How to Make Barbecue Fish


Fish is a natural choice for barbecuing. It cooks quickly on the grill, and its flavors meld well with a variety of barbecue sauces and techniques. The only trick to barbecuing fish is ensuring that it doesn't stick to the grill or fall apart as it cooks. Choose thick steaks of dense fish like salmon, tuna, halibut, swordfish and mahi-mahi for cooking directly on the grill. Delicate fish such as flounder sole and cod tend to fall apart.

Things You'll Need

  • Marinade, rub or seasonings
  • Lemon juice
  • Butter
  • Grill
  • Cooking oil spray

Seasoning the Fish

  • Season the fish heavily before barbecuing with a rub, marinade or basting sauce. Marinate fish for 30 minutes in a mixture of equal parts lemon juice and red wine vinegar seasoned with lemon zest, dried basil, garlic powder and soy sauce. Alternately, grill it simply seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice and pepper, then sauce it after cooking with a glaze, salsa or pan sauce. The herbs and spices that you choose determine the flavor profile of your barbecued fish.

  • Make a simple basting sauce from lemon butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, minced garlic and ground pepper.

  • Grill the fish simply, then glaze it with an Asian-style sauce made from a mixture of soy sauce, lime juice, grated ginger and red chili. Sweeten it with a little brown sugar and simmer for 5 minutes to blend the flavors and thicken the sauce.

Barbecuing Fish Directly on the Grill

  • Clean the grill and spray it with a cooking oil spray. Cut fish that varies in thickness into two pieces, a thinner and a thicker piece. Place delicate fish such as tilapia, sole and flounder in an oiled fish basket or on an oiled, flat perforated metal sheet.

  • Put the fish on a hot grill directly over the heat source. Leave it alone until the edges turn opaque and appear flaky, approximately 5 minutes, then turn it over with a large spatula or fish turner.

  • Baste the fish with the basting sauce or a mixture of lemon juice and melted butter.

  • Remove the fish from the grill when it is opaque and flakes easily when poked with a fork.

Barbecue Fish in Foil

  • Place the fish and your chosen seasonings on a square of foil large enough to wrap the fish. Fish grilled in foil packets steams gently and does not need to be turned. This method is suitable for more delicate fish such as tilapia, flounder and cod.

  • Fold up the foil over the fish and crimp the edges, making an envelope surrounding the fish.

  • Place the fish packet on the grill over indirect heat. On a gas grill, turn off the burner directly below the fish. When barbecuing fish on a charcoal grill, bank the coals on the sides of the grill. Grill the packets for 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fish cooks quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  • Fish is safe to eat when the internal temperature reads 145 degrees on a thermometer, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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