A step-by-step tutorial for how to roast a whole fish in the oven. Don’t be intimidated — it’s actually super easy, and crazy delicious.


Alright, first things first. Let’s talk about how to buy fresh fish market near me— what to expect at the fish counter, what to look for, and what to say. (Because let’s be honest — this was totally the step that intimidated me and kept me from trying this for so many years!) Here’s the drill:


There are infinite ways that you could prepare and season roasted whole fish. But my favorite way is super simple. You’ll just need:

Your Fish:

Ideally ready to go on the same day that you purchased it, for maximum freshness. As mentioned above, I would recommend beginning with a white-fleshed fish, such as mahi-mahi, sea bass, branzino, or red snapper.
Olive Oil:

Just regular refined olive oil, not extra virgin. OR any other high-heat oil, since we’re going to be cooking these at 450°F.

Minced fresh garlic for the inside of the fish, plus garlic powder for the skin on the outside.


I’d recommend about one whole lemon per fish — half for slicing and stuffing on the inside, half for squeezing on the outside once the fish has been cooked.

Fresh Herbs:
Whatever you love! I typically use a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme for stuffing the inside of the fish.

Salt and Pepper:

And lots of it. 😉

Rinse and pat the fish dry.

I recommend giving the fish one more good rinse when you get it home. Then lightly pat it dry with a paper towel, and transfer it to a foil-lined baking sheet.

Score the fish.

If the fish counter did not already do this for you, use a knife to cut slits about an inch apart across the top of the fish. They do not need to be super-deep — just enough to cut through the skin.

Brush the fish thoroughly with oil, inside and out.

Using an oil with a high smoke point, generously brush the outside of the fish with oil on both sides, being sure to also get the oil inside the slits you just cut. Then briefly brush some oil on the inner cavity of the fish.

Stuff the cavity with your aromatics.

In this recipe, I recommend fresh herbs, lemon slices, and garlic. But please experiment with whatever seasonings you love! Also, one note on the garlic — be sure to stuff it all the way into the cavity of the fish, or it may burn if it is left exposed.

Season the heck outta the fish.

I recommend adding lots of sea salt, freshly-cracked black pepper, and garlic powder to the outside of the fish. Plus a bit on the inside cavity as well.
Then that’s it! Your fresh fish is officially ready to go.


Honestly, most of the time we just dig in with a fork and work our way around the bones. (As in, we use a fork to eat the upper layer of the fish, staying on the lookout especially for bones along the top of the fish. Then gently lifting out the backbone once it is exposed, and then eating the bottom layer of the fish.)