Pescado al Horno

(Easy Roasted Fish Spanish-Style Recipe)

2 large whole fish sit on a baking tray with garnishing and some seasoning.

Pescado al horno (Roasted fish Spanish-style) is a classic Spanish seafood recipe that is ideal for making any time of year. It is made with your choice of whole fish stuffed with tasty homemade stuffing, and roasted to perfection with a Mediterranean palette of garnishings. 

It’s a perfect seafood recipe when entertaining, as it can be scaled up or down to suit your party size. This recipe has very little prep work and can be made in around 30 minutes, and most importantly looks and tastes fantastic. 

You don’t need to be too fussy with your garnishings either; a few crushed nuts of any kind, some olive oil, seasoning, and perhaps even some dried fruit and you’re good to go!

Seafood and Fish Recipe | One-Pot Recipe | Gluten-Free Option | Main Meal Recipe | Fall Recipe | Mediterranean Recipe | 30-Minute Recipe | Midweek Dinner Option | Easy Dinner Ideas 

Serving:

Main for 4

Ready in:

Around 30 minutes

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Your fav side or salad

ingredients for roasting whole fish are laid out on a table

Ingredients you’ll need

(serves 4)

  • 2 whole fish (scaled, gutted, and cleaned)
  • 1 Lemon, cut into wedges
  • 5 dried figs
  • 1/2 cup of green olives, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of nuts (we used walnuts and cashews)
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin, ground garlic, onion powder, oregano (for the seasoning mix)
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

 For the stuffing

  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • Half a red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice from ½ a lemon

Equipment needed

  • 1 large baking tray (40cm/15-inches)
  • 1 medium-sized mixing bowl (for the stuffing)

 Watch step-by-step recipe video

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Pescado al Horno (Roasted Fish Spanish-Style)

Pescado al Horno is found as a staple in restaurants up and down the coast, with many serving it in various ways. Fish features prominently in the typical Spanish diet, especially in regions that hug the azure shores of the Mediterranean sea

Common fish choices in the Mediterranean include:

  • Bacalao (Cod/codfish)
  • Dorada (Gilt-head Bream)
  • Lubina (Bass)
  • Sardinas (Sardines)
  • Bacaladillas (Whiting)

Spices and seasoning are crucial in offering any fish or seafood dish a flavor boost. Spanish spices and herbs such as sweet paprika, ground cumin, and rosemary are ideal for taking your roasted fish recipe skills to the next level. 

Best type of fish to use

You can use any white fish for this recipe, as long as it is a good size and has large fillets. We used Dorada (Spanish for gilt-head sea bream) as it is readily available along the Mediterranean coast. If you can’t source bream, then codfish is great, as is seabass, Tilapia, or even fresh (unsmoked) haddock. 

Speak to your local fishmonger to find what’s freshest.  

Bream is an excellent fish for oven-baking as it has large fillets and the flesh isn’t too flaky when baked. It’s also not too oily but has a great flavor that can really be enhanced with some simple seasoning. 

Another advantage is bream are very easy to prepare and scale, making them a great choice if you have to do this yourself!

two fresh whole bream sit on a white plate

What size fish to use?

Choose a fish around 10-12 in (25-30cm) in length that has thick fillets. Our fish weighed around 28oz. (800g) each, and we cooked two fish. Once they are cooked, two fish of this size allows for enough fish to feed 4 people comfortably with a side dish or side salad.

How to prepare your fish for roasting

If you buy your fish from any decent fishmonger, they will ask how you’d like your fish prepared. Mention it’s for roasting whole and they will scale the entire fish, remove the guts, and clean the fish. They’ll also leave the head on, but of course, it can be removed if you plan to use it for stock (like in our Spanish seafood stew recipe). 

Steps to prepare any whole fish

If you’ve had a good day at the water and caught your own fish, then you’ll need to prepare it yourself. Here’s how to prepare a fish for roasting in a few easy steps;

  • First, clean your fish under some fresh water. Use the back of a knife to scale the fish by running the back of the blade from the tail up to the head. Once you’ve removed all the scales, give the fish another rinse under some fresh water. 
  • Next, remove the guts. Using a sharp knife, make an incision at the base of the fish and push the knife until you feel the backbone. Run the knife slowly from the back to the head of the fish. Your knife will likely stop when it hits the gill bones. 
  • Use sharp scissors to remove any fins and tails fin, then cut the joining bone around the gills. Remove the guts using your fingers and give the fish a final rinse under some fresh water. 
spices and garnisshing usef for roasting fish Spanish style are laid out on a table

Do you need to season fish with salt?

