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Kalyn's Kitchen

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon uses an easy and delicious fish marinade that’s good on Halibut, Mahi Mahi, or any firm white fish. This grilled fish is a great main dish that’s low-carb, Keto, gluten-free, Paleo, and South Beach Diet friendly! Use Grilling Recipes for more ideas like this one.

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Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon found on KalynsKitchen.com

It’s a big holiday weekend in the U.S., and tonight I’m going to a birthday party for Nick, the charming 85 year old dad of my good friend Mary. Nick and Mary’s husband Ken were both born on July 3, so my memories of the Fourth of July involve lots of birthday parties for them.  No doubt July 4th is one of the biggest grilling days of the year for most Americans, and while most people probably grill burgers for the birthday of our nation, around here you’re much more likely to find fish or chicken in my grilling recipes.

This easy recipe for Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon is something I made for years when I was catering houseboat trips at Lake Powell, and  this recipe is long overdue for some photos.  I did get a little overly-enthusiastic with the grill marks, which is what will happen if you forget to turn your grill down to medium-high when you put the fish on, but the halibut in this photo was still lip-smackingly good!

The idea of garlic and basil with fish may seem unusual, but please trust me on this marinade. You could use fresh basil, but for a marinade like this I almost prefer dried herbs, and I’ve made this one many times with dried basil with great results. I’ve also cooked this indoors using the broiler in my toaster oven, and that turned out great too.

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon found on KalynsKitchen.com

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, black pepper, Spike Seasoning (if using), garlic puree, and dried basil.  Put the fish in a Ziploc bag with the marinade and marinate in the fridge for 2-3 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, take fish out and let it come to room temperature while you preheat the grill, which you have generously oiled or sprayed with non-stick spray made for the grill.  I start heating on high and then turn the grill down to medium-high when I put the fish on.  (If you forget to turn it down for a few minutes you’ll get over-enthusiastic grill marks like I did, but just cook the fish a slightly shorter time and it will still be good.) The best way to tell when fish is done is by gently pressing down with your finger; the fish should feel firm, but not hard to the touch.  As a general rule, grill fish about 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon found on KalynsKitchen.com

Make it a Low-Carb Meal:

For a delicious low-carb meal, serve with something like Low-Carb Cauliflower Rice with Fried Onions and Sumac or Spicy Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Peperoncini.

More Good Ideas for Fish for the Grill:

Grilled Halibut with Southwestern Rub and Tomatillo Salsa from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Fish and Shrimp on the Grill from The Kitchn
Grilled Salmon with Asian Dipping Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon

This grilled fish makes a great main dish and is easy and delicious.



  • halibut, mahi-mahi, or other firm white fish, one piece per person

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. Spike Seasoning (optional, but good; omit Spike for Paleo)
  • 2 T garlic puree (or slightly less garlic powder but I think the garlic puree from a jar gives better flavor)
  • 1 T dried basil


  1. Thaw the fish completely in refrigerator if frozen.
  2. Mix marinade ingredients.
  3. Put fish in Zip-loc bag or plastic container with a snap-tight lid, arranging it in a single layer.
  4. Pour marinade over and marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
  5. Turn it over a few times if you’re home. Don’t marinate it too much longer than this or the marinade will start to “cook” the fish.
  6. When you’re ready to cook, take the fish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
  7. Oil the grill grates generously with oil poured on to a paper towel, or use a non-stick spray made for the grill.
  8. Turn grill on to high and preheat while the fish comes to room temperature.
  9. Turn the grill to medium-high when you are ready to put the fish on (or for a charcoal grill, you can only hold your hand there for a few seconds when it’s hot enough to cook fish.)
  10. To get grill marks, lay the fish diagonally across grill grates; after first grill marks appear (about 3 minutes) rotate fish so it’s laying diagonally the other way.
  11. After about 6 minutes carefully turn fish over to cook the other side.
  12. Total cooking time for grilled fish is about 10 minutes per inch of thickness, but the best way to test is by lightly pressing on the fish with your finger; it should feel firm but not hard to the touch when it’s done.
  13. This marinade would also be good on shrimp, scallops, or chicken.
  14. Chicken could be marinated quite a bit longer; I would marinate shrimp or scallops for only about 2 hours.


