5 Healthy Ways to Cook Fish

Save your butter for baking. We're sharing our five healthiest ways to cook fish. Baked or broiled, steamed or poached, your fish dishes will turn out moist and delicious every time. Be sure to check out these top-rated fish recipes, and don't miss our tips on how to buy fresh fish.

1. Grilled Fish

When you're grilling fish, keep a close watch. Over an open flame, fish cooks relatively quickly. A 1-inch-thick fillet will only require a few minutes per side If the fillets are an even thickness, they may not even require flipping.

  • Brush the fish lightly with a neutral oil that has a high smoke point, like canola or grapeseed, or use nonstick cooking spray.
  • Place the fish near the edges of the grill, away from the flame. Let the fish cook undisturbed to prevent sticking.
  • Close the grill lid for faster cooking and to prevent the fish from drying out.
  • Start checking for color and doneness after a few minutes, once the fish starts to release some of its juices.
  • Flip the fish over when you see light grill marks forming.
Grilled Salmon
Grilled Salmon | Photo by Meredith.

Grilled Salmon with Cilantro Sauce

Grilled Fish Recipes

2. Poached Fish

This gentle cooking method is perfect for all kinds of seafood - especially fin fish. Poaching keeps fish moist and doesn't mask its delicate flavor. To poach fish, use vegetable or chicken stock, or make a court-bouillon, a homemade broth of aromatic herbs and spices.

  • Use a pan big enough to lay each piece of fish down flat.
  • Pour in enough liquid to just barely cover the fish.
  • Bring the liquid to a gentle simmer, and do not allow it to reach a boil.
  • If you see any bubbles coming up from the bottom of the pan, it's too hot — the liquid should "shimmer" rather than bubble. The ideal poaching temperature is between 165 and 180 degrees F (74 to 82 degrees C).
  • Gently simmer until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Poaching Salmon
Poaching Salmon | Photo by Meredith. Meredith

3. Steamed Fish

Similar to poaching, steaming is another gentle cooking method It produces a mild-tasting fish that is often paired with a flavorful sauce.

  • Rub the fish with spices, chopped herbs, ginger, garlic, and chile peppers to infuse flavor while it cooks.
  • Use a bamboo steamer or folding steamer basket wide enough for each piece of fish to lie flat.
  • Pour about 1½-inches of water into the pan.
  • Place the steamer over the water, cover the pot, and bring the water to a boil.
  • Begin checking the fish for doneness after 10 minutes.
Florn's Chinese Steamed Fish
Florn's Chinese Steamed Fish | Photo by Erin.

4. Broiled Fish

When the weather's not right for grilling, try broiling instead. This high-heat cooking method is great when you crave a fast, simple, hassle-free preparation with delicious results. Broiling gives fish a nicely browned exterior with the convenience of a temperature-controlled heat source.

  • Place fish down flat on a broiler pan lined with foil.
  • Season the fish as desired.
  • Place under broiler and let cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Rotate the pan as needed for even browning.
  • Continue cooking until fish flakes easily with a fork.

How to Broil Salmon

Watch Chef John make a simple salmon with miso and maple syrup glaze.

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5. Baked Fish

Baking fish allows you to get the satisfying, juicy crunch of fried fish - without all the fat. Just because it's baked, though, doesn't mean it's healthy: be mindful of the amount of butter, oil, mayonnaise, or cheese called for in the recipe.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Lay the fish down flat on a foil-lined tray.
  • Rub the fish with a little oil or butter and season as desired.
  • Bake for 6 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
a baked tilapia fillet topped with lemon slices and a fresh dill sprig on a plate with tartar sauce
Baked Tilapia with Dill Sauce | Photo by LynnInHK. LynnInHK

Check out our complete collection of Fish Recipes.


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