Ready in about 30 minutes, this easy baked red snapper recipe with bold Mediterranean flavors, fresh herbs, and bell peppers is a must-try! Be sure to read through for tips and watch the video below.

Roasted whole red snapper placed on a bed of vegetables in a dish

Mediterranean-style red snapper

One of the communal Mediterranean meals I grew up with is whole baked fish cooked on the bone, with fresh herbs and whatever vegetables happen to be in season.

And red snapper, which is a popular white fish with a beautiful redish skin, has a firm texture and sweet and subtle nutty flavor that make it the perfect choice for this kind of preparation. Whole snapper makes a show-stopping centerpiece with such little effort, and I'll let you in on a secret: Ask your fishmonger to clean and gut the fish for you so you'll have a whole fish ready to work with.

This easy red snapper recipe, seasoned with garlic and warm spices, and stuffed with bell peppers and fresh herbs is a take on one my mom makes.  And it’s a hit, particularly served with a side of rice or roasted potatoes and a big Fattoush salad.

The key to flavoring a whole fish is to season the fish both outside and inside. I make a point of cutting some slits on both sides of the fish to insert the minced garlic and my trio of spices--cumin, coriander, and sumac. 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.

If you haven’t cooked snapper before, you may be wondering how to buy a good snapper for this recipe.

2 Whole red snapper with vegetables roasted in a large sheet pan

How to select fresh red snapper

Here in the U.S., wild-caught red snapper is sustainably managed and not over-fished, so it's one of the smarter seafood choices to make. 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. Here is what to look for when buying red snapper:

  1. 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.
  2. Smell the fish. When buying any fresh fish, the first thing you should do is give it a sniff. Yes, of course fish will smell somewhat "fishy”. But fresh red snapper should not smell off-putting; it should smell mild and pleasant like the salty ocean.
  3. Examine the eyes and skin. The eyes of any fresh fish should look glossy and vivid. If the eyes look dehydrated, don't buy it. And look for tightly adhering, shiny scales, deep red fins, and pinkish-silver bellies.

 Ingredients: What you’ll need to make this baked snapper recipe

  • 2 large whole snapper fish – Ask your fishmonger to scale, gut, and butterfly the fish. You can ask to have the head removed, but I like to leave the head on as it provides moisture and flavor (and it looks quite impressive when the fish is cooked!).
  • Garlic – You need 15 large cloves, minced and mixed with a pinch of kosher salt. The garlic goes into slits you’ll make in the fish, as well as into the fish cavity.
  • Spices: Ground cumin, ground coriander, black pepper, and sumac – Cumin, coriander, and black pepper are warm, earthy, and pungent – pairing very well with sour, smoky sumac to build flavor on this whole roasted fish.
  • Herbs and vegetables: Chopped fresh dill, bell peppers (different colors if possible), tomato, and red onion – Some of these will get stuffed into the fish cavity. The rest is arranged around the fish on a sheet pan. The slight sweetness and citrusy undertones in dill make it an ideal pairing for fish, while the vegetables add brightness, heft, and texture.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – I used Private Reserve Greek EVOO. With its fruity flavor and mild lingering pepperiness, it is delicious for roasted red snapper.
  • Lemons – Citrus and fish are a match made in heaven. The acidity in lemon juice helps to remove any lingering fishy taste or odor, and instantly lifts all the earthy flavors in this fish dish.

How to cook red snapper in the oven

This easy snapper recipe begins with seasoning and stuffing the whole fish, then baking it in a 425 degrees F heated oven with the bell peppers and vegetables for about 20 minutes or so. Here is how to cook snapper step-by-step (print-friendly recipe just below):

  • Season the whole red snapper. Make 3 slits on both sides of each fish. Insert 15 cloves minced garlic (that have been mixed with a pinch of salt) into the slits and also inside the fish cavity (the cleaned gut). In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon sumac, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and kosher salt. Use about ¾ of the spice mixture to season the fish, both the outside and inside (inserting some into the slits you made earlier).

    Whole red snapper spiced and stuffed with diced garlic
  • Prepare the vegetables and herbs. Chop fresh dill (you need ½ cup). Slice 3 large bell peppers (different colors), a large tomato, and 1 medium red onion into rounds. Stuff each gut cavity with as much of the dill and sliced vegetables as possible.

    Whole red snapper stuffed with vegetables and herbs
  • Roast the whole fish. Place the stuffed fish on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Arrange the remaining sliced vegetables around the fish. Sprinkle the vegetables with a pinch of salt and the remaining ¼ spice mixture. Drizzle everything generously with good extra virgin olive oil. Roast on the middle rack of a 425 degree heated oven until the fish is cooked. Cooked fish has an internal temperature of 137 degrees F and will flake easily. Whole red snapper will take 20 to 25 minutes to roast.

