10 Best Fish to Grill According to Chefs
Are you looking for the best fish to grill? We’ve got you covered. Grilling fish boasts unbeatable health benefits and imparts a beautiful, smoky flavor to your favorite fish.
Below we list the best fish for grilling at your seasonal cookout.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Fish for Grilling
When choosing fish for grilling, several important factors come into play to ensure a successful and flavorful outcome. Here are the key factors to consider:
- Firmness and texture: Opt for fish with firm flesh that can withstand the heat of the grill without falling apart. This ensures that the fish maintains its shape and doesn't stick to the grates.
- Flavor profile: Consider the natural flavor of the fish. Some fish have mild flavors that work well with a variety of seasonings and marinades, while others have stronger flavors that can stand up to bolder ingredients. Choose a flavor profile that aligns with your taste preferences and the culinary outcome you desire.
- Size and thickness: Choose fish that are of an appropriate size and thickness for grilling. Thicker cuts are more forgiving on the grill, as they have less risk of overcooking on the outside while remaining undercooked inside. Thinner fillets may require more attention to prevent overcooking.
- Moisture content: Fish with higher fat content tend to be more forgiving on the grill, as the fat helps keep the fish moist. However, even leaner fish can be successfully grilled with the right techniques, such as marinating or using foil packets.
5 Best Fish to Grill
The "best" fish to grill can vary depending on personal preferences, regional availability, and the specific flavors you're aiming for. However, here are some popular fish options that are often considered excellent choices for grilling due to their firm texture, flavor, and versatility:
Salmon is any grill master’s favorite for its notable firmness and ability to stay together on the grill. Its natural oils contribute to its distinct flavor and prevent it from drying out during grilling, resulting in a flavorful and satisfying dish. In addition, it readily absorbs marinades and pairs well with a wide range of seasonings, making it a canvas for creative flavor profiles.
Tuna has a robust, meaty texture that holds up exceptionally well over open flames. Its high protein content keeps it firm and doesn't easily break apart during grilling, allowing for precise control over doneness levels.
Additionally, tuna’s steak-like structure allows for attractive grill marks and an appealing presentation. It boasts tons of rich flavor, so adding a squeeze of lemon over your steak while grilling is often all you’ll need to let its flavors sing.
Swordfish has a dense and meaty texture, which remains intact even under the high heat of the grill. It is easy to handle and flip while maintaining structural integrity.
Its natural oils contribute to a delightful richness and prevent drying out, resulting in a satisfying grilling experience that captures the essence of the sea.
Mahi-mahi has a resilient yet delicate flesh, which holds up remarkably well on the grill without losing its moisture or flakiness. Its mild and slightly sweet flavor is enhanced by grilling, creating a harmonious balance of taste and texture.
Mahi-mahi is thick, allowing for even cooking and a flavorful char on the outside while keeping the inside succulent.
Snapper has a firm texture and slightly sweet flavor that become wonderfully enhanced over an open flame. Its sturdy structure allows it to maintain its shape on the grill, ensuring easy handling and even cooking.
Grilling amplifies snapper's natural taste, offering a delightful combination of smokiness and tenderness. You can grill snapper whole or as a fillet.
Trout’s delicate flesh takes on a delightful smoky flavor while maintaining its tenderness on the grill. Whether grilling whole or as fillets, its thin skin becomes wonderfully crispy, adding a satisfying textural element to the dish.
Its manageable size and structure make it easy to handle on the grill, and the result is a balanced combination of smokiness and succulence that captures the essence of a well-grilled seafood dish. Grilling rainbow trout, in particular, imparts a surprisingly nutty flavor.
Halibut has a mild flavor that takes to many seasonings and marinades, allowing for creative culinary exploration. Grilling halibut imparts a lovely smokiness while keeping its interior moist and tender.
Its large flakes create an appealing presentation on the grill, and its ability to cook evenly ensures a satisfying dining experience. Serve up your delectably grilled halibut with savory potatoes, roasted vegetables, or sauteed mushrooms.
Mackerel has a rich and bold flavor and high oil content that prevents it from drying out, resulting in a moist and succulent final dish. Its sturdy texture holds up well on the grill, making it easy to handle and flip.
Grilling mackerel creates a delectable contrast between its crispy skin and tender flesh, while also infusing a smoky depth that complements its natural taste. Grilled mackerel pairs wonderfully with a creamy potato salad.
9. Stripped Bass
Striped bass makes for meaty fillets that are well-suited for direct grilling, resulting in beautiful grill marks and a delicious caramelized exterior.
Grilling striped bass brings out its natural sweetness while adding a subtle smokiness, resulting in a satisfying combination of textures and tastes that highlight the essence of well-grilled seafood.
It’s not as fishy as some species, so it’ll make a great vessel for sides and spices.
Grilling grouper results in a satisfying contrast between a crisp outer layer and a tender, moist interior. It has an impeccable ability to retain moisture and grilling it showcases its natural flavors, which is somewhere between bass and halibut.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I prevent fish from sticking to the grill grates?
To prevent fish from sticking to the grill grates, clean and oil them beforehand. Brushing oil on the fish itself can also help create a barrier between the fish and the grates.
Should I grill fish with the skin on or off?
Grilling fish with the skin on can protect it against direct heat and help retain moisture. It also imparts a delicious crispy texture. However, personal preference and the recipe's requirements should guide your choice.
What marinades work well for grilled fish?
Marinades with a balance of acidity (citrus, vinegar), oil, herbs, and spices work best for grilled fish, as they enhance flavor and moisture. Citrus-based marinades are especially effective in complementing fish flavors.
Related: 7 Best Salmon Marinades
How do I know when the fish is done grilling?
Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). The flesh should be opaque and separate easily along the natural lines of the fish. Learn more about optimal cooking temperatures in our guide.
What type of grill is best for grilling fish?
Gas, charcoal, and even electric grills can all be used to grill fish effectively. The choice comes down to personal preference and familiarity with the grill type. Gas and electric grills are good for beginners.
Should I use direct or indirect heat for grilling fish?
It depends on the fish's thickness and type. Thicker cuts may benefit from indirect heat initially to ensure even cooking, followed by direct heat to develop a char.
Grilling fish is fast, nutritious, and easy, making it an undeniably popular cooking method. The result is a high-protein, low-fat fish loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. Not to mention, grilling brings out a unique and delicious char you won’t get anywhere else.
Of course, the perfect grilled dish starts with the perfect fish. No cookout is complete without a beautiful Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon.
Get fresh, sushi-grade Alaskan salmon delivered to your door.Shop Salmon