Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe served in a cast iron skillet with lemon slices

5-Step Skillet Baked Whitefish – A Shockingly Simple and Delicious Recipe from Michigan’s Thumb

Today, I will share a unique twist on a traditional method for cooking whitefish. It’s a culinary journey we’re about to embark on, one that’ll take us right to the heart of Michigan’s Great Lakes. We’re diving in with a Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe that brings the delicate, mouthwatering flavors of the Great Lakes to your dinner table. This is not just a meal; it’s an experience steeped in the culinary traditions of Michigan.

Don’t Ignore the Versatile Great Lakes Whitefish


Whitefish is often ignored in favor of sports fish like walleye or yellow perch. Both are a perineal favorite during the summer at our cottage. However, the preferred cooking method is usually frying. We discovered that using Great Lakes whitefish is more versatile in many ways. White fish can be found in spreads, like canned tuna fish and our favorite Whitefish Chowder in the Verling in Marquette.

Sara Alguire of Click Paws Positive inspired this simple whitefish recipe. This Michigan girl was raised in the southern Thumb north of Imlay City; she noted that the real stars of this dish are the lemon zest and garlic. They team up to provide a tantalizingly savory coating for the whitefish. Its flavor pops on the tongue yet doesn’t steal the spotlight from the fish’s natural goodness. Now, you can use any white fish like cod, grouper, or flounder. But, in our neck of the woods, nothing beats the freshness of whitefish caught by local commercial fishermen in the Great Lakes.

Got a cast-iron skillet? Perfect. You’ll see in a moment how this trusty kitchen companion makes the recipe come alive. However, don’t fret if you don’t have one. You can prepare this in a casserole dish a day ahead and simply pop it into the fridge. It’ll be ready and waiting when dinnertime rolls around.

Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 or 3 Great Lakes Whitefish fillets (We got ours at the Bay Port Fish Company)
  • ½ stick salted butter
  • One clove of garlic, chopped fine
  • ⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Sliced lemon
  • Panko or seasoned bread crumbs
Great Lakes Whitefish
Great Lakes Whitefish

Let’s get down to business.

In this case, we used a casserole dish to bake three Great Lakes whitefish fillets. The process is basically the same and shows the versatility of this simple dish.

Step 1: Start by coating the bottom of your cast-iron skillet with nonstick spray or olive oil.

Step 2: Take a bowl, throw in the lemon zest, butter, garlic, and parsley. Now, roll up your sleeves and whip the butter mixture by hand until it morphs into a paste.

Butter, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley topping
Butter, lemon zest, garlic, and parsley topping

Step 3: Carefully lay the fish fillets in the skillet. It’s time to dress them up with the lemon-garlic zest paste. A bit tricky, you say? Well, a fork should do the trick. It helps you spread and press the topping onto the fish just right.

Step 4: Sprinkle a light coating of breadcrumbs over the fillets. Then, top it off with slices of fresh lemon.

Baked whitefish with lemon zest

Step 5: Fire up your oven to 350 degrees and bake the fish for about 15-20 minutes. When the whitefish is perfectly flaky and cooked all the way through, you’ll know it’s ready.


Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe

Your fresh-from-the-oven skillet baked whitefish deserves some good company. Serve it up with a crisp salad and some warm French bread. Now, you’ve got yourself a simple, flavorful supper that’ll have everyone at the table reaching for seconds.

Give it a go, and don’t forget to let me know how your Michigan-style skillet baked whitefish turns out. Enjoy your meal!

Pairing Suggestions:

When pairing your sumptuous Skillet Baked Whitefish, think light and refreshing. You want to complement the delicate flavors of the fish, not overpower them.

Wine: A crisp, fruity white wine is the way to go. An un-oaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Gris are fantastic choices. Their acidity cuts through the richness of the fish, while their fruit-forward notes marry well with the lemony-garlic accents. If you lean towards reds, go for a light-bodied Pinot Noir. Its subtlety won’t overwhelm the fish, and its bright, red fruit character is a pleasing match.

Beer: If beer is more your speed, opt for a Pilsner or a Wheat Beer. Their light, slightly citrusy notes play well with the zestiness of the dish. A Blonde Ale could work too. It’s smooth, with just a hint of bitterness, making it a refreshing counterpoint to our Skillet Baked Whitefish.

Non-Alcoholic: For a non-alcoholic option, try iced green tea with a squeeze of lemon or a tangy, homemade lemonade. Both are cool, refreshing options that enhance the fish’s flavors without stealing the show.

Remember, the best pairing is the one you enjoy the most. So, don’t be afraid to experiment and find what works best for you. And when you do find that perfect pairing, be sure to let us know!

Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe: Nutritional Information:

Please note that the following information is an estimate based on the ingredients in the recipe.

Per Serving (based on 4 servings)

  • Calories: Approximately 300-350
  • Protein: Approximately 20-25g
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 5-10g
  • Dietary Fiber: Approximately 1g
  • Sugars: Approximately 1-2g
  • Fat: Approximately 20-25g
  • Saturated Fat: Approximately 10-15g
  • Cholesterol: Approximately 75-80mg
  • Sodium: Approximately 200-250mg

This meal is a good source of protein and contains healthy fats from the fish. While the butter adds some saturated fat, you can reduce the amount if you’d like a lower-fat meal. The lemon provides a small amount of vitamin C.

Remember, nutrition can vary greatly depending on the exact ingredients you use, so these numbers are a starting point. If you have dietary restrictions or specific nutrition goals, you may want to calculate the values using the specific brands and quantities you use.

Final Thoughts About Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe

Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe served in a cast iron skillet with lemon slices

And there you have it – a taste of the Thumb Region right in your kitchen. Our Skillet Baked Whitefish Recipe is simple to make yet bursting with flavors that transport you to Michigan’s waterside. So why wait? It’s time to turn your dinner into a culinary journey.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

View all posts by Michael Hardy →

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