Step by Step Guide To Cooking A Fish Whole (+ Recipe)

 In Seafood, Whole Fish Preparing

Do you avoid cooking whole fish because you think it’s difficult and that you’ll never make it right? If that’s the case, we are here to reassure you that making roasted fish is by far the easiest way to prepare a fish.  

Yes, you’ve read that right. It shouldn’t be troubling you because it’s not that difficult. We know that a whole fish can seem intimidating, and that’s it’s way easier to prepare fillets. But, hear us out, cooking whole fish, you’ll end up with a delicious meal that you made with low effort.   

A roasted fish in the oven is the easiest thing you can do because you don’t have to be constantly around your stovetop. And not to mention that’s if not even slightly messy as deep-frying fish fillets. So, if you are looking for a straightforward way to prepare a whole fish, roasting it in the oven is the best choice.  

How To Cook a Whole Fish   

You’re at the right place if you want to learn how to cook a whole fish. We’ll share with you easy tips and tricks that’ll make you a pro in the kitchen. After you master this recipe, cooking whole fish will be your first choice if you need to make dinner to impress someone.   

The ingredients for this recipe are super simple, and you shouldn’t complicate them. They are enough to make a delicious meal, and they are:  

  • The fish – Of course, the star of this recipe is the fish. The best-roasted fish is white fish like sea bass or branzino. You’ll want to buy a fresh one, and you’ll want to prepare it the same day you bought it.   
  • Refined olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil is recommended in most recipes, but in this one, you’ll want to use the refined one due to its high smoking point.   
  • Fresh garlic – A best friend of a roasted fish is garlic. We recommend using as much garlic as you want to give the fish a fantastic flavor.  
  • Lemon wedges – This whole fish recipe will be lemony but don’t worry, the flavors will balance out perfectly. You’ll use lemon wedges as stuffing.  
  • Fresh herbs – Fresh rosemary and thyme are mandatory alongside the lemon wedges as the fish stuffing.  
  • Lemon juice – We’re not done with the lemon because is there a better pair than roasted fish and lemon juice? You’ll want to squeeze lemon juice all over your fish once it is done.    
  • Sea salt and pepper – And of course, it’s not a good recipe if we are not using salt and pepper.   

Preparing the Whole Fish 

Before cooking whole fish, you need to prepare it. We recommend asking the fishmonger to scale the fish for you and gut it to make your life easier. That way, you’ll come home with the fish that’s almost ready for roasting, and all you’ll have to do will take about five minutes of your time.  

Here are the things you need to do before putting your fish in the oven:  

  • Rinse and pat dry – You’ll want to rinse the fish just to be sure that the fish is clean and ready for roasting. Once you rinse it, you’ll want to pat it dry using a paper towel.  
  • Scoring – The next thing you’ll want to do is score the fish with a knife. Make slight slits across the fish that are not deep. It will provide an entry point to the fish meat for the oil and the seasoning.  
  • Brush with oil – The essential step is to brush the whole fish with olive oil. Be sure to brush both sides of the fish and its inside.  
  • Stuff the fish – The simple ingredients for this whole fish recipe are lemon wedges, garlic cloves, and fresh rosemary and thyme. The combination of these will create an incredible fusion of aromas and flavor. You’ll want to stuff the inside of the fish with them. 
  • Season the fish – The last step is to season the fish with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Don’t be shy when using the seasoning; use as much as you want. It won’t be too much, trust us.  

Cooking Whole Fish: The Right Way 

And the easiest part of this whole fish recipe is the roasting in the oven. You probably didn’t expect that preparing a roasted fish is this easy, but it is.  

There are only two straightforward steps:  

  • Roast the fish for about 20 minutes at 450°F. 
  • Squeeze lemon juice all over the fish. 

An additional step is to serve the fish immediately and enjoy it alone or with your friends and family. And now you know how to cook a whole fish, it’s that simple. 

The Ultimate Whole Fish Recipe 

And finally, here is our ultimate yet simple whole fish recipe that you’ll absolutely love.  


  • 1 large-scaled and gutted whole fish  
  • Refined olive oil  
  • 5 smaller cloves of garlic 
  • 1 lemon  
  • Fresh rosemary and thyme 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • Sea salt 


  • Heat the oven at 450°F. 
  • Once you have rinsed your fish, pat it dry, and place it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. 
  • Score the fish and brush it generously with olive oil on both sides. 
  • Stuff the fish with garlic cloves and fresh herbs. Slice half of the lemon on wedges and add them alongside garlic, rosemary, and thyme.  
  • Season both sides of the fish generously with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  
  • Roast the fish in the oven for about 20 minutes.  
  • Once the fish is done, squeeze the second half of the lemon all over the fish.  
  • Serve immediately!

Did you imagine that’s this simple when you thought about how to cook a whole fish?

Great Sides for Roasted Fish  

While you are cooking whole fish, you have time to prepare a quick salad that will complement the flavors of the fish. We recommend pairing the fish with a salad full of fresh vegetables or potato salad.  

A fresh salad is always a good choice because it will balance out the flavors of the fish. And when it comes to a potato salad, you can never go wrong with it because it’s a classic. Keep in mind that a classic potato salad is not exactly light, so if you are looking for a light dinner, you should skip it.  

You can also serve some grilled vegetables, whatever you have in your kitchen, and whatever you like the most. Grilled zucchini can be a great match with the fish or even asparagus. And if you don’t want to grill your vegetables, you can steam them.  

Whole Fish Experience in Miami 

If you want to experience a delicious meal like this but are still not confident that you can make it yourself, we have a solution.  

We invite you to visit Stiltsville Fish Bar, where you can enjoy numerous seafood delicacies. Your taste buds will enjoy the intense flavors of seafood accompanied by world-class wines in the best seafood restaurant of the Sunset Harbor neighborhood in Miami.  

Call us today to book your reservation. We can’t wait to host you!

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