Whole Fish Recipes

Cooking whole fish is easy and delicious

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!

Broiled Rainbow Trout with Hush Puppies

Broiled Rainbow Trout with Hush Puppies

Butterflied freshwater fish is slathered in butter and spices before broiling in this recipe from Tulsa's White River Fish Market.James Roper
Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Grilled Snapper with Habanero and Scallions

Chile heat brings out the sweetness of whole red snapper in this Jamaican recipe.Helen Rosner
Glazed Trout with Carrot Purée and Spätzle

Glazed Trout with Carrot Purée and Spätzle

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.Ariana Lindquist
Trout in Sorrel Sauce (Forelle mit Sauerampfersosse)

Trout in Sorrel Sauce (Forelle mit Sauerampfersosse)

Wine-braised trout topped with a tangy sorrel sauce is one of several regional springtime dishes enjoyed on Green Thursday in Germany.Ingalls Photography
Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon (Riba na Rostilju)

Whole Grilled Fish with Lemon (Riba na Rostilju)

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.Penny De Los Santos
Poached Trout with Onions and Fennel Seeds

Poached Trout with Onions and Fennel Seeds

In this recipe trout is poached in a court bouillon, a fragrant broth of white wine, fennel seeds, and lots of onions.Todd Coleman
Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions

Whole Roasted Branzino with Fennel and Onions

Onions and fennel provide a flavorful base for whole roasted fish.Todd Coleman
Whole Grilled Sea Bass

Whole Grilled Sea Bass

Fish stuffed with loads of herbs and rubbed with a simple garlic butter are grilled whole, which leaves them with a smoky, charred flavor and tender meat.Marcus Nilsson
Braised Sea Bass with Burdock

Braised Sea Bass with Burdock

A quick rinse in boiling water purifies the fish and concentrates its flavor in this dish from New York chef Tadashi Ono.Ingalls Photography
Grilled Gremolata-Stuffed Sardines

Grilled Gremolata-Stuffed Sardines

Stuffing sardines with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon before grilling suffuses them with zesty flavor.André Baranowski
Creole-Style Fried Fish

Creole-Style Fried Fish

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.Todd Coleman
Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions (Ging Zheng Yu)

Steamed Fish with Ginger and Scallions (Ging Zheng Yu)

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.Christie Johnston
Salt-Roasted Sea Bass with Celery Salsa Verde

Salt-Roasted Sea Bass with Celery Salsa Verde

Encrusting whole fish with a salt-and-egg white mixture keeps the fish incredibly moist as it roasts.Todd Coleman
Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Trout with Tarragon

Bacon-Wrapped Smoked Trout with Tarragon

This trout dish turns smoky and succulent in a stove-top smoker.Todd Coleman
Chile Fried Fish (Ikan Sumbat)

Chile Fried Fish (Ikan Sumbat)

In Malaysia, this pan-fried fish dish is typically made with stingray filets, but any six to ten-inch whole fish will do.Todd Coleman