If you're wondering what to do with Mediterranean branzino fish, then you'll love our 30-minute baked branzini recipe with a lemon garlic butter sauce. Simply season the Mediterranean sea bass inside and out and stuff it with lemon slices and fresh herbs. Drizzle with an easy sauce and impress everyone! It's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Mediterranean Sea Bass
The first time I ever had Mediterranean sea bass (aka branzino fish or the plural which is branzini) was on a trip to Italy. It was light, flavorful, and buttery. and filled with fresh herbs, garlic, and lemon slices. After realizing you could buy branzini at Whole Foods, I just knew it had to be recreated at home.
What's extra amazing about our roasted branzino fish recipe, is that it SUPER simple, full of flavor, yet by serving it whole it not only retains moisture, but it makes the perfect wow dish for a special dinner or even for a holiday too.
When you're making such an easy yet impressive dish, we highly recommend keeping the whole meal Mediterranean themed yet EASY too! Serve it alongside our Mediterranean chickpea salad, a tomato burrata salad, or perhaps go Greek with our Greek tomato cucumber salad.
Why You'll Love This Branzini!
- Flavorful Combo! The combination of garlic, lemon slices, fresh herbs, and garlic butter sauce creates a burst of delicious Mediterranean style flavors that enhance the delicate taste of branzino.
- Tender and Moist Fish: Baking branzino whole helps to lock in moisture, resulting in a tender and juicy texture.
- Elegant Presentation: This is seriously such as stunning dish! No one would ever guess how quick and simple the recipe is to prepare and bake!
What is Branzino Fish?
Branzino fish is also known as European sea bass, is a popular type of white fish found in the Mediterranean Sea like in Italy and Greece. Branzino fish is known for its delicate flavor and tender flesh and is often described as having a mild and slightly sweet taste. When you buy it in the US, it's farm raised and not wild fish.
Branzini is great for grilling, roasting, or pan searing and can be cooked as a whole branzino fish (recommended!) or filleted. It goes great with fresh herbs, citrus, garic, and olive oil.
Sea Bass Ingredient Notes
Baked branzino fish just require basic ingredients - fresh herbs, aromatics, olive oil, and perhaps a touch of butter. So simple! When you start with high quality ingredients, little flavor is necessary.
- whole branzino - ideally you'll buy your fish from a store that's already removed the guts for you. If they aren't gutted, kindly ask the butcher and hopefully they'll help you out!
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Garlic cloves
- Lemons - we added lemon slices to the branzino cavity but you could use other types of citrus too like oranges.
- Fresh herbs - stuff the fish with your favorite Mediterranean herbs. Thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil, and/or oregano are all good choices.
- Butter- used for making the optional garlic butter sauce
** Please see the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact quantities **
- Other types of sauces- Instead of the garlic butter sauce, make a lemon caper sauce or pesto.
- Stuffed - Prepare a mixture of breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic, and olive oil, stuff it inside the fish cavity, and bake or grill until the stuffing is golden and the fish is cooked. It could take a little longer to cook but be sure to use a digital meat thermometer and don't over cook it.
- Mediterranean vibes - Other add-ins to cook alongside the baked branzino fish include whole grape tomatoes, artichoke hearts, capers, or kalamata olives.
- Small skillet to make the sauce
- Sheet pan for baking the bronzini fish
As written, the baked branzino fish recipe is low carb, gluten free, and keto friendly. Here's a couple ways to adapt it to any other dietary needs.
- Dairy Free- Skip the garlic butter sauce entirely or swap the butter for a plant based brand like Earth Balance.
- Whole30/Paleo- Skip the garlic butter or swap the butter for extra virgin olive oil.
How to Cook Branzino
There's just a couple of basic steps in cooking branzino sea bass, season the fish, stuff it with herbs, garlic, and lemon, and bake! Drizzle with our optional garlic butter sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Pat the fish dry with paper towels and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Rub the skin and the cavity with olive oil and liberally season the interior and exterior with sea salt and black pepper.
- Stuff the fish cavity with lemon slices, garlic slivers, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Add more fresh herbs and sliced garlic around the fish.
Bake the Sea Bass
- Bake the branzini for 6-7 minutes on each side, for a total of 12-14 minutes. Our fish was at about 135 F at this point.
- Broil the fish 6" from the heat source to char one side of the fish and to finish cooking it. The fish is done when the internal temperature reaches 145 F with a digital meat thermometer and the fish is flaky and tender.
Make the Sauce
- While the branzini are cooking, make the herb butter sauce. in a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt a ¼ cup of butter, 1 teaspoon minced fresh herbs, add 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
- Serve the roasted branzino whole and drizzle the lemon garlic butter over the fish right before serving. Enjoy! Serves 2-3 people.
Recipe Tips for Branzini
- Both Whole Foods and Costco carry whole branzino fish with the head and tails on. Whole Foods guts the fish for you and the fish are usually on the smaller size (¾-1 ¼ lb each), whereas Costco doesn't gut the fish and it's sold whole as a larger 3+ lb fish.
- If your branzini fish didn't come gutted, you'll have to do that yourself -although we highly recommend you ask the butcher to do it for you!
- Our recipe uses the smaller branzini fish, if you have 1 larger whole fish then you'll need to cook it longer.
- It's easy to customize the flavors of branzino fish! You can skip the lemon garlic butter for a lighter taste, go Greek style with the addition of grape tomatoes, artichokes, and kalamata olives, or season the inside and outside with pesto sauce.
Roasted Vegetables: Roasted vegetables, such as asparagus, zucchini, or cherry tomatoes, make a flavorful and colorful accompaniment to branzino.
A healthy grain: brown rice, quinoa, rice pilaf, or pasta.
Grilled or Steamed Greens: Steamed or grilled greens, such as spinach, kale, or Swiss chard, provide a healthy and nutritious side dish. Season the greens with garlic, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon to add brightness to the flavors.
Mediterranean chickpea salad
Herb Roasted Potatoes
"Branzini" and "branzino" are basically the same fish. They are both names used to refer to European sea bass. "Branzini" is the plural form of the Italian word "branzino," while "branzino" is the singular form.
Leftover branzini sea bass can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
More Seafood Recipes
If you love branzino fish recipes then we know you'll love these delicious seafood recipes too!