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!

Baked Whole Fish in a row with lemon and seasonings

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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.

close up of lemon inside a Baked Whole Fish

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.

stuffed Baked Whole Fish on a baking sheet

How to Bake Whole Fish

A whole fish may seem intimidating to bake, but it’s actually super easy!

  1. Rinse the fish and pat dry inside & out.
  2. Score the top of the fish three times, brush with oil.
  3. Sprinkle the spices (per the recipe below) inside and outside of the fish.
  4. Lemon and some rosemary are stuffed inside the fish.
  5. Sprinkle with some more garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bake and enjoy!

Baked Whole Fish on a fork

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

fork taking a part from a Baked Whole Fish


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!  

plated Baked Whole Fish

Other Surf and Turf Recipes

Baked Whole Fish cooked on a baking sheet with lemon garlic salt and seasonings
5 from 11 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Baked Whole Fish

Baked whole fish has a pleasing presentation, and it comes out of the oven flakey and tender. This entree is impressive looking and tasting!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 37 minutes
Servings 4 -8 servings
Author Candace


  • 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.
5 from 11 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 165 | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1377mg | Potassium: 178mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 47IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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Recipe very slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven 

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Baked Whole Fish with lemon and writing

plated Baked Whole Fish with writing

forkful of Baked Whole Fish with a title

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Baked Whole Fish with a piece on a fork with a title

close up of Baked Whole Fish on a baking sheet

Baked Whole Fish on the baking sheet and close up on a fork with writing


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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Absolutely wonderful recipe! My husband was literally sucking the fish off the boned because he wanted every little piece. I cooked it for the minimum 15 minutes called for in the recipe. He left the fish very moist. I also sprayed avocado oil (as that’s what I stock) in the inside and in the 3 gashes I made on either side of the fish. I seasoned with lemon pepper, garlic powder, tumeric and I opted for paprika instead of Italian seasoning (personal preference). I did not use salt as we are a low sodium family.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe!! I am now going to follow your page for sure

    1. Thank you for sharing your alterations, Donna. I am glad it turned out so well for you!

  2. 5 stars
    I ordered my groceries online a few weeks ago. Thought I was getting tilipia fillets, and I received whole tilipia! Imagine my surprise 😮 but this recipe saved the day. It was absolutely delicious 😋 so much so I ate the entire fish straight from the oven.

    1. That is definitely surprise! But a happy surprise for sure. I am glad you enjoyed this recipe.