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how to grill whole fish (without it sticking!)

How to grill whole fish (without it sticking!)

  • Author: Jess Pryles



1 x whole fish (like snapped), gutted and scaled

3 x slices of lemon

1 x small bunch of fresh parsley

12 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

Spray oil (preferably olive oil)


  1. Heat a grill for two zone cooking, where the coals are off to one side. This creates a hot and cool zone to cook with. The hot side should be about 400f.
  2. Pat the fish dry using a paper towel, both the skin and the cavity. Season the cavity with some salt, then stuff with the lemon and parsley.
  3. Pour the olive oil over the outside of the fish, ensuring both sides are well coated. Season both sides with generous amount of salt.
  4. Spray the hot side of the grill grates with oil, being careful not to hold the can too close. Place the fish directly onto the oiled grates directly over the hot coals to sear and crisp the skin. Cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Now, you will flip the fish over, but still onto the heat. Spray another section of the grates over the got coals where you intend to flip the fish, then using a fish spatula or rigid turned, gently turn it over. Cook for two minutes.
  6. If your fish is getting too blackened, you can move it to the middle zone halfway between the hot and cool areas to cook a little more gently.
  7. If you have not achieved the desired char/color on the outside yet, you can repeat the high hear sear process of spraying and flipping, but you will also apply spray oil to the surface of the fish itself. Spray directly onto the skin that is facing up right before you flip.
  8. After you have a decent char on the outside, it’s time to move the fish to the indirect side to finish cooking. Spray the grill grates in the area you intend to move the fish to, over indirect heat. Gently move the fish and close the lid to the grill.
  9. To check when the fish is done: you can keep an eye on the meat in the cavity to see when it changes from translucent to a more opaque shade. Or for a more precise reading, the fish is done when it reads 140 on a thermometer.
  10. Once cooked, served immediately, and don’t forget to enjoy that delicious nugget of cheek meat!