Simple and elegant, this roasted branzino recipe is one of the easiest and most reliable ways to cook this delicate fish to perfection.
My family and I are huge seafood lovers.
Fish is something we eat on a regular basis, and I don’t tend to stick to one type when it comes to cooking it. On regular rotation include Chilean sea bass, red snapper, and delicious roasted branzino.
Table of Contents
What is branzino?
Branzino is a type of white fish. It is also called European bass, as this fish is native to Europe’s southern and western coasts. I actually hadn’t tried this fish until I traveled Europe, where it’s widely used in Mediterranean cuisine (especially Greek and Italian).
This particular fish can be cooked in various ways, but my favorite is when it’s roasted, pan-fried, or grilled. Here are some reasons why you’ll love this recipe:
- Healthy. Like baked haddock or baked salmon, Oven-baked branzino is a healthy, low-fat meal. It is also rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- Less than 30 minutes. This is the kind of seafood dish I can make on a busy weeknight because it cooks in no time, or when I need something elegant yet simple.
- Only 7 ingredients. Branzino has a delicate flavor and flaky texture when cooked right, so I like to keep the seasonings and spices to an absolute minimum.
- Three cooking methods. I prefer roasting this fish, but I’ve also tested it stovetop and on the grill.
To really let the flavor of this flaky white fish shine, besides the branzino and some seasonings, there isn’t much else that goes into it. Here is what you’ll need:
- Whole branzino. Scaled, cleaned, and fins removed. This recipe needs whole fish, not single fillets. I find them easily at most fishmongers and have noticed more and more mainstream grocery stores, too (in their seafood department).
- Lemon. Thinly sliced lemon to put inside the fish before baking it. The freshness and acidity of lemon complement the flavor of baked fish and counter the briny flavors that may be present in it.
- Oregano. Dried oregano is a must for any kind of Mediterranean dish, and this is no different.
- Fresh dill. With its citrusy and sweet flavor, fresh dill is perfect for brightening up the flavor of any fish, in particular this one.
- Olive oil. To bake. I also tried this with unsalted butter but found the olive oil so much better.
- Kosher salt and pepper. To taste.
- Vegetables. I like to add cherry tomatoes and red onion to roast with the fish.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make roasted branzino
What I love about this recipe is just how hands-off it is. Once you dress the fish, the oven takes care of all the roasting. Also, see below for the grilling instructions.
Step 1- Season the fish. Season the fish inside and out with salt, black pepper, and oregano. Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemon slices and sprigs of fresh dill.
Step 2- Assemble. Put the fish on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle some dill and vegetables around the fish and drizzle everything with olive oil.
Step 3- Bake and serve. Preheat the oven to 200C/390F. Bake the branzino fish for 30 minutes until the skin is crispy and the fish is cooked through. Once cooked, transfer the fish onto a platter and serve with roasted vegetables and a drizzle of lime or lemon juice.
Alternative cooking methods
To change things up, I sometimes like to pan fry or grill the branzino, and have tested this exact recipe using both those methods and the fish cooks beautifully. Here is how:
To pan fry: Simply prep the fish as you would if you were roasting it, and then place it on a greased pan. Next, cook at medium heat for 6 minutes before flipping it and cooking it for another 6 minutes. Now, let the fish rest, covered, for five minutes before serving it.
To grill: Grease the grill grates and turn up the heat to medium-high. Once hot, add the branzino to it and cook each side for 6-7 minutes, or until the edges begin to char.
Recipe tips and variations
- Remove the bones before eating. Like any whole fish, there are bones and these need to be removed from the flesh before eating them.
- Add extra lemon. Bake some lemon wedges along with the fish. Baked lemon slices caramelize and become juicy which makes them perfect for squeezing over the baked fish.
- Create air pockets in the dish. Use a sharp knife to make a few diagonal slits or grates on the fish. Doing this helps crisp up the skin as well as season the fish more efficiently.
- Do not overcook the fish. Keep an eye on the fish to make sure you don’t overcook it. The internal temperature of cooked fish should be 145 degrees F. You can also use a fork to check the doneness of the fish. If the fish flakes easily, remove it from the oven.
- Crisp it up. To make the skin extra crispy, broil the fish for a couple of minutes.
- Use other herbs. Use sprigs of fresh rosemary or parsley instead of fresh dill. Thyme pairs well with branzino, too.
What to serve with Branzino?
Like any good seafood dish, you can really pair the fish with almost anything! Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Vegetables. Always a healthy and classic pairing, try some roasted carrots and potatoes, sauteed spinach, air fryer brussels sprouts, or some steamed greens.
- Grains. I like to make a big batch of coconut rice and enjoy leftovers throughout the week, but couscous and some simple pasta also work.
- Potatoes. Always a classic, you can enjoy potatoes in a bunch of ways: sauteed, air-fried (whole), air-fried (wedges), or the classic French fries. Heck, even sweet potatoes (or fries) are fab, too.
- Salads. The possibilities are endless for salad options. Try a classic Greek or Green goddess salad, or go a little fancy and do a wedge or 7-layer salad.
To store: Place leftovers in a shallow container in the fridge. Properly refrigerated branzino keeps well for up to 3 days.
To freeze: The cooked and cooled fish can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for up to two months.
Reheating: Reheat branzino in a skillet over medium heat or in the oven preheated to 275F degrees.
Frequently asked questions
Like salmon and haddock, the skin of branzino provides tons of nutrients and health benefits and should be eaten.
Sea bass is a general name used to refer to multiple species of fish, and branzino is just one of them. Branzino is the Italian word for European bass. Depending on the country, this fish may be labeled as branzino or European seabass.
Swap out the Branzino for sea bass, trout, or snapper fillets.
More delicious fish recipes to try
- Grilled swordfish– A fancy fish that needs very little cooking time or seasonings to make it shine.
- Air fryer tilapia– I make this for my family once a week, and it cooks in just 7 minutes.
- Blackened tilapia– Another flavorful way to jazz up some white fish.
- Grilled grouper– Perfect for the BBQ or even the stovetop.
Perfect Roasted Branzino
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a large baking tray with tin foil.
- Season the fish, inside and out, with salt, pepper, and oregano. Place the lemon slices and fresh dill inside each of the fish cavities.
- Place the seasoned branzino on the lined baking tray and sprinkle the dill, cherry tomatoes, and sliced red onion around it.
- Roast the branzino for 25-30 minutes, or until the exterior is crispy and fish is cooked through.
Recipe originally posted December 2022, but updated to include new information, new photos, and a recipe video for your benefit!
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