Recipe: How to Roast a Whole Fish

You’ll never be afraid of whole fish again. This recipe for roasting a whole fish is super easy and imagine the look on your guests faces when you bring out one (or two) beautifully cooked whole fish for them to enjoy!

Choosing the fish

For this recipe, you’ll want a thick, flaky, meaty fish as opposed to something thin and oily. While oily fish like mackerel or blue fish are great for smoking, frying, or even grilling when very fresh, they’re not idea for roasting whole. We recommend red snapper. However grouper, flounder, trout, bass would work. Really anything without a ton of bones (which are just annoying) or too oily.

You’ll want to make sure the eyes are clear, and it should smell like the ocean, not super fishy or funky.

Ask your butcher/fishmonger to scale and gut the fish, and let them know you are roasting it whole. They’ll know what to do. You can also ask them to “split” the fish but leave it whole. They will run their knife up along one side of the center spinal column to the top gills, leaving one side separated from the bone. This makes pulling the entire bone column out prior to serving very easy. However anyone above age 12 should be able to eat around bones just fine.

Awesome, you have your fish. Here’s what else you’ll need.


  • 1 whole, scaled, gutted fish (as mentioned above)
  • 1-3 lemons (depending on the size of your fish)
  • fresh dill
  • fresh rosemary
  • olive oil
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Easy right, you probably have most of those. Let’s stuff, cook, and eat.



You’ll notice the seasoning is light. Don’t be tempted to reach for the Old Bay, you got a whole fish for a reason, because it brings out the wonderful flavors of the fish. Save the Old Bay and hot sauce for the boil!¬†


  1. Remove the fish from the refrigerator, pat dry and allow it to come to room temperature
  2. Slice your lemons and roughly chop the dill, rosemary and any other fragrant herbs you wish to use
  3. Make several score marks in the side of the fish (as seen in the above image)
  4. In a small bowl, mix your dry ingredients to form the rub
  5. Coat olive oil on the outside and inside cavity of the fish
  6. Take your spice rub and generously coat the outside and inside cavity of the fish
  7. Stuff your lemon slices and fresh herbs inside the fish
  8. Place on a raised cooking wire rack over a foil lined baking sheet for approximately 30 minutes, or until the topside of the fish is browned and crispy
  9. Remove the fish and set the oven on broil – high
  10. Carefully with two tongs flip the fish over onto the other side, taking care not to tear the flesh or spill out the stuffing
  11. Place the fish under the broiler and allow the other side to crisp; approximately 5 minutes (keep a check every minute or so until the skin is brown and crispy).
  12. Remove and let cool
  13. Drizzle with olive oil and serve


At this point you can de-bone the fish and serve, you can place it on the table and everyone can get their own portion, or leave it on the center island as you enjoy cold beers and pick at the crispy, yet delicate and sweet meat. Lots of options; all guaranteed to impress.

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