This grilled whole trout is cooked in a cast iron skillet outdoors along with fingerling potatoes in a garlic- and herb-infused pan sauce that’s so flavorful we like to think of it as liquid gold.
Been somewhat hesitant to cook whole fish? We understand. This whole grilled trout recipe is an ideal lesson in how to cook fish to attain shatteringly crisp skin and tender fish. Spoiler alert: It’s a one-pan supper that involves both a grill and cast-iron skillet along with fingerling potatoes and a garlic- and herb-infused pan sauce that packs so much flavor it can only be described as liquid gold. And since the fish is cooked outside on the grill, you’re not left with a lingering fishy aroma in the house for days on end. Thankfully.–Angie Zoobkoff
About That Extra Liquid Gold
This grilled whole trout recipe includes a garlic- and herb-infused fat that’s magnificent. And it’s as versatile as it is simple to make. It also makes a lot more than you’ll need here which is a very, very good thing as you’re going to quickly want to douse everything with it. The leftovers can be stashed in your fridge for up to a week and you can rely on its herbaceous punch to embellish almost anything.
Grilled Whole Trout
- Digital or instant-read thermometer (optional)
For the potatoes
- 5 medium fingerling potatoes (or substitute a few new potatoes)
- Kosher salt
For the liquid gold
- 1 1/2 cups rendered fat such as bacon fat, beef fat, good-quality lard, or duck fat, or you can use unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil (or any combination of these)
- 8 to 10 sprigs assorted fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and parsley (no more than 3 sprigs each), chopped
- 2 scallions ends trimmed
- 1 head garlic halved crosswise
- 1/2 lemon
For the trout
Make the potatoes
- Place the potatoes in a smallish saucepan, add enough water to cover, and season with salt. Bring to a boil and gently simmer until tender, about 10 minutes for fingerlings and a few more minutes for new potatoes.
- Drain and cool the potatoes. If you have time, cover and refrigerate the potatoes until chilled through, at least several hours, for a crisper exterior and airier interior.
Make the liquid gold
- While the potatoes are cooking, place the fat in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the herbs, scallions, garlic, and lemon half and cook just until the herbs begin to wilt but not sizzle and the oil reaches 140 to 150°F (60 to 66°C), 2 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes to let the flavors mingle. (Extra liquid gold can be strained, covered, and stashed in the fridge for up to a week. Add more fresh herbs toward the end of rewarming.)
- When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them into 1/4-inch (6-mm) rounds.
Make the trout
- Preheat a grill on high heat. Place a large cast-iron skillet directly on the coals or over the hottest area of the grill.
- Meanwhile, using paper towels, pat the trout dry. Brush the outside and inside of the fish with oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Carefully add 2 tablespoons liquid gold to the preheated pan and let it warm. Add the fish and cook until browned on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Gently flip the fish using a metal spatula. If the fish sticks to the pan, don’t force it. Wait another minute or so and then try again.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add the potatoes and capers to the pan around the fish, and return the pan to the hot side of the grill. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and transfer the trout to a platter or a couple plates.
- Continue to cook the potatoes until browned and crisped, 1 to 3 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze the lemon into the pan, and then add the marjoram, if using, and parsley. Taste the pan sauce and, if desired, adjust the seasoning accordingly, adding more salt, pepper, and/or lemon.
- Dump the potatoes and capers onto the platter or plates with the trout. Spoon the pan sauce generously over the fish. Garnish with parsley.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This is a great way to prepare a whole fish. The cast-iron pan allows you to get a nice, crisp skin on the fish and nicely browned potatoes.
I wasn’t sure about the “liquid gold” concept but it really makes a difference in getting a crisp skin on the fish and a nice crisp finish to the potatoes. I used a combination of duck fat, extra-virgin olive oil, and butter as the base for the liquid gold. It added a great amount of flavor to the fish and the potatoes. You will make quite a bit more than what is needed for this recipe, but I’m storing the strained remainder in my refrigerator for future use. I think you could also freeze it for a longer time.
My pan was a little crowded, so after removing the cooked fish, I cooked the potatoes for a few more minutes on my stovetop.
This was a wonderful way to cook a whole trout and the finished fish was moist and tender and the potatoes crisp and tender.
I had to use one larger trout so my cook time was a little longer, about 6 minutes per side. This easily fed 2 adults and 2 children for dinner.
A great summer dish. Can’t wait to try it again with some freshly caught lake trout!
When I went to remove the fish, the skin just fell off, so I ended up serving a platter of skinless fish fillets. My kids were happy to not have to pick off skin and stare at the head, but the idea of the overall presentation kind of fell apart.
The liquid gold came together very easily and added a really nice flavor to the finished dish.
This whole grilled trout recipe was surprisingly delicious. I went with rainbow trout. The crispiness of its skin worked very well with the soft texture of the fish. They were already gutted and deboned with the fins removed. They had a very few fine bones left in but the bones didn’t cause any problems.
The liquid gold definitely helped with taste. It provided hints of herb butter and was quick and easy to prepare.
I didn’t use the pan juices because the fish seemed moist enough for me.
Originally published May 14, 2019