Culinary Arts

How to Cook Fresh Halibut: Easy Baked Halibut Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Jun 4, 2019 • 3 min read

One of the most popular white fish, halibut has a delicate, sweet flavor that pairs equally well with acidic tomato sauce or rich brown butter.


What Is Halibut?

Halibut are flatfish—fish that have both eyes on one side of their body and live on the ocean floor. The name halibut can actually refer to any flatfish of the order Pleuronectiformes, but most of the commercially available halibut is Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis). It’s found on both sides of the North Pacific, but 80 percent of the catch comes from Alaska, which is why it’s also known as Alaskan halibut.

Pacific halibut can be up to 8 feet long and weigh 500 pounds, but averages about 10 to 60 pounds. It has a mild, sweet flavor, with firm-textured white flesh that becomes opaque when cooked. Pacific halibut is not considered at risk, so it’s a sustainable seafood choice.

Is Halibut Healthy?

Halibut is a good source of nutrients including: omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart and brain health; the antioxidant selenium, which promotes thyroid health; vitamin B3 (niacin), which is involved in heart and skin health; phosphorus, which is important to bone health and metabolism; magnesium, which can increase energy, muscle movement; and vitamin B12, which is necessary for red blood cell formation. Halibut is also a complete protein, meaning that it contains all essential amino acids.

How to Buy Halibut

Halibut is best in the spring and summer, between March and September, and should be avoided from December through February. Look for firm-textured flesh that’s translucent and sparkly. Avoid discoloration, green or yellow fat, or white spots, which could mean chalkiness. Halibut is often sold skinless, as steaks, not fillets, since it can come from such large fish. It freezes well, so it’s okay to buy frozen or previously frozen halibut.

4 Ways to Cook Halibut

  1. Bake: Bake halibut on baking sheets in the oven at 400 to 450°F until halibut is just opaque and flesh flakes when cut with a fork, about 10 to 15 minutes. Baking halibut with plenty of olive oil, butter, or even in a sauce, will prevent it from drying out.
  2. Poach: Try poaching delicate halibut in tomato sauce or a broth flavored with lemon and white wine, or butter, garlic, and parsley. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.
  3. Grill: Thoroughly oil grill and brush halibut steaks lightly with oil. Grill halibut over moderately hot coals until just opaque. Learn how to cook on a hibachi grill here.
  4. Steam: You can steam halibut in the oven by placing the fish in foil packets with liquid seasonings such as soy sauce or lemon juice.

8 Sauces to Serve With Halibut

Halibut has a mild flavor that pairs well with sauces such as:

  1. Brown butter
  2. Homemade chipotle mayonnaise
  3. Puttanesca (tomatoes, capers, garlic)
  4. Lemon juice and capers
  5. Honey mustard
  6. Beurre blanc (emulsified butter sauce)
  7. Pesto
  8. Cilantro-lime sauce

11 Easy Halibut Recipe Ideas

  1. Grilled halibut kebabs with onion and bell pepper
  2. Baked halibut with sour cream and chives
  3. Sheet pan-roasted halibut, with fresh lemon slices, cherry tomatoes, and whole garlic cloves
  4. Baked halibut with a Parmesan cheese crust
  5. Pan-seared Italian-style halibut with anchovies, capers, and garlic
  6. Halibut ceviche with pineapple, lime juice, and cilantro
  7. Halibut poached in milk
  8. Pan-fried halibut in breadcrumbs with brown butter
  9. Halibut steamed in an aluminum foil packet with soy sauce and bok choy
  10. Fried fish sandwiches with coleslaw and tartar sauce
  11. Halibut, white wine, and tomato stew

Easy Baked Halibut Recipe

Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
  • 4 8-ounce halibut fillets (1 inch thick)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and lightly oil a baking dish. Place fillets on the baking dish, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top with lemon slices and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Cover dish tightly with foil.
  2. Bake until halibut is just opaque and flesh flakes when cut into with a fork, about 10-15 minutes.

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