Florida Style Smoked Whitefish Dip

a dish of smoked fish dip with pepperoncini, olives and pickled peppers.

Want an authentic taste of Florida? Try my quick and easy smoked whitefish dip. This chunky, spicy smoked whitefish recipe is filled with crunchy fresh vegetables, sweet chewy sun-dried tomatoes and 2 kinds of pickled peppers for a tangy, zippy flavor that’s unbeatable. This incredible seafood spread works well with whatever YOUR local whitefish is — and a good fishmonger will always have a supply of their own smoked whitefish for sale. This recipe makes enough for a crowd, so it’s a perfect appetizer for summer picnics, barbecues and cookouts with the family. In fact, in our family it’s practically required.

Thanks to Mezzetta for sponsoring this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. #Mezzetta 

Ingredients for dip recipe.

Despite stay at home orders and social distancing, it’s still ok to take a trip to Florida via your kitchen. If you don’t have to be Florida residents, like we are, this quick and easy Florida-style seafood dip will transport you to your favorite sunny beachside fish shack or hole-in-the-wall seafood joint with one taste of this creamy, chunky spicy dip.

To make the best Florida-style whitefish dip, start with the best ingredients. That means good smoked fish from your local fisheries, a variety of fresh crunchy veg and Mezzetta. For 85 years, the Mezzetta family has scoured the world to bring the very best products into people’s homes and their amazing array of olives, pickled sweet and spicy peppers, pickled vegetables and giardiniere as well as their impeccable sauces, marinaras and specialty items are of the highest quality and (most importantly) flavor.

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I’m partial to their Castelvetrano olives, California sun dried tomatoes and all manner of pickled veggies which add so much flavor to my favorite dishes. For this seafood dip recipe, I use a trifecta of Mezzetta pickled jalapeño peppers, tangy, crunchy pepperoncini and sweet chewy sun-dried tomatoes to take this dip up several notches. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients for Smoked Whitefish Dip

  • Smoked Whitefish
  • Cream Cheese
  • Sour Cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Lemon
  • Mezzetta Golden Greek Pepperoncini Peppers
  • Green Bell Pepper
  • Mezzetta Sliced Tamed Jalapeno Peppers
  • Celery
  • Mezzetta Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes in oil
  • Red Onion
cleaning and processing smoked fish.

Before we get into the dip, though, let’s talk about the fish. What to buy and where to buy it.

What type of fish is whitefish?

Whitefish is a generic catchall phrase referring to any fish with light-colored flesh.

You can use any type of smoked white-fleshed fish. As long as it’s fresh and local, it’ll be fantastic.

What to look for when selecting fish for smoked whitefish dip

  • For smoked whitefish dip, I look for a medium-firm textured fish; ask your fishmonger if you’re not sure.
  • I also generally stick with more moderately priced seafood. I used smoked kingfish instead of Mahi-Mahi for this recipe because the price difference was about $5/pound.

Just a few examples of medium-firm texture whitefish

  • Mahi Mahi
  • Kingfish
  • Crappies
  • Walleye
  • Pollack
  • Brook Trout
  • Ocean Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
adding ingredients to the  food processor.

Smoked fish can be have strong fishy flavors — but I’ve learned a few tricks to mitigate them.

How to work with smoked whitefish:

  1. Remove the skin and any bones (duh) from the fish — you don’t want it in this seafood spread.
  2. Once the skin is removed, look at the fillet for any dark brown/black areas (not the smoked areas, but those where the flesh is actually a darker color). That’s the bloodline and its where most of the fishy flavors concentrate. Remove the dark spots — yes, you might be cutting away a bit of fish, but you’ll have a better smoked whitefish dip in the end.
  3. Break the fish into chunks and add them to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the whitefish is finely chopped and transfer the chopped fish to a large bowl.
mixing the rest of the ingredients.

Making the creamy base for fish dip

The next step is to make the creamy base of the smoked dip.

Because I don’t like to do extra dishes (and I’m betting you don’t), I mix the cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper in the same food processor I used for the smoked fish. Then add the lemon zest and juice and give it another whirl. Finally, add the cream cheese mixture to the fish and combine.

What size to chop veg for the fish dip

Traditional Florida-style smoked whitefish dip will usually have a myriad of veggies mixed in. Some shops and restaurants make it with large pieces of veg while others are so finely minced, you’ll barely notice them – I have a smoother version here. This recipe is somewhere in between chunky and creamy. You’ll get the texture/crunch of the veg and can taste them individually in the dip. This is the way my whole family prefers it. A fine dice (about 1/4″) is the perfect size. Enough to get texture and crunch in every bite without feeling like you’re eating a salad.

