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Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe

When a mahi mahi recipe is done right, it’s tender, flaky, and deliciously flavorful. This lemon garlic butter sauce is outstanding. 

Mahi Mahi Fillets in Pan with Lemon Butter Sauce.
Mahi mahi is also known as “dorado” and has a mild flavor with flaky texture.

1-Minute Video: Mahi Mahi Recipe

I Grew Up on Fish

I grew up in a family that cooked and ate fish nearly every other day. My parents used all methods of cooking with their fish recipes, from whole branzino fish to pan fried cod.

This easy mahi mahi fish recipe is the perfect restaurant-quality dish that anyone can make at home without fear. It takes less than 30 minutes, is saucy, and tender. Even if you’re new to cooking fish, you can absolutely succeed with this recipe!

People rave over this mahi mahi recipe, our Baked Salmon, and Easy Halibut Recipe!

Mahi Mahi Fillets with Lemon on Plate.
Serve mahi mahi with plenty of garlicky lemon butter sauce.

What is Mahi Mahi?

Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian name for dolphinfish, Coryphaena hippurus, or dorado, though it is completely unrelated to dolphins. It was so named, as this fish tends to swim in a similar fashion to dolphins. Mahi Mahi is a surface-dwelling fish that’s commonly found near the Gulf of Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, and the Indian Ocean. Due its mild flavor and firm yet moist flesh, mahi mahi is a popular fish to serve at restaurants around the world. It’s one of our family’s go-to fish!

Key Recipe Ingredients

  • Olive Oil: we use olive oil for best flavor and a healthy boost. Don’t be shy with it.
  • Mahi Mahi: Look for fish fillets that are 1-inch thick throughout the entire fillet, and roughly 4oz per fillet. Frozen or fresh fillets are fine.
  • Garlic: Plenty of freshly minced garlic is called for. Don’t skimp on the garlic.
  • Lemon: Grab one fresh lemon and zest the peel; then squeeze 1 TB of tangy juice from it. Bottled lemon juice isn’t the same, so use fresh lemons.
  • Butter: I prefer to use salted pure butter, but feel free to use unsalted if you like as long as it’s real butter.
  • Herbs: For freshly chopped herbs, choose from chives or parsley or both.

Substitutions and Variations

  • You can use any other firm, white fish for this recipe. Try halibut, cod, or red snapper. Just be sure fillets are 1-inch even thickness throughout.
  • You can substitute with canola or vegetable oil, if you prefer not to use olive oil.
  • Any variety of your favorite herbs will work great for garnish.

Step-By-Step Instructions

We use the stovetop-to-oven method of cooking here, like we do with this trusty lemon garlic swordfish, which yields a nicely browned exterior yet tender, flaky center.

  1. Combine all Lemon Garlic Mixture ingredients in a pan, stir, and keep warm.
  2. Pat-dry all excess moisture from the fish fillets with paper towels. This step is important! Sprinkle fillets with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  1. In a large oven-proof pan, heat oil until sizzling hot, Add fish to pan and cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes – do not move fish around. Flip fillets and immediately transfer pan into hot oven.
  2. Roast fish at 400F about 5 minutes or just until the top is golden and center is just cooked through. Do not overcook.
Mahi Mahi Lemon Sauce Poured
  1. Pour warm lemon butter sauce over the cooked fish and serve.

For complete list of ingredients and instructions, see recipe card below.

Pro Tips for Success

mahi mahi fillets on cutting board
It’s important to pat-dry fish fillets to ensure all excess moisture is removed. This helps with browning.

Buying Mahi Mahi

  • Buying Mahi MahiGet either super fresh or quick-frozen, high quality mahi mahi. Wild is best and will provide best flavor.
  • Be sure fillets are at least 1-inch thickness. If your portions are thin or too small, they’ll tend to overcook and the seasoning proportions will be off.

Tips & Tricks

  • Remove Moisture: Pat dry excess moisture from the fish; this step is super important, as it affects how well your fish will brown.
  • The Right Pan: Use a large, oven-proof pan that heats evenly. The right pan makes a difference!
  • Sizzling Hot: Oil needs to be very hot (sizzling) before adding the fish. This allows for quick and even browning of exterior.
  • Keep Still: Do not keep moving fish around in the pan. Let it sit and brown for 3 minutes. It helps to have a large splatter guard.
  • Preheat: Preheat oven ahead of time so that it’s ready for transferring fish directly from stovetop to oven.

How To Prep Ahead

  • If using frozen mahi mahi, thaw it in the fridge 1-2 nights before using.
  • Lemon garlic sauce can be prepared ahead of time, covered, and chilled until you’re ready to warm it up for serving. It’s a great sauce to have on hand.
Mahi Mahi Fillets in Pan.
Use mahi mahi fillets that are at least 1-inch thick

What to Serve with Mahi Mahi

Grains

Vegetables

Potatoes

Questions and Answers

What does Mahi Mahi fish taste like?

Mahi Mahi is famuous for its mild and delicate flavor, and is easily one of the most popular fish served in restaurants. When cooked properly, mahi mahi is somewhat firm yet tender and moist.

What does mahi mahi mean?

Mahi Mahi is the Hawaiian name for dolphinfish. However, this fish is completely unrelated to dolphins.

Can I use other types of fish for this recipe?

Though we highly recommend using mahi mahi for this specific recipe, you can also substitute with swordfish or cod. Be sure to use 1-inch thick fish fillets. We do not recommend thinner fillets such as tilapia for this recipe.

Can I use frozen mahi mahi fillets?

