Grilled Fish (Perfect Fillets!)

4.80 from 10 votes

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Ever wonder how to get perfectly flaky grilled fish fillets on the grill? This recipe is the simplest and best way to grill just about any firm white fish!

Grilled fish fillet served on plate with corn on the cob, green beans, and watermelon.
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This delicious flaky fish can be paired with just about anything that you have on hand and want to use, from a fresh vegetable salad to flavorful rice to baked beans.

I like recipes like this because it’s easy to hit up the farmer’s market or my garden, pick gorgeous fruits and vegetables and use them for the sides to this really simple but delicious main dish grilled fish recipe. It’s simple, it’s classic, and it’s always a hit in this house.

Grilled fish topped with parsley and lemon slices.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Simple, easy, and fast recipe.
  • Goes with nearly anything you have on hand as a side dish.
  • Works well for various white fish, including cod, pollock, and tilapia.

Recipe Ingredients

  • Fish fillets: Select a mild, firm white fish, such as Louisiana Drum, cod, pollock, or tilapia. Grilling fish works best with thin, flat fillets.
  • Olive oil: Another light light oil can be substituted, such as canola, vegetable, or avocado. It’s best to use an oil with a high smoke point (400°F or above) to prevent the oil from breaking down and producing undesirable flavors at high temperatures.
  • Lemon: A little lemon goes a long way to brighten the flavor.
  • Parsley: Optional as a garnish.
  • Salt and pepper: I prefer to use a nice Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

See the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and quantities.

White fish fillets with grill marks, served with salt, lemon, and sides.

How to Make Perfect Grilled Fish

Grilling fish is a delicious and healthy way to enjoy fresh seafood, but it can be a bit intimidating for beginners—but no worries! These step-by-step directions will help you master the art of grilling fish.

  1. Preheat the grill for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Rinse fillets and pat dry. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and then drizzle and spread olive oil over it.
  3. Let the fish rest and marinate while the grill heats up.
  4. Place the fish on the grill, close the lid, and cook without turning for 7-10 minutes, until white and flakes easily.
  5. Remove from grill, squeeze lemon juice over the fish, and season with salt before serving.

Recipe FAQs

How do you grill fish without drying it out?

Apply oil liberally on each side of the fish. You can use a pastry brush to evenly distribute the oil if needed. This will help seal in all of the natural flavors too. It’s also important not to overcook it. The fish is done when it turns white and flakes easily.

What can you season fish with?

The best grilled fish fillet is lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, oil, and lemon juice. I also love to serve the fillet with additional lemon slices and chopped parsley. YUM! A classic lemon pepper seasoning goes well with fish, too. Garlic powder and paprika are also common seasonings.

How long do I cook fish on the grill?

Once your grill has heated for 5-10 minutes and is nice and hot, place the fish on the grill and close the lid. It will only take 7-10 minutes to grill. Check the fish right at 7 minutes, and it will likely be done. If it is a thicker fillet, it will take a bit longer, but not much.

What fish is suitable for grilling?

You will want a firm-fleshed fish that can withstand the heat of the grill when grilling, such as halibut, tilapia, catfish, pollock, or cod.

How do I get fish to not stick to the grill?

To keep fish from sticking to the grill, pat all sides of the fish dry with a paper towel and don’t skimp on the oil. Apply an ample amount of oil on all sides. I also like to use an oiled paper towel to wipe down the grill while it’s hot, just before I put the fish on.

Flaky Grilled Fish Fillet Recipe | Your New Go-To Grilled Fish Recipe!

Expert Tips

  • The trick for perfect grilled fish is to cook in a pre-heated grill at low heat, with the lid closed (essentially baking the top side of the fish), without turning (prevents the fish from falling apart), until cooked. Thicker fillets may require turning.
  • Be sure to squeeze lemon juice onto the fillets as soon as they come off the grill so they will soak in that amazing flavor!
  • Any firm white fish will work for this recipe, so get whatever is on sale to save on the grocery bill.
text reads "easy grilled fish recipe" Photos of fish filets with grill lines and veggies as a side and the fish as the main.

Health Benefits of Fish

A diet that includes fish has a myriad of health benefits. Eating fish can reduce the risk of heart disease. It is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help to reduce inflammation, protect your heart, and help your hair grow.

Fish is good for your brain, as well. Studies have shown that eating seafood can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and reduce brain shrinkage as people age.

Another health benefit of fish is that it is high in vitamin D. This is an essential nutrient that can keep bones strong. Eating fish is a great way to incorporate lean protein into your diet as well. 

How to Buy the Freshest Fish

Just because you don’t live near water doesn’t mean you can’t find delicious, fresh fish. Here are some tips when deciding what fish to buy. 

Fish that is sold as “fresh” can range from 1 day to two weeks out of the water. Fishing boats often stay at sea for a couple of weeks and put their catch on ice before they dock again.

When you are looking for the highest quality of fish, search for FAS or  Frozen at Sea or Individually Quick-Frozen (IQF).

FAS means that once the fish was caught, it was filleted and flash frozen on board the ship within minutes of being caught. When it is thawed it tastes the closest to fresh caught fish.

Individually Quick-Frozen (IQF) is another good option when shopping for fish because this method of flash freezing occurs within hours of the fish being caught. Each fillet is individually packaged and inspected for quality. Check for freezer burn or ice crystals in the packaging of IQF-labeled fish because that could affect the flavor. 

If the fish is packaged, look for clean and dry packaging. When buying fish I like to find wild-caught fish, and I prefer when they are individually sealed if frozen. That way I can take just the few I need out of the freezer while the rest stay frozen. I have great luck buying high-quality fish at Costco.