Fresh celery, onions and green bell pepper add that perfect crunchy note, but the real pops of flavor comes from the Mezzetta Deli Sliced Tamed Jalapeno Peppers and Golden Greek Pepperoncini, not to mention the Sun-Ripened Dried Tomatoes. This is where it gets GOOD.

adding mezzetta ingredients to the fish dip.

An ode to Mezzetta

I love that Mezzetta is a family owned business, but even more important to me is the quality of their products. All sourced from locales around the globe where the crops naturally thrive. Their care and consideration into sourcing the best, is evident in the final product. I admit, while I’m chopping, I’ll sample some of the ingredients… for, you know… more quality control…

Tamed Jalapeno Peppers

These peppers are sun-ripened in California and deliver a robust flavor without the scorching heat. Their tender texture, deep color and crisp flavor blend beautifully in this smoked seafood spread. Aunt Nola always puts one or two extra jalaepeno slices on top of her fish dip crackers.

Golden Greek Pepperoncini

I love Mezzetta pepperoncini peppers. They’re sourced from sun-drenched pepper farms in Greece and they’re picked every seven days, when they’re most tender and crispy. I also love the size of these pepperoncini — they’re not too large as many can be, for easy out-of-the-jar snacking. The tangy, piquant, fruity flavor adds another layer of flavor to this easy seafood dip.

Sun Ripened Dried Tomatoes

Made with farm fresh California ripe tomatoes, Mezzetta oven-dries the fruit which gives them a natural, smoky flavor. They’re packed with fresh herbs in olive oil (with no sulfites) and their soft, velvety texture and deep, rich flavor adds just the right pops of sweetness to this flavorful dip.

adding sun dried tomatoes to the Florida fish dip.

The waiting is the hardest part…

Mix the chopped Mezzetta veggies into the dip so that they’re thoroughly combined and transfer them to a storage container and… this is the hardest part… refrigerate it for several hours, or, preferably, overnight for the flavors to marry. I mean, it’s gonna be good RIGHT NOWbut it’s even better the next day.

Garnishing the smoked whitefish dip with Mezzetta pickled jalapenos and slices of pepperoncini.

How long will smoked whitefish dip last?

This dip holds up refrigerated in a covered in a storage container for up to a week.

Can the recipe be halved or doubled?

Absolutely. If you don’t have a big crowd, feel free to cut the recipe in half. If you have an extra large capacity food processor, it can be doubled. Mine is a 7-cup variety and it was pretty full.

Can fish dip be frozen?

Not really. Freezing the fresh vegetables in the dip will cause their cells to expand (and burst) releasing their liquid when thawed. That would give the dip a more watery texture. Best to eat it within a week — or gift a container to a relative or neighbor along with a sleeve of saltine crackers. You’ll have a friend for life.

Serve the seafood spread with saltine crackers.

Whether we’re serving smoked fish dip for happy hour or as a poolside snack (hello, we live in Florida…), I always include extras for garnishing and nibbles. My parents like to spread the dip on a cracker and then top with their favorite kalamata olives, or extra sun-dried tomatoes. My husband likes to snag a few pepperoncini peppers to munch in between his smoked fish crackers. My daughter, Emily, just hovers around the bowl in anticipation of her next bite. Seriously, our family can’t get together without this fish dip and Mezzetti accoutrements.

Garnishes for smoked fish dip

  • Extra pickled jalapeno peppers
  • Sliced pepperoncini peppers
  • Slices of sun dried tomatoes
  • Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Sliced Kalamata olives
  • A few drops of hot sauce
an overhead photo of the seafood dip with saltine crackers and an extra bowl of pickled peppers.

Though saltines are the traditional way to enjoy this dip, I’ve found that it’s great with an assortment of fresh veggie crudité as well. If you’ve got diners who are sticking to a low carb or veto diet, put out a colorful platter of sliced raw vegetables to scoop up the tasty dip.

What to serve with smoked whitefish dip

  • Saltine crackers (this is the traditional Florida style)
  • Other whole grain crackers or flatbreads
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Celery sticks
  • Carrot sticks
Serving some Florida fish dip with crackers.

