This Grilled Red Snapper recipe is simple and quick and is perfect for a healthy, light meal. It has a light lemon and herb seasoning that brings out the flavor!
🍽️ Why This Works
✔️Simple – Grilling fish fillets is always easy and these are no exception. There are a couple of tips that will make you even more successful.
✔️Light and Healthy – When you are looking to add more fish and seafood into your diet, this is going to become a staple as it’s a breeze to make and very low in calories.
✔️Fast – This meal is so fast to make and dinner will be on the table in just a matter of 10 minutes from start to finish.
🐟Red Snapper fillets – These are firm, white fish that hold together extremely well on the grill. You keep the skin on the grill, so there is no need to flip it as it cooks.
🍋🌿Lemon and Herb Splash – This is an easy dressing that is really all-purpose. The fresh lemon juice and parsley add a refreshing brightness to the fish. I added flavor to the dressing with fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic, Kosher salt, and black pepper. As simple as these ingredients are, the combination is fantastic!
♨️ Equipment and Tools
✔️GrillGrate – This is my favorite grilling accessory and really makes all the difference in the world when grilling fish. It has raised aluminum fins that are superheated and sear the fish quickly. Additionally, the design minimizes flare-ups that may cause the food to burn while eliminating hot spots.
✔️Oil Brush – Before you add the fish to the grill, you’ll add a light coating of olive oil. Use a good-quality brush to make sure you have full coverage.
🔪 Preparing The Fillets
👉Step 1: Start by inspecting the fillets to make sure they are fresh. They should have a bright pinkish-red color and a fresh ocean scent.
👉Step 2: Rinse the fillets under cold water to remove any scales or impurities.
👉Step 3: Pat them dry using paper towels.
👉Step 4: Check the fish for any bones that might have been missed. Run your fingers along the fillet to check if there are any pin bones. If present, use a pair of tweezers to pull them out. Shredded edges and excess fat should also be trimmed off.
👉Step 5: Let the fillets sit outside for 10-15 minutes before grilling. This will allow them to come to room temperature and cook more evenly.
🔥 Grilling Instructions
👉Step 1: Mix the oil, lemon zest, herbs, and garlic in a small bowl.
👉Step 2: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (375°F). Use direct heat, as you’ll want the fish to cook quickly. Add the GrillGrate to the grill and let it come up to temperature.
👉Step 3: Brush both sides of the Red Snapper fillet with olive oil. A little goes a long way!
👉Step 4: Place the fillets on the grill skin side down and let them cook for about 3 minutes. Carefully turn it over and grill another 3-4 minutes. It’s fully cooked when the flesh becomes opaque and you can easily flake it with a fork.
👉Step 5: Lift the fish off the GrillGrate and put it on a serving platter. Shake the citrus herb dressing and pour a little over the top.
❗ Expert Tips
💡Use a GrillGrate – I can’t stress this enough. This is the best accessory I have used that virtually eliminates all hot spots on the grill. As a result, the fish comes out evenly cooked and grilled nicely.
💡Removing the fish – If the fish sticks to the grate, it may not be completely ready to turn over. You’ll notice the thick grill marks on the fish that the GrillGrate created. That section was seared quickly and made it easy to turn over and remove without sticking.
💡Skin removal – Keep the skin on during the grilling process. It helps hold the fillet together and it is really easy to remove immediately before serving. It will just peel off using your fingers or a fork.
💡Spray or oil grill grate – Always give the grate (no matter which one you use) a quick spritz or rub of oil to make sure that anything you put on it will slide right off. You would hate to have the fish stick to the grill and you lose your dinner.
🐟 Grilling Whole Red Snapper
If you grill whole red snapper on a charcoal grill, the longer cooking time will allow the smoke flavor from the burning coals to better infuse the meat. It also makes a fabulous-looking meal!
✔️Step 1: Mix the olive oil, lemon zest, chopped herbs, and minced garlic in a small bowl, just as you would for the fillets.
✔️Step 2: Clean the snapper thoroughly. Gut the fish (if needed), remove scales, and rinse it well inside and out. Pat it dry with paper towels.
✔️Step 3: Make a few shallow slashes on both sides of the snapper. This will allow the heat to penetrate evenly.
✔️Step 4: Preheat the grill to 375°F, using direct heat for fast cooking. If using a GrillGrate, now is the time to place it on the grill, so it also heats up. You can also use a grill basket for easier handling.
✔️Step 5: Brush the snapper lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking.
✔️Step 6: Apply a very light coat of salt (including in the inside cavity of the fish). For this recipe, most of the salt and flavor will come from the dressing. I didn’t use any salt for grilling snapper fillets but for the whole fish, some salt is needed.
✔️Step 7: Place the snapper on the GrillGrate and grill the snapper for about 10-12 minutes per side.
