Grilling a whole fish sounds intimidating, but it’s actually easier than grilling fillets, which can fall apart on the grill and be tricky to flip. This sturdy whole fish is simply stuffed with aromatic oregano, thyme, and lemon and topped with a healthy, flavorful chopped “sauce” of grilled olives, onion, and artichokes. Serve some Lemon-Oregano Roasted Potatoes on the side.

Special equipment: You will need a pastry brush for this recipe.

Game plan: If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes beforehand so they don’t burn on the grill.

_This dish was featured as part of our Grilled Toppings That Put Barbecue Sauce to Shame.

  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr

Ingredients (16)

For the topping:

  • 6 (10-inch) metal or wooden skewers (soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to avoid burning on the grill)
  • 1 (14-ounce) jar marinated artichoke halves, drained
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into quarters and the layers separated
  • 3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • Vegetable oil, for coating the grill, skewers, and lemon halves
  • 2 medium lemons
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the fish:

  • 1 (2- to 2-1/2-pound) cleaned and gutted whole striped bass, black sea bass, snapper, or barramundi (from a 3- to 3-1/2-pound whole uncleaned fish)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 5 medium fresh oregano sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


For the topping:

  1. Heat an outdoor grill to medium high (about 375°F to 425°F).
  2. While the grill is heating, prepare the skewers: Thread an equal number of the artichokes onto 2 skewers. Thread an equal amount of onion onto 2 more skewers, leaving about 1/4 inch of space in between the pieces. Thread an equal number of the olives onto the remaining 2 skewers. Brush the skewers all over with vegetable oil; set aside. Slice the lemons in half, reserving one of the halves for the fish.
  3. When the grill is ready, rub the grill grates with a towel dipped in vegetable oil. Brush the cut sides of the remaining 3 lemon halves with oil. Place the lemons on the grill cut-side down, cover the grill, and cook until grill marks appear and the lemons are slightly softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a baking sheet or large dish and set aside.
  4. Place all of the skewers on the grill, cover the grill, and cook, flipping once, until the olives are slightly shriveled and the artichokes have grill marks, about 6 minutes. Continue to cook the onions until they’re slightly charred and softened, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to the baking sheet or large dish with the lemon halves and let cool slightly.
  5. When cool enough to handle, remove all of the olives, artichokes, and onions from the skewers, cut into medium dice, and transfer to a medium bowl. Squeeze the juice from 2 of the grilled lemon halves over the vegetables, add the oregano and thyme, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Cut the remaining grilled lemon half into 4 pieces. Place the vegetable topping and the lemon pieces in a warm spot or cover with foil. Reduce the grill heat to medium (about 350°F to 400°F), and prepare the fish.

For the fish:

  1. Thinly slice the reserved, ungrilled lemon half. Rinse the inside and outside of the fish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper. Stuff the thyme and oregano sprigs and lemon slices inside. Rub the outside of the fish with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Rub the grill grates again with vegetable oil. Place the fish on the grill and cover the grill. Cook until the bottom half of the fish is opaque all the way through and the bottom skin is crispy, about 9 minutes. Using a pair of tongs to hold the fish closed, carefully flip the fish over using a flat spatula and cook until the second half is opaque all the way through and the skin is crispy, about 9 minutes more. Remove to a large serving dish and serve with the reserved topping and grilled lemon pieces.