Grilled Whole Fish Stuffed With Lemon and Fresh Herbs

Why slap a whole fish on the grill? Because it tastes better. The skin protects the delicate flesh, the bones keep it juicy, and you can stuff the cavity with bright citrus and fresh herbs. The intense heat from the grill adds an extra dimension of flavor, and does wonders to the skin, rendering it crisp and crackly.


On top of being downright delicious, grilling is also one of the easiest ways to cook a whole fish. Plus, it’s often cheaper, even after you account for the weight of the bones and head. The main concern with grilling fish is that it may stick to the grill, so starting with a clean, well-oiled grill is key. The second step to avoid sticking is to allow the fish to come to room temperature before throwing it on the grill. An ice cold fish will create steam from moisture on the skin. Take it out of the refrigerator 20-30 minutes prior to cooking, and rub it down with more olive oil before grilling, once again to help prevent sticking. 


Stuffing the cavity with the citrus and herbs the night before definitely imparts deeper flavor into the fish, but you can also prep it the day of cooking if you’re short on time. The basic method outlined below is extremely flexible. Feel free to personalize it by switching up the herbs, adding a spice rub, marinating the fish first, or whatever else sounds good to you. The grilling process is the same, and I’m confident the outcome will taste delicious!


  • 1 3lb whole fish, such as red snapper, branzino or sea bass, cleaned and scaled
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch of fresh oregano
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint
  • 2 lemons, one sliced into rounds & one sliced into wedges
  • 3 large bamboo skewers



Rub the entire fish, inside and out, with olive oil and season generously salt and pepper.

Stuff the cavity with herbs and lemon slices. Secure with large bamboo skewers.

Place the fish on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil & put in fridge overnight. I like to trim down the skewers, so they don’t tear holes in the foil.



The following day, build a hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to 400°F.  Meanwhile, let the fish come to room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Brush the grate with oil. Place fish on grill and cook for 10 minutes per side. For bigger fish that are more than 1 inch thick on each side, increase the cook time to 15 minutes per side.

Use a large spatula and tongs to flip the fish and to transfer it to a serving platter when it’s cooked through. The fish should be opaque and flake easily when you nudge it with a fork.

Remove skewers, cover in 2 layers of foil, and let stand for 10 minutes. This would be the time to grill up a bunch of veggies, such as corn, eggplant & squash, to serve on the side.

Squeeze remaining lemon over fish. Serve and enjoy!!!




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