The 5 Best Types of Fish for Grilling

updated Sep 2, 2022
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Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

During the summer months I love grilling as many of my meals as possible. Chicken, steak, veggies, and fish are all on the menu. You name it, I’m probably grilling it. When it comes to meat, grilling is relatively easy: Pick your favorite cut, a marinade or dry rub, and throw it on the grill. Grilling fish is a little trickier. Certain types of fish make better choices than others, and some more delicate fillets just aren’t suited for grilling at all. Firm, hearty fish like salmon, swordfish, tuna, snapper, and mahi mahi holds up great on the grill.

Here’s a guide to help you choose.

Credit: Mia Yakel/Kitchn

First, Here’s How You to Prevent Fish from Sticking

Before you even get cooking, you’ve got the best opportunity to prevent your fish from sticking to the grill. The choice of fish will help a lot (more on that below) but so will patting your fish dry on all sides with a paper towel and then coating liberally with a neutral oil. At the grill, make sure your grates are really clean and really hot before you get started.

The Best Types of Fish for Grilling

When choosing a fish for grilling it’s important to consider how firm or sturdy it is. Delicate fish like sole, tilapia, or flounder don’t fare so well on the open flame. They’re more likely to become flakey, break apart or fall through the grates. It’s best to choose a firm, hearty fish, like one of our five favorites below!

All five of these have different things to be aware of in terms of sustainability so make sure to double-check their sourcing and seasonality on the Seafood Watch app or online before buying.

Visit Seafood Watch: Monterey Bay Seafood Watch

1. Salmon

Whether you cook it as a steak or a fillet, salmon can withstand the heat of the grill, keeping its distinct flavor and staying together. Also consider grilling salmon on cedar planks for an added flavor twist.

2. Swordfish

Swordfish is my favorite type of fish for grilling! It’s a mild-tasting, firm, meaty fish that holds up great on the grill. You’ll find this fish sold as steaks — cook it whole or cut it up and skewer it.

3. Tuna

To me tuna is like steak of the seafood world. It’s so versatile! Tuna steak is thick and hearty, with a distinct flavor. I love giving it a good sear and cooking it just to medium rare.

4. Snapper

Snapper is a great mild white fish for grilling. Cook the whole fish or the portioned fillets.

5. Mahi Mahi

Mahi mahi, also known as dorado or dolphinfish (not to be confused with the dolphin), is a flavorful white fish. It has a firm texture that makes it wonderful for grilling.

What’s your favorite type of fish to grill?