Grilled Swordfish Steaks with Lemon Oregano Marinade

If you are buying fresh swordfish, buy the freshest you can. Like any other fresh fish, it should not smell "fishy" at all. Really, at all. Do not buy fresh fish to eat tomorrow. Cook it and eat it the day you buy it. Looking at the swordfish steaks in the market, any coloration should be pink, not brown. Pick out the best looking, most fresh pieces available.

To defrost frozen fish, keep it in its package, defrost slowly in a bowl of cold water.

  • Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2


Marinade ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  • 2 6-8-ounce swordfish steaks
  • Olive oil for grill grates
  • Slices of fresh lemon for garnish


1 Make marinade: Place all marinade ingredients in a small bowl, mix to combine.

2 Marinate the swordfish: Rinse the swordfish steaks in cold water and pat dry. (Don't remove the fish skin, it will help keep the steaks from falling apart when grilling. You can always remove after the fish is cooked before serving, if you want.)

Place the fish in a non-reactive dish and cover with the marinade. Coat on all sides with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour to an hour.

3 Prepare the grill: Prepare your grill for high direct heat. You know the grill is hot enough when you place your hand one inch above the grill grates and you can only keep it there for 1 second.

Wipe the grill grates with a paper towel infused with olive oil to oil the grates so the swordfish steaks don't stick when you turn them over.

4 Grill the swordfish steaks: Brush off excess marinade (not all of it, just most) from the swordfish steaks. Place the swordfish steaks on the hot grill grates. Grill for about 5 to 7 minutes on one side, until you have good grill marks.

Turn over and cook for a few minutes longer, until the fish is just cooked through. Remove from heat and let rest a few minutes before serving.

grilled-swordfish-steaks-method-1 grilled-swordfish-steaks-method-2

Serve with slices of fresh lemon.

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  • Zofia

    It was delicious! Great recipe thank you. Instant hit look forward to making it again soon.


  • Cheryl

    Our go to dish when company is coming. Delicious, easy to prepare, and no lingering fish odor.


  • Maureen

    Best sword fish recipe! I’ve made this theee times now… I left out the fennel. Fish was so moist delicious flavor


  • Tamara G.

    I made this tonight but subbed lemon for lime just because I like lime better lol & I left or the fennel after reading the comments.
    I must say it was DELICIOSO!!!! Very moist & flavorful. I sautéed carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, & green onion to go alongside it & also had mashed sweet potatoes! It was yummmaaayyyyy!!! Thank you!

  • M Pass

    Wonderful flavor and the oil in the marinade kept the fish moist. Like some other reviewers I did leave out the fennel as I’m not a fan of it. Still had great flavor.

  • Linda Roscoe

    I thought this was dreadful. Fennel is a tricky herb, so easily overpowers. Hard to improve on lemon and butter on swordfish.

  • Tracey Elledge

    Use this recipe and the fish was amazing!! Reminded me of being in St. Martin.. We ate grilled fish everyday… Breakfast lunch and dinner…

  • Carol

    I made this last night and it did turn out good. The next time I would omit the fennel. I LOVE fennel but it’s too strong with the the soft flavor of the swordfish. The oregano, thyme, garlic lemon is plenty…added a pat of butter for finish!

  • dawn

    Easy recipe, best Sword Fish I’ve ever had. Recommend…Delicious

  • Nigel Ospam

    Absolutely delicious!! I’m sure it’s all down to the quality of the swordfish but I barbecued the swordfish after marinating it for an hour and it was truly heavenly!

  • CB

    Just tried this tonight. It was great!
    I will have to use it again. I left out the salt because I am on a sodium restricted diet. It was still great.

  • Chris Campbell

    Hi Elise, tried this tonight and the swordfish turned into paste! I followed the recipe exactly, but did marinate an extra hour. The fish was not frozen and super fresh, what happened? BTW, love your site and recipes! Thanks, Chris

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Chris, I’m guessing that the additional hour of marinating may have been too much for your fish. We grilled thick cuts of swordfish, perhaps your cuts weren’t as thick as ours? In any case, thanks for the feedback. I’ve changed the marinating time in the recipe to keep 1 hour at the limit.

  • JQ

    Made this last night – it was my favorite fish/marinade ever! Thank you so much!