Yes, frozen fillets will work just as well as fresh fillets. Be sure to fully thaw and drain the fish fillets prior to using. Additionally, always pat-dry excess moisture after draining. Defrosted fillets will have much more excess water that needs to be removed.

How to thaw frozen fish?

Thaw fish in the fridge 1-2 nights before you want to cook it. If you forgot to thaw fish and need to use it the same day, submerge frozen fillets in a bowl of cool water just until thawed. Drain well and thoroughly pat dry.

Why do I have to pat-dry the fish prior to using?

Removing moisture from the raw fish fillets is an important step to ensuring you’ll get nicely browned fish. When excess moisture is present, the fish will steam rather than brown, and it will not hold seasonings nearly as well.

Did you make this?

Please give us a rating and comment below. We love hearing from you!

Mahi Mahi Fillets in Pan with Lemon Butter Sauce.

Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe

4.82 from 341 ratings
Mahi Mahi, otherwise known as Dorado, is deservedly a popular fish. When done right, mahi mahi is tender, flaky, and deliciously flavorful. This is restaurant quality fish made easy at home!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

For the Lemon Garlic Mixture

For the Mahi Mahi

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 fillets mahi mahi, 1-inch thick, 4oz each
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F with rack on middle position.
  • Lemon Garlic Mixture (can be made ahead) – in a small pan, combine all Lemon Garlic Mixture ingredients and stir to fully combine. Set aside.
  • Pat-dry all excess moisture from the fish fillets with paper towels. This step is important, so be sure to pat off as much moisture as you can. Evenly sprinkle both sides of fillets with pinches of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set aside.
  • In a large oven-proof pan, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once oil is sizzling hot add the fish fillets to pan and let cook until browned on one side, about 3 minutes – do not move fish around.
  • Carefully flip fish fillets over to the other side, turn stove burner off, and immediately transfer pan into already-hot oven.
  • Roast fish at 400F about 5 minutes or just until the top is golden and center is just cooked through. Take care not to overcook. A minute before fish is done cooking in oven, heat your small pan of prepared lemon-garlic mixture over medium high heat, constantly stirring, just until melted and bubbly.
  • Immediately turn heat off and pour mixture over the cooked fish. Be sure to pour on any juices from the fish pan as well. Serve with extra lemon slices for garnish. 

Notes

  • Be sure to use kosher salt (see why use kosher salt) and not fine table salt. Fine salt is much saltier than kosher in recipes.
  • Lemon Garlic Sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated to serve.
  • A large splatter guard is helpful whenever pan frying. It really helps with random oil splatters.
  • This recipe is part of our easy fish recipes collection. If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating. We ❤️ hearing from you! 
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Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 264kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 731mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 482IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat
Method: Oven, Skillet

More To Cook and Eat

  • Mahi Mahi with Mango Avocado SalsaThis pan seared mahi mahi with mango salsa is scrumptious all by itself, and tastes fabulous with the fish. Tender, flavorful, and flaky white fish can easily be accomplished! 
  • Easy Lemon Butter Fish in 20 MinutesThis Easy Lemon Butter Fish only takes 20 minutes and a handful of ingredients. It’s a delicious and nutritious white fish recipe. Pair with rice and vegetables for a healthy weeknight dinner.
  • Fish with Black Bean SauceFish with Black Bean Sauce is a popular menu offering at many Chinese restaurants.  This dish is savory, flavorful, and perfect over a bed of rice.  Easily make your own deliciously tender and healthy version at home
  • Crispy Baja Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime SauceCrispy Baja Fish Tacos with Creamy Lime Sauce are so yummy, they’re sure to become a fast family favorite! They’re a healthy and tasty addition to your Tex-Mex menu. 
  • White Fish with Lemon Butter Sauce – This is one of the most delicious yet simple ways to enjoy fish for dinner. The flavors of garlic, butter, and lemon fuse together to create a healthy and mouthwatering meal the whole family will devour.
  • Honey Lime Grilled SalmonThis Honey Glazed Salmon is zesty, sweet, savory, and full of flavor in every bite. Such an easy, delicious way to enjoy healthy salmon. 
  • Lemon Butter Cod RecipeCod is a healthy, lean fish that can be easily added to your dinner rotation. This tender, flavorful cod recipe is quick enough for busy weeknights. It’s sure to become a favorite.

    ** This recipe is part of our easy fish recipes collection **

Add a comment

Recipe Rating




370 comments

    • janet wappel

    So you use 2 fillets, then cut each in half to make 4 portions as shown? Thank you!

      • chewoutloud

      You can cut up 2 larger fillets or buy 4 individual-sized fillets. Enjoy, Janet… hope you love this dish 🙂

    • Steven
    • 5 stars

    If I could give 10 stars i would. Delicious, had my 6 year old with his nose in the wondering what dada was cooking. I made cocktail winners and beans which he loves also incase he did not like it, we make him try everything new… well all he ate was fish. Said he wants it again tomorrow. My wife loved it also and she dosent eat fish. Thank you for sharing!!!!!!!!

      • chewoutloud

      Makes me super happy to hear that!! It’s awesome 🙂 🙂

    • Ronald Williams
    • 5 stars

    This recipe was so easy and simple to make. It taste so good and the lemon was refreshing yet mild in the cold weather in NYC . Will use the sauce for other dishes as well. Thank you!!!!

      • chewoutloud

      You’re so very welcome, Ronald! Thanks for coming back to let us know you liked the dish!

    • Christine
    • 5 stars

    I followed recipe to a T and it was perfect! My husband said “don’t loose this recipe “

      • chewoutloud

      Yay, Christine! So happy you guys loved this recipe 🙂 Happy continued cooking!

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