    Whole red snapper with spices and vegetables prepared in a large baking sheet
  • Finish and serve. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and transfer it to a serving platter. While the fish is still hot, squeeze the juice of one lemon generously over the top of the fish. Use the slits you made to help you cut and portion the fish. Serve with wedges of the remaining lemon and a side of your choice.

    Roasted whole red snapper with vegetables served on a large dish

Make ahead tips

Whole red snapper is best prepared and roasted right when you are ready to eat it. But to save a bit of time, you can slice the vegetables a night ahead and store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.

What to serve with snapper

With the veggies already provided in this sheet pan fish dinner, you hardly need to add any sides. But lemon rice or Greek potatoes are a couple of good options.

It never hurts to add a dip like tzatziki or baba ganoush. And for me personally, a big salad is a must! Try three bean salad, balela, Fattoush, or orange beet salad.

Leftovers and storage

This snapper dinner is best enjoyed immediately. If you have leftovers, store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Enjoy at room temperature, but if you must, you can reheat in a 350 degrees F heated oven just until warmed through. I am not a big fan of reheating fish because it tends to get too dry but adding a little water to your pan and covering the fish would help.

More fish recipes to try

Browse all Mediterranean Recipes

Visit our Shop

4.90 from 48 votes

Mediterranean-Style Whole Roasted Red Snapper

Suzy Karadsheh
Roasted whole red snapper placed on a bed of vegetables in a dish
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. Enjoy straight out of the oven for best flavor and texture, and serve with lemon riceGreek potatoes, three bean salad, or Fattoush salad.
Prep – 10 mins
Cook – 25 mins
Cuisine:
Mediterranean
Serves – 4 people
Course:
Entree

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large whole snapper fish, cleaned and gutted
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced, and combined with a pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon 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

Instructions
 

  • 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

Video

Notes

  • 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. But I recommend leaving the head on, as it helps the fish retain moisture and yields better flavor.
  • Make ahead tip: Whole red snapper is best prepared and roasted right when you are ready to eat it. But to save a bit of time, you can slice the vegetables a night ahead and store them in separate airtight containers in the fridge.
  • What to serve along: With the veggies already provided in this sheet pan fish dinner, you hardly need to add any sides. But lemon rice or Greek potatoes are a couple of good options. It never hurts to add a dip like tzatziki or baba ganoush. And for me personally, a big salad is a must! Try three bean salad, balela, Fattoush, or orange beet salad.
  • Leftovers and storage: This snapper dinner is best enjoyed immediately. If you have leftovers, store in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. Enjoy at room temperature, but if you must, you can reheat in a 350 degrees F heated oven just until warmed through. I am not a big fan of reheating fish because it tends to get too dry but adding a little water to your pan and covering the fish would help.
  • Visit the Mediterranean Dish Shop for quality extra virgin olive oilsand all-natural or organic spices. Create your own 6-pack or 3-pack of your favorites, like the cumin, coriander, and sumac used in this recipe!

Nutrition

Calories: 296.2kcalCarbohydrates: 16.4gProtein: 95gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 1.5gCholesterol: 166.5mgSodium: 300.9mgPotassium: 2292.6mgFiber: 4.5gSugar: 5.8gVitamin A: 2964.6IUVitamin C: 121mgCalcium: 215.8mgIron: 2.9mg
Tried this 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!

Share it with the world

I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
Learn More

Get our best recipes and all Things Mediterranean delivered to your inbox.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

How many stars would you give this recipe?




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I included slice baby potatoes some Spanish onion and lay the snapper on top absolutely beautiful , great recipe x

  2. 5 stars
    This was so delicious. My husband said it tasted like something he would eat in a 5-star restaurant. I enjoyed the different kind of herbs.

    1. Thank you for the feedback, Shannon. A couple small notes that might help: 1) At the very top of the post there is a link that says "skip to recipe" which allows you to go right to the recipe card. 2)We so appreciate you stopping in and sharing, and it might help for us to tell you that these ads from our kind sponsors is what pays for the recipes, articles, and so many aspects of this business (it is not cheap to run a site of this size, as you can imagine). But because of these ads, we are able to offer our recipes and resources completely FREE to our readers.

  3. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. My only problem was the snapper I got from Whole Foods had a very small gut cavity. I had to do a little filleting myself to make it bigger. I will make this again.

  4. 5 stars
    OMG! Red Snapper is my absolute favorite type of fish! I'm loving all the stuffed veggies and flavor! YUM!

  5. 5 stars
    I've never made snapper before, but this sounds delicious. It's such a beautiful presentation too. Company worthy for sure.

  6. 5 stars
    This fish meal sounds healthy and delicious! I especially love to learn how to spice and flavor the fish. Thanks for the recipe and great tips!

  7. 5 stars
    I've never be brave enough to cook a whole fish but your tips are making me feel like I can do it! Thanks! Adding this to my meal planner for next week!

  8. 5 stars
    I haven't had this before, but it looks so tasty!! We need to make more seafood, so this is going on the menu!