Grilled Herb-stuffed Trout


Grilled Herb-Stuffed Trout with Fennel

Grilled Herb-Stuffed Trout with Fennel

I know that not everyone likes fish.  I just don’t understand why.
Maybe I like fish because I grew up fishing.  Maybe it’s the variety of textures and flavors, maybe it’s the health benefits or maybe it’s just because I love cooking fish in every possible way.

It’s not just freshwater fish, like trout.  The incredible variety of fresh and saltwater fish, including shellfish, crustaceans and mollusks, offer endless possibilities.  Every culture, from every corner of the globe, uses fish in some way, and the method of preparation always reflects the traditions of their own cuisine.

Here’s a method for preparing any whole fish that is both simple and utterly delicious.  I’d like to say I caught these fish myself, but I confess – they are farm-raised pink-fleshed trout.  If you don’t like trout, you can use whatever you prefer, as long as it’s fresh.

Farmed Pink Trout

Farmed Pink Trout

  • Herb-stuffed Trout

    Trout with Fresh Herbs

    2 whole fish with head on, about 1 to 1-1/2 lb each; trout, bass, walleye, steelhead, rockfish all work well

  • fresh herbs of your choice (we used fresh dill, parsley, chives & lemon balm)
  • Lemon-infused olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lemon

Rinse the fish well and remove innards & scale if necessary.  Pat dry with paper towels and rub the interior with sea salt and pepper.  Divide the herbs into 2 bundles, reserving a few sprigs for garnish.  Stuff the body cavity of each fish with one bundle of herbs. Tie 2 or 3 long chives around the fish to hold the body cavity closed.  Brush both sides of each fish with a generous amount of the lemon-infused olive oil and set aside.

Prepare the grill. I prefer cooking on an old-fashioned charcoal grill – any decent grill, large or small will work just fine.  We used a few chunks of mesquite wood soaked in water for 45 minutes in addition to the charcoal briquettes to give the fish a wonderful smoky flavor.  If you don’t have mesquite, use alder, cherry, apple or other fruit woods – the smoke from hickory or oak tends to be quite intense and can overpower the delicate flavor of the fish.

Once the charcoal is covered with an even coat of white ash, it’s ready to go. Spread the coals evenly across bottom of the grill and toss the water-soaked wood chunks on, if using.  Oil the grate and allow it to heat up.

Herb-stuffed Trout on the Grill

Herb-stuffed Trout on the Grill

Place the fish on the grill and put the cover on.  Resist the urge to peek too often – raising the lid will allow much of the heat and the delicious smoke to escape. After 6 – 8 minutes, remove the top and gently roll each fish over onto the opposite side, using a spatula or two if necessary.  Cover again and cook for another 4 – 6 minutes.  Test for doneness and please, for Pete’s sake, don’t overcook it!  Fish cooks very quickly and will continue to cook for a minute or two after it’s been removed from the grill.

Place the fish on a serving plate, chop the remaining herbs and sprinkle over the fish, if desired.   Add fresh lemon wedges and an additional sprinkle of sea salt and serve immediately.

If you’ve done your job right, the skin will be crisp & entirely edible and the flesh will be moist & succulent, full of the aroma and flavor of fresh herbs.

Herb-stuffed Trout on the Grill

Ready to Eat!


Curly Divider


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10 comments on “Grilled Herb-stuffed Trout
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  3. I love the premise of your blog! This is a great fish post- but you know how much healthier buying wild fish is? Farm raised fish have much higher toxins due to the unnatural environment. I know its more expensive but well worth it!

    • You raise an interesting point, Caroline. In many cases, wild-caught fish are a healthier choice – and better for the environment – than farm-raised fish. Farmed trout are an exception, however. Farm-raised trout are very adaptable to environmentally friendly aquaculture methods and are included on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Sea Watch as a “best choice.”

  4. I believe the general guideline to whether it’s better (health and environmentally) to buy a fish farmed or wild is “look it up”. To my understanding, there are a decent number of fishes that are healthier/”greener” if bought farmed. Not to mention that if it’s an endangered fish in the wild, it might be better to buy it farmed regardless (if you insist on eating it, that is).

    • Obviously, some fish are better suited to grilling than others. While thin, tender fish, like sole, may fall apart, firm, meaty fillets of salmon, halibut or tuna and whole fish, like the trout in this recipe, grill beautifully. But I’ve found the real key to success lies in grill preparation: an oiled, well-seasoned grill will always give excellent results – much like a well-seasoned wok!

  5. Yum! Brings back memories of fresh caught trout given to a simplest method of cooking. Olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper and charcoal, creekside or lakeside. My heart breaks for folks who say, “I don’t like fish”. I’ve won many people over to fish by presenting it fresh and simple. The most common exclamation is, “Wow, this doesn’t taste like fish!”

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