Grilled Whole Fish With Lemon & Herbs

Grilled Whole Fish With Lemon & Herbs

A grilled whole fish makes a dish that’s not only delicious, it has a certain presence on the plate. It’s impressive enough to serve for guests, and no one needs to know your secret – it’s actually not at all hard to prepare. See the Notes section for details on how to choose a fish.
Course Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine American, European


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole fish 2 lb each
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 2 shallots thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 4 Limoneira lemons


Before You Begin

  • Take eight to 10 toothpicks, and soak them in water.
  • Cut two of the lemons in half, and two into slices.
  • With a sharp knife, cut four slits, about 1-inch deep, into the side of each fish.
  • Brush the fish inside and out with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Rub each fish inside with garlic
  • Line each fish with lemon slices, and then stuff each with half the shallots, rosemary, thyme and basil.
  • Close the fish, and stuff the slots you’ve carved into the side of each fish with the remaining lemon slices.
  • Secure the fish with the toothpicks you’ve been soaking.
  • Squeeze half a lemon over each fish, cover lightly with foil, and let them sit at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes to let the flavors begin to infuse the fish.
  • Heat the grill, whether indoor or outdoor.

Both Methods

  • Grill the remaining lemon halves with the fish, directly on the grill until softened and slightly blackened.

Foil Method

  • Take two large pieces of aluminum foil large enough to envelope each fish. Place the fish in the middle of one piece, fold it over, and pinch the edges together. Repeat with the second fish.
  • Place the fish in foil on the hot grill, and cook about 6 to 8 minutes on each side.
  • It’s done when the flesh is firm and opaque.

Grill Basket Method

  • Brush the grill basket lightly with oil, and place the whole fish carefully in it.
  • You can place the remaining lemon halves in the basket instead of directly on the grill if you prefer.
  • Place the basket on the grill, and cook about 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until the fish are slightly charred and cooked all the way through.
  • The fish is done with the flesh is opaque and firm.
  • Serve with grilled lemons.


For this recipe, choose two smallish fish, which can be freshwater varieties such as perch, rainbow trout, or pike, or saltwater fish such as branzino, red snapper or sea bass.
At the fish market, choose fish with clear eyes (they’re fresher), and it should smell of the sea or lake – not overly “fishy”. The fish should be already scaled, gutted, head removed, and patted dry before you begin the recipe.
With a little adjustment in the seasonings, you could use this basic recipe to grill any whole fish, including salmon.
Keyword Lemons
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