When buying fresh fish, there are a few things to look for. First of all, trust your nose! If there is a strong fishy smell, it could be a sign that the fish is old and starting to deteriorate.

Another aspect to look for is the fish’s skin. The skin should be shiny with some slime on the surface. That is a mark of quality and freshness. Fresh fish should also have clear and bright eyes. Steer clear of fish with cloudy or red eyes

What to Serve With Grilled Fish

Anything you have on hand will go well with this delicious grilled fish recipe. Here are some of my family’s favorite dishes to serve with grilled fish:

More Easy Seafood Recipes to Consider

4.80 from 10 votes

Perfect and Simple Grilled Fish Fillets

Ever wonder how to get perfectly flaky grilled fish on the grill? This recipe is the simplest and best way to grill just about any firm white fish!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 (Serves 4-6)


  • 1 to 1-1/2 lbs fish flllets from a firm white fish (4-6 fillets), such as Louisiana Drum, cod, pollock, tilapia, etc.
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 or 2 lemons, cut into wedges
  • ½ cup chopped parsley, optional
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  • Turn on grill to high heat and allow it to heat for 5-10 minutes until very hot. (If using a charcoal grill, heat up the grill for around 10-15 minutes with the lid on. If the charcoal barbecue is not hot enough, make sure the lid vents are open fully.)
  • Rinse the fish and lay it onto paper towels. Use the paper towels to pat the fish dry and place the fillets on a wire rack (a baking or cooling rack placed inside of a baking sheet works great to catch any drips and spills).
  • Sprinkle half the salt and half the pepper over the fish. Carefully drizzle half of the olive oil over the seasoned fish. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, evenly distribute the oil all over that side of the fish.
  • Flip the fish over on the rack and repeat with remaining salt, pepper, and oil. Let the fish rest and marinade until the grill is hot.
  • Use a brush to scrape the grill grate clean and then lower the grill temperature to low. If using a charcoal grill, reduce the temperature by closing the air dampers to 1/4 open.
  • Place the fish on the grill, close the lid, and leave the fish to cook with the lid closed, without turning for 7 to 10 minutes (chances are really good your fish will be done right at 7 minutes unless it is very thick, so check it at 7 minutes!).
  • The fish should be white and flaky when tested with a paring knife and reach an internal temperature of 150°F. Using a metal spatula remove the fish fillets from the grill.
  • Sprinkle with additional kosher salt (to taste) and lemon juice, and then serve with additional lemon slices and chopped parsley to suit individual tastes.


  • You can use this cooking method for just about any firm white fish, such as catfish, tilapia, pollock, and cod.
  • The trick for perfect grilled fish is to cook in a pre-heated grill at low heat, with the lid closed without turning until cooked.
  • The first squeeze of lemon isn’t optional, but additional lemon and parsley can be served as optional garnishes.
  • When looking for the highest-quality fish, search for FAS, Frozen at Sea, or Individually Quick-Frozen (IQF).


Serving: 1 of 4 servings, Calories: 344kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 68mg, Sodium: 774mg, Potassium: 539mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 522IU, Vitamin C: 42mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 2mg
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Recipe Rating


  1. Kathy says:

    5 stars
    So simple and soooo good! The fish come out light and flavorful – perfect for these hot summer days. We’ve used both catfish and lake bass with this recipe – delish!!

  2. Joanna says:

    5 stars
    Tasted really yummy with baby beans & broccoli & tomato & basil rice. Lovely thank you Melissa.🌈♥️

  3. Craig Elderkin says:

    5 stars
    This was a super simple recipe and it turned out great. I used a griddle on my grill, heated to 650 degrees for about 5 minutes.
    I put the fresh fish on paper towels to dry, as directed. I used paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil on both sides. I went for 7 minutes 30 seconds (I had to pour a new bourbon for the cook) and flipped the fish for about 20 seconds after the 7′ 30″ mark. The non-skin side was a fantastic brown color, which impressed everyone.
    Sides: white rice, spinach salad, chocolate fudge.

  4. MA Graff says:

    Did you put the fish right on the grill or leave it on the rack in the pan and put the pan with the fish on the grill. Stupid question I know sorry.

    1. Melissa says:

      I put it right on the greased grill, sorry about that, the rack is just helping you dry and season it, I’ll try to make that more clear.

  5. Geoff Hankinson says:

    I live in Brisbane, Australia. We have different terms to the USA. I don’t know what a baking sheet is. I do have a baking tray that I cook leg of lamb, and beef etc. I would like to try this, so is your baking sheet the same as my baking tray?

    Also, I can not buy “kosher salt” in Australia. Is rock salt a good substitute?

    1. Melissa says:

      I bet a baking tray and sheet are the same, just something to hold the wire rack. And I probably wouldn’t use rock salt, just table salt will be fine. Happy grilled fish!

    2. Phil Thomas says:

      I live in Brisbane too. Go to The Fishmongers Wife in Hawthorne. Try the grilled snapper. OMG! Amazing. Trying to replicate it at home. Good luck.

  6. Natasha Rogers says:

    5 stars
    Mmm! I love this simple, crispy fish!

  7. Melissa says:

    5 stars
    Yummy, yummy, yummy! I absolutely loved this! Thank you.

  8. Nancy says:

    my favorite seafood recipe is shrimp gumbo

  9. barb stenby says:

    My favorite seafood dish is Paella Just Love it!

  10. Buddy Garrett says:

    Lobster Bisque is my favorite.