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Food Hacks

Tired of Fish Sticking To Your Grill? Brush It With Mayonnaise Instead of Oil

Fish without the fuss.


Fish is a delicious and nutritious protein. It’s filled with protein and healthy fats; and its light, tender, flaky texture makes it a tasty summer treat, especially on the grill. While grilled fish’s delicate texture is a draw, it’s also a drawback. Even if you coat the fish and the grill in oil, there’s still a chance the fragile meat will stick and make a mess. Want to make grilled fish this Memorial Day weekend without wasting extra time scraping charred bits of meat off the grill? Keep reading to learn how to grill fish right using mayonnaise, which surprisingly prevents the meat from sticking and ensures that it stays moist and delicious.

How To Make The Perfect Fish on the Grill

If you love grilled fish but hate the mess, don’t worry. You don’t have to resign yourself to a life of scraping grills and drowning in elbow grease just for your favorite meal. All it takes is mayonnaise, according to the grill pros at the Youtube channel Fine Cooking

In the video “How To Grill Fish Without Sticking,” chef Nicki Sizemore notes that this tip came from June Cerrito of Wakefield, Rhode Island. The tip? Simply brush mayonnaise evenly on both sides of your fish filets before grilling. Watch the video below, and keep reading for extra tips. 

Why does it work?

“Mayonnaise is basically oil droplets suspended in a small amount of liquid, so it does the same job as regular oil, but its consistency helps it cling to the fish better,” says Sizemore. A layer of fat on the outside of your fish keeps it from sticking, and also seals in its juices, keeping it moist. In the battle of the fats, though, only one can reign supreme for grilling:

  • Olive oil tastes great on fish, but its liquid consistency doesn’t stick, and may drip off the meat and into the grill. 
  • Butter is the same — while it makes almost everything taste better, it easily melts and burns, exposing the tender meat to the grates of the grill. 
  • Mayonnaise, however, adheres cleanly, and doesn’t burn completely off in the cooking process, making it a gift to grillers everywhere. And if the video is any indication, the fish with mayonnaise on it detached cleanly from the grill and had perfect char marks on the exterior. 

Won’t a coating of mayonnaise alter the taste of the grilled fish?

It shouldn’t, explains Sizemore. Because mayonnaise has such a neutral flavor, it shouldn’t be detectable after cooking the fish. However, if you want your fish to have a flavor bump, adding herbs and spices to your mayo before brushing on the meat is a great way to do it. Because mayonnaise sticks to meat so well, it will hold the spices in, too, making for a thoroughly flavorful fish.

Be conscious of the herbs you use, however, since some stand up to the heat of grilling better than others. Delicate herbs, like tarragon, cilantro, parsley, and basil are less heat-resistant and may burn, imparting an unpleasant flavor and aroma to your fish. Instead of adding these to your mayo mixture, use them as garnish at the end. Hearty herbs like thyme, sage, oregano, and rosemary will add fresh flavor and fragrance without burning.

We hope your Memorial Day weekend is filled with fellowship and family. If you’re looking for more tips on grilling this weekend, check out this guide for the perfect grilled corn, or try your hand at Valerie Bertinelli’s grilled chicken thighs.

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