Baked Whole Fish makes for a lovely presentation at the dinner table.
Whole Tilapia recipes like this one are so easy to follow, and are perfect for cooking this sweet and mild-flavored fish. While this recipe uses baked whole tilapia, similar white fish will also taste great and will cook to flaky and tender perfection in the oven!
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Why We Love Whole Baked Fish
- Sometimes the simplest of recipes makes for the most stunning visuals. Cooking a whole fish like this creates a lovely presentation.
- We love this recipe because of the way it looks but also because of the way it tastes. The white fish used in this recipe is a little sweet with a mild flavor.
- The simple Italian seasoning is not overpowering. The stuffing of rosemary and lemon adds a hint of citrus to round off the palate. So simple, and so easy to make.
- Like to grill on the BBQ? This fish can also be grilled on the BBQ, pan-fried, or roasted in the air fryer.
Ingredients and Variations
FISH – Mahi Mahi, Snapper, Sea Bass, and Tilapia fish are all lean whitefish which makes them great baked, seared, or fried. Tilapia is sold at Costco in groups of 4. Mahi Mahi and Sea Bass are a little sweeter. All of them are mild flavored.
SEASONINGS – Simple Italian Dressing Mix rosemary sprigs, and optional turmeric, combined with salt and ground black pepper really make this fish a treat! Stuff with lemon slices and rosemary for extra zest. To make this a spicy Indian-style dish, score the fish and add the oil. Then add some Garlic Chili Sauce and cook wrapped in foil.
How to Bake Whole Fish
A whole fish may seem intimidating to bake, but it’s actually super easy!
- Rinse the fish and pat dry inside & out.
- Score the top of the fish three times, brush with oil.
- Sprinkle the spices (per the recipe below) inside and outside of the fish.
- Lemon and some rosemary are stuffed inside the fish.
- Sprinkle with some more garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Bake and enjoy!
How Long to Bake Whole Fish?
Does it take long to bake fish? Oven-baked fish cooks in no time. The time and temperature are 20 minutes at a temperature of 450°F. That’s all it takes!
Tips and Tricks
- Broiling the fish will make the skin extra crisp, almost like it has been fried. Move the fish to the top rack in the oven, turn the oven on “broil” for 2 minutes. But keep an eye on the fish so it doesn’t burn!
- This fish looks and tastes great with a side of vegetables. Try Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts or Instant Pot Brussels Sprouts. Tasty Parmesan Roasted Broccoli is a treat as well! Don’t forget a serving of Baby Potatoes to go alongside, and a crispy Vinaigrette Caesar Salad or a Red Leaf Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette.
Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Be sure to use it up before then. Try mixing baked fish with mayonnaise and use it to make a tilapia variation of this Tuna Salad recipe. Try it on Homemade Whole Wheat Bread with a thick slice of tomato and a few capers. It is like a gourmet sandwich! It’s almost worth making this whole baked fish recipe, just for the sake of having leftover “tilapia salad” sandwiches for lunch!
Other Surf and Turf Recipes
- Smoked Salmon – delightful flavor!
- Swiss Steak Recipe – classic fave.
- Oven Baked Tilapia– whitefish supreme!
- Smoked Beef Ribs – BBQ perfection
Baked Whole Fish
- 4 whole fish about 1 pound each (tilapia, mahi mahi, or sea bass), cleaned and scaled
- 4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic minced (4 teaspoons)
- 4 teaspoons fresh turmeric grated or minced, or 1 teaspoon dry turmeric, optional
- 4 teaspoons Italian dressing mix or 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 lemons divided (slice about 1½ lemons (12 slices), and keep remainder for squeezing after baking)
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking tray with foil (or grease the baking sheet).
- Rinse fish and with paper towels, pat dry inside and out.
- Score the top of each fish three times.
- Brush both the inside and outside of the fish with oil and arrange on the baking sheet.
- Mix together garlic and turmeric, and spread the inside of each fish with ¼ of the mixture. Sprinkle the inside of each fish with 1 teaspoon of Italian dressing mix (or Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper).
- Add 3 slices of lemon and 1 sprig of rosemary to the inside of each fish.
- Sprinkle the outside of each fish with ¼ teaspoon each of garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145°F.
- Optional step for crispy skin: Move baking sheet to the top rack, and turn oven up to broil. Broil for 2 (or more) minutes to reach desired crispiness, and remove from the oven quickly. Watch it carefully!
- Squeeze remaining lemon over the fish and serve.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
Recipe very slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven