How to Cook Fish on the Grill with Foil

How to Cook Fish on the Grill with Foil
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Grilling fish is one of the best ways to cook fish. It is incredibly easy and cooks the fish very fast. It is also a very healthy way to cook fish without introducing a lot of fats and oils to the fish while cooking it.

Knowing how to cook fish on the grill with foil will help you to produce a better end product. If you want to know how long to grill salmon in foil or how to grill tilapia in foil, then this article will help you to raise your fish grilling game and work out some of the kinks.

Using the Foil to your Advantage

When grilling fish, you can lay it straight down on the grates to get some nice grill marks on the flesh and crisp up the skin nicely. To do this, you have to make sure you have very clean grates before laying the fish on them.

You also have to make sure that the fish has a thin layer of oil on the meat before laying down. Sometimes if the grill is not hot enough, the fish will stick to the grill and tear up the filet in the end.

To get around almost all of these problems you have when grilling fish, you need to learn how to use foil in the cooking process. Foil will become your best friend when grilling fish, whether you use it as a surface or if you wrap the fish in it.

Your fish will not stick to the grill anymore, and you will end up with a great finished product anyone could be proud of.

Choosing the right Fish

Not all fish are meant to be grilled. And to further that point, some fish will fall apart on the grill, and you will be left with nothing. Grilling salmon and tuna steaks are pretty common in the grilling world.

But when it comes to a flaky, white fish like cod or tilapia, you are going to run into some problems. If you know how to grill tilapia in foil the correct way, you will have no problems.

Even if you like to grill salmon occasionally, but don’t want to have any the grill or char marks on the fish and would like to steer away from any direct heat, then foil will come in handy. But if you have never used foil to cook fish, several; questions will arise.

Such as, how long do you grill salmon in foil, or is grilling on aluminum foil safe in the first place? No matter what fish you decide to go with, aluminum foil will help you achieve anything. All fish are possible to be grilled when using aluminum foil.

Fattier and Steak-like Fish

These types of fish will be the higher fat content fishes and the oily and steak-like fishes. These fish types hold up on the grill well because they act like a steak on the grill.

The fat content also helps during the grilling process to keep the fish intact and not fall apart. It is unnecessary to grill these types of fish using aluminum foil, but if you want to achieve a different outcome from the grilling process, it will be. Some of these types of fish are Tuna, Salmon, Swordfish, Mackerel, and Herring.

When grilling these fish on foil, you can just lay the foil out on the grill and lightly coat it with a little cooking spray or oil to keep the fish from sticking to the foil. With this method, you can use direct heat or indirect heat.

But if you choose to use direct heat, you can’t have it turned up all the way. The heat needs to be low to medium. Otherwise, it could burn the foil and cause it to fall apart. When grilling on the foil, think of it as you would if the fish were cooking in a skillet on the stove.

Also, you won’t need to move the foil around on the grill. It can stay right where you put it, and you can move the fish around or flip it on the foil if needed during the grilling process.

well-sealed foil packet

Knowing how to grill salmon in foil or some of these other types of fish is a much different method and is best used for the flaky and lighter kinds of fish. Creating a foil packet for the fish to cook in can be used on these fatty and oily fish, but they will benefit from using aluminum foil as a grilling surface.

Additionally, a well-sealed foil packet can help your salmon retain moisture and flavors if you add sliced lemon, onion, or your favorite herbs.

Flaky and Light Fish

When you are grilling these types of fish, using aluminum foil to your advantage is much easier and almost a set it and forget kind of way. But not really; you still need to pay attention.

Some of the types of fish that will need to be enclosed in foil when you grill them will be lower in fat content, flaky, and can dry up very quickly if overcooked. They tend to be white fish such as Tilapia, Cod, Skate, Fluke, Flounder, Bass, Haddock, Pollock, and Halibut.

Of all these fish, the most common to find in an easily accessible grocery store will be tilapia. It is found on many restaurant menus because it is easy to cook, very easy to source, and very cheap to purchase. If you know how to grill tilapia in foil or any white fish for that matter, then you are already ahead of the game.

The method of grilling fish in foil is straightforward. All you need to do is wrap the fish in aluminum foil. Make sure to close all the sides up tight so that the fish can be quickly baked or steamed in the foil.

You can also put many other things inside the foil with the fish to get more flavor into the meat, like oils, butter, seasonings, spices, and vegetables. As it cooks, so will everything else inside the packet, and ultimately it will be a steaming effect.

You will also want to cook the foil packet over indirect heat so as not to burn the packet’s contents and keep the integrity of the fish intact. Just place the fish wrapped in foil on one side of the grill and light the other side. Continue to cook and check the fish every so often until it is done to your liking.


While there are a few downsides to using foil on your grill, like the possibility that it can stick to your food, the benefits far outweigh these downsides. Some benefits of foil include easy cleanup, kitchen to grill convenience, retaining moisture, and keeping delicate fish intact.

We hope this look at how to cook fish on the grill with foil has helped you on your grilling journey.


pans out of aluminum foil

Can I make pans out of aluminum foil for grilling fish?

Yes, our favorite use for aluminum foil is to make custom size pans for the grill or smoker. Take a pan that you would use in your oven for your fish and wrap foil on the bottom to shape and create your pan. Lightly spray your pan with vegetable oil spray, place it on your grill then add food. Avoid lifting the foil pan with food inside because it might rip.

How long does it take to grill salmon in foil?

Depending on the filet’s size and how high the heat is on your grill, salmon could take anywhere between 5-10 minutes. Cooking salmon to well done is not necessary. So, the temperature you are going for will also determine the amount of time required to be on the grill.

Is grilling on aluminum foil safe?

Yes, It is entirely safe to grill on aluminum foil. It may add a little aluminum to your daily intake, but the amount you get from grilling on the foil is almost nothing. Just don’t eat the foil, and you will be fine.

Should you use aluminum foil on the grill?

Yes, there are many instances when aluminum foil should and could be used on the grill. Sometimes it is necessary to use it on the grill. Aluminum foil is a valuable tool to use when grilling.

Should I smoke fish in aluminum foil?

There are pluses and minuses to smoking fish in aluminum foil. The biggest minus is that you will not expose your fish to the full benefit of the smoky flavors. Two big pluses are easy cleanup, and if you seal your fish in a foil packet, it will retain its natural moisture.

Can you grill steak with aluminum foil?

Yes, you can grill steak on aluminum foil just like you would if you were grilling salmon on foil. The foil creates a barrier between the meat and the grates. It acts as a grilling surface while still gaining that desired grilled flavor.

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