You can cut the marinade recipe in half if you’re cooking less fish.

I made this recipe for years at Lake Powell but I don’t remember if I created it or saw the recipe somewhere; if anyone recognizes it please let me know so I can give proper credit.

All images and text ©

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet  Suggestions:
Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon is a great recipe for any phase of the South Beach Diet, or any other type of low-carb diet, including Paleo if you replace Spike with an approved seasoning (or just omit it).

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?
If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into this nutrition analyzer, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

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    21 Comments on “Grilled Fish with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon”

  1. Pingback: Grilled Swordfish with Mango Salsa - Recipe Girl

  2. Outstanding! made this recipe using halibut.
    Wonderful flavor.

  3. I think that would be better; hope it works.

  4. Hmm. My other option is to make up the marinade tonight then toss the fish in as soon as I get home tomorrow. Cook everything else and the fish last. This would let it marinade maybe 30-45 minutes. Better than nothing!

    Thanks for the help!!

  5. Truthfully I have no idea how that will work since I haven't tried it that way, but I doubt if the flavor will be as good without the marinating as usual.

  6. If I won't have time to marinate for only 2-3 hours, can I leave the lemon juice out until before cooking if I need to marinate overnight? I'm assuming it's the acid in the lemon juice that will "cook" the fish?

    I'm prepping a bunch of stuff tonight to cook after work tomorrow and would really like to use this marinade on some haddock I have.

  7. I am amazed that in all this time no one has asked about the accompanying side salad in a very light sauce! I have looked everywhere trying to find it. Can you help? Thank you!

    • There's no actual recipe needed for this simple salad. It's just my favorite summer combination of cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and olives, lightly dressed with vinaigrette dressing and lots of fresh-ground black pepper. I like Le Parisien Vinaigrette, but if you can't find that Paul Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar dressing is another good one.

  8. Jeanette, I agree, this is such an easy way to make fish moist and flavorful.

  9. Kalyn,
    What a nice light marinade for fish, whatever is available. I used to be intimated by cooking fish, but it is so easy.

  10. And I noticed in my comment I wrote "I assume you" instead of "I assure you" so we are all typing too fast! I can't figure out why the herbs would turn brown, but I do always put them in some kind of plastic container with a snap-right lid or in a Ziploc bag.

    Did you puree the basil with olive oil like I described in this post about How to Freeze Fresh Basil? That should have kept it from turning brown.

  11. Hi Kalyn!

    Thanks for the comment. I actually meant I put them in the freezer in tupperwares. A friend said maybe if I had put them in ziploc bags sucking the air out they wouldn't have browned. Do you think this is the problem? it's sooo sad because it took me ages to grow my herbs 🙁

  12. Thanks. I don't think I've ever had haddock; never see it for sale here.

  13. Your fish looks perfectly cooked! I don't think garlic and basil sound unusual at all! In fact, I frequent that combination with haddock and it is definitely delicious! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. You should be putting them in the freezer, not in the fridge. I assume you, if you follow directions and put the herbs in the freezer it will work.

  15. Hey! Sorry this doesn't fit here but I just read your "freezing herbs" post:
    I picked, cleaned and dried basil and mint and placed them in tupperwares in the fridge yesterday. Today when I opened them they seemed to have a strange smell – a bit rotten – and the leaves are greying (both plants). i wonder if this method is correct?

  16. Happy Fourth of July to you too. I do love Penzeys, and also The Spice House (they are brother and sister.)

    I know you can buy Spike from Amazon.com if you don't ever find it, or just use any all-purpose seasoning blend that you like.

  17. I have a couple pieces of MahiMahi I'd like to use this with. For some reason I havn't been able to find 'spike' seasoning locally,however I do have a long over-due appreciation thank you for suggesting Pensky's spices and have been enjoying them very much.Thank you Kalyn,and Happy,Healthy 4th to you and yours.

  18. Lydia, I wish we could get good cod in Utah, but it's not worth buying here. Isn't that funny how we have such different fish available. I do think this marinade would be great on cod.

  19. I love grilled fish. For some reason, halibut isn't that easy to find in my local fish markets, so I tend to grill salmon, tuna or swordfish. I think this marinade would be delicious with cod loin, which is a cut we can get here in New England, though it's not a grilling fish so it's one to try under the broiler.