Whole Baked Red Snapper

James Peterson

Cookbook Author

This recipe comes from James Peterson's Beard House workshop, The Essentials of Cooking. He said, "You can use this technique for any firm-fleshed round fish with scales. When shopping for a whole fish I usually figure about 12 ounces to 1 pound of whole fish per person as a main course (for a fish yielding 50 percent, this makes a 6 to 8 ounce serving) or for 2 people as a first course. I always try to find a fish large enough to feed everyone—a large fish looks so dramatic—but if I can't, I bake more than one fish."


  • One 3 to 4 pound red snapper, or two 1 1/2 to 2 pound red snappers, gutted, gills removed, scales left on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • Balsamic vinegar, for serving
  • Sea salt


Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Rub the fish with 2 tablespoons olive oil and place it in an oiled oval pan, gratin dish, or sheet pan. Bake for about 15 minutes per inch of thickness at the thickest part. Check to see if the fish is done by carefully sliding a paring knife in its back at the thickest part, gently lifting the top filet, and peeking inside to make sure the fish pulls away from the bone and the flesh is opaque (but still moist) rather than translucent and raw.

Let the guests season their own fish with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.


4 servings