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How to Roast a Whole Fish (Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free)

Love the idea of serving a gorgeous, whole roasted fish but worried it's too difficult? Don't be! Cooking a whole fish in the oven is just as easy as roasting chicken... and a LOT faster. :)

Other perks?  It’s crazy flavorful and takes just a few basic seasonings to produce a dish that is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! Plus, it's easier to guarantee that your fish is fresh when it's whole versus when you buy filets. A couple of things to make note of to ensure freshness? Clear eyes (not cloudy) and bright pink/red gills (they shouldn't be dry or slimy).

How to Roast a Whole Fish (Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free)

As far as the ingredients you'll use to flavor your fish, feel free to mix them up based on your tastes or what you have on hand. For this dish, I used fresh rosemary, lemons, yellow onions, dairy-free butter, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. However, this would also be awesome substituting basil, coconut oil, and green onions.

How to Roast a Whole Fish (Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free)

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How to Roast a Whole Fish (Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free)


  • 1 large whole fish (such as red snapper, grouper, or sea bass) about 1.5 - 2 lbs, scaled and gutted

  • 1–2 T olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

  • 1 lemon, halved. Keep one half in-tact for juicing and cut the other half into slices for the fish cavity

  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced

  • Fresh herbs such as rosemary

  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat oven to 450°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, or grease with olive oil.

  • Pat the fish dry with paper towels.  Use a sharp knife to lightly score the top of the fish in diagonal lines about 1-inch apart. (This allows the flavors to seep into the meat and will keep the crispy skin from curling).

  • Brush the fish generously on both sides and in the cavity with olive oil. 

  • Salt the cavity and stuff it with half of the garlic, the lemon slices, onion slices, and a few sprigs of rosemary.

  • Push the remaining garlic down into the knife scores. Cover them with butter and some remaining rosemary. Make sure the garlic is not exposed because it can burn and give your fish a bitter taste.

  • Salt and pepper the surface of the fish.

  • Roast the fish for 18-20 minutes, or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145°F and flakes easily with a fork.  (Cooking time will vary depending on the size/variety of your fish.)

  • Remove from the oven, and squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon half evenly over the top of the fish.

  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Keywords: fish, seafood, snapper

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