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Smoked Mackerel Pasta With Chilli & Lemon

Smoked mackerel pasta with chilli, lemon and some glorious golden breadcrumbs to offer texture to a quick, frugal and really simple dinner.

This simple, light and spicy fish pasta will go right from your pantry to your table in around 15 minutes making it a wonderful mid-week munch.

Spicy smoked mackerel pasta with chilli, lemon and golden breadcrumbs on a fork.

Quick and Easy Spicy Fish Pasta

I have a thing for fish, I love cooking with it and eating it and for me the finest fish in the sea is mackerel.

I use it all of the time, it is delicious, rich and comparatively speaking incredibly cheap.

This wonderful quick pasta recipe uses smoked mackerel fillets rather than fresh fish, which makes this dish to cook.

I use it in recipes as diverse and smoked mackerel risotto, smoked mackerel, apple and bacon salad, smoked mackerel potato frittata and even a smoked mackerel kedgeree.

It has a wonderfully aromatic smokey flavour, robust but moist flesh and it absolutely sings in this pasta recipe.

The oily fish is tempered by the addition of lemon juice and lemon zest, and given a but of bite with dried chilli flakes.

The dish is finished with some wonderfully crispy and golden garlic breadcrumbs.

If mackerel is your thing check out my canned mackerel fish cakes, whole baked mackerel and fresh devilled mackerel fillets.

I even have an incredible tinned-sardine pasta bolognese!

Close up spicy smoked mackerel pasta with fusilli, chilli, lemon and golden breadcrumbs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use peppered or plain mackerel fillets?

This recipe works equally well with either, use whatever you prefer.

Can I use a whole smoked mackerel?

Yes of course, but they can be a bit messy to flake up, if that does not bother your then knock yourself out!

Can I use different types of pasta?

Definitely, this is great with everything from conchiglie to pappardelle and even orecchiette.

The only pasta that I would avoid are “tubes” because there is just not a sauce to make it work.

Do I have to add the chilli?

No, it can be omitted or scaled back as per your preference.

Can this be eaten cold?

Yes, this is great as a lunchbox dish, but I would pack the breadcrumbs separately to keep them crisp.

Overhead smoked mackerel pasta with fusilli, chilli, lemon and golden breadcrumbs.

Serving Suggestions

This recipe is designed to be a simple pasta dish and I’d usually serve it as it comes with maybe a bread side.

I’ve quite happy with some toasted ciabatta or focaccia bread, drizzled with a little olive oil.

But my wife ALWAYS insists on garlic bread… to be fair I could say that about practically any meal!

Smoked mackerel pasta with fusilli, chilli, lemon and golden breadcrumbs.

Equipment Used

I only recommend specific brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Saucepan for boiling pasta, I use a 24cm or 10″ saucepan.
  • Medium (24cm or 10″) frying pan.
  • Small bowls.
  • Sharp kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
Spicy smoked mackerel pasta with fusilli, chilli, lemon and golden breadcrumbs on a fork.
Yield: 2 Servings

Smoked Mackerel Pasta Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Simple, fast, cheap and packed full of flavour, this smoked mackerel pasta with chilli and lemon is a delight that deserves a place at any table.


  • 2 Smoked Mackerel Fillets
  • ½ Tsp Dried Chilli Flakes
  • 1 Lemon
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 15g (¼ Cup) Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 150g (5oz) Fusilli Pasta
  • 4 Tbsp (¼ Cup) Fresh Chopped Parsley
  • Salt to Boil the Pasta (1 Tablespoon for 4 litlres of cooking water)


  1. Heat a large pan of boiling water to cook the pasta.
  2. If the mackerel has the skin on peel it off and discard it and break the flesh into flakes.
  3. Peel and mash the garlic into a paste.
  4. Zest and juice the lemon.
  5. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the instructions noting how long the pasta should take to cook.
  6. Heat a medium (24cm or 10") frying pan over a medium heat and when it is hot add one tablespoon of the oil.
  7. Add the garlic and breadcrumbs, most of the lemon zest and cook until golden, stirring regularly to avoid burning the breadcrumbs. Once they are golden remove them and set them aside on some kitchen paper
  8. 3 minutes before the pasta is due to be cooked heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. The same pan you toasted the breadcrumbs in is fine.
  9. Throw in the chilli flakes and cook for 30 seconds.
  10. Then add the flaked fish, this is already cooked so just needs to be bought to a nice temperature which should take a couple of minutes.
  11. Drain the pasta (reserving 75ml or ⅓ Cup of the cooking liquid) and add it to the fish, toss to coat and add half of the lemon juice.
  12. Add just enough of the cooking liquid to get a nice silky coating in the pasta.
  13. Serve topped with the toasted breadcrumbs, remaining lemon zest, a little bit of the remaining lemon juice and freshly chopped parsley.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 674Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 140mgCarbohydrates: 53gFiber: 4gSugar: 2gProtein: 31g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Éva Hefty-Mallett

Friday 2nd of April 2021

Excellent! We had it for Good Friday dinner, dudn't disappoint.

Brian Jones

Monday 5th of April 2021

Thanks Eva. Glad you liked it.

Claire | Sprinkles and Sprouts

Tuesday 28th of February 2017

Oh I love smoked mackerel, but it is super difficult to find here in rural Australia :-( We do get plenty of smoked trout so I might have to try it with that because this sounds delicious!

Brian Jones

Wednesday 1st of March 2017

I'm sure it will work great with smoked trout... I have no idea why smoked mackerel is so popular here in Hungary as we can get no other sea fish (or not readily anyway), but I am glad it is, I love it!


Tuesday 24th of January 2017

oh love smoked mackerel and pasta, sounds lush. Lovely flavour combos for Winter.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

Me too, in fact if it is mackerel I love it period :)

Just Jo

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

Oh yummy yum yum! I always have a can of mackerel in, if not a fillet or two of the smoked stuff. I really love it - why have I never had it with pasta though?! Love the look of this Brian, nice and easy and proper tasty too!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

C'mon Jo sort it out, a winner of a combination, think tuna pasta turned up to 37.79 :D

Bintu - Recipes From A Pantry

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

Mackerel is so good for your heart and your brain. Love the addition of chili too.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 24th of January 2017

Really, I've always loved mackerel and eat it as often as I can and am still as thick as tow short planks ;)

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