Grilled or Roasted Whole Red Snapper


Grilling or roasting a whole fish is easy with this recipe, which gives options for both cooking methods.

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins

Red snapper is an excellent fish to cook whole, whether it's your first time cooking a whole fish, or if you are a pro. Here, we cut slashes into the flesh of the fish, and smear a paste of ground parsley, capers, salt, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes into each cut, so the paste seasons the fish inside and out.

This recipe gives you instructions on how to roast a whole fish, as well as how to grill a whole fish. If you are roasting the fish, ball up a few pieces of aluminum foil to place under the wings on either side, so they support the fish and help hold it upright. If you are grilling your fish, use a grilling basket to make it easier to turn the fish over halfway through the cooking time. After cooking the fish, transfer it to a platter to serve it tableside. Use two forks to lift the fillet off each side, portioning it as you like depending on the number of people and the rest of the meal.


  • 1 (3-pound) red snapper, cleaned and scaled

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed and finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for rubbing


  1. Chop parsley, capers and garlic, and combine with crushed red pepper and a large pinch of salt. Transfer paste to a small bowl and stir in oil. Make 5 parallel 3-inch-long slashes on each side of snapper, slicing almost through to bone. Lightly season fish with salt and fill slashes with paste. Rub fish all over with canola oil.

  2. To roast snapper, preheat oven to 425°F. Transfer fish to a heavy rimmed baking sheet so it stands upright. To keep fish stable, splay belly flaps and set a crumpled foil ball under tail. Roast fish for 30 minutes, until flesh just flakes. Transfer fish to a platter. Using 2 forks, lift fillets off bones and serve.

  3. To grill snapper, preheat grill to medium (400°F). Place fish in a metal grilling basket brushed with canola oil. Place basket on grill grate; grill, reducing heat if needed to maintain temperature of 400°F, until fish is lightly charred on first side, 10 minutes. Carefully flip basket; grill until fish is lightly charred on other side, 10 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice over fish and serve.

Steamed Whole Red Snapper
© Yunhee Kim

Suggested pairing

A bright, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc.

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