buds of the caper bush. They have the best briney flavor that pairs beautifully with fish. You can find capers in the grocery store near jarred olives.
- Butter – Dots of butter melt over the fish as it steams, basting the fillets in more flavor. As it melts, the butter combines with the white wine & tomato juices to create a light, built-in pan sauce.
- White wine – A dry, unoaked wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc brings brightness & acidity to the steamed fish skillet, balancing the sweet tomatoes & rich butter.
The Best Fish to Steam
Steaming is a method you’ll find used to cook fish all around the world, since all you need is boiling water & a pot with a lid. Iconic Cantonese recipes steam a whole fish & drizzle it with hot oil, while Jamaican recipes steam a whole snapper with popular Caribbean spices. This particular steamed fish recipe cooks flaky fillets instead of whole fish & uses white wine to create a built-in pan sauce. So many different approaches to steamed fish, & they’re all delicious!
So, which fish is best for steaming? ⇢ For this recipe, I recommend a firm-fleshed white fish like cod (pictured here), halibut, tilapia, or haddock. Its firm flesh turns exceptionally tender when gently cooked with steam. That being said, sea bass, perch, & salmon are all commonly steamed fish & could be used here too. Use whatever you love most!
How to Steam Fish with White Wine (2 Easy Steps in 20 Minutes or Less!)
Steaming is a very simple, always-flawless method of preparing fish that guarantees delicately flaky, tender results. For this particular white wine steamed fish recipe, all you have to do is layer the ingredients together in a skillet – then the steam does all the work!
How to steam fish without a steamer? ⇢ While a steamer is a convenient kitchen tool, you don’t need it to make steamed fish. This recipe uses a skillet with a tight-fitting lid to trap the moisture, allowing the hot steam to circulate & gently cook the fish.
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
Assemble the skillet. It’s essential to arrange the fish in a skillet with a tight-fitting lid that can trap the steam. Covering the pan is the key to steaming fish! From there, top each portion with butter, then scatter cherry tomatoes, aromatics, & capers around the fish. Finish by pouring in the white wine, letting it douse everything. Why? ⇢ Once the skillet heats up, the butter will melt over the fish & baste it, combining with the bright wine & sweet tomatoes to create a built-in pan sauce. All of this natural moisture boils & creates aromatic steam, which gently cooks the fish.
Steam the fish. Heat the skillet on the stovetop & let the wine come up to a simmer. As soon as it does, cover it with a lid to trap the moisture as it transforms into steam. The hot steam will circulate in the pan – allow it to cook the tender fish for 8-10 minutes. How do you know when steamed fish is done? ⇢ You’ll know the fish is done if it easily flakes with the nudge of a fork. The cherry tomatoes should also burst open around the same time.
Easy White Wine Fish Recipe Variations
This 2-step steamed fish recipe is nice & simple, but if you want to add a few twists, feel free! A few ideas to get you started…
- Fortify the white wine sauce with lobster base by simply whisking it into the white wine. It gives the entire steamed fish skillet with even richer seafood flavor. We love Better Than Bouillon’s Lobster Base.
- Make a creamy sauce! Once the fish is cooked, simply remove the fillets from the pan & whisk a few tablespoons of heavy cream into the sauce.
- Steam other types of fish. Once you learn how to steam fish then you can use this recipe with many varieties of white fish. Salmon is an excellent non-white fish to try!
This all-in-one dinner is ready to enjoy as soon as it comes off the stove. I love to shower the steamed fish with plenty of fresh herbs like parsley, dill, or basil, then serve it straight from the skillet with a simple side dish or two. A few ideas to get you started…
- A simple lemon rice or rice pilaf
- Roasted or steamed veggies like broccoli, snap peas, or zucchini
- Or, on an extra-lazy evening, a loaf of crusty bread & green salad does the trick. Use the bread to soak up all that wine wine sauce!
Leftovers? ⇢ While best enjoyed fresh, steamed fish keeps in the fridge for a day or two. Store it with some white wine sauce & simply reheat it in the microwave the next day!
