Tips for Successfully Grilling Fish


During summertime, grilling fish is a wonderful way to enjoy a tasty, and healthy lunch. But getting it right can also be a little challenging. Fish is fragile, and if it is not cooked properly on the grill, it can quickly fall apart, unlike other varieties of meat. There are several important suggestions that you should remember if you want to make sure that your fish always comes out excellently.

Priority should be given to selecting the proper fish for grilling. Due to their hard texture and high oil content, some fish, like salmon and tuna, are inherently better suited for grilling. However, delicate white fish like tilapia and flounder might not hold up as well on the grill and need more care.

Join us as we explore the world of grilling fish, demystifying the technique, and equipping you to produce mouthwatering meals that will surprise family and friends at your upcoming backyard BBQ or summer event. Prepare to use your grill to its greatest extent and go on a gastronomic adventure that honors the delicate textures and rich tastes of well-cooked fish. Let us light the grills and discover how to grill fish to perfection!

Best Fish to Grill

It is important to choose the best fish to grill before you learn how to do it. Picking a fish that can endure the strong heat of a grill is the greatest place to start, followed by using the proper grilling techniques for fish that cannot.

The following fish species are some of the bests to grill because their hard meat texture, which is comparable to that of beef or pig, will not fall apart when cooked:

  • Arctic char – This fish has tasty pink flesh that frequently tastes like salmon or trout. Chefs typically roast fillets of Arctic char on the grill.
  • Halibut – Halibut fillets are renowned for their flavorful, sensitive texture, which makes them the ideal partner for strong sauces and marinades. It is frequently grilled as fillets.
  • Mahi-mahi – Mahi-mahi, sometimes referred to as dorado or dolphinfish, is a white fish with a delicate, sweet flavor that is well grilled in fillet form.
  • Salmon – Salmon is a well-liked choice for grilling salmon fillets either directly on the grill grates or on a plank because it has a flavor that is reminiscent of the fresh ocean and goes well with a variety of sauces and spices.
  • Snapper – Because of its solid structure, this lean fish is frequently grilled whole. With its vivid red color, snapper makes a beautiful presentation on the dish.
  • Swordfish – Swordfish fillets’ firm texture makes it possible for them to acquire distinctive grill markings that produce an eye-catching steak. Plus, it has a flavor that fish lovers find to be just a little bit sweet.
  • Tuna – Tuna has a moderate flavor and a texture that is comparable to beef when it is grilled. Tuna fillets are typically served medium rare, just like steak.

How to Grill Fish

To master grilled fish, it is important to become familiar with the full grilling process, from preparation to serving. You must choose the greatest fish cut for your dish as well as the appropriate grilling method.

Person grilling a fish

Choose a Fish Cut

The initial step would be to decide whatever kind of fish cut you are interested in cooking for your dinner before lighting the grill. To make sure the fish is fresh, cleaned, responsibly caught, and cut to your preferences, you can work with a neighborhood fishmonger. The most well-liked fish cuts for grilling include:

  • Fish filet – Fish filets have a skin side and a meat side and are cut from the thick sides of the fish. Before cooking, as many of the bones as possible are removed.
  • Fish steak – A huge fish species with firmer and fattier flesh is used to make fish steaks. Although the interior bones and surrounding skin help maintain the fish’s integrity, picking out the bones before eating can be difficult. A fish steak needs to be at least an inch thick.
  • Whole fish – The least amount of preparation is needed when cooking a whole fish, which also produces an impressive food plating display. Although the full covering of skin helps to preserve the flavor of the meat, it can be difficult for guests to eat around the skin and bones. Leaving the skin on the fish adds solidity and aids in keeping the moisture in the meat from evaporating too quickly. Additionally, the skin acts as a heat barrier to shield the meat from the grill’s flames. Later, when the fish is fully cooked, it can be taken off.

Prep the Fish

Before attempting any grilled fish dishes, you should properly prepare the fish after selecting your fish cut. To prepare your fish, just follow these simple steps:

  1. To remove any dirt that could be on the flesh, rinse the fish in cool water
  2. To absorb any extra moisture, wrap the fish in a kitchen towel or paper towel
  3. To remove any bones that may be sticking out from the flesh, use fish tweezers
  4. For consistent cooking when using a whole fish, make slices along the edges every 3 inches
  5. Regardless of the cut, oil both sides of the fish
  6. Add a little pepper and salt for seasoning. When fish fillets are taken off the heat, more seasoning and marinating should be done to avoid sticking. Herbs and citrus can be packed inside whole fish. Herbs and citrus can be put into foil packages containing fish to be fried.

Prepare the Grill

When you add fish to your menu, one of the biggest obstacles you may face is figuring out how to grill fish on the grill without it sticking and breaking apart. By seasoning and cleaning your grill properly, you can stop this from happening, among other things.

