Feel confident making a baked whole fish with these simple instructions. See for yourself just how easy it is to serve a flavourful dinner!
Cooking a whole fish can seem intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple to do! If you buy a whole fish that’s gutted and scaled, all that left for you to do is adding delicious flavors. I used sea bream, but you could also go for sea bass or branzino.
Here you’re going to make it with a compound garlic butter with fresh herbs, simply seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.
Step by step photos
This compound butter is what you’ll stuff inside the cavity of the fish, alongside a few juicy lemon slices and a handful of rosemary sprigs.
Drizzle with olive oil and season with a bit more salt.
Place the fish in a roasting tin, bedded on fresh thyme, extra lemon and a few garlic cloves.
25 minutes in the oven later, you have an incredibly flavorful yet simple dinner on the table.
Honestly, I almost didn’t post this because I forgot to slash the sides of the fish. I think you’ll forgive me when I remind you that I have two incredibly hungry, fish-loving bear cubs in the kitchen with me at all times.
We enjoy it in a pretty purist fashion, with a briny caper, olive and dried tomato salsa, a simple seasonal salad (something like this Shopska Salad) and maybe a slice of crusty French bread on the side. I never feel the need to add a starchy side dish.
More fish recipes
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. Sign up for my email list, too!
Baked Whole Fish with Lemon, Herbs and Garlic Butter
For the fish
- 2 large whole fishes such as sea bream, sea bass or branzino
- 1 heaping tablespoon softened butter
- 1 head garlic 2 cloves minced and the rest left whole
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary plus extra sprigs for stuffing
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves plus extra sprigs for baking
- salt + pepper
- 1 lemon sliced and then cut into triangles
- Olive oil
For the salsa
- 4 large sun-dried tomatoes chopped
- 1 heaping tablespoon capers chopped
- 2 tablespoons green olives stoned and chopped
- 1 handful parsley leaves chopped
- Olive oil
- If the fish hasn’t been gutted and scaled, do so.
- Heat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Prepare a roasting tin.
- Mix the butter, 2 minced garlic cloves, chopped rosemary and chopped thyme very well. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the compound butter into the fish cavities. Stuff the inside of the fish with lemon triangles (you will probably not be able to fit all of them into your fishes) and rosemary sprigs. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. You can slash the fish two to three times if you like.
- Place the fish in the prepared tin, along with the extra thyme, garlic and remaining lemon slices. Bake for 20-25 minutes (a large sea bream takes about 25 minutes, branzino is probably ready after 20).
- In the meantime, mix the chopped tomatoes, capers, olives and parsley. Add enough olive oil to create a nicely dispersed condiment. Serve with the hot fish.