How to Grill Fish in Foil

by Jordan Whitehouse

Let's face it: although most kinds of fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids — which play a crucial role in brain function — they are not easy to grill. Most species are delicate and tender, which makes it difficult to move them without causing a few flakes — or even a few chunks — to fall through the grate. The solution: an aluminum foil packet filled with the fish, seasonings and a small amount of liquid. Not only will the foil packet make the grilling process much easier, quicker and cleaner, but it'll help infuse the fish with more flavor and moisture while ensuring you reap the benefits of consuming as many of those omega-3 fatty acids as possible.

Rinse the fish in cool water to remove any dirt or blemishes and then place it on a clean cutting board.

Score the skin on both sides if you're using a whole fish. The cuts should be about 1 inch long and a 1/2 inch deep. Space them about 1 inch apart. No need to score fillets or any other cut of fish.

Wash your hands and then tear off a piece of tin foil that, when folded in half, is twice the length and width of the fish. "The Grilling Book," edited by Bon Appétit Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport, recommends a 24-inch by 12-inch sheet of foil for every 6-ounce piece of fish.

Lay the foil flat on the cutting board and place the fish in the middle.

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper to taste on both sides, along with other seasonings you enjoy, and then douse both sides with olive oil. Use about 1 tablespoon of olive oil per 6 ounces of fish.

Cut a lemon into 1-inch-wide wedges. Sprinkle the juice from a couple of the wedges over the fish. Tuck a couple of wedges underneath or around the fish.

Bring the two long edges of the foil sheet together and crimp the edges together with your fingers. Do the same with the short edges.

Leave the fish to marinate in the foil packet while preheating the grill to medium.

Place the packet, crimped sides up, on the grill and cook for about 10 minutes per 6 ounces of fish.

Remove the foil packet from the grill, open it carefully to avoid the hot steam and inspect it to see if it's done. For fin fish, use a meat thermometer to check that it has an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit; shrimp, lobster, crap and scallops will be opaque and have a milky color when fully cooked.


  • Add vegetables to the packet, such as tomatoes, onions and garlic, to not only add a flavor boost but significant sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and dietary fiber as well.

    Avoid butter, which is high in saturated fat, and stick to low-sodium oils, such as olive and canola, when preparing the foil packet.

Photo Credits

  • Shizuka Blaskowsky/Demand Media

About the Author

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jordan Whitehouse has been writing on food and drink, small business, and community development since 2004. His work has appeared in a wide range of online and print publications across Canada, including Atlantic Business Magazine, The Grid and Halifax Magazine. Whitehouse studied English literature and psychology at Queen's University, and book and magazine publishing at Centennial College.