Cod Livornese

Cod Livornese is a Northern Italian seafood dish made with codfish smothered in a flavorful light tomato sauce with crushed tomatoes, capers, kalamata olives, and garlic.  A No-fuss and super easy recipe, this cod livornese is a wonderful dish for seafood lover cooks, simply because dinner will be ready in less than 30 minutes.



What is Cod Livornese?

  • Livornese refers to the kind of sauce with this recipe, it is a method for cooking fish, as a stew, which originated in Livorno, Tuscany, a port city on the Ligurian Sea, Italy. 
  • They are known for their popular stewed seafood dishes.
  • Cod is a deep cold-water fish.  It’s a white meaty fish with a mild flavor and loaded with nutrients.  So when I decided to pick some up at the fish market today,  I had in mind to make our mom’s recipe for her delicious Cod Livornese.
A white dinner plate with cooked cod smothered in a tomato broth with olives.

As kids, our mom always made fish weekly and would make cod at least twice each month.  One of her classic cod dishes which happens to be our favorite too is her Fresh Cod Fish Salad It’s a seafood salad that is dressed with lemon juice and olive oil and served chilled.  And, it’s delicious! For more Livornese recipes, don’t miss our Baked Swordfish Livornese, and Dover Sole Livornese.

When buying codfish…

When looking to buy cod for this recipe, we recommend asking the fishmonger for a thicker or center cut of the fish. 

Keep in mind, that codfish is a fish that cooks up very quickly, and we recommend buying a thicker piece since it works better with this recipe.

Also, for this Livornese-style recipe, I am making it on the stovetop, which is pretty darn easy… as you will see. 

So let’s get started!

How to Make Cod Livornese?

1.  First, Prep the Ingredients: grab a cutting board, and start by gathering all the ingredients needed, such as capers, and kalamata olives (and remove the pits if you need to), slice garlic cloves, and chop fresh parsley. Set them nearby, this will speed up the cooking process once you get started.

2.  Prepare the Cod: depending on its length, if the piece of cod is too long in size, you may cut it in half if you need to, to fit inside your skillet.  Next, season the cod with some salt and black pepper.

3.  Saute in a Skillet: in a large 10-inch deep heavy skillet, saute the garlic in olive oil for about 1 minute, add in the cod, and sear the cod for 1 minute.   

4.  Add the Wine: pour in the white wine and simmer for a minute or so, allowing the wine to reduce a little.

Ingredients on a white board, and fresh raw cod is sautéed in a large skillet.

5.  Make the Livornese Sauce: toss in the capers,  olives, fresh parsley, crushed red pepper flakes, and crushed tomatoes.  Cover with a lid and simmer on low heat for 5 to 8 minutes.  Stirring the sauce occasionally.  Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your preference, with salt and black pepper to taste.

*NOTE: Codfish will appear opaque and will be delicate to handle.


A skillet with tomatoes, olive and cod fish simmering,.

6.  To Serve: it’s best to use a spatula and carefully remove the cod, to transfer it to a serving plate.  Then spoon the Livornese sauce over the fish and serve.  

A forkful of cod smothered in tomato sauce on a white plate.

Cook’s NOTES and TIPS for Cod Livornese:

  • Codfish is delicate and flaky when fully cooked.  It’s best to use a large spatula as you transfer it to a plate.  Also, you may spoon as much Livornese sauce or as little over the fish, as desired.
  • As you can see, I prefer mine smothered in the tomato sauce!  For me, the more sauce, the better the fish will taste with every bite!
  • OH, and don’t forget to have some crusty Italian bread nearby to scoop up some of that fragrant flavorful sauce.  It’s so good!!
  • This recipe for Livornese is adaptable to tilapia, snapper, and even Dover sole.  Codfish happens to be the least expensive fish you can buy. 

Give it a try… and ENJOY!!


A forkful of Cod Livornese served on a white dinner plate.

More Cod Fish Recipes You’ll Love!

Your comments help us!  If you try our Cod Livornese recipe?  Let us know and leave a comment with a star rating on our recipe card above! Have fun and snap a photo and hashtag it on Instagram @2sistersrecipes, and  Pinterest.  We’d love to see what you cook!

