Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter


Whole branzino roasted with lemon and rosemary is a foolproof way to ensure flavorful, perfectly cooked fish. A caper compound butter takes the dish over the top.

Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
8 servings

Branzino — the Italian name for sea bass — is found in the waters off the coast of western and southern Europe. Most of the fish available for purchase is farmed, making it a sustainable and affordable option. Because of its sweet, mild flavor; firm flesh; and relatively few bones that are easy to remove, branzino is a great candidate for stuffing and cooking whole. If you've never prepared a fish whole before, this roasted branzino recipe is a wonderful place to start.

"It's almost impossible to end up with dry, overcooked fish when cooking it whole," says chef Steve Corry about the star of this recipe. "The bones protect against extreme heat, plus they add flavor and moisture." Here, Corry achieves a crispy skin on the stovetop and then finishes the whole branzino that are stuffed with lemon and rosemary in the oven. He makes an easy compound butter — which melts on the fish to become a sauce — with wild Tunisian mountain capers, although any caper will work.


  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • Kosher salt

  • 4 (1- to 1 1/4-pound) whole branzino or striped bass, scaled and gutted

  • 1 lemon, sliced into 8 rounds

  • 4 large rosemary sprigs

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, mix butter with capers, lemon juice, and parsley; season with salt to taste. Hold at room temperature.

  2. Season branzino cavities with salt to taste and stuff two lemon rounds and one rosemary sprig in each. Season outside of fish with salt to taste.

  3. In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until shimmering. Add two branzino and cook over high heat until skin is browned and crisp, flipping once, about 3 minutes per side.

  4. Transfer fish to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and two stuffed branzino. Roast fish in the oven for about 10 minutes, until just cooked through.

  5. Serve whole or filleted, passing caper butter at the table.

Roasted Branzino with Caper Butter
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling by Thom Driver

Suggested pairing

When prepared simply, mild branzino can be overwhelmed by big, New World white wines, but it pairs well with Vermentino, the crisp Italian white.

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