✔️Step 8: The snapper is done when the flesh is fully opaque and it flakes easily. For safety purposes, make sure the internal temperature of the fish reads 145˚F.
✔️Step 9: Transfer the fish to a serving platter. Stir or shake the dressing and pour some over the snapper before serving.
📌 Additions & Substitutions
➡️Using a different fish – The grilling method and vinaigrette used for this red snapper works for other types of fish. If you can’t find red snapper, look for cod, sea bass, haddock, tilapia, or grouper.
➡️Seasoning – I only seasoned my snapper with a light and herby dressing. If you want to skip the dressing, I recommend you choose simple seasonings that highlight red snapper’s natural flavor.
Use a limited combination of salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and herbs such as oregano, rosemary, or thyme. Add some heat with a pinch of chili powder or cayenne pepper.
➡️Marinating – If you want to make your red snapper even more flavorful, consider marinating the fillets for about 30 minutes before grilling. Avoid marinades that are too acidic, as they can overly “tenderize” the delicate fish.
The marinade I used for this cedar plank grilled halibut is highly versatile and can be used for red snapper, and other fish as well. Fresh rosemary, lemon juice and zest, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt, and pepper blend into a refreshing marinade, perfect for fish and seafood.
➡️Cajun seasoning – Sprinkle Cajun seasoning on your snapper for a bit of Southern flair! It goes really well with this mild-flavored fish.
➡️Mediterranean mix – Mix olive oil with dried oregano, basil, and thyme for a super easy Mediterranean herb blend that pairs wonderfully with snapper.
➡️Jamaican dry rub – Are you a fan of a more aromatic seasoning for grilled fish? I’m sure you’ll be pleased by this easy Jamaican jerk dry rub.
➡️Citrus & ginger glaze – Infusing red snapper with a bit of citrus flavor is always a good idea and you can do that with a simple glaze. Mix honey with orange juice, lemon juice, and grated ginger for an Asian-inspired twist.
Then use this glaze to baste the snapper while it cooks like we did this smoked honey-basted salmon.
🍴 Serving Suggestions
This grilled red snapper recipe is a light-flavored one so it goes even with more aromatic sides. If you choose to season it using more potent herbs and spices, it’s a good idea to choose a milder side dish.
🥗Fresh Salads – A simple green salad or another fresh variety like my tomato, cucumber, and onion salad will keep this meal nutritious and low in calories.
You can also play around with flavors and textures and make your salad a bit more filling. I love serving red snapper with this summery grilled peach and arugula salad.
🥦Grilled Vegetables – This is a match made in heaven and the choice range is very wide!
There’s a variety of tastes and consistencies to make grilled red snapper exciting each time you make it. We love smoked asparagus bundles, grilled parsnips, grilled broccolini or broccoli, and grilled patty pan squash or zucchini as side dishes for all kinds of fish.
You can definitely serve red snapper with other veggies such as green beans, carrots, and Brussels sprouts. Just make sure to opt for a veggie side that is light and milder flavored.
🍚Rice and grains – A zesty cilantro lime rice is a stellar match with the snapper. Quinoa and couscous make excellent less traditional options.
You can always make a subtler flavored rice or pilaf, as a neutral base to support the natural taste of the snapper and any sauces or dressings.
🥔Potato dishes – There’s nothing wrong with choosing a heartier side for your grilled fish. Smoked fingerling potatoes are one of my go-to recipes for special occasions.
🍜Pasta and noodles – Light pasta dishes like this easy pasta salad, or lemon garlic pasta are a good way to complement the delicate taste of snapper.
Fruit salsas – You’ll get a burst of flavor in each bite if you pair grilled snapper with a fruit salsa. Tropical fruit salsas are an excellent choice.
🧄Garlic butter – A simple, timeless choice, melted butter mixed with minced garlic will add a wonderful flavor to your grilled snapper. Brush it on during grilling for a fantastic taste!
I also love a good honey garlic butter like the one I used for grilled halibut for that extra touch of sweetness. Butter, honey, garlic, and lemon juice are all you need to make it!
Another option is to turn it into herb butter. Add some fresh herbs to the mix as I did for this grilled steelhead trout with herb butter for an aromatic flavor kick.
♨️More Grilled Fish Recipes
⭐Grilled Halibut – The subtle, sweet taste of halibut gets an upgrade from the perfect grill char.
⭐Grilled Lingcod – Enjoy the firm texture and mild flavor of lingcod, ideal for a light, grilled meal.
⭐Grilled Sheepshead – Sheepshead is a fish known for its sweet and distinct, shellfish-like flavor. Of course, grilling it only makes it better!
⭐Whole Grilled Spanish Mackerel – Enjoy the rich and well-rounded flavor of Spanish mackerel, grilled to perfection.
