Grill Hack: How To Grill Fish Over Citrus

If you’re ready to add some zest to your regular grilling routine, grilling fish over citrus is a fast and easy option to add to your repertoire.

Cooking with fish can be more challenging than other types of meats thanks to its tendency to break apart during the process. Grilling fish over a bed of freshly sliced citrus can solve the delicacy problem—not to mention adding some serious flavor to your finished dish.

There are three major benefits to barbecuing your fish on top of citrus:

  1. Grilling your fish over citrus can improve the taste by neutralizing some of the less desirable flavors of fish, as well as adding the zesty brightness citrus fruits are renowned for.
  2. Citrus slices add an eye-pleasing pop of color that makes your food look wonderful, both on the grill and on the plate.
  3. Most importantly, the citrus slices prevent the fish from sticking to the grill grates—something fish is prone to do.

In this post, we’ll dig deeper into one of our favorite grill hacks—grilling fish over citrus. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • How to grill fish over citrus
  • Additional tips for grilling fish

Let’s get cooking.

How To Grill Your Fish Over Citrus

Follow these steps for how to grill fish over citrus:

  1. Coat your fish fillets or steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Slice your citrus of choice a quarter inch thick.
  3. Layer citrus slices directly onto your grill grates, or onto a wood plank or piece of slate. Alternately, place them into a basket to hold everything in place and make flipping easier.

GRILL SPOT TIP: Try not to place citrus directly onto cast iron grill grates—the citric acid can harm the seasoning. If you do decide to place it directly onto cast iron grates, be sure to clean and reseason them after you’re finished grilling.

  1. Place your fish directly on top of the citrus slices.
  2. Get cooking! Grill time will depend on the type of fish and the thickness of the cut. If you are using fillets or steaks, cooking time is typically around 3-4 minutes per side, but you don’t have to flip when grilling fish over citrus. If you opt to skip the flip, plan for 7-8 minutes cooking time. Whole fish will take longer to grill and do need to be flipped. 7-8 minutes per side is usually sufficient.

Types of citrus to try

Different citrus offers different flavors to play with, and many of them pair well with a variety of fish. Lemon and salmon is a popular combo, but don’t be afraid to consider trying a variety of different citrus, including:

  • Meyer lemon (Meyer lemons are less tart and have a thinner skin than a regular lemon)
  • Lime
  • Orange
  • Yuzu lemon (Yuzu lemons are more sour than a regular lemon, but with floral and herbal notes)
  • Pink grapefruit
  • Pomelo

You may also want to consider pairing the citrus slices with fresh herbs for a little extra flavor, such as basil, cilantro, dill (a classic with lemon and salmon), or rosemary.

Additional Tips For Grilling Fish

Grilling fish can be challenging, so we have compiled some additional tips to help you through the process:

  • If cooking directly on the grill, only grill fish on a clean grill grate. This will reduce the likelihood of it sticking to the grates.
  • Start with fish like salmon, snapper, swordfish, tuna, or halibut. These options are less delicate and are more forgiving than other types of fish.
  • Grill more delicate types of fish that are prone to falling apart, such as branzino, whole.
  • Thicker cuts (one inch or more) are more forgiving and less prone to breaking apart.
  • Leave the skin on to help keep filets intact.
  • Bring your fish up to room temperature before cooking. This will help ensure it cooks evenly and remains moist throughout.
  • Cook the fish at medium heat. High heat can overcook the outside of the filet (or whole fish) before the inside is done. Create two heat zones and grill your fish indirectly for a more even and better cook.
  • Do not over-marinate fish—it can degrade the integrity of the muscle fibres and result in the fish breaking apart more quickly.
  • If citrus isn’t for you, grill your fish on slate or a wood plank.
  • Remove the fish from the grill before it flakes easily—fish easily flaking is a sign it is overcooked.


Grilling fish over citrus is an excellent way to keep your fish from sticking to the grill, while also baking in some wonderful flavors and creating an aesthetically appealing plate garnish.

Interested in more grill hacks?