how to grill fish on bbq

How to Grill Fish on BBQ

The Recipe

Fish steaks, cut right, are excellent choices for grilling. They can include swordfish, tuna, or halibut. That said, fishes such as fillets are overly delicate, and large whole fish are not easy to prepare. Too often, the exterior of the fish is exceptionally charred before the inside cooks. For those who are lucky enough to find small fish such as sardines, small mackerel, or bluefish, these are easy to cook over charcoal or embers of a wood fire.

For this recipe, consider going for ¼ pound boneless fish steaks per serving, especially the fish that still has the bones intact.



  • 3 gloves of a teaspoon of freshly grated garlic
  • 1 cup of virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of fresh lemon and orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper and freshly chopped pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • Some freshly chopped coriander
  • 1 pound of fish steak
  • Lemon wedges for garnishing 


  1. Mix all the ingredients except the fish and lemon wedges. Mix it well. Then, use a pastry brush, paint the fish on both sides with some sauce, and then place them aside. Consider getting a resealable bag, putting the fish inside, and letting it marinate for a few minutes.
  2. Create a fire using some hardwoods or hardwood charcoal. It’s best to start with a few pieces of charcoal as you increase the amount gradually.
  3. Then, let the fire burn brightly, and wait for it to start decreasing the heat lever over time. At this point, the fire should have a nice bed of hot coals or embers. Plus, you can place large pieces of fish directly to help ensure the smaller types won’t fall through. More so, you may also require a non-stick gill type to ensure the best cooking result 
  4. When the fish is ready for cooking, apply some olive oil to a pan on the cooking surface. Then, place it four to five inches from the heat source for cooking. Arrange the fish steaks, such that they all have adequate access to the heat. 
  5. Let it cook for a few minutes on either side, and turn the fish once. Test the meat for completion, and the fish should be opaque all the way through when fully cooked. Then, insert the tip of a sharp knife close to the bone, or in the center of the boneless piece of fish. Remove it immediately, and place it on a hot platter.
  6. You will have to heat the remaining marinade to boiling point and pour it over the cooked fish. Also, you can consider passing it at the table, and with some lemon wedges. 

Tips on How to Grill Fish on BBQ

tips on how to grill fish on bbq

There are many options when it comes to grilling seafood. The common favorites include sea scallops, shrimp skewers, and even tuna.This summer, you will never go wrong with the right type of fish on your grill. Some tips to help you get started include:

Great Seafood Starts with a Good Fishmonger

The fish you need for this recipe won’t scale themselves. Thus, you may have to get acquainted with a local fishmonger to make things convenient. Here are some few questions you can ask them on how to grill fish on bbq:

Scale and Gut

For whole fish, this also refers to the complete cleaning of the fish, which is crucial before cooking. If you want to leave aspects such as the fins on, ensure that you specify this information to the fishmonger. Also, if you’re going to purchase squid that has already been cleaned, make a call-in advance.

Butterfly and Fillet

The store should help you cut the fish to suit your cooking needs. If you want a steak or fillet cut based on your needs, just ask the fishmonger. The same applies when it comes to butterflying a whole fish. 

Suggest Sustainable Swaps

The ideal fishmonger should be well informed. They should be able to tell the locally available fish, the eco-friendly types, and the ideal alternatives for your needs. 

Make You Try New Things

The good thing about getting acquainted with a local fishmonger, is that they may sell you a type of fish you may have never seen before. Thus, this makes up for an excellent way to try out new meals and ingredients for your grilled fish on bbq. 

Maintain Optimal Hygiene

Just as you may have heard before, fish is more likely to stick to grilling surfaces when compared to meats such as chicken or beef. In such a case, the best defense would be to ensure the grill is in pristine condition. To be specific, this may mean that you have to clean it aggressively with a brush before using it. Also, use a rag and dip it in some vegetable or olive oil thoroughly to help coat the grill. Remember, similar to meat, if the fish won’t release easily, it won’t be ready for the flipping.

Grill Then Marinate

grilled fish recipe

While you can marinate most meats before cooking, the same theory does not apply for fish. Why? Well, because fish is delicate, and the flesh can easily break down when it’s not correctly marinated. Also, a post grill oiling process will provide optimal flavor, without compromising the taste of the fish. 

Meet the Other Steaks of the Summer

The range of fish in this category is vast and diverse. They might include salmon, arctic char, halibut, and swordfish. You might get the steaks from large fish, and these types tend to be high in fat. That said, fat equals flavor when it comes to grilling, which might be useful. Consider going for fish that is at least 1 inch thick.

Consider Oily Fish

fish on the grill

Even if assertive fish such as sardines are not necessarily perfect for your needs, they often have a mellower flavor when grilled. More so, the crisp skin often makes up for a unique taste, which you won’t get with most meats. If that’s not enough, you will be pleased to know that the skin’s high oil content means it’s less prone to sticking issues. Also, sardines and mackerel are excellent recommendations for your recipes. 

Grilled Shrimp is Great but Head on Prawns are Better.

You will be pleased to know that the crustaceans are perhaps the best types of fish for grilling, especially the head-on prawns. Why? Well, the prawns are typically larger and have denser shells than the conventional shrimp fish. Thus, this offers optimal insurance, against issues such as overcooking. 

Q&A: Shrimp vs. Prawns—What’s the Difference?

how to cook fish on the grill

Technically, the difference between these meat types is not significant. The term prawns refers to a large type of shrimp. If your fishmonger gives a funny look when you ask for prawns, consider going for the largest types available. Aspects such as the size and the shell are the most critical factors. 

Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Fish

mistakes to avoid when grilling fish

When cooking fish on an open flame, you should note that it may lose heat fast compared to most meat types. The secret to grilling success is to balance ingredients such as the oil, timing, and the hat.

Even if we are in the thick of the summer season, there is no better time to learn of the mistakes you might make when grilling. It may seem somewhat cynical, but it will go a long way in preventing any mishaps when cooking in the future.

The common mistakes to avoid include: 

“My Fish is Sticking to the Grill.”

The most likely reason for such an issue includes:

The grill is not clean enough. Issues such as burned on debris from the previous cooking sessions might create an inferior surface for cooking.

The grill is not heated right. When it is, the heat will help cauterize the fish, which sets the proteins in the fish, and helps prevent such issues as sticking to the grill.

The fish is not through cooking. Once it’s through cooking, pull it away from the grill separately.

Master Good Grill Hygiene

Ensure that you start the cooking process with a clean grill. Once the fire is ready, you may have to prepare the grilling surface for the fish. The first step involved is to ensure you clean the grill grate with a non-metal grill brush. After that, get a long pair of tongs, and rub the grate with a cloth or paper towel. Ensure that both these components are well coated with some vegetable oil. At this point, you should notice it start to simmer on the grate from the oil. 

You can use this grill cleaning technique as you prepare to cook the fish. Alternatively, you can consider using it as part of the cleanup, such that the grill is read the next time you want to fire up the grill.

Turn Up the Heat

Once you turn on the heat, ensure that you put the lid on the grill and step away for a while to ensure the heat accumulates. The result should be a well-heated grate.

Be Patient with The Fish

Once you are ready to grill the fish, put the skin side down first over the hottest part of the grill. Let it cook for about 5 minutes. To test the cooking process, gently lift a side of the fish by using a metal spatula. If the fish does not lift cleanly from the grill, then it’s not ready. Keep on cooking, and observe the cleaning process until it lifts easily from the grill. Then, flip the fish, and let it cook for a few minutes, until your grill thermometer reads at about 140 degrees F.