My husband tells me that this is the BEST fish dip he’s ever had. Chunky, but not overly so, spicy, (but not too hot) with a tangy, zippy finish that leaves your mouth all a-tingle. Be the hero of your next happy hour or “cocktail zoom” with this quick and easy authentic Florida-style smoked whitefish dip. Don’t forget that tropical Florida virtual palm tree video conference background.

More seafood appetizers you might enjoy:

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A bowl of whitefish dip with sun dried tomatoes for garnish.
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4.57 from 16 votes

Florida Style Smoked Whitefish Dip

This authentic Florida style fish dip is creamy and smoky with a bit of tang and heat from fresh lemon zest, pepperoncini peppers and pickled jalapenos. Traditional Florida fish dip is served with saltine crackers, but it’s also good with whole grain crackers and flatbreads.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American, Florida
Keyword dip, smoked fish, spread
Dietary Restrictions Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Pescatarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 20


  • Food Processor



  • 1 pound smoked fish I used smoked kingfish
  • 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup green bell pepper finely chopped
  • ½ cup celery (about 2 ribs) finely chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Mezzetta Pickled Jalapenos finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Mezzetta Pepperoncini Peppers finely chopped
  • 5 Mezzetta Sun Dried Tomato Halves finely chopped


  • crackers, flat bread or pita crisps
  • extra pepperoncini peppers
  • extra pickled jalapenos
  • sliced kalamata olives
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh lemon juice
  • additional hot sauce


  • If your fish has skin still attached, remove it. Depending on the type of fish you have, there may be a bloodline — dark colored flesh that runs the length of the fish. It can be “fishy”, so I prefer to remove it. Just slice it out with a knife and discard.
  • Break the fish up into chunks and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times to finely chop the fish. Transfer the fish to a large bowl.
  • Add the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper to the food processor. Zest the lemon with a microplane and add the zest to the food processor. Juice half of the lemon and add the juice to the food processor. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.
  • Transfer the cream cheese mixture to the chopped fish and stir to combine. Add the chopped bell pepper, celery, onion, pepperoncini, jalapenos & sun dried tomatoes. Mix to combine. Add hot sauce to taste.
  • Transfer the fish dip to a storage container and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.


Patience pays. Let the smoked fish dip chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. It gives the flavors a chance to marry.


Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 36mg | Sodium: 195mg | Potassium: 167mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 319IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 1mg

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  1. 5 stars
    just came back to n.j,the smoked fish dip was as good as in the key’s.it made looking at the snow bearable.thanks

    1. I’m sorry you had to go back, but I’m thrilled the fish dip made it bearable!

  2. I added some minced garlic, Tabasco, and Slap Ya Momma Cajun seasonings. Yummy!!!!!

  3. 5 stars
    We entertain a lot and I’m always adding to my repertoire of people-pleasing appetizers! This one is FABULOUS! It’s creamy, smoky, with a subtle fish taste and the peppers add just the right amount of zip! I also like that this batch makes 4 times the amount of dip that I normally buy from our local seafood store for about the same cost. Thank you, Lisa! This one’s a keeper!

    1. Yes, this is definitely a crowd pleaser — and it makes enough for a big crowd or for enjoying all week long! So glad you like it!

  4. Nart at Cooking with Nart says:

    5 stars
    I’ve never had or made a fish dip before but this looked so tempting when I first saw it. I tried the recipe and it turned out great!

  5. Nola Martin says:

    5 stars
    I absolutely love fish dip! The addition of pepperoncini peppers and sun dried tomatoes add a new dimension. And of course a slice of pickled jalapeño is perfection. Looking forward to preparing & serving this version. Think I’ll do this right now!

  6. Margaret Thom says:

    I love this fish dip. Not only is it tasty but it uses ingredients I have on hand all the time. Like the Mezzetta peppers, jalapeños and sun dried tomatoes!

  7. 5 stars
    I will be hogging and eating the whole bowl… forget the crowd! I’m the crowd! This will be great for 4th of July.

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe is such a crowd pleaser, and also one of my all time favorites!!!

    1. So glad you like it, Emily! I serve it with cocktails on the weekends!

  9. 5 stars
    I love that this recipe gives so many suggestions for garnishes and what to serve with whitefish dip. Thank you!

  10. 5 stars
    This smoke whitefish dip is the perfect appetizer for parties or to have while you are enjoying cocktails in the evening.

  11. Amanda Marie Boyle says:

    5 stars
    Wow! Just like the fish dip I remember from my last Florida vacation. I love all of the veggies and pickled extras this includes!