Yield: 2 servings

Cod Livornese

A white serving plate with a cooked codfish smothered in a tomato sauce.

Cod Livornese is an Italian seafood dish that is smothered in a flavorful light tomato sauce made with crushed tomatoes, capers, kalamata olives, and garlic. Super easy, delicious, and makes dinner ready in less than 30 minutes!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 8-ounce ( 1/2 pound) clean cod
  • 3 garlic cloves - sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • 5 to 6 kalamata olives - pitted and sliced
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • bunch of freshly chopped parsley, and extra for garnish
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes with liquid ( or 1 cup marinara sauce)
  • sea salt and fresh cracked pepper


  1. Season cod with some salt and black pepper.
  2. In a large 10-inch deep non-stick skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat and toss in the garlic. Saute garlic for about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add in the codfish and sear cod for 1 minute. Pour in the white wine, and allow the wine to reduce a little, about 1 to 2 minutes until it softens.
  4. Toss in the capers, fresh parsley, kalamata olives, crushed red pepper flakes, and crushed tomatoes.
  5. Cover with the lid, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the sauce with Cod for about 5 to 8 minutes. Codfish should turn opaque and be fully cooked. Taste the tomato sauce, and adjust if needed, season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Using a large spatula, carefully transfer fish to a serving plate, spoon sauce over the fish. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley on top. Serve immediately.
  7. Serves 1 to 2


Always remember, cooking times will vary depending upon thickness of the fish. And as with all recipes, make this your own and adjust the amounts of salt and pepper to your taste! Enjoy!

Nutrition Information:


2 servings

Serving Size:

1 serving

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 519Total Fat: 23gCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 7.1gSugar: 3.7gProtein: 20.4g

Did you make this recipe?

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Happy Cooking! 🙂

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    1. Hello John! That’s a good question. From my experience, I can tell you that 1 pound of cod usually serves 3 to 4 people.
      If you plan to make it for 30 people, its best to make the livornese sauce in a large skillet, and triple the ingredients. Then place the cod into a large roasting pan, and transfer the sauce on top of cod. Then bake it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 15 to 18 minutes or less, until the cod is fully cooked. Keep an eye on it, since cod cooks up quickly.

      The average size per serving is usually 4-ounces per person. Therefore, estimating for 30 people (and if everyone will have a serving), you will need about 8 pounds of cod.
      To be on the safe side, and not to run short (in case you have big eaters) order 9 pounds of cod. You can always freeze leftovers. 🙂

  1. I love a fishy dishy (hehehe). THis looks delicious, tho I am not a tomato fan. But I am okay with them when cooked in a dish like this one.

  2. Very nice recipe! Absolutely delicious and easy to prepare. Not too much clean up, either, which is always a plus! I doubled it and used the extra sauce to serve over linguine! Will make this again and again!

    1. Thank you so much, Rose… we’re always delighted to hear the outcome was a success! And welcome to our blog, it’s so nice to meet you! Thanks again. Looking forward to hearing from you again! Have a great weekend! 🙂
      anna and liz

  3. i love fish, and i love the sound of these flavours. I haven’t eaten cod since i was a child when mum used to cook it. i tend to eat salmon, or mackerel or tuna. i guess you could try these flavours with tuna or mackerel. maybe not salmon tho.:)

    1. Thanks so much Sherry! And yes, you can certainly try these flavours with salmon but not tuna! I will be posting recipes for them as well soon!
      Have a great day! 🙂

      1. This is almost puttanesca, minus anchovies. I made it with anchovies added…very good. I love Cod and this was a great way to prepare it.

        1. Hi Mike!
          Sounds delicious with the anchovies added. Thanks for the tip, and thanks for leaving a sweet comment.

  4. This looks so good! Our locally owned grocery store has been having special on cod recently so I need to get some 🙂

    1. My life has changed in so many ways and now I prefer cooking fast and easy meals, but keeping them flavorful is the key! Thanks so much Amalia – I hope you will try this one!