⭐Grilled Steelhead Trout with Herb Butter – The succulent taste of steelhead trout, is perfectly complemented by a rich herb butter.
⭐Grilled Stuffed Copper River Salmon – A luxurious treat featuring the renowned Copper River salmon, stuffed and grilled for a flavorful experience.
⭐Grilled Bourbon Glazed Cedar Plank Chilean Sea Bass – The buttery texture of Chilean sea bass, is enhanced with a sweet bourbon glaze that will make you ask for seconds.
⭐Grilled Jamaican Jerk Swordfish – Dive into the bold flavors of Jamaica with this spicy, grilled swordfish recipe.
⭐Grilled Brown Sugar Salmon – A sweet twist on salmon, featuring a delightful brown sugar glaze.
⭐Grilled Brown Butter Wild Pacific Rockfish – Savor the delicate flavor of wild Pacific rockfish, elevated with rich brown butter.
⭐Grilled Blackened Dover Sole – Dover sole with a spicy blackened seasoning is an unforgettable meal. The light and flaky texture of this fish lends itself well to grilling.
⭐Grilled Branzino with Caribbean Fruit Salsa – A tropical escape with grilled branzino, topped with a vibrant Caribbean fruit salsa.
⭐Grilled Mahi-Mahi: The firm and lean texture of mahi-mahi, is a perfect canvas for various flavors. I went with a pineapple salsa for a well-deserved, exotic twist.
Yes! You will buy these in the store with the distinctive skin colorations of a pink and silver metallic appearance. It is best to keep the skin on during the grilling process.
This is a firm, white fish that is mild and only slightly fishy. It has a subtle sweetness and a nutty flavor similar to other white fish. Red snapper is extremely easy to cook and doesn’t fall apart like other flaky fish species.
These are considered great “starter fish” for people wanting to expand their diet into eating more fish. Others like that are Branzino, Mahi Mahi, Lingcod or Halibut.
The fish will be opaque (not transparent) when completely cooked.
Scarlet snapper, an imported snapper from the Pacific, is the “go-to” fish for a substitute.
It is a great, healthy option that is packed with omega -3 fatty acids, vitamin A and potassium.
Red snapper, red drum and red mullet are all similar fish and are often confused by most of us, but there are slight differences.
Red snapper is easy to distinguish with its red and pink hues on the exterior and its eyes will also look red.
Red drum, also called red fish, can be found in the Gulf waters of northern Mexico to Florida and also from Florida up to Massachusetts on the Atlantic side. Red drum, or channel drum as it’s often called, have a spot on near their tail that resembles an eye that tricks predators.
Red mullet, also called rouget, can be found in the north Atlantic and the Mediterranean where it is considered a delicacy. These smaller fish are caught using trawl nets.
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Grilled Red Sanpper
- Oil Brush
Lemon Herb Splash
- 6 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp Lemon Juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp Rosemary fresh, minced
- 1 tbsp Thyme fresh, minced
- ½ tbsp Parsley fresh, minced
- 1 clove Garlic minced
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- 2 lbs Red Snapper
- Preparing The Fillets
- Start by inspecting the fillets to make sure they are fresh. They should have a bright pinkish-red color and a fresh ocean scent.
- Rinse the fillets under cold water to remove any scales or impurities.
- Pat them dry using paper towels.
- Check the fish for any bones that might have been missed. Run your fingers along the fillet to check if there are any pin bones. If present, use a pair of tweezers to pull them out. Shredded edges and excess fat should also be trimmed off.
- Let the fillets sit outside for 10-15 minutes before grilling. This will allow them to come to room temperature and cook more evenly.
Lemon Herb Splash
- In a small bowl or jar, combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Grilling Red Snapper
- Mix the oil, lemon zest, herbs and garlic together in a small bowl.
- Preheat the grill to 375°. Use direct heat, as you'll want the fish to cook quickly. Add the GrillGrate to the grill and let it come up to temperature.
- Brush both sides of the Red Snapper fillet with olive oil. A little goes a long way!
- Place the fillet on the grill skin side down and let it cook for about three minutes. Carefully turn it over and grill another three to four minutes. It's fully cooked when the flesh becomes opaque and you can easily flake it with a fork.
- Lift the fish off the GrillGrate and put it on serving platter. Shake the citrus herb dressing and pour a little over top.
Ginny Collins is a passionate foodie and recipe creator of Savor and Savvy and Kitchenlaughter. Indoors she focuses on easy, quick recipes for busy families and kitchen basics. Outdoors, she focuses on backyard grilling and smoking to bring family and friends together. She is a lifelong learner who is always taking cooking classes on her travels overseas and stateside. Her work has been featured on MSN, Parade, Fox News, Yahoo, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and many local news outlets. She lives in Florida where you will find her outside on the water in her kayak, riding her bike on trails, and planning her next overseas adventure.