How to Cook Whole Butterfish

by Irena Eaves
Check your local fishmonger for butterfish.

Check your local fishmonger for butterfish.

Despite its low fat content, butterfish lives up to its name with its rich, flaky white flesh and mildly sweet flavor. Butterfish are small, weighing in at around 8 ounces each. They have relatively few bones, which makes them perfect for preparing and serving whole. Plan to serve two whole butterfish for each guest.


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. While you wait for the oven to heat, rub off any small scales with your fingers. You may leave the head and tail attached to the butterfish, if you wish.

Rub the fish with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a lightly greased baking dish. Nestle flavorful aromatics around it, if you wish. Try using thin lemon slices, sliced garlic or whole sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary or parsley. Alternatively, you may wrap the fish and aromatics in oiled aluminum foil and place it on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the butterfish until the flesh becomes opaque and it is easily pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes for each inch of thickness.


Remove the head and tail of the butterfish with a knife.

Heat your grill to high and lightly grease the grates.

Rub the fish with olive oil or melted butter and season with salt and pepper. You may also season the fish with any dried herbs or spices you enjoy.

Grill the fish until it becomes opaque and flakes easily with a fork, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.


Remove the head and tail of the butterfish with a knife.

Season the fish with salt and pepper. For an extra-crispy exterior, dredge the fish in breadcrumbs, flour or cornmeal. Shake off any excess coating.

Heat a small amount of butter or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fish to the skillet and cook until it is golden brown on the outside and opaque on the inside, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Items you will need

  • Baking dish or baking sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Butter or oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Knife
  • Breadcrumbs, flour or cornmeal
  • Skillet

About the Author

Irena Eaves began writing professionally in 2005. She has been published on several websites including RedPlum, and Eaves holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Boston University.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images