Baked Bluefish

The first time I encountered bluefish was in the Massachusetts kitchen of my friend Jill. Her famously unflappable son John was practically beside himself with anticipation of diving into one of the fillets his mom had prepared.

I had never heard of bluefish, which are indeed blue, both outside and in. They’re an east coast fish, we don’t have them on the west coast. Their season is short and they spoil very quickly, so you have to get them fresh and eat them right away. Bluefish are considered sport fishing fish because they are so aggressive.

Baked Bluefish


Oddly to me, the fish isn’t that popular to eat. Perhaps because if it’s good it’s great, and if it’s off, it’s really rank. In any case, it can be had cheaply. I bought this big fillet for $2.79 a pound. The bill came to $1.89, which is just unheard of for good fish where I live. The fish is an oily fish, so if you like canned tuna, sardines, mackerel, you’ll be right at home with bluefish. Otherwise, stick to cod or sole.

My goddaughter Piper LOVES bluefish.

For this preparation of bluefish, we’ve baked it in foil with lemon, butter, herbs, and a little white wine. The lemon is particularly important to cut the fattiness of the fish. Bluefish is also excellent grilled or smoked. Do you like bluefish? How do you prepare it?

Baked Bluefish Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4

You can also add a layer of thinly sliced fennel to the fish.



  • One bluefish fillet (1/2 pound to 1 pound)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 to 5 very thin slices of fresh lemon
  • 3 pats of butter (about a teaspoon each)
  • Several sprigs of fresh herbs such as tarragon, thyme, fennel fronds, and/or parsley (or a teaspoon of dried herbs such as Italian seasoning or Herbes de Provence)
  • 3 Tbsp dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut a piece of foil large enough to enclose the bluefish fillet. (You can double layer the foil if you are working with thin foil). Place the foil in a roasting pan. Rinse the bluefish fillet and place it in the center of the foil, skin side down.

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2 Sprinkle the fillet with salt and pepper. Lay a layer of thin lemon slices on top of the fillet. Arrange pats of butter along the top of the fillet. Lay several sprigs of fresh herbs on top of the butter and lemon slices.

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3 Create a boat shape with the foil around the fish so that liquid does not leak out. Pour white wine over the fish, and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Crimp the edges of the foil together so they are relatively sealed.

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4 Place in the preheated oven (or you can put the foil packet on the grill) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes or so, until the fish is cooked through and opaque. Carefully lift the fillet from the foil and place on a serving dish. Pour the cooking liquid over the fish to serve.

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Smoked Bluefish Paté from Hank Shaw of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

Baked Bluefish

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Showing 4 of 51 Comments

  • Chris

    Man, I just had this argument with a friend who keeps smoking blue fish. I told him blues are no good to eat, and he disagrees. I used to catch blues all the time in the LI sound as a kid, and the few times we cooked them up I did not like them. We never really ate oily fish as kids though, just flounder and the like. We eat did baby blue fish (AKA snappers) quite a bit though.

    Now I know it was the cooking method, not the fish. I look forward to trying this, and thank you for re-educating those of us who throw blue fish back.

    Hi Chris, Smoking the fish is a common way of preparing it. But you need to like smoked, strongly flavored fish, like smoked herring. Bluefish is a strongly flavored fish. If you like sardines, you should like bluefish. If not, then perhaps not, no matter how it’s prepared. ~Elise

  • xeno

    We make it almost exactly like that, except for a soak in buttermilk for an hour or so.

  • Diana

    I used to fish for these all the time with my father. For awhile we would eat them, then the rest of the season they went to the cats. The young fish (snappers) are much tastier, less oily and fun to catch with kids and a sparkling lure in the shallows.

    We also caught fluke, flounder, and striped bass in the Long Island Sound – those were always the ones we looked forward to.

    We never did bake the blues though, I’ll forward your recipe to my dad!

  • Nancy Singleton Hachisu

    I love this. First, of course the Massachusetts part gets me hooked (my own personal furusato–mom’s birthplace and home). But also, I love that the preparation is so much like our Japanese style of butter/sake steam broiling in foil. Brilliant..and timely!

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