Branzino Recipe

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This whole roasted branzino recipe might just be your new favorite summery main. A whole branzino is lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon, stuffed with shallots and lemon slices, and baked to tender, flaky perfection. All in just 20 minutes!

Overhead image of three roasted branzino fish on a sheet pan with lemon slices.


I absolutely love fish and often whip up seafood dinners, from baked cod to fritto misto, panko crusted salmon, and even baked tilapia. Yet, when I’m in the mood for something a tad more special, I opt for a whole roasted fish, like the branzino recipe I’m sharing today.

Are you questioning whether you can cook a whole fish, worrying about the skills (and guts) it might require? Trust me, you’ve got this! If someone like me can pull it off, so can you. This recipe breaks down what seems like a challenging task into something manageable with excellent results. We’re keeping it simple: branzini seasoned with a bit of lemon juice, filled with lemons and shallots and baked until tender and flaky.

Why You’ll Love This Branzino Recipe

  • Light and bright. You don’t need much in terms of seasonings for this delicate, mild fish. Just some salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The flavors of the lemon paired with the slightly sweet flesh of the branzino are so dang delicious! It’s the perfect summer meal.
  • Tender and flaky. When cooked right, branzino has a nice and light, flaky flesh.
  • Fancy. Bringing a whole roasted fish to the dinner table is sure to awe your audience. There’s just something about it that feels so fancy.
  • Super fast, super easy. This seafood entree is surprisingly easy to make and dinner is done in 20 minutes.

What Is Branzino?

Branzino, or European sea bass, or some even refer to it as Mediterranean sea bass, is a mild, slightly sweet white fish with wonderfully light, flaky flesh. It is wildly popular in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine and is often roasted whole for its beautiful presentation.

Labeled ingredients for roasted branzino recipe.

Recipe Ingredients

This entrée is not only stunning but also incredibly simple to prepare, requiring just six key ingredients for this amazing branzino fish recipe!

  • Whole branzini – Ask the fishmonger to clean the branzini for you. If you can’t find branzini, red snapper is a great alternative.
  • Olive oil – This will be used to rub all over the fish.
  • Salt and Black Pepper – I kept it nice and simple here with salt and pepper, but feel free to add other seasonings. Dried oregano or parsley would be great, as would garlic powder.
  • Meyer lemons – You could use a standard lemon. I just prefer the more intense, sweet flavor of Meyer lemons for this dish.
  • Shallot – A red onion will also work.
  • Fresh parsley – For garnish to add a pop of color.

How To Make Whole Roasted Branzino

It’s time to put on your apron and get to the kitchen. If you’ve always wanted to try roasting a whole fish, here’s a quick step-by-step guide on how to make whole roasted branzini.

  1. Prep. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Season the fish. Cut a few small slits on the side of each fish and rub the fish, inside and out, with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each fish – inside and out.
  3. Stuff the fish. Stuff a couple of lemon slices and some of the sliced shallots into the cavities of the fish. Arrange the rest over the top.
  4. Bake. Bake for 10 minutes and then broil for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Finish it off. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges over the fish and garnish with parsley before serving.
Branzino served on a serving platter and garnished with lemon slices and green herbs.

Tips for Success

  • Let the fishmonger handle the icky part. When you buy your branzini from the fish counter, ask the assistant behind the counter to clean them for you. This will make your job much more pleasant.
  • Inside and out. When rubbing the branzino fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper and then again when drizzling it with lemon juice, be thorough. You want to cover the outside of the fish and their chest cavities.
  • Keep an eye on the broiler. When broiling the fish, don’t walk away from the oven. Keep an eye on the branzini and remove them from the oven as soon as they turn a golden brown. Broilers work fast and it would be a shame to spoil a perfect entree.
  • Look out for bone. Keep in mind that this is not a deboned fish, so be wary of bones while eating it.
A fork tearing at cooked fish.

Serving Suggestions

This light, simple entree loves the company of a refreshing salad. It goes really well with this Mediterranean White Bean Salad or my Watermelon Salad. Add a hunk of crusty bread to the picture and you’ve got yourself something special. Try my Focaccia or this No Knead Skillet Olive Bread.

Another great thing to serve alongside whole roasted branzino is potatoes. Pretty much any potato preparation will do, but I am obsessed with these Air Fryer Smashed Potatoes as well as my Vesuvio Potatoes right now.

Up close photo of whole cooked fish garnished with herbs and lemon slices.

How to Store & Reheat Leftovers

  • To store. Once the fish has cooled to room temperature, seal the leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • To reheat. Allow the branzini to thaw in the fridge (if frozen) before placing it in a baking dish. Sprinkle the fish with a little water, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 300°F for 15 minutes or until heated through.

More Fish Recipes

As the weather warms up, I am increasingly inclined toward seafood. In that spirit, here are some of my other fish-tastic recipes for you to try.

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Whole Roasted Branzino

This roasted branzino recipe is a delicious 20-minute summer dish. A whole branzino is lightly seasoned, stuffed with shallots and lemon slices, and baked to flaky perfection.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 3 whole branzini fish, cleaned, each fish should weigh about 1-pound
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 whole meyer lemon, cut into 6 wedges and divided
  • 3 whole meyer lemons, thinly sliced
  • shallots, thinly sliced
  • chopped fresh parsley
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  • Prep. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  • Prepare the fish. Lay the (already cleaned and gutted) fish flat on the prepared baking sheet. Cut 3 small slits on the side of each fish, opposite of the side that's already cut through the fish.
  • Season the branzino. Rub the fish with olive oil on the outside and inside the body cavity, and season with salt and pepper – inside and out. Squeeze lemon wedges over each fish and inside the fish.
  • Stuff the fish. Stuff a couple of lemon slices and some of the sliced shallots inside the cavity of each branzino. Arrange the remaining lemon slices and shallots over the top of the branzini.
  • Bake. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Broil the fish for 3-5 minutes or until a tad crispy. Remove the fish from the oven.
  • Finish it off. Squeeze the remaining lemon wedges over the fish (one lemon wedge per fish) and garnish with parsley. Serve.


  • Clean the fish. Ask the fishmonger behind the counter to clean the fish. Red snapper is a good substitute if branzini is unavailable.
  • Seasoning options. I used simple seasonings, but optional additions can include dried oregano and garlic powder.
  • Lemons. I like using Meyer lemons because of their sweet flavor, but you can use regular lemons, too.
  • Shallots. If you don’t have any shallots, red onion is OK to use.
  • Storage. Keep leftovers in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days or freeze for 2 to 3 months.


Serving: 8ounces | Calories: 356kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 181mg | Sodium: 1708mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 211IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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