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Food & Recipes

How to Grill Fish: Chef’s Trick Creates Tender Fillets That Won’t Stick to the Grates

Serve up flavorful filets of salmon, mahi-mahi or other fish at your summer BBQ!


Grilled fish is unlike any other BBQ main as the sweet taste of the meat pairs with the smokiness of the flames. This makes it a match made in flavor heaven. You might think that grilling seafood is daunting as it’s more prone to sticking and falling apart on the grates than a piece of steak or chicken. Luckily, we spoke to two chefs who give us their pointers on how to grill fish so it’s juicy and tender. Keep reading for tips on serving flavorful fillets along with a 25-minute recipe to try for Memorial Day weekend!

The best types of fish for grilling

When it comes to grilling, the experts at Char-Broil recommend using varieties like swordfish, mahi-mahi, snapper, salmon, or tuna. While each of these fish types have their own unique flavor, they all share a firm texture that can hold up on the grill. Plus, the fillets absorb the flavors of any seasoning or marinade you use. (Bonus: These steelhead trout fillets from Hudson Valley Fisheries’ Surf & Turf Kit are also perfect for the grill!)

Should you leave the skin on or off when grilling fish

Keeping the skin on as the fish grills is entirely up to you. When grilled properly, the skin crisps up nicely and contrasts the buttery, tender flesh.

Related: Don’t Throw Away That Salmon Skin! It’s Healthy + Delicious With The Right Prep

Chef’s secret to prevent fish from sticking to the grill

One of the main concerns when grilling fish is that it’ll stick to the grates and fall apart during the cooking process. Fortunately, Dustin Green, head grill master at Weber Grills, shares his simple solution: preheat your grill. “Even though fish is very lean, if the grill is preheated correctly, it will naturally release itself from the cooking grate when it is finished cooking,” he says. Green adds that the grill’s temperature should be at medium to high heat. Once preheated, you can coat the fillets — not the grates — with oil and any final seasonings before they hit the grill.

How long it takes to grill fish

While fish fillets vary in thickness, Green notes that 1-inch pieces need about 8 to 10 minutes of total grill time. You’ll know the fillets are fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F, or if flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork. From there, you can rest the fillets for 3 to 5 minutes — which allows the juices to reabsorb into the flesh.

Bonus trick for caramelized fish fillets

If you want a caramelized fillet without the risk of burning, chef Timothy Hollingsworth, chef and owner of Otium, shares his go-to method. “Sometimes I like to get a nice sear and caramelization on the fish and then move it to a [slightly] colder part of the grill to gently continue the cooking,” he says. The end result will be deeply browned and flavorful fillets.

A tasty recipe to enjoy grilled fish

Using these tips, you’ll prepare your best-ever grilled fish for Memorial Day weekend and the rest of the summer. Whip up this Rachael Ray-inspired fresh take on a breaded fish sandwich as it’s sure to win raves at a backyard bash!

Saucy Halibut Sandwiches

Saucy halibut sandwiches as part of a guide on how to grill fish
Joseph De Leo/Getty

Can’t get halibut? Swap in mahi-mahi, sea bass or tuna — these firm-textured fish can stand up to grilling.


  • 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 dill pickle, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tbs. minced red onions 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • Sriracha hot sauce to taste
  • 4 (6 oz.) pieces 1-inch-thick fresh halibut fillet 
  • 2 tsp. crab boil seasoning, like Old Bay
  • 4 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted
  • 4 leaves Boston lettuce 
  • 1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced


  • Active: 15 mins
  • Total time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
  1. In bowl, combine mayonnaise, scallions, pickle, pickle relish, red onions, fresh dill and lemon juice; season to taste with Sriracha sauce, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat grill to medium for direct cooking. Season halibut fillets with crab boil seasoning; coat with olive oil spray. Grill 8 to 10 minutes or just until opaque, turning once.
  3. Spread half the tartar sauce over roll bottoms, dividing evenly. Top with lettuce, grilled fish and tomato slices. Sandwich with roll tops. Serve with remaining tartar sauce and lemon wedges, if desired.

Read on for more tips and tricks to grill your favorite foods!

How to Grill Hot Dogs — Chef’s Secret Makes ‘Em Crispy + Juicy for Your Memorial Day BBQ

‘The Internet’s Grandma’ Babs Costello Shares the 8 Genius BBQ Hacks She Swears By! (EXCLUSIVE)

How to Grill Corn on the Cob: Chef’s Trick for Perfectly Charred, Juicy Kernels

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