This red snapper recipe could not be easier: just season and gently bake on a bed of lemon slices until it’s perfectly buttery and tender. Then bring on the flavor with zhoug, a spicy herb sauce. The whole thing is on the table in 20 minutes!
I love serving red snapper to please a crowd, whether roasted whole or baked in fillets like with this dead-easy red snapper recipe. Like halibut, baked snapper is meaty and mild enough to suit various tastes, but it's more affordable.
Plus, even over a low temperature red snapper fillets cook quickly, making them both essentially fail-proof and incredibly convenient when you have a hungry household and little time to spare.
Since the fish is well-seasoned on its own, you can keep things simple and serve it with just a squeeze of fresh lemon. I was craving bold and flavorful so I went for zhoug, a bright and spicy cilantro-parsley condiment. If you're a cilantro hater you can swap the zhoug for a different sauce like pesto, or simply leave it off.
This combination of baked fish and fresh herbs is Mediterranean Diet-friendly, tastes amazing, and is easy to make. What's not to love?
Table of Contents
Ingredients for this Red Snapper Recipe
You only need fish fillets and a handful of pantry basics to make this easy baked red snapper recipe.
- Red snapper: I used 3 fillets which were 8 ounces each, but 4 – 6 ounce filets will work just fine.
- Extra virgin olive oil prevents the fish from sticking to the pan. I also brush a thin layer on top of the fish just before roasting to help it get a golden crust. A high-quality extra virgin variety is essential for the best flavor–any of the oils from our shop would work well.
- Fresh lemon juice adds acidity to lift the fish’s richness. Lime juice also works.
- Garlic: Adds sweet and savory depth of flavor.
- Seasoning: Coriander adds a warming, earthy note. Paprika is mild and earthy. Kosher salt and black pepper enhance the flavor.
- Zhoug: Adds spicy, bright, complex, herbaceous flavor. You’ll need jalapeno, garlic, salt, cilantro, parsley, cumin, coriander, green cardamom, olive oil, and lemon.
Swaps and Substitutions
The details of this baked red snapper recipe can be tweaked to suit your tastes and to use what you have on hand. This is everything I love about a good Mediterranean dinner recipe: it’s zero fuss, you can use what you have or what you’re craving, and it’s a fit for busy weeknights or company. Here are some ideas:
- Fish: The best substitute for red snapper is any mild, meaty fish, like grouper, mahi-mahi, or seabass. But the bright and herbaceous zhoug and the savory seasoning also works well with richer fish like salmon. You can’t go wrong here, just adjust the cooking times according to how thick your fish is, as you don’t want it to overcook and dry out.
- Use whole snapper: You can roast the snapper whole for a more dramatic presentation. Stuff the gutted, scaled fish with herbs and lemons–whatever you have, this will keep it from overcooking. Roast in the lower level of your oven at 425°F until the fish flakes, about 25 minutes.
- Zhoug: Swap with anything herbaceous, like pesto, chermoula, or creamy green goddess tahini.
- You can even make up your own Mediterranean salsa with what you have: Add finely chopped mild green onions or shallot to a bowl with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar. Stir in a bunch of chopped tender herbs, like parsley, cilantro, mint, basil, or some combination of your favorites. Add something really punchy like finely chopped preserved lemon, capers, olives, or some combination of the three. Then whisk in high-quality extra virgin olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
How to Make this Easy Red Snapper Recipe
To make this baked red snapper recipe, you make a citrusy bed for the fish on your sheet pan. This keeps the direct heat to the fish very gentile, making it buttery-tender while imparting a citrusy flavor. Sounds fancy, but it could not be easier!
- Get ready. Set an oven rack in the middle of your oven and heat to 375°F. Lightly brush a 9x13 baking dish with a little olive oil. Thinly slice one lemon into rounds. Grate or mince 1 to 2 large garlic cloves.
- Layer the citrus and fish. Arrange the lemon rounds on the bottom of the baking dish, making a bed for the fish. Pat your red snapper fillets dry and add on top of the lemon rounds with the skin side down. Brush the flesh side with olive oil, then sprinkle top with the garlic, 1 teaspoon each paprika and coriander and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bake the fish. Roast on the center rack of the heated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get the zhoug ready (if using). While the fish is baking, set up the bowl of a food processor with the S-blade. Add 6 sliced jalapeño peppers (remove the seeds for less spice), 2 chopped garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 1 packed cup fresh cilantro leaves, ½ packed cup fresh parsley, and ½ teaspoon each ground green cardamom, cumin, and coriander. Run the processor to form a thick paste, then scrape the paste into a mixing bowl. Whisk in ⅓ cup of olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon.
- Finish and serve. As soon as the fish is cooked transfer to a serving platter. Juice a lemon all over and drizzle with a little bit of the zhoug (if using). Serve immediately with more of the zhoug in a bowl to the side (it’s great with some crusty bread).
What to Serve with Baked Red Snapper
This easy red snapper recipe can go with any number of things, but if you’re serving with zhoug, add on with crusty bread or Pita Bread for dipping.
The fish is very tender so you want to add some variety of texture to the table. Cooling Creamy Cucumber Salad is the perfect match for the spicy zhoug, but its crunch will go with the fish either way.
Or make a simple grain to serve along with the fish. You can just cook up a batch of any ancient grain and season it simply with fresh herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
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Baked Red Snapper with Zhoug
- Get ready. Set an oven rack in the middle of your oven and heat to 375°F. Lightly brush a 9x13 baking dish with a little olive oil.
- Layer the citrus and fish. Arrange the lemon rounds on the bottom of the baking dish, making a bed for the fish. Pat the fish dry and add it on top of the lemon rounds with the skin side down. Brush the flesh side with olive oil, then sprinkle top with the garlic, paprika, coriander, and a big pinch of salt and pepper.
- Bake the fish. Bake on the center rack of the heated oven until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get the zhoug ready (if using). While the fish is baking, make the zhoug (if using).
- Finish and serve. As soon as the fish is cooked transfer to a serving platter. Squeeze the remaining lemon all over and drizzle with a little bit of the zhoug (if using). Serve immediately with more of the zhoug in a bowl to the side (it’s great with some crusty bread).
- I used 3 – 8 ounce fillets, but 4 – 6 ounce filets will work just fine.
- You can substitute with any mild, meaty fish fillet, like grouper, mahi-mahi, or sea bass. Adjust the time according to how thick your fillets are–you’ll want to start checking at the 10 minute mark for a thinner fillet.
- Nutritional info does not include the zhoug.
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