Have you ever shied away from baking fish because you were worried it would turn out dry, tasteless or undercooked? Cooking fish in the oven may seem complicated, but it’s really as simple as turning on your oven, putting the fish in for a few minutes and taking out a deliciously flaky dish. Follow our tips to ensure your baked fish comes out perfectly every time, regardless of the recipe you use.
Prepare the Fish
If you’re cooking frozen fish, allow the fish to defrost before starting any preparations so that it cooks evenly. Next, preheat your oven to 450 degrees if you’re cooking fish fillets or steaks, or 350 degrees if you’re cooking whole fish. Rinse the fish and pat it dry with a paper towel, then prepare it according to your recipe’s directions (these simple baked Tilapia recipes are easy dishes to start with).
When it comes to baking methods, there are several options you can choose from that will result in tender, flaky fish. You can place the fish in foil packets to help it stay moist or you can place the fish in a greased baking pan or dish. We suggest cooking your fish in glass rather than metal, as glass bakeware helps cook the fish evenly while in the oven.
Calculate Cooking Time
How long your fish stays in the oven depends on several factors, such as it’s weight and cut. If your recipe comes with cooking time guidelines, be sure to check your fish for doneness after the minimum time to avoid overcooking. If you’re not using a recipe, or if you don’t trust your recipe instructions, try using these guidelines:
- Whole fish: weigh the fish and bake it uncovered for 6 to 9 minutes per 8 ounces at 350 degrees.
- Fish steaks and fillets: measure the thickness of the fish before cooking and bake uncovered for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2 inch.
Know When the Fish is Done
The most important factor in baking perfectly flaky fish is making sure the fish isn’t overcooked or undercooked. One of the best ways to do this is by checking it after the minimum baking time by gently inserting a fork into the fish at a 45-degree angle and giving it a slow twist. The fish is done cooking and can be removed from the oven when it flakes and is no longer translucent—undercooked fish will be opaque and won’t flake. If the fish isn’t done yet, leave it in the oven and check again in a couple of minutes.
By following these guidelines, you’ll end up with perfect, flaky baked fish that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. For more ways to make perfectly cooked fish, check out our 4 tips for grilling perfectly flaky fish on the BBQ!
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