  1. To focus the heat on the grates, wrap them in aluminum foil
  2. For 10-15 minutes, preheat the grill to its highest setting
  3. Use a wire grill brush to clean the grates
  4. Utilizing tongs and a wad of paper towels, oil the grates. You should wipe the grates five to ten times, each time by re-dipping the paper towel into the oil. The grates are seasoned with oil to keep the fish from sticking.


Grill the Fish

On a grill, there are many different methods to prepare fish, and the method you use will determine which fish cooks best. When cooking seafood, the most important thing to watch out for is that the internal fish temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. Depending on the thickness of your cut, cooking times may vary. Per inch of thickness, a fish should be grilled for a total of 8 to 10 minutes.

How to Grill Fish Filets

  1. Place the fish on the grate slats with the skin side down to facilitate flipping it easier and to give it the desired grill markings from the Maillard reaction.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium and close the grill lid. Grilling the salmon should take 2-4 minutes.
  3. Lift the fish with a spatula or pair of tongs if you can. If it does not lift off cleanly, cook it for an additional 30 seconds at a time until it does.
  4. Close the grill lid after flipping the fish over to the flesh side.
  5. The fish should be cooked for 3 to 7 minutes, or until the thermometer registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the safe food temperature.
  6. Fish can be taken off the grill if the flesh is completely opaque and starts to flake when examined with a fork.
  7. Before serving, finish by seasoning the filet to your taste.

How to Grill Fish Steaks

  1. Lay your 1-inch fish steak straight on the grill grates once it has reached medium heat.
  2. Cook for 3–4 minutes with the grill cover closed.
  3. The cooked side of the fish should be marinated.
  4. Close the grill cover and cook it for a further 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. For doneness, check the internal temperature.
  6. Before serving, take the fish from the grill and brush the second side with marinade.

How to Grill a Whole Fish

  1. The fish should be placed on the grill with the dorsal fin closest to the heat and the tail furthest from it. Heat the grill to medium-high. Angle the fish 45 degrees away from the grill grate.
  2. Give the fish about five minutes to cook while unattended.
  3. Try using tongs to carefully lift the fish. If it is difficult to lift, continue cooking while testing it every minute.
  4. Flip the fish to the other side once it has lifted off without any damage.
  5. Give it another three to five minutes to cook.
  6. Check the internal temperature of the fish in the thickest portion once the skin is crisp and the flesh is white.
  7. Move the fish to a cooler area of the grill until the thermometer registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit if food-safe temperatures have not been reached but the skin is becoming too brown.
  8. Serve the fish after removing it from the grill.

Close up shot of delicious grilled fish

How to Grill Fish in Foil

Even though delicate fish like tilapia, cod, sole, and flounder are delicate, grilling them in foil yields the best results. Fish that has been wrapped in aluminum foil before grilling is better able to maintain its shape while keeping moisture and avoiding sticking. Fish is steamed with the aid of the foil, which also enables the fish to take in the flavors of any herbs and spices that are contained therein.

Fish in foil to grill:

  1. Two foil pieces that are at least 10″ x 10″ in size should be torn. Depending on the size of your fish, this might be bigger.
  2. Use oil, butter, or cooking spray to grease the sides of the foil pieces that will come into contact with the fish.
  3. On the oiled foil, arrange your fish, veggies, herbs, citrus, and aromatics.
  4. Over the fish and vegetables, place the second piece of foil, and then fold the edges to seal the pouch.
  5. Place the fish foil packets on the side of the grill that is not lit and heat one side of it to medium-high. Direct heat should not be applied to the packet.
  6. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Scallops and shrimp can also be grilled using this technique, but you should only cook them for 5-7 minutes.
  7. Using a spatula or tongs, take the packets off the grill. Before serving, carefully slit them open with a knife and let the steam escape.

How to Grill Fish on a Plank

Fish filets that are a little too delicate to set directly on the grill grates can be grilled on a wooden plank. The plank improves the flavor while also offering a reliable nonstick surface. Due to the characteristic smoky flavor, it provides, many fish lovers like grilling fish on cedar planks, however, you may also use apple, cherry, maple, or oak wood.

Fish on a plank to grill:

  1. Give the wooden plank at least two hours to soak in water.
  2. Apply oil with a brush to the plank’s top.
  3. Place the fish fillet on top of the plank and place it on the grill.
  4. Allow the food to cook for 10 to 12 minutes with the grill cover closed. Flipping is not necessary.
  5. For completion, check the internal temperature.
  6. Brush with the marinade.
  7. If the plank does not achieve the required internal temperature in another 1-2 minutes, move it to a cooler area of the grill.
  8. Serve the fish after removing it from the grill.


During the warmer months of the year, grilling fish can be a tasty and healthful way to consume seafood. To get it just right, though, a little care and consideration are needed. You can guarantee that your fish will always turn out flawlessly by paying attention to the tips provided. With the proper preparation and cooking methods, you may enjoy a savory and satisfying meal. So, start the grill and prepare to savor some mouthwatering fish!