Grilled Halibut

published May 16, 2022
Grilled Halibut Recipe

Don't be intimidated by this easy-to-cook fish that pairs well with rich, flavorful sauces.

Serves4

Prep20 minutes

Cook6 minutes to 7 minutes

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four slices of grilled Halibut with some lemon slices, and a ramekin with pesto sauce on the side
Credit: Maria Do

This simple halibut recipe is a great addition to your weeknight dinner rotation. Halibut is the perfect fish to grill because of its firm structure. Its low oil content also makes it a wholesome choice, although it does make halibut susceptible to over-cooking. This recipe features a few tips to prevent a dry result, including serving halibut with a rich sauce like lemon basil pesto, which complements the lean fish.

How Do You Grill Halibut Without Drying It Out?

To prevent halibut from drying out, keep a food thermometer nearby to ensure the internal temperature does not reach past 130ºF, which is a perfect medium. It’s also good practice to cover halibut once removed from the grill to trap moisture. Remove the halibut from the grill about 5ºF before the desired temperature, as residual heat will continue to gently cook the fillets.

Credit: Maria Do

Should I Flip Halibut on the Grill?

Yes, halibut should be carefully flipped on the grill and cooked on both sides. 

What Pairs Well with Grilled Halibut? 

Grilled halibut pairs well with sauces or glazes that have high fat contents such as pesto or aioli because halibut itself has very little fat and can benefit from some richness. Serve it with rice and grilled vegetables for a complete meal.

Grilled Halibut Recipe

Don't be intimidated by this easy-to-cook fish that pairs well with rich, flavorful sauces.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes to 7 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the lemon basil pesto (optional):

  • 1 ounce

    Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup firmly packed freshly grated or 1/3 cup store-bought grated)

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 2 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 large bunch

    fresh basil

  • 1/3 cup

    pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

For the halibut:

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 2 tablespoons

    salted butter

  • 4

    (at least 1-inch thick) halibut fillets (4 to 6 ounces each)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive or avocado oil, plus more for the grill

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Make the lemon basil pesto (optional):

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment as it is completed: Finely grate 1 ounce Pecorino Romano cheese (about 1/2 packed cup, or use 1/3 cup store-bought grated). Juice 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons). Smash and peel 2 garlic cloves. you h Pick the leaves from 1 large bunch fresh basil until you have 2 lightly packed cups.

  2. Add 1/3 cup pine nuts, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil and pulse until a smooth paste forms, about 12 (1-second) pulses. If dry, add more olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse again until the pesto is smooth.

Grill the halibut:

  1. Heat an outdoor grill for direct, medium heat (350 to 375ºF). Meanwhile, cut 1/2 medium lemon into 4 wedges and cut 2 tablespoons salted butter into 4 pieces.

  2. Line a large plate with a large sheet of aluminum foil. Pat 4 halibut fillets dry with paper towels, then place on second unlined large plate. Coat the fish on both sides with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

  3. Scrape the grates clean if needed. Oil the grill grates with a paper towel dipped in olive oil. Place the fish on the grill grates (skin-side down if there is skin). Cover and grill until the bottoms turn opaque and a spatula can slide underneath the fillets with little resistance, about 3 minutes. Flip the fillets, cover, and grill until they are almost completely opaque and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thickest fillet registers 125ºF, 3 to 4 minutes.

  4. Transfer the fillets to the foil-lined plate in a single layer. Quickly place 1 piece of butter onto each filet. Fold the foil up and over the halibut to completely cover and let sit for 5 minutes. (The residual heat will increase the internal temperature to about 130ºF, a perfect medium, and also create steam to keep the fish from drying out.) Uncover and serve with the lemon wedges and pesto.

Recipe Notes

Salted butter substitution: You can replace the salted butter with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, adding the salt at the same time as butter.

Make ahead: The pesto can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.