This tutorial is all you need to make the BEST whole red snapper recipe! Red snapper takes on some bold Mediterranean flavors--garlic, fresh herbs, and a trio of warm spices--then roasted to tender perfection with bright bell peppers, onions and tomato. Ready in just 35 minutes! A few simple tips make all the difference in this healthy sheet-pan dinner.
Step-by-step photos and a quick video are included with this foolproof recipe. And if you're looking for sides and salads to serve along, I've got lots of ideas for you below!
But one of the communal Mediterranean meals I grew up with is whole fish, cooked on the bone with fresh herbs and whatever veggies happen to be in season...usually a side of lemon rice or Greek potatoes to go along. And I love it!
This whole snapper and veggies dinner is one I put together from many years of observing and enjoying mom's whole fish meals. And it's a hit every single time!
This is an un-fussy, sheet-pan snapper recipe where whole red snapper takes on some bold Mediterranean flavors, then we stuff it with veggies and roast to tender perfection. (Extra veggies go around the fish for a beautiful complete dinner!)
I promise, this recipe does not require any special cheffy skills. And I'll let you in on a big tip right now: you can get your fishmonger to do the work of cleaning the snapper and butterflying it so you have a perfect whole fish ready to cook.
Red Snapper and What Does it Taste Like
Snapper comes in several varieties and can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic water, and the Caribbean. Yellowtail and Red Snapper are the most commonly known options you might have seen at the fish market or on restaurant menus.
Red snapper is a beautiful looking fish--reddish skin, long triangular face, large eyes that kinda bug out, and enlarged canine teeth, which is why they are called “snappers.” The flesh is firm and white, but with a bit of a pink tint from the red skin.
It's an excellent source of lean protein, vitamin B 12, and fiber (plus a good low-carb food.) And as far as taste, which is most important to me, red snapper is one my personal favorites. It's moist, mild and slightly sweet tasting. For this reason, I often recommend snapper to my friends who aren't big fish eaters.
A Few Tips for Buying Fresh Whole Red Snapper
Here in the U.S. wild-caught red snapper is sustainably managed and not over-fished, so it's one of the smart seafood choices to make. And many grocery stores will sell snapper fillets, both fresh and frozen. And I've often had good luck finding fresh, wild-caught whole snapper, which is what I use in this recipe. Just a few tips for how to buy fresh whole red snapper:
1. First thing to do when buying any fresh fish is to give it a sniff. Yes, of course fish will smell "fishy," somewhat. Fresh red snapper should not smell off-putting, it should smell mild and pleasant like the salty ocean.
2. Check out its eyes and skin. Snapper has big eyes that bug out a little, they should look glossy and vivid. If the eyes look dehydrated, don't buy it. Also, look for tightly-adhering, shiny scales, deep red fins, pinkish-silver bellies.
3. Shop at a place you trust. A good fishmonger should be able to tell you more about the fish, how long he's had on display, how to store it, and maybe even a few ideas for preparing the fish. And like I said earlier, get the fishmonger to clean and butterfly the fish (leave the bone in as it imparts flavor) so it's ready to cook.
About this Mediterranean-Style Snapper Recipe
Because of it's firm, moist flesh and mild, sweet taste, red snapper lends itself to all sorts of flavors.
In this recipe, whole red snapper takes on some bold Mediterranean flavors--loads of fresh minced garlic, along with a trio of spices, cumin, coriander, and sumac), plus loads of fresh herbs. I chose fresh dill, but you can use a different herb like parsley or cilantro.
The key in flavoring a whole red snapper--or any whole fish for that matter--is to make sure and season the fish outside and in. That's why, you'll see that I make a point of inserting the garlic into pockets (or slits) all over the fish. And don't forget the cavity, that cleaned gut makes the perfect pocket to carry more of the garlic, spices, fresh herbs and even some of the veggies.
I love adding onions, tomatoes, and a bright medley of bell peppers as my veggies to complete this sheet-pan dinner.
Let's get to how to make this recipe, and be sure to watch my video below as well.
How to Make it: Step-by-Step Tutorial
1. While the oven is heating, let's give the fish all the bold Mediterranean flavors! Make 3 slits or so on both sides of the fish. Insert fresh minced garlic into the slits and also inside the fish cavity (the cleaned gut.)
2. Now, in a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, and sumac with salt and pepper. Use about ¾ of the spice mixture to season the fish outside and in (inserting some into the slits you made earlier.)
3. Now, stuff each gut cavity with the chopped dill, and as much of the sliced peppers, tomatoes and onions as possible.
4. Place the stuffed fish on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Add the remaining sliced vegetables to form a frame around the fish. Sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch of salt and the remaining ¼ spice mixture from earlier. Drizzle everything generously with olive oil.
Roast in 425 degrees heated-oven until fish is ready and begins to flake (about 20 to 25 minutes or so.)
5. Transfer the fish to a serving platter, or leave it on your sheet pan. Squeeze lemon juice. Use the slits you made earlier to help you portion the fish. Serve with wedges of the remaining lemon.
What to Serve Along?
With the veggies already provided in this sheet-pan dinner, you hardly need to add any sides. But as I mentioned earlier, lemon rice or Greek potatoes would be a couple good options. Personally, I'd focus on starting the meal with a couple small appetizers like a tasty Baba Ganoush dip, baked zucchini sticks, and a big bowl of three bean salad.
Watch the Video for How to Make this Mediterranean Snapper Recipe:
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Red snapper takes on some bold Mediterranean flavors--garlic, fresh herbs, and a trio of warm spices--then roasted to tender perfection with bright bell peppers, onions and tomatoes.
Be sure to watch the video above and check out the tips and suggested sides.
- 2 large whole snapper fish, cleaned and gutted
- 15 large garlic cloves, minced and combined with a pinch of salt
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground sumac
- ½ cup chopped fresh dill
- 3 bell peppers, different colors, sliced in rounds
- 1 large tomato, sliced into rounds
- 1 medium red onion, sliced into rounds
- Greek extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO)
- 2 lemons
- Preheat the oven to 425 degree F.
- Pat the snapper fish dry. With a large knife, make two slits on each side of the fish. Fill the slits and coat the gut cavity of each fish with the minced garlic.
- To make the spice mix, combine the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and sumac in a small bowl. Use ¾ of the spice mix to season the snapper on both sides; pat the spices into the fish pushing into the slits you made earlier. Keep the remainder ¼ of the spice mix aside for now.
- Stuff each gut cavity with the chopped dill, and as much of the sliced peppers, tomatoes and onions as possible.
- Place the stuffed fish in a lightly oiled baking sheet. Add the remaining sliced vegetables to form a frame around the fish. Sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch of salt and the remaining ¼ of the spice mix.
- Drizzle everything generously with olive oil.
- Place the baking sheet on the lower rack of your 425 degrees F heated oven. Roast for 25 minutes until the fish flakes.Transfer the fish to a serving platter and squeeze juice of one lemon all over it. Use the slits you made earlier to cut through and portion the fish. Serve it with wedges of the remaining lemon.
- Enjoy with a side of rice and fattoush salad, if you like.
- Cook's Tip: To make things easy, ask your fishmonger to clean the fish and butterfly it so it's ready for use. You can choose to have the head removed, if you prefer.
- What to Serve Along? If you want to add something next to this snapper and veggies, lemon rice or Greek potatoes are two good options. Personally, I'd focus on starting the meal with a couple small appetizers like a tasty Baba Ganoush dip, baked zucchini sticks, and a big bowl of three bean salad.
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Category: Entree
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Red Snapper Recipes, Whole Red Snapper Recipe, Mediterranean Fish Recipe
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2015 and has been recently updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!