Grilled Whole Fish With Lemon and Tarragon

Grilled whole fish is surprisingly simple.

Grilled whole fish is surprisingly simple.  (iStock)

  • Prep Time


  • Cook Time


  • Total Time


  • Servings


I don’t know exactly why, but many people are a little afraid of cooking fish on the grill. This shouldn’t be. Fish cooks faster than meat and is in many ways more forgiving and demands less precision. Whole fish on the bone stays juicier than filets. Don’t worry if some of the skin sticks to the grill. It has a nicely homemade look when that happens. Stuffing with herbs and lemons creates little islands of flavor that brightens up each bite. I recommend a crisp wine like Terrazas de los Andes Torrontes for serving.


  • 2lb Whole Red Snapper, gutted (or Sea bass, Yellowtail, Branzino, or other similar shaped fish)
  • 6-8 sprigs fresh Tarragon
  • Flaky Sea Salt (or Kosher salt)
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper
  • Thin lemon slices cut in half (half moons)
  • Olive Oil


Step 1

  • Prepare a medium hot fire.

Step 2

  • Make 3-4 diagonal slashes on each side of the fish. Brush well with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and stuff each slash with a sprig of tarragon and lemon slice. Drizzle with olive oil on top, making sure the fish is well oiled.

Step 3

  • Using tongs, brush the grill grate with a paper towel well moistened with olive oil .

Step 4

  • Place the fish on the hot grate and cook about 7 minutes. You can lift the tail to see that the fish is well marked.

Step 5

  • Using two spatulas, carefully turn the fish and grill the other side for about 7 minutes.

Step 6

  • When the fish is done remove to a platter and lift serving portions of filet from the bone.


  • Timings are approximate. You need to feel your way through this. A good rule of thumb to follow is that you cook fish for 8-10 minutes for every inch of thickness.