Baked Rockfish with Lemon and Garlic

5 from 1 vote

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Baked Rockfish is a delicious seafood entree that’s perfect for any time of year. It goes with any side dish, from potatoes to rice.

A baked fish on a bed of white rice.

This fish species is low in saturated fat but high in flavor and is one of many delicious fish recipes I love. Using simple steps, I’ll show you how to make one of the best fish recipes you can make at home!

​What is Rockfish?

Rockfish is a broad term for a few different species of fish, including Pacific Ocean perch, that are local to the North American west coast. These are mild fish that will flake easily when you bake them and are similar to rock cod, red snapper, and halibut, as well as other mild-tasting fish like striped bass or tilapia.

Cross-section of some baked fish with herbs and a lemon slice.

This delicious white fish gets its name from hiding under rocks and oyster reefs, feeding on small fish. Along with healthy haddock, seared scallops, and air fryer salmon, this baked rockfish is one of my favorite fish recipes. Like this baked tilapia, these healthy main dishes are easy 30-minute meals.

We also feature a rockfish air fryer recipe that you’ll want to try!

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You can bake, poach, fry, or saute rockfish using the whole fish or just fish fillets. In today’s post, I’ll show you how to make rockfish by baking it. This is a great option if you love seafood and if you’re looking for delicious, healthy recipes.  

Ingredients and Notes

This baked rockfish recipe is versatile and combines ordinary herbs and other simple ingredients for delicious results.

  • Whole rockfish: In this recipe, I use four 3-pound vermillion rockfish.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: Divided as needed.
  • Fresh lemon juice: Freshly squeezed is best.
  • Sweet paprika: You can also use smoked or regular paprika.
  • Lemon slices: For extra flavor.
  • Garlic powder: Gives it extra garlic flavor.
  • Onion powder: A little bit goes great with fish.
  • Dried Italian herbs: Adds more complex flavors

For Inside the Fish

  • Fresh rosemary: Adds a mildly sweet taste.
  • Lemon slices: Lemon goes perfectly with this fish, and sliced lemon makes a beautiful garnish and dressing.
  • Garlic cloves: Use whole garlic cloves for the best flavor.
  • Fresh thyme: Be sure that it is chopped finely.
  • Thyme sprigs: For an optional garnish.
A baking tray of baked fish.

How to Make Baked Rockfish

Start this baked rockfish recipe by preheating your oven. First, preheat the oven to 425 F and move the rack to the top third rung. Prep your baking sheet pan or baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

In the meantime, prep the fish. You’ll want to make sure all the scales are gone before rinsing it and patting it dry with napkins or paper towels.

Some unbaked  fish on a baking sheet, seasoned with pepper.

Season your entire fish
. Now, place the whole fish on the pan, drizzle one tablespoon of oil on top, and rub it in gently. Then, season it with salt and pepper. Turn it over and repeat.

Seasoned, unbaked fish, on a baking pan and stuffed with lemon.

Be sure to spread evenly. Season the inside of the fish with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, garlic cloves, fresh thyme, and sliced lemons.

Scoring the skin of some unbaked fish.

Score the skin. Next, score the fish with the tip of a very sharp knife. Cut three diagonal slits about two inches apart. You only want to cut through the skin, not the flesh.

A bowl of herbs.

Mix the herbs. Using a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the oil, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, herbs, and paprika.

Drizzle the mixture all over the top of the fish.

Now, it’s time for Baking the Fish. After the rockfish is prepped and seasoned, place the pan into the preheated oven and bake until your fish flakes easily.

Cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of your fish, but it typically takes about 15 minutes. The internal temperature should be 140 F on an instant-read thermometer.

Recipe Tip

If you want the skin crispy and golden brown, you can broil it. To do this, put it in under the broiler for about 30 seconds. The baking sheet should be a couple of inches from the heat. Make sure you keep an eye on it!

Serve immediately! Finally, serve this absolutely delicious fish, garnished with lemon wedges, thyme sprigs, and melted butter.

Recipe Variations

  • Switch up the Oil: Feel free to use whatever oil you like to cook with, such as sesame oil or even vegetable oil.
  • Seasoning Options: Other fresh herbs and spices you can try are Old Bay seasoning, fresh parsley, and Dijon mustard. You can also add red pepper flakes,  cayenne pepper, or hot sauce to make this baked rockfish spicy.
  • Crank up the Flavor: It’s easy to get more lemon flavor; add some lemon zest or lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Cheese Additions: Sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese before serving for an extra rich and salty flavor.
  • Better with Butter Sauce: Make this flaky fish incredibly delicious by creating a delicious butter sauce. You can do this by melting it in a saucepan on medium heat with some dry white wine and your favorite seasonings.

Soy sauce, lime juice, and lemon butter are always tasty options to ramp up the mild flavor of this rockfish recipe as well.

Make Baked Rockfish Fillets

Baking rockfish fillets is easy too. Just prepare it the same way you would a whole fish, but the cooking time will be shorter and the oven should be preheated to 375 F. It will take about 10 minutes to bake rockfish fillets. You can flip it over halfway through the cooking process for more even cooking.