  • budd zuckerman

    Elise, I made this marinade the last week with Swordfish and it was outrageously tasty. I am trying it tonight on thicker Mahi – Mahi filets, should be just as good. Love it. Also must have good fish for starters but this brings out the best of it. Thanks, Budd

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Budd, I’m so glad you liked it! Tell me how it goes with the Mahi Mahi!

  • Ashod Martirossian

    Olive oil is used in Greek kitchen for cooking, marinating and tenderizing the meat, specially known for marinating beef. I am not a chemist and I am not Greek either (we use olive oil mainly for salads dressing), but centuries of olive oil use by mediterranean people proovs its marinating qualities. Some nations use olive oil for antibacterial purposes, but I can’t comment for that at all.

  • alanna

    I don’t want to ruin your recipe, but I’m living in New Zealand and shopping is limited here. I am fairly often gifted fresh snapper. Could I use this marinade on a snapper fillet? And the bake it? Perhaps in foil packets? I don’t have access to a grill and I am new when it comes to the world of fish. Any help is much appreciated.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Alanna, oh the seafood that is available in New Zealand, wonderful! No idea how this marinade will work on red snapper, but snapper is a more delicate fish than swordfish, so you wouldn’t want to marinate it as long. Also, I would recommend baking it, or grilling it in a foil packet, not directly on the grill. If you are baking it, you can do so in parchment. Here’s an example: Salmon Baked in Parchment.

    • Gabrielle

      Alanna, I prefer to sear the fish in a pan on the stove, rather than grilling it (I’ve done both) …it makes the fish deliciously browned on the outside .. and I love that you don’t lose any of the marinade through the grates in the grill … lots of flavor! This is the only way I make swordfish now, bc I can’t imagine it being any better! (also, I omit the fennel.. it may be the case that retaining all the fennel in the pan might be a bit overpowering,. I can’t comment on that.. but w the lemon/garlic/oregano combo.. perfection!)

  • Elise Lafosse

    This recipe looks delicious. However I rarely use the grill. I know it will probably taste better on the grill, however how would you recommend cooking it using the oven instead? Should I perhaps broil the steaks on each side for a few minutes? Thank you.

  • Peter

    Did this tonight, and the lemon was a bit too much, so I suggest being careful in how much is added to the marinade. I followed the recipe to a tee, and, while the fish was cooked just right, it was a bit ‘dry’ from the acidity of the marinade. I thought the fennel seed addition was marvelous; great flavor nuances. And, yes, we can (occasionally) get decent or even great swordfish here in Boise, ID. I grew up on the east coast, so am very familiar with superb swordfish. Still trying to find a piece to match the one I bought almost 40 years ago in Cohasset, MA…..

  • Cactus Wren

    Looks good, but is there a reason the marinade includes specifically both fresh and dried oregano?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Cactus, they have slightly different flavors actually. If you have both fresh and dried available, use them both. If not, use whatever you have.

  • Noelle

    Err, isn’t swordfish really high in mercury? This recipe looks delicious, but what other types of fish might work?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Noelle, swordfish, like tuna, is a big fish and does accumulate mercury. So, you shouldn’t eat it that often. As for other fish that would work well, shark and halibut come to mind. Just make sure that you are buying from a sustainable source.

  • Bob Y

    Confused. I’ve lived in CA for a little while, and am always surprised to see swordfish at the market. I might be wrong, but I believe swordfish on the east coast is considered endangered. Is this not the case here in CA?

  • Walter Underwood

    This looks great, a lot like the marinated chicken I made last weekend.

    But…I don’t understand the function of oil in a marinade. It isn’t absorbed, so why is it there? Why not brush it on before grilling?

    The purpose of a marinade is to penetrate, hydrate, flavor, and/or tenderize. Liquid, salt, acid, enzymes (pineapple or papaya), dairy, all those change the meat. Oil sits on the surface and keeps the other ingredients from doing their thing.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Walter, very good point! I don’t know why it works. Perhaps in this case the oil moderates the acid a bit and keeps it from penetrating too much and “cooking” the fish like ceviche? I almost always have oil in the marinades I use on steak (see our grilled steak skewers). I usually use a 3:1 oil to vinegar ratio in a marinade. Perhaps the oil helps distribute the other ingredients? No idea.