Cooking fish—head, tail, and all—can be an intimidating prospect. But with a little help from your fishmonger, it can a simple, fun project that makes for an impressive display. We've collected our favorite recipes for steaming, grilling, frying, and baking whole fish. See a guide to buying and storing whole fish »
Because of their small size, fresh sardines make for an easy introduction to whole fish. We love to stuff them with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon before grilling them.
When you graduate to larger fish, the possibilities are endless. Trout is a delicious fish, with a light flavor and flaky meat. Try it grilled with a fennel glaze and served with carrot purée and spatzle, braised in wine with a tangy sorrel sauce, or poached in court bouillon.
Roasting a whole fish encrusted in a mixture of salt and egg whites keeps in incredibly moist. It's a great way to cook sea bass, which can then be served with a celery salsa verde. It's also great stuffed with herbs, rubbed with garlic butter, and grilled.
Who doesn't like fried fish? You might usually fry fillets, or even smaller pieces, but you can fry whole fish too. Our Creole-style, cornmeal-crusted fried fish recipe is perfect for small freshwater fish like bluegill or perch. Or look to Asia for inspiration—ikan sumbat is a chile fried fish dish that can be made with branzino, black sea bass, or bluefish.
Find all of these dishes and more in our collection of great whole fish recipes!
Butterflied freshwater fish is slathered in butter and spices before broiling in this recipe from Tulsa’s White River Fish Market.
Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe.
Grilled trout is lacquered in a glaze that is fragrant with fennel and thyme in this adaptation of a recipe from the Grey Plume in Omaha.
Wine-braised trout topped with a tangy sorrel sauce is one of several regional springtime dishes enjoyed on Green Thursday in Germany.
Seka Salamun, a home cook in Tisno, Croatia, uses olive wood to impart a mild smokiness to this grilled fish. Though delicious with just a squeeze of lemon, it also pairs beautifully with classic French fish sauces. Get the recipe for Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon (Riba na Rostilju) »
In this recipe trout is poached in a court bouillon, a fragrant broth of white wine, fennel seeds, and lots of onions.
Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions
Onions and fennel provide a flavorful base for whole roasted fish. Get the recipe for Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions »
A quick rinse in boiling water purifies the fish and concentrates its flavor in this dish from New York chef Tadashi Ono.
Stuffing sardines with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon before grilling suffuses them with zesty flavor.
This recipe was given to us by Lonnee Hamilton, who recommends spooning some bacon grease into the frying oil to give the fish a smokier flavor.
You can use a bamboo steamer instead of a wok or skillet to steam the fish for this simple Taiwanese favorite. For a Chinese New Year tradition, save some of the fish for the next day to represent an abundant year.
Encrusting whole fish with a salt-and-egg white mixture keeps the fish incredibly moist as it roasts.
This trout dish turns smoky and succulent in a stove-top smoker.
In Malaysia, this pan-fried fish dish is typically made with stingray filets, but any six to ten-inch whole fish will do.