Fish flesh contains around 75% water and adding salt to your fish (seasoning) before cooking helps reduce this water content. 

So why should you season your fish? 

First, seasoned fish (and seafood) tastes better. Add a few good sprinkles of crushed sea salt to both sides of the fish around 10 minutes before cooking. This gives the salt just enough time to soak into the fish’s flesh and improve the taste. 

Another reason you should season your fish is to reduce the water content. This is especially important if you’re using frozen fish in any recipe. Freezing and thawing your fish will leave plenty of extra water that once the fish is cooked can leave a soggy mess. 

If you want lovely roasted fish fillets that flake and fall apart with just the right amount of cooking, then make sure you season your fish before roasting.

Do you need to cover your fish in foil when roasting? 

No. Covering your fish with aluminum foil is not necessary for this recipe. Aluminum foil traps moisture, steaming the fish. 

As we are using small whole fish around 10-12 inches (25-30cm) in length and bodies that are around 3-4 inches thick, they will have plenty of moisture within the fish flesh.

Cooking tip:

Be sure to place your fish on the middle oven tray to ensure even heat distribution while cooking. 

Covering your fish with foil acts like a small steamer and helps prevent your fish from drying out too much. Oily fish or very small fish fillets may benefit from an aluminum foil covering, however, with fish like bream, it’s not required.

two large bream are laid out on a baking tray with lots of garnishing sprinkled over the top.

Roasted Fish Garnishing

There are plenty of quick and easy ways to add subtle flavor, color, and texture to your roasted fish. 

We used some crushed nuts for some texture, some dried figs for a sweet flavor, and plenty of dried spices and herbs to really enhance the dish. We also added plenty of extra-virgin olive oil and a good squeeze of lemon for good measure! 

Crushed nuts

Honestly, any nut will do here as it’s all about adding some lovely texture to this dish. We used some walnuts and cashew nuts as they were in the pantry, but almonds, pecans, or even pistachio nuts will also work great. 

Spices, herbs, and seasoning 

Our big tip is to be generous with your seasoning and use a variety of spices and/or herbs. 

For spices and herbs, we used a teaspoon each of cumin, ground garlic, onion powder, oregano, and a few fresh sprigs of Rosemary from the garden. 

Extra virgin olive oil

Use the best olive oil you can as it will not only taste great but will also offer some health benefits that most other oils don’t. We used a sweet Hojiblanca extra-virgin olive oil as the sweetness compliments seafood and fish dishes. 

Fresh lemon juice

Lemon juice helps add a lovely citrus flavor to fish and seafood dishes that really helps flavors pop. We find half a fresh lemon’s worth of juice is plenty, and squeeze it on just before the fish goes into the oven. 

Cooking tip: if you’re looking for more citrus flavors. Cut some thin lemon slices and add them around the head, belly, and gills of the fish.

ingredients for fish stuffing laid out on a wodden table

Roasted fish stuffing

Make a tasty and super easy homemade stuffing in less than five minutes and you’ll completely transform your roasted fish cooking game! We took inspiration from classic Spanish spices and used the following:

  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (around half a stale baguette grated into breadcrumbs)
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • Half a red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice from ½ a lemon

How to make stuffing for your fish

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients (breadcrumbs, spices, dried herbs) along with the finely chopped onion and parsley. 
  • Mix well by hand and slowly add some oil. You’ll know when it’s ready as it will stay together when you press it firmly in your hand. 
  • Once done, use a spoon to add the stuffing to the fish, using your fingers to press the mixture into the cavity. It’s a pretty messy job so it’s best to add the stuffing to the fish while they’re on the baking tray. Don’t worry if some of the stuffing falls out, it’ll crisp up nicely once oven-baked.
2 large whole fish sit on a baking tray with garnishing and some seasoning

Pescado al Horno (Easy Roasted Fish Spanish-Style Recipe)

Byron
Roasted fish Spanish-style (known as Pescado al horno) is a classic Spanish seafood recipe that is ideal for making any time of year. It is made with your choice of whole fish stuffed with tasty homemade stuffing, and roasted to perfection with a Mediterranean palette of garnishings.
It’s a perfect seafood recipe when entertaining, as it can be scaled up or down to suit your party size. This recipe has very little prep work and can be made in around 30 minutes, and most importantly looks and tastes fantastic.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course lunch, Main Course, seafood
Cuisine American, Authentic Spanish recipe, fish, Mediterranean, Seafood
Servings 4 people, Main
Calories 682 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 large baking tray (40cm/15-inches)
  • 1 medium-size mixing bowl (for mixing the stuffing)

