How to Barbecue Fish

Barbecue fish is always a treat, especially if it's freshly caught. No matter what BBQ seafood recipes you choose, there are a few things you can do to help make sure your recipe turns out deliciously tender, moist, and tasty.

Keep The Cooking Grate Clean

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Old, charred bits of food stuck to the grate will also cause your food to stick to the grate. Scrub it clean with a good stiff BBQ brush (or use crumpled balls of tinfoil, in a pinch). It's actually easier to clean the grate when it's hot, so try cleaning it after the barbecue has been pre-heated.

Grease the Cooking Grate, Not The Fish

Fish is notorious for sticking, and most of us have had the experience of anxiously trying to (gently!) unstick a fish from the BBQ (and sometimes watching bits of it fall through into the coals). Wait until the barbecue is preheated, then pour some oil onto a paper towel and rub it thoroughly over the cooking grate (use barbecue tongs, not your hands, to grasp the paper towel!).

Try This Neat Trick To Keep Your Fish From Sticking

Put an aluminum pan upside down over the part of the the cooking grate you'll be using for the fish. Let it super-heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Once that's done, grease the cooking grate and then put the fish on. We do this every time we barbecue fish, and have never had any issues with the fish sticking to the grate!

Keep It Simple

Most types of fish that are suitable for the BBQ (like salmon, mackerel, or snapper) are also pretty flavorful. They don't need a lot of extra seasonings or preparation to make the taste come through. A few simple seasonings is usually plenty to bring out the delicious natural flavors - and as a bonus, you won't have to spend a lot of time preparing the fish.

Cook With Indirect Heat, With the Cover Down

Indirect heat will help the fish to cook more evenly and lessens the chance of it burning. Keeping the lid down will help to preserve moisture as well as allow the fish to absorb smoky flavors, if you decide to use wood chips or wood planks.

Experiment With Woods

Alder wood adds wonderful taste to fish, but you can experiment with other types of BBQ wood too. Cedar and alder planks are a very popular way to cook fish.


Always defrost frozen fish before cooking to ensure it cooks quickly and evenly, locking in that delicious flavor.

Marinate for 30 Minutes, Tops

If you want to marinate the fish before barbecuing, do so for 15-20 minutes, 30 minutes at the maximum. The acids in the marinade can actually start to "cook" the fish if left too long.

Use the Right Tools

Consider the use of a BBQ fish grill basket. This convenient tool makes flipping the fish easy and hassle-free, plus prevents bits of it from falling through the cooking grate when you turn it.

Flip The Fish Once

That's all it needs to get good grill marks on each side.

Pay Attention!

Watch carefully - fish cooks quickly. At medium-high heat, barbecued fish will generally need to be cooked for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness. It's done when the flesh turns opaque and flakes easily.

We hope these tips on how to barbecue fish have been helpful! Check out the rest of our website for more recipes, including BBQ mackerel recipes, BBQ salmon recipes, and a BBQ snapper recipe.



This website offers tips on how to BBQ as well as some of our favorite barbecue recipes. We barbecue with a charcoal grill in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!