Fish is best enjoyed while it's moist and full of flavor. Unfortunately, getting your fish to that point can be complicated. It can be easily overcooked, which can ruin any well-planned meal. Fortunately, we're here to take the guesswork out of baking fish. We've done the research and can tell you how long that fish fillet needs to be baked and at what temperature!
You should bake your fish fillet at a temperature between 350 degrees Fahrenheit and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In general, you should cook fillets at a higher temperature. However, temperatures do vary depending on the type of fish you're baking.
Baking times will change based on how thick your fillet is. You can expect to bake your fish for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness. The most important thing is to make sure your fish reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Now that you know some average times and temperatures, let's get more in-depth. Keep reading to learn how to tell if a fish is done and the best cooking temperatures for specific types of fish!
Fish Baking Temperatures
450 degrees Fahrenheit is the commonly recommended temperature to bake fish fillets and steaks. These two styles of cuts are very similar. However, there is one key difference.
To get a fish steak, you need to cut across the body while a fish fillet is cut along the side of the fish. A fish steak will usually include part of the backbone. The meat for fish fillet is separated from the spine and most of the bones.
Generally, 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended baking temperature for dressed fish. A dressed fish is a fish that has had its head, tail, fins, and viscera removed.
Despite the typical temperature suggestions, many popular recipes will ask you to bake your fish fillet at different temperatures. It's not uncommon or incorrect to bake a fish fillet at temperatures between 350 degrees and 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fish Baking Times
If you're unsure how long to cook your fish, the common suggestion is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Measure your fillet from the thickest section to determine your approximate baking time. Most fillets only measure between half an inch and a full inch. So, you should expect to bake your fillets for a minimum of 6 to 10 minutes.
Many recipes suggest letting your fillet bake for anywhere between 15 and 20 minutes. This time is consistent regardless of how hot the oven is or if the fish is covered in tinfoil.
Is My Fish Done?
So, with such an extensive range of temperatures and baking times, how are you supposed to know if your food is done? There are a few great ways to tell whether or not your fish is finished cooking.
The most accurate way to see if your fish is done is by checking its internal temperature. The FDA states that fish needs to be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is specific for finfish, which essentially means all fish except shellfish and flatfish.
Check out this instant-read thermometer on Amazon!
Testing your fish for flakiness with your fork is another tried and true method. In this situation, you'll need to put a fork into the thickest part of the fish and gently twist. If the fish easily flakes, your fish is done!
As you cook your fish, it will begin to change in appearance. Your fish will start looking shiny and see-through. Once it finishes cooking, it will become opaque. To check your fish's opacity levels, make a small cut at the thickest part of the fillet. If it's opaque or a milky white all the way through, your fish is done cooking!
If you happen to have a cake tester around, you can use it to check more delicate fishes for doneness. A cake tester is a unique tool that is used to check whether baked products are finished baking. However, you can also use these handy tools to check a fish. Insert the device into the thickest part of the fish. If it comes out warm, your fish should be finished cooking.
Check out this multi-use cake tester on Amazon!
How do you know when a whole fish is cooked?
The methods for checking if a whole fish is cooked are the same as for a fish fillet. Check the thickest part of your fish for flakiness. A whole fish will also be more firm than an uncooked fish.
You'll also need to check for opacity. Make sure your fish is opaque all the way through. You can also check your fish's internal temperature. The thickest part of the fish should have a temperature of at least 137 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do you bake fish skin side up or down?
If you decide to keep the skin on your fish, then bake it skin side down. Baking the fish in this manner can help protect the fish from the hot pan. The layer of skin will become crispy when placed down. The crispy layer of skin will help you transfer the fish once it's done cooking.
A good tip for baking fish is to allow the pan to heat up in the oven as it preheats. This will give you an excellent warm dish to put your fish on once it's ready to bake!
If you're baking a fish with delicious, edible skin, you should serve it face up. If you shouldn't eat the skin, then serve the fish with the skin side down. You can also remove the skin beforehand.
Should you cover fish with foil when baking?
It's incredibly common to cover fish in foil while it bakes. Using foil in baking can make cleaning up much easier. When it comes to fish, foil can also lock in moisture.
It isn't necessary to use foil when baking fish, though. You can create equally delicious dishes with or without the foil. If you find that your fish is drier than you like, then maybe foil is a good option for you.
Cooking times aren't different for a fish fillet wrapped in foil. Check it after your allotted baking time to ensure that it's complete. However, if you're baking a whole fish, you will need to adjust your times. You can expect an entire fish to bake 15 minutes longer when covered in foil.
What temp should salmon be cooked?
You should bake your salmon fillet at a temperature between 350 degrees and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The FDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, many chefs find that their salmon is dry and overdone at this point. You can stop baking your salmon once it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help retain the moisture and will still make the salmon safe to eat.
To determine how long to bake your fish, you'll need to know how thick it is. Stick with the 10 minutes per inch of thickness rule here. Make sure you take your fish out a little early to check if it's done.
Check out "At What Temperature Should You Bake Salmon?" for great tips!
What temperature do you cook tuna steaks?
You should bake tuna steak at a temperature between 350 degrees and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. However, many tuna steak recipes consider 450 degrees Fahrenheit the ideal baking temperature.
Unlike many other fish, tuna is deemed to be safe to eat, both raw and cooked. You will need to adjust your cooking time based on what temperature you bake and your tuna steak size. Here are some typical temperatures for baked tuna steak:
- Rare: 120 degrees to 130 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium rare: 130 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit
- Medium: 140 degrees to 150 degrees Fahrenheit
- Well: 150 degrees Fahrenheit and above
What temperature should you cook halibut?
Halibut needs to be baked at a temperature between 350 degrees and 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Many chefs find that a temperature between 400 degrees and 450 degrees Fahrenheit works best. Expect to bake your fish for approximately 10 minutes. However, you'll need to adjust for your temperature and thickness of fish.
Like many other fishes, the FDA considers 145 degrees Fahrenheit a safe internal temperature for halibut. However, chefs often stop baking halibut once it reaches an internal temperature between 130 degrees and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Halibut can quickly dry out, and a slightly lower internal temperature helps preserve the fish's moisture.
What temperature should cod be cooked at?
The most common temperature to bake cod at is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The baking time will vary depending on the size of the fish. You should expect your cod to bake for at least 10 minutes.
The FDA considers 145 degrees Fahrenheit to be the best internal temperature for cod. Knowing the internal temperature for cod can be incredibly important.
If you are baking fresh cod, there is a chance that there are parasites within the fish. While all fish and food can have parasites, they tend to be more prominent in codfish. If your cod was frozen, you could safely bake to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have fresh cod or are unsure if yours was frozen, stick with 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Summing It Up
Fish fillets are a delicious meal that can be baked at a wide range of temperatures. Because cooking time is based on the size of the fish, your overall bake times will vary as well.
Try experimenting with different cooking temperatures until you get the results you want. To determine your cooking time, measure your fish at the thickest part and bake 10 minutes per inch. Don't forget to try covering your fish with foil for some added moisture!
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