Ingredients

  • 2 whole fish scaled, gutted, and cleaned
  • 1 Lemon cut into wedges
  • 5 dried figs
  • 1/2 cup of green olives pitted
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp of nuts we used walnuts and cashews
  • 1 teaspoon each of cumin ground garlic, onion powder, oregano (for the seasoning mix)
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

For the stuffing

  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • Half a red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Juice from ½ a lemon

Instructions
 

Step 1 - Clean and prepare your fresh fish

  • Note: Skip this step if your fishmonger has already prepared the fish for you.
    2 whole bream sit on a white plate
  • First, clean your fish under some fresh water. Use the back of a knife to scale the fish by running the back of the blade from the tail up to the head. Once you've removed all the scales, give the fish another rinse under some fresh water.
    2 whole fish
    2 whole bream sit on a white plate
  • Next, remove the guts. Using a sharp knife, make an incision at the base of the fish and push the knife until you feel the backbone. Run the knife slowly from the back to the head of the fish. Your knife will likely stop when it hits the gill bones.
    2 whole bream sit on a white plate
  • Use sharp scissors to remove any fins and tails fin, then cut the joining bone around the gills. Remove the guts using your fingers and give the fish a final rinse in some fresh water.
    2 whole bream sit on a white plate

Step 2 - Season fish

  • Preheat oven to 350°F / 180°C.
    An oven dial turned up to 180C
  • Towel dry your whole fish and add them to a large baking tray with a splash of olive oil. Season with a few pinches of ground sea salt and some cracked black pepper. Set aside for use later.
    1 teaspoon of salt
    2 fish on a baking tray

Step 3 - Prepare stuffing

  • In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients (breadcrumbs, spices, dried herbs) along with the finely chopped onion and parsley.
    1 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley, Half a red onion
    stuffing mix in a small bowl
  • Mix well by hand and slowly add some oil. You’ll know when it's ready as it will stay together when you press it firmly in your hand.
    1 tablespoon of olive oil, Juice from ½ a lemon
    stuffing mix ball in hands

Step 4 - Stuff fish and add garnishings

  • Use your hands to add the stuffing to the fish, using your fingers to press the mixture into the cavity. It’s a pretty messy job so it’s best to add the stuffing to the fish while they’re in the baking tray. Don’t worry if some stuffing falls out, it’ll crisp up nicely once oven-baked.
    stuffing fish
  • Next, add crushed nuts and sprigs of rosemary along with the rest of the olive oil, the spices mix, and a good squeeze of lemon juice on top.
    1 Lemon, 1/2 cup of green olives, 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon each of cumin, 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, 2 tbsp of nuts
    garnishing ingredients are covering 2 large bream fish
  • Bake in the oven for around 15-20 minutes on 350°F / 180°C. Check the fish is done by making sure the flesh is opaque white. The skin should also be just slightly crispy.
    2 large whole fish sit on a baking tray with garnishing and some seasoning

Step 5 - Serve

  • Serve straight from the baking tray and garnish with some fresh parsley, chopped dried figs, and some lemon zest.
    5 dried figs
    2 large whole fish sit on a baking tray with garnishing and some seasoning

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 200gCalories: 682kcalCarbohydrates: 45.6gProtein: 62.7gFat: 30.5gSaturated Fat: 5.2gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 1114mgPotassium: 1317mgFiber: 7.4gSugar: 15.6gCalcium: 174mgIron: 4mg
Keyword 30 minute recipe, Easy Dinner ideas, easy to make, fish, main course, one-pot recipe, oven roasted, pescado, roasted fish, White fish

Cooking Tips and FAQs 

What fish is good to use for roasting?

  • Gilt-head bream (royal bream)
  • Snapper
  • Cod
  • Seabass
  • Tilapia
  • Haddock 

How long does it take to roast a whole fish?

A dinner plate-sized fish will cook in around 15-20 minutes at 350°F / 180°C. 

How many fish per person for roasting?

One 10-12 inch (25-30cm) fish that’s around 3 (7cm) thick will be enough for 2 people. 

What are the best spices, herbs, and garnishing for roasted fish?

  • Thinly sliced red onion
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Small ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Dried fruit (dates, figs, apricots, prunes)
  • Nuts (walnuts, cashew nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachio nuts)
  • Lemon (juice and rind)
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Traditional Spanish Seafood Recipes

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2 large whole fish sit on a baking tray with garnishing and some seasoning.

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