Grilled Whole (holy) Mackerel

Holy mackerel. Like for real … whole mackerel on the grill is super easy and super delicious! What, you’ve never grilled a whole fish before? No worries … I’ll talk you through it. And sure, you can Google it and get more complicated, step-by-step instructions, but why? You don’t need anything more than the simple directions I have here … I promise it’s easy and when it’s done, you can pat yourself on the back for cooking something that impresses the neighbors. But first, a little bit about the fish …


Both king and Spanish mackerel get a thumbs up from the NOAA and Seafood Watch, but stay away from Atlantic mackerel as its stock status is low from over fishing.

Spanish_MackerelMost commercial mackerel is caught in the central Atlantic waters and the Gulf of Mexico but some is fished for in the northeast Pacific off Alaska and some, in the Bering Sea. At an average weight of seven pounds, the Spanish mackerel (which is what I show here) is considerably smaller than it’s cousin, King mackerel which can weigh up to 100 pounds! Many believe Spanish mackerel is the best tasting, but as I haven’t had all species, I can’t say for sure. But, what I do is this … what I had was delicate, flavorful, and reminded me a little bit of rainbow trout. Note, it did have a lot of bones so be cautious. PHOTO: Credit Terry Bone for whole Spanish mackerel


The saying “holy mackerel” is—according to what I’ve read—a euphemism for “holy Mary.”

Whole (holy, haha) Mackerel
1 whole Spanish mackerel
Fresh herbs, I like rosemary, parsley and sage
8-10 whole garlic cloves
1 lemon, sliced
Olive oil

Rinse fish and pat dry. Score (make deep cuts) on both sides, as you would any whole fish. Brush with olive oil. Stuff with fresh herbs, lemon and garlic. Grill fish in a “fish basket” on medium high for about 20 minutes. Serve with whatever floats your boat. Three other whole fish recipes to try: Whole Porgy, Whole Snapper, Fried Whole Fish

A note about my recipes … most of what I cook isn’t a precise science. It’s look, taste and feel. And I encourage you to cook the same way. Add a little more of this, or a little less of that … and pay attention … and before long you’ll be a wiz at cooking seafood.

Coming up NEXT on the blog … two new-to-me fish species : ) Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews | @shaunanosler

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DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then.  xoxox