Grilled Red Snapper

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Learn how to make this flaky and flavorful grilled red snapper in just ten minutes! With a smoky and slightly spicy seasoning rub, this red snapper is great for an easy main dish, fish taco filling, fish sandwiches, and more.

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If you are looking for a new fish to toss on the grill. this easy grilled red snapper is it. This flaky, white fish is healthy, cooks in under ten minutes, and can be seasoned any way you like. Add some grilled veggies or a salad, and dinner is done.

This mild, white fish is perfect for the grill and can be served in so many ways. Serve it as the main course with rice, pasta, baked potatoes, corn on the cob, or salad. Try it stuffed in corn tortillas to make fish tacos or fish taco bowls with creamy slaw and salsa. It also makes a delicious fish burger or sandwich. Trust me, if you haven't tried snapper on the grill yet, you'll love it. 

If you are new to grilled seafood, you will also want to try this tasty Grilled Swordfish, Sesame Soy Grilled Tuna, and delicious Grilled Salmon.

Grilled snapper with a red spice rub cooked and served with grilled broccoli and lemons.


  • Red snapper: Look for red snapper fillets that are skin-on and thicker, since these cook best on the grill. The flesh should smell clean and be slightly rosy in color. Frozen red snapper works, just defrost it first. 
  • Spices: The spice mixture used for the fish is similar to blackening seasoning with smoked paprika, kosher salt, thyme, oregano, onion powder, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. It gives the fish a nice savory, smoky flavor. 
  • Olive oil: To make sure the fish doesn't stick to the grill, you will want to brush it with oil on both sides. Avocado oil works great on the grill as well. For a more traditional Southern flavor, add some melted butter to the fish right before serving. 
  • Lemon: The lemon juice in this recipe adds brightness to the dish. Add it right before serving.  Lime juice can be used as well. 

What does red snapper taste like? 

Red snapper is a delicately flavored, flaky white fish. It has a clean flavor and doesn't have any fishy taste. In fact, it is very mild and is known to be a good beginner fish to try since the flavor is mild, slightly sweet, and takes on the taste of the seasoning. 

If you can't find red snapper, you could make this recipe with cod, haddock, grouper, sea bass, or even tilapia. 

Tips for Grilling Fish

It can be intimidating to make fish on the grill since the flesh is more delicate and easily falls apart. Here are some tips to make grilling snapper and other fish a breeze.

  • Room temperature: Always let the fish come to room temperature before grilling. This ensures that the fish cooks evenly and doesn't stick to the grill. Cold fish sometimes will overcook on the outside, while remaining undercooked on the inside. 
  • Leave the skin on: Since fish is delicate, it is best to leave the skin on to help the fish stay together as it cooks. Always grill with the skin side down to start. For delicate fish, like red snapper, it is best to only cook it skin side down or the fish will likely fall apart on the grill. If the fish doesn't have skin, place it on foil. 
  • Clean grill grates: Dirty grill grates make it more likely that the fish will stick to the grill. Always make sure to clean the grill before using and oil the grates if needed. 
  • Use foil if needed: If your grill tends to be sticky, place a piece of foil under the fish as it grills. This ensures the snapper doesn't stick to the grill. 
  • Don't overcook: Fish is delicate and can get rubbery if it is cooked too long. Red snapper is cooked when it is opaque and flakes easily. If using a thermometer, the thickest part of the fish should 135-140 degrees. As it rests, it will continue to cook.  
  • Let it rest: Just like other proteins, fish needs to rest after grilling. Let it rest for 3-5 minutes for the juices to redistribute.

Red snapper that has been grilled with a paprika spice rub and served with lemon slices and broccoli.

More Seasoning Ideas

This recipe uses a Creole-inspired (blackened) seasoning mix, but there are so many ways to season red snapper. Here are some spice mixtures to try. 

  • Old Bay: If you are looking for a store-bought seafood seasoning, Old Bay is the way to go. It can be found in most grocery stores in the seafood area or spice section. Sprinkle it all over the fish and serve the final fish with fresh lemon.
  • Cajun seasoning: For something smoky and slightly spicy, cover the snapper with homemade Cajun seasoning. This is a popular preparation in Southern states like Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.
  • Jerk seasoning: Red snapper is popular in the Caribbean, where it is often prepared with jerk seasoning and served with fresh mango salsa. This preparation is delicious for fish tacos. 
  • Lemon pepper: Lemon pepper and fish is a classic combination for a reason and works great with red snapper. 

Side Dish Ideas for Snapper

Here are some of our favorite side dishes for grilled snapper.

  • Grilled vegetable kabobs: Keep things simple and make some tasty veggie skewers that cook on the grill at the same time as the fish. Grilled green beans, grilled broccoli, or grilled zucchini are also really delicious. 
  • Grilled sweet potatoes: Grilled snapper makes for a really tasty fish burger and when we are planning on burgers, I like to make these grilled potatoes on the side instead of freiss. 
  • Watermelon, Feta, and Cilantro Salad: On hot days, this watermelon is the perfect side dish for grilled fish. 
  • Corn Salad: Corn is a classic pairing for grilled fish. This easy corn salad with cucumber, tomatoes, and cilantro is perfect for hot days and can be prepped in advance. 
  • Cucumber Salad: This cucumber salad with tomatoes and red onion is a crunchy side salad that works great with fish. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about grilling snapper.

Fish shouldn't be grilled while it is still frozen since it won't cook evenly. When fish is grilled frozen, it will become overcooked on the outside and remain raw on the inside. Make sure to always defrost fish and let it come to room temperature for the best results.

The best way to defrost fish is to let it defrost naturally in the fridge overnight. If you do not have time for that, place them in a sealed bag (or leave it in sealed packaging) and cover it with tepid water. Make sure the water isn't warm, just slightly warmer than room temperature. Keep the fish submerged and wait about 15 minutes to see if it has fully defrosted. 

This recipe works great for cooking snapper in a hot, cast iron skillet as well. Simply heat the skillet over medium-high heat and cook it the same way you would on the grill. 

Plate with grilled snapper and broccoli with lemon halves and fresh thyme on the side.
The Recipe
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Grilled Red Snapper

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  • 24 oz red snapper (4 6-oz fillets, skin on)
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/16 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 lemon (for serving)

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Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Brush the fish with olive oil on both sides.

Red snapper filets being coated with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix together the smoked paprika, salt, thyme, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and cayenne if using.

Fish spice rub with paprika, oregano, garlic, and onion being stirred in a small bowl.

Coat with the spice mixture on the flesh side only.

Red snapper sprinkled with homemade seafood seasoning.

Make sure the grill is clean and oil the grates. Place the fish skin-side down on the grill. Grill for 7-10 minutes (closing the grill while it cooks) until the skin releases easily from the grill grates and the fish is flaky. Note: You can flip the fish after about 6 minutes if you prefer, but do so carefully since the flesh side breaks easily. Cook for 2 minutes on the flesh side, being careful not to break the fish filets. Serve with fresh lemon.

Red snapper filets with seasoning on the grill.


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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz
Amount Per Serving
Calories 55
Calories from Fat 47
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 590mg
Total Carbohydrate 3g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 0g
Protein 0g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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