Baked Whole Red Snapper with Citrus Vinaigrette

Posted on 11 June 2015

Living thirteen hours from the nearest ocean means that fresh whole fish isn’t always a fresh option in our local grocery stores. The good news is that whenever summertime rolls around, my local Sam’s Club has special weekend buys with freshly flown in Alaskan salmon and yellow tail red snapper. There is not much better than fresh seasonal fish.

The red snapper is available as a whole fish, heads and tails. Does that intimidate you? It really shouldn’t because baking or grilling a whole fish is really quite simple and quick.

On Friday I picked up some salmon and snapper and chatted with the demo man. He was a lively one. Earlier in the day he had several young kids with their noses pressed up to the glass looking in awe of that snapper. Mr. Demo whispered to them that if they watched closely enough, that fish might wink at them! Can you imagine what excitement was dancing in their imaginative minds?!

Many folks shy away from cooking whole fish or even ordering it in a restaurant because they aren’t fond of the idea of dinner looking back at them. If that is you, please reconsider. Baking or grilling with the head and tail intact adds a depth of flavor that is unrivaled. For all the foodies out there that are the adventurous type, apparently the fish head is packed with flavor. While I am not the adventurous type, I certainly see the benefit to cooking it whole and serving it filleted.

This recipe will have you baking a whole red snapper alongside spinach and tomatoes and finished with lovely citrus vinaigrette.

baked whole snapper with citrus vinaigrette


Don’t let a whole fish intimidate you. They are really quite easy and fast to prepare.
Serves 2


  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 pound whole red snapper
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • ½ teaspoon De Nigris White Wine Organic Vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper


  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 4-5 thin slices of orange

Citrus Vinaigrette

  • 3-4 slices of orange, diced
  • 1 teaspoon De Nigris Seasoned Italian White Wine Vinegar with Italian Herbs
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 minced garlic clove


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  1. In a large skillet or deep sheet pan, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil and scatter onions on top of oil. It will be a bed for your fish to sit on top of.
  1. Rinse snapper thoroughly in running cool water. Pat dry.
  1. Whole snapper is usually gutted so take a sharp knife and carefully slice down the belly so that you can season inside the cavity of the fish. Rinse under cool water and pat dry.
  1. Cut slits about 1-2” apart on each side of the fish.
  1. Place a sheet of parchment paper in the sink and thoroughly remove all scales, using a descaler. Rinse and pat dry.
  1. Season the inside of the fish with half of the seasoning mix and fill the cavity with the orange slices.
  1. Coat fish on both sides with remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and use the remaining seasoning on both sides.
  1. Slice up butter and shove into slits on fish, along with fresh thyme.
  1. Place in skillet and tuck spinach and tomatoes around the fish.
  1. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of olive oil and De Nigris White Wine Organic Vinegar on the tomatoes. Top with salt and pepper.
  1. Bake in oven until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145-150 degrees, approximately 30 minutes.
  1. Remove from oven and let rest.
  1. Assemble citrus vinaigrette and set aside.
  1. Transfer fish to a cutting board and remove fins from backside and belly side of fish and remove the head and tail.
  1. Carefully lift the meat and set aside, removing any bones you may see. Lift the tailbone and remove in one piece. Remove the meat on the other side, being careful to remove any visual bones.
  1. With a slotted spoon, remove onions and spinach to a platter. Place the fish filets on top of them and tuck roasted tomatoes around the fish.
  1. Add citrus vinaigrette to the top of the fish and serve.

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Arkansas Women Bloggers member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well from her life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. Read more related to cooking, entertaining, gadget suggestions, ingredient explorations, local finds, local restaurant treasures, kitchen tour spotlights, and always with a healthy and simplistic approach.