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How to Cook a Whole Fish

The following recipe, video and photography were provided by our partner, Chef Billy Parisi.

If you’re looking to impress family and friends, why not cook a whole fish?

I know the idea of cooking a whole fish can be unsettling and intimidating, but its easier than you think. In fact, all you have to do is bake it in the oven!

This oven method works with any fish, but for this recipe, I used fresh branzino from Heinen’s Seafood Department. To order a whole fish from Heinen’s, simply call your preferred location at least 3 days in advance and they will source the freshest fish from trusted partners for you to enjoy!

Branzino Whole Fish
How to Cook a Whole Fish
Cook time:
Prep time:
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  • Branzino, or another whole fish of your choice
  • Heinen's olive oil
  • Fresh dill
  • Fresh lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  2. Rinse the fish on the outside and inside cavity with cold water. Set the fish on paper towels and dry completely. This will help the skin brown and crisp.
  3. Transfer the fish to a parchment or foil-lined baking sheet.
  4. Using a sharp knife, make six little slices on the top of the fish. This is known as scoring. It will help all of the juices and flavors reach the inside of the fish.
  5. Generously drizzle olive oil all over the top, bottom and inside cavity of the fish. Use your hands or a brush to rub it in.
  6. Generously season the fish on all sides and inside the cavity with salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
  7. Stuff the fish with lemon slices and fresh dill. You can also add oranges or limes. For even more flavor, lay lemon slices on the baking sheet and place the fish on top.
  8. Place the fish in the oven for 18-22 minutes.
  9. When the fish is removed from the oven it should be cooked through and a little browned on top.
  10. If desired, add a little unsalted melted butter with lemon wedges and herbs like dill, chives and crushed red pepper flakes.
  11. Serve for the whole family to enjoy.

Branzino Whole Fish

Chef Billy Parisi headshot
By Chef Billy Parisi
Chef Billy Parisi is a culinary school grad who spent 15 years in the restaurant industry as a line cook, sous chef and executive chef. Now he develops, photographs and films simple and delicious recipes that will make everyone feel like a chef in their own kitchen.

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