A close-up of some baked fish.

Recipe Questions

How do I know when this baked rockfish is done?

This fish is ready to eat when the fillets are cooked to an opaque appearance and can be easily flaked with a fork. Be careful not to overcook them to preserve their tender texture and taste.

Can you fry rockfish?

Yes, you can make fried rockfish if you like. You’ll want to coat it in a mayo mixture of eggs, milk, seasonings, and mayonnaise. Then, gently lay it in a shallow pan of your favorite bread crumbs.

Now, you can fry your fish over medium heat in a nonstick pan with about an inch of olive oil until it is golden brown. The cook time will vary depending on the thickness, but it should take about five to seven minutes on each side.

How do you store leftovers?

I’m not a fan of leftover fish, but you can store the baked rockfish in an airtight container in the fridge for two days. I don’t recommend freezing leftover seafood.

Top Tip for Baking Fish

When making baked fish, there are several key points to keep in mind for the best results:

  1. Choose the Right Fish: Different types of fish require different baking times and temperatures. Firmer fish like salmon, cod, or halibut bake well, while delicate fish like tilapia or flounder require a gentler approach.
  2. Freshness Matters: Fresh fish should smell like the ocean, not fishy. Look for bright, clear eyes and firm flesh. If using frozen fish, ensure it’s fully thawed before baking.
  3. Preparation: Pat the fish dry before seasoning or marinating. This helps the seasoning stick to the fish and promotes even cooking.
  4. Seasoning: Simple seasonings like salt, pepper, lemon, and herbs work great. You can also experiment with different marinades and spice blends.
  5. Use Proper Cookware: A lined baking sheet or a baking dish works well. If using aluminum foil or parchment paper, it makes cleanup easier and can also be used to create a cooking “pouch” that helps keep the fish moist.
  6. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: Arrange the fish in a single layer with some space between each piece. This ensures even cooking and proper heat circulation.
  7. Baking Temperature: Most fish bakes well at temperatures between 375°F to 400°F (190°C to 205°C). The higher temperature helps to cook the fish quickly and retain moisture.
  8. Cooking Time: This varies depending on the type and thickness of the fish. A general rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness at 400°F (205°C).
  9. Check for Doneness: Fish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and appears opaque. An instant-read thermometer can be used; the fish should reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
  10. Resting Time: Let the fish rest for a few minutes after baking. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the fish more moist and flavorful.
  11. Accompaniments: Consider what to serve with the fish. Light sides like vegetables, rice, or a salad usually pair well.
  12. Health Considerations: Baked fish is a healthy cooking method, as it doesn’t require much oil or fat.

What to Serve with Baked Rockfish

This is an easy recipe that you can have ready for dinner tonight or make it for a dinner party. Baked rockfish is a lean fish that tastes great with crusty bread, a delicious potato salad, and a hot bowl of roasted corn chowder to start!

I really love this baked rockfish recipe because it’s easy to make and tastes great. I hope you try it too – it’s a simple and tasty way to enjoy a healthy meal.

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Baked Rockfish with Lemon and Garlic

5 from 1 vote
Baked rockfish is a flavorful and healthy dish, characterized by its tender, flaky texture and a mild, slightly sweet taste. This simple yet elegant meal is perfect for a nutritious dinner, easily paired with a variety of sides to suit any palate.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Yield: 4


  • 2-4 Rockfish, gutted and cleaned
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Inside the Fish

  • Fresh rosemary
  • Lemon slices
  • 4 cloves garlic per fish


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a sheet pan with foil. Set aside.
  • Rinse the fish and then pat it dry with paper towels.
  • Place the fish on the prepared sheet pan. Drizzle with some of the oil on the fish and gently rub it in. Generously sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, italian herbs.
  • Flip the fish over and repeat the process. Also, season the inside cavity with salt and pepper, and stuff with a few garlic cloves, a lemon wedge and some fresh rosemary.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut three slits, about two inches apart, diagonally across the top of the fish’s skin. Avoid cutting into the flesh.
  • In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the remaining oil, thyme and some paprika. Drizzle the mixture all over the top of the fish.
  • Bake in the preheated oven just until the fish is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. The internal temperature of the fish should be about 140°F,.
  • For crispy skin broil the fish for one minute, careful not to burn it.


  • Remember, the key to great baked fish is not overcooking it, as fish can quickly become dry and tough. With a bit of practice, baking fish can be a simple and delicious way to enjoy a healthy meal.
  • Use fresh fish for best results, but you can use frozen if that is all you have. Stop by the seafood counter at your local grocery store or catch a fishing charter on the Pacific coast for some added adventure!
  • Shorten prep time by doing all the preparation of the fish beforehand. Then, all you have to do is season and bake it.


Calories: 603kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 83g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 17g, Trans Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 225mg, Sodium: 408mg, Potassium: 1799mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 0.5g, Vitamin A: 481IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 82mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
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Dan & Scott split their time between Wisconsin and Southwest Florida and are dads to six boys. Good food runs through their veins, and they love showing others how to cook easy recipes.

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