Mediterranean Whole Roasted Red Snapper

Why roast a whole fish?    It’s FUN!  And it’s FLAVORFUL! Just like roasting a chicken, all that flavor from the skin and bones seeps into the meat creating a succulent, juicy meal.   Mediterranean Whole Roasted Red Snapper is a great way to boost your kitchen confidence if you like fish but aren’t sure how to cook a whole one. 

Whole Snapper

I use lemons, olive oil, Kalamata olives, capers, fresh herbs, garlic, salt and pepper for my Red Snapper recipe.   That’s pretty much it. Many mainstream grocery stores sell whole fish; I got this one at Kroger. 

Whole Snapper RecipeWhen you buy your fish, ask for one that is “dressed.”    That means the entrails and scales have been removed, so most of the work is done for you.   The fillet process is super easy for Red Snapper;  it practically takes itself off the bone!   The skin also comes off easily.  

I admit I was intimidated the first time  I roasted and filleted my Mediterranean Whole Roasted Snapper.

It had eyes! And gills! And Fins!  OH MY!   But it really is easy.  And fun.  I promise.   And oh, so wonderful tasting.  

Whole Snapper Recipe

Filleting a Snapper after it’s roasted is easy!

Your Red Snapper will already have a nice big cavity when you get it home.

 That’s where you stuff some herbs, lemon and a couple of olives.

Whole Snapper Recipe

The rest goes into a mixture you drizzle over your fish to create a light, delicious, briny sauce with a hint of lemony tartness.   

Whole Red Snapper Recipe

The Whole Snapper before it goes in the oven.

 I roast mine in the oven for 20 minutes but you could also wrap your fish in heavy duty foil and throw it on the grill!   Either way, here’s how it will look when it’s done.

Whole Red Snapper Recipe

But let’s be realistic:  this is not how you’re going to eat it.  Time to Fillet!  First you remove all the stuffing.  Then, follow my step by step chart!  

How to Fillet a Whole Roasted Fish, this one is Red Snapper

You’ll end up with four pieces of fish, two large and two small.  Don’t worry about doing it wrong, just do it !

Whole Red Snapper Recipe

Does this recipe make you a little nervous?  Or are you just grossed out by looking at a whole fish?  For a much easier recipe that uses Salmon Fillets check out my YouTube video here.  

Don’t throw away the head, tail, bones, etc.  Freeze them and stand by for some soup recipes!    How did your Mediterranean Whole Roasted Snapper turn out?   Comments and questions below.


Mediterranean Whole Roasted Snapper

From Valerie Hoff | Main Dishes | Mediterranean or Greek

The world’s easiest whole fish recipe that even a novice cook can master! Lemon, olive oil, capers and olives add layers of flavor and depth to a beautiful, fresh fish.


4 servings


  • 1 Whole Red Snapper about 2 pounds, dressed
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 large sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped Kalamata olives
  • 2 Lemons
  • 2 Teaspoons capers
  • One tablespoon butter, dived into three small squares
  • 1/4 Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons White Wine
  • Sea Salt or Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Rinse snapper and pat dry
  3. Juice one lemon and slice the other lemon
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper into cavity
  5. Stuff cavity with a sprig of oregano, a sprig of thyme, several slices of lemon, half the chopped olives, another sprig of oregano and three dots of butter.
  6. Sprinkle salt and pepper on outside of fish
  7. Combine remaining ingredients and drizzle over top of fish
  8. Roast for 20 minutes.
  9. Remove from heat.
  10. Remove stuffing from fish and set aside.
  11. Cut off head and tail.
  12. Using fingers or a butter knife, gently pull off skin.
  13. Use your thumb at the spot where tail was removed to locate spine.
  14. Cut along spine and remove top filet (called dorsal fillet)
  15. Pull off any pin bones.
  16. Using a dull knife, cut top fillet that’s above the spine in a horizontal motion.
  17. Gently pull tail in an upward motion to expose lower fillet.
  18. Pull out any additional pin bones.
  19. Serve fish with pan juices and lemon wedges.


  • Save head, skin bones and other parts in freezer for soup or stock