I can’t wait for you to try this White Wine Steamed Fish with Burst Tomatoes! It’s so stunning & simple – the perfect special-feeling dish to make over & over. An instant classic, for sure!
If you do give it a try, be sure to let us know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. We LOVE seeing your PWWB creations! ♡ Happy cooking!
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Every so often, I whip up a dish that strikes the perfect balance of tasting so special but being so easy to make. I like to think of them as “instant classics” – tried & true recipes to come back to time & time again. This incredible White Wine Steamed Fish with Burst Tomatoes totally fits the bill!
Steaming is a wonderful way to cook a delicate protein like fish, & it really couldn’t be easier. With this recipe, you’ll layer hearty white fish fillets into a skillet, dot them with butter, shower them with cherry tomatoes & good aromatics (garlic! shallots! capers!), & drown everything in white wine.
From there, the stove does all the work! As soon as the wine reaches a simmer, cover the skillet with a lid to trap in the steam & gently cook the fish. In no more than 10 minutes, the fish will be beautifully tender & flaky, while the tomatoes burst open into the white wine to create a built-in pan sauce.
A 20-minute dinner that’s perfect for everything from weeknight cooking to easy entertaining. Check out the blog post, above, for easy swaps & serving suggestions. ♡ Happy cooking!
- 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless white fish fillet, sliced into four 6-ounce portions (see Recipe Notes)
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into ½-tablespoon pieces
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes
- 1 small shallot, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ½ – 1 cup dry, unoaked white wine
- optional: 1 teaspoon lobster base
- for serving, as desired: leafy fresh basil or parsley, rice or crusty bread, sautéed or steamed vegetables of choice, etc.
- Prep: Use a paper towel to pat the fish fillets as dry as possible, then season generously with 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper, as desired. Transfer to a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, arranging the fish in a single, even layer. Dot each piece of fish with butter. Add the cherry tomatoes to the skillet, arranging them around the fish, then sprinkle the shallot, garlic, & capers over top. If using lobster stock, whisk it into the white wine. Pour the white wine into the skillet, using just enough to come halfway up the sides of the fish.
- Steam the fish: Place the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the wine begins to simmer, reduce heat to medium-low & cover the skillet. Steam 8-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to burst open & the fish is cooked through as desired, easily flaking with the nudge of a fork – total cook time depends on the thickness of fish used.
- Serve the white wine steamed fish as desired. We love to shower the skillet with leafy fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, then serve alongside rice & veggies. When I’m feeling particularly low-effort, I’ll also happily enjoy this white wine steamed fish with a simple green salad & lots of crusty bread to capture all of the white wine sauce – you really can’t go wrong. Enjoy!
- Jess’ Notes & Tips:
- Best fish to use: The beauty of this steamed white fish recipe is its versatility! You can make it using almost any firm-fleshed fish you love. We like to use a hearty white fish like cod or halibut since their hearty fillets hold up to steaming really beautifully. If you prefer to use another type of fish, your best bet is a similar fish with firm flesh, however thinner, delicate varieties like tilapia & haddock work well, as does salmon. Cook times will vary based on the thickness of the fish fillets you use – adjust as needed.
- Thawing frozen fish: The fastest & safest way to thaw frozen fish is to place it in a zip-top bag & submerge in cool water. The steady, cool temperature of the water creates a really controlled environment for the frozen fish to come up to room temperature. This is better from a food safety standpoint, since it limits bacterial growth. Refresh the water every 10 minutes or so, until the fish is completely thawed – 25-30 minutes, tops!
- For a creamier sauce: If you’d like to serve your steamed fish with a creamy white wine sauce, it’s a really simple adaptation of this recipe. Once the fish is steamed, transfer it to a serving plate. Increase the heat under the pan to medium-high & whisk in 3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream. Simmer until thickened slightly, then serve immediately, spooning the creamy white wine sauce over the steamed fish with the burst tomatoes & capers.
- Storage & Reheating: Leftover white wine steamed fish will keep, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. Reheat in the microwave until warmed through.
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Recipe and Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.