Roasted Branzino with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil Sauce

If you thought enjoying a whole roasted fish was only for dining out, today we are going to change your minds! Roasted Branzino with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil Sauce is simple to prepare and gets dinner on the table in a blink of an eye. 

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Roasted Branzino and Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Sauce from The Girl In The Little Red KItchen

Earlier this week I talked about a current secret.  Today why don’t I share one from my youth?

If you can’t tell from my absolute dislike of football and organized sports in general, I wasn’t a very athletic or even outdoorsy type child growing up.  I mean, I went to band camp for crying out loud (go ahead and insert your joke here).  I was always more content spending my hours indoors practicing music, doing various arts & crafts and building tall tall buildings with my legos.

However there was always one exception to my no outdoor activities rule and it was even one that I was willing to give up precious sleep for.  Quality fishing time with my dad.

Are you surprised? Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

We weren’t a family that hiked, camped or hunted but my dad loved to fish and he made a point to teach all of his children how to do so as well.

Lucky us growing up on Long Island we had a quick drive to fresh water catch and release fishing to learn the basics and then just a short drive to the Atlantic Ocean side for some deep sea fishing.

Champion fisherman we were not.  We were lucky to come home with a couple of filets on each trip that the guys on the boat would clean up for us before the day ended.  Regardless of the success, there was nothing like breathing in the fresh sea water and the excitement of feeling the pull of that catch on your rod.

It’s been years since I’ve gone on a real fishing trip but my brothers and dad still take regular trips.

Roasted Branzino and Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Sauce - The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen

Of course the funny part of this tale is, I was always skirmish around the catches.  I’d never take a fish off the hook and forget wanting to cook it whole.  It’s filets or nothing for me.

So why the sudden change?  I guess it happens when you finally discover an approachable fish to cook at home whole that can easily be purchased descaled and deboned by your fishmonger!

Have you been afraid to cook a whole fish at home before? I promise it isn’t that scary and branzino is the perfect starter fish. The flavor is delicate and mild, perfect for those who prefer the blander tasting white fishes.  When picking yours out make sure the eyes are clear, not cloudy and there is no fishy oder. That means you’ve got a fresh one on your hands.  I always have my fishmonger clean it up for me, since I prefer not to get scales and guts all over the place at home.  You can choose to leave the bones in or filet it completely on the inside.

A quick roast in the oven and in less than 25 minutes later your dinner is done.  That’s the best part about fish, it cooks up quickly and it’s good for you! Oh in case you are wondering how much this serves? Generally 1 of these guys is enough for a small lunch or dinner for 2 but it’s fish, it doesn’t fill you up that much you may want to go with 1 per person.

Roasted Branzino with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil Sauce
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  • 1lb whole brazino
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt


  1. Place the branzino on a parchment lined baking sheet, season with kosher salt and insert 3 lemon slices on the inside and 3 on top.
  2. Scatter the cherry tomatoes around the fish and drizzle everything with olive oil.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 375 or until the fish is cooked completely - it should be white and flakey.
  4. Remove from the oven.
  5. In a blender place the basil, lemon juice and salt. Puree to break up the basil and start to drizzle in the olive oil. You'll need between 1/4 and 1/3 cup or until you get to a nice pourable consistency with the dressing.
  6. Remove the fish from the flesh with a spoon - removing any large bones at this time if they hadn't been taken out and scoop on a plate with the tomatoes. Drizzle the basil dressing on top to serve.
Recipe Type: Main, Seafood

Make sure to stop by the Bake Shop and place an order for Rosh Hashanah! Are cookies a traditional dessert? No way but you don’t want to show up empty handed. 🙂

 Roasted Branzino and Tomatoes with Lemon Basil Sauce- The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen

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17 thoughts on “Roasted Branzino with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil Sauce

  1. Pingback: Roasted Branzino with Tomatoes and Lemon Basil Sauce | 4theloveofcocktails

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  3. Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons

    Hi five for band camp! I went several times as well. I have never roasted a whole fish before, but this beautiful recipe and photos could convince me to give it a try. How can you go wrong with lots of lemon and roasted tomatoes?

  4. Shashi at runninsrilankan

    Aww – that’s such a sweet story of you giving up sleep to go fishing with your dad as a young ‘un! I have been scared to cook a whole fish – yours looks so elegant – and you make it seem so easy…so glad I stumbled by your site!!

  5. Shaina

    This fish looks absolutely gorgeous! I haven’t had branzino in forever, but I know it’s delicious. I would love to go fishing if it meant I had awesome fresh fish like this afterward. Although, I wouldn’t want to see the fish in between catching it and eating it lol

  6. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    I would’ve loved to have gone to band camp as a kid! Arts geeks unite! I grew up the same as you – I’m TOTALLY not an outdoors or athletic person. I love that you’re a secret fisherwoman. I’ve never had branzino but I like white bland fishes, especially if they were roasted with lots of lemon and veggies! This dish is gorgeous, Susan.

  7. Heather // girlichef

    This is beautiful, Susan! I love whole, stuffed fish. I went fishing a lot as a kid with my dad, uncles, siblings, and cousins in a couple of ponds and lakes near my grandma’s house. She passed away when I was a freshman in high school…I haven’t been fishing since :(.

  8. Carla

    Confession – I never cooked a whole fish before. There’s a fish market about 15 minutes from here where I bet I could find branzino and try this.

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