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Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe

Mahi Mahi, otherwise known as Dorado, is a deservedly popular fish. When done right, mahi mahi is tender, flaky, and deliciously flavorful. This lemon garlic butter sauce is sensational. 

Mahi Mahi with Lemon Butter Sauce in pan
This Mahi Mahi recipe yields tender, flaky, and delicious fish

Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe

I grew up in a family that often dished up fish for dinner. Any given weeknight, we would sit down to a meal that included freshly cooked fish. My parents served up all varieties of fish, from whole fish to fish fillets. They used all methods of cooking with their fish recipes, from braised to pan fried.

As a child, I naively thought everyone adored some fish dish. Alas, one day I discovered that was far from truth. (Pssst: I’ve been kinda secretly convinced that it must be because some haven’t found their perfect fish recipe just yet.) 😉

Though there are a myriad of ways to cook up delicious fish – hello, Sheet Pan Lemon Salmon – this easy mahi mahi fish recipe is perfect for anyone to make. It only takes about 20 minutes, it’s super tender, and incredibly tasty. People keep telling me they can’t believe they made this restaurant-quality mahi mahi dish by themselves. You can, too.

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 recipes are a popular fish to serve at restaurants around the world.

Watch us make this mahi mahi

What’s the best way to cook mahi mahi?

Whether you’re a pro fish cooker-eater or you’re trying to start incorporating more fish into your diet, this recipe is a perfect way to serve it up. 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.

Here are some of our helpful tips for cooking mahi mahi:

  • Get either super fresh or quick-frozen, high quality mahi mahi… wild is best and will provide best flavor.
  • Be sure your mahi portions are about 6-7oz each, with 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.
  • Always pat dry excess moisture from the fish; this step is super important, as it affects how well your fish will brown. I use paper towels to fully pat away all extra moisture.
  • Your cooking oil needs to be very hot [like, sizzling] before adding the fish. This allows for quick and even browning of exterior.
  • Once fish is in pan, do not keep. moving it around. Let it sit and brown for 3 minutes. It helps to have a large splatter guard. I use mine often whenever pan-frying foods.
  • Preheat oven ahead of time so that it’s nice and hot when you transfer the mahi mahi directly from stovetop to oven. After 5 minutes in the oven, it’s done.

mahi mahi fillets on cutting board
It’s important to pat-dry fish fillets

Mahi Mahi Lemon Sauce Ingredients

  • Plenty of freshly minced garlic is called for. Don’t skimp on the garlic.
  • 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.
  • I prefer to use salted pure butter, but feel free to use unsalted if you like as long as it’s real butter.
  • For freshly chopped herbs, choose from chives or parsley…or both.
  • Tip: 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 with Lemon Butter Sauce in pan
Use mahi mahi fillets that are at least 1-inch thick

What to serve with Mahi Mahi?

This fish dish is one of our favorites for everything from quick weeknight dinners to small dinner parties. If your friends enjoy restaurant-quality fish dishes, they’ll be in awe of you for serving this mahi mahi. Because the Lemon Garlic Sauce can be made in advance, all you need to do is cook your fish, which takes about 8 minutes total.

Mahi Mahi with Lemon Butter Sauce on plate
Serve mahi mahi with rice, potatoes, or vegetables

Mahi Mahi Recipe
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.

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.

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.


Easy Perfect Mahi Mahi Recipe

4.77 from 201 ratings
Mahi Mahi, otherwise known as Dorado, is deservedly a popular fish. When done right, mahi mahi is tender, flaky, and deliciously flavorful. This lemon garlic butter sauce is sensational. 
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

For the Lemon Garlic Mixture:

  • 2 TB salted butter, softened to room temp
  • 1 TB freshly chopped chives or parsley
  • 2 TB garlic cloves, minced
  • tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TB juice from fresh lemon
  • 1 TB grated lemon peel

For the Fish:

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 4 1-inch thick each mahi-mahi fillets, 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.
    Mahi Mahi Sauce Ingredients in Pan
  • 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.
    mahi mahi fillets on cutting board
  • 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.
    Mahi Mahi Cooking in Skillet
  • 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.
    Mahi Mahi Roasted in Pan
  • 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. 
    Mahi Mahi Lemon Sauce Poured

Notes

Be sure to use coarse 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.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating 🙂 

Nutrition

Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.1g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4.6g | Cholesterol: 67.4mg | Sodium: 124.4mg
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat
Method: Oven, Skillet

Did you make this?

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

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Recipe Rating




308 comments

    • Kathryn
    • 5 stars

    I love this recipe! Last night I used lime instead of lemon and I have to say, it’s even better! WowZow what a taste treat!

      • Amy Dong

      Awesome, Kathryn!

    • Mariela

    Why caught fish get rubbish?

    • Lori
    • 3 stars

    Definitely easy, but be sure to watch your fish closely. I shortened the time, and mine was still over cooked. Flavor was just ok.

    • F. Nesaw

    The Mahi Mahi recipe is aptly named. It is easy, came out perfect and was delicious!!!!

    • JC
    • 5 stars

    I loved it. It was great!!

    • Marilyn
    • 5 stars

    This was excellent. I will do my fish like this from now on. I quadrupled the sauce, it was that good. And was great for dipping fresh bread into also.

    • Lisa Settle
    • 5 stars

    First time making mahi mahi and boy was this awesome! Put it over your brown rice instant pot recipe.

      • Amy Dong

      Yay, Lisa! 🙂

    • Tricia
    • 5 stars

    Absolutely amazing!!! I made this tonight for dinner and it was fabulous. I will definitely make it again and again… thank you!

    • Cate

    Omg, I made this for dinner last night and it was delicious.
    Thank you for the recipe!!

    • Melanie
    • 5 stars

    Delicious and easy enough for this cook, who is always nervous making fish dishes. Thank you!

    • Amy L Pogue
    • 5 stars

    This recipe is easy and delicious! I didn’t have lemon peel, but it still turned out great.

    • Janis
    • 5 stars

    This was a absolutely delicious and easy to fix. Served in a bed of wild herbed rice.

    • Bobbie

    raw garlic? I’m about to put it in the oven…. the garlic doesn’t cook?

      • Katia

      Could probably fry the garlic in butter and add more butter + the other ingredients afterwards while it’s hot

      • Katia

      Oh I didn’t read it any better than you it says “heat your small pan of prepared lemon-garlic mixture over medium high heat, constantly stirring, just until melted and bubbly.” in one of the longer steps

    • Karen
    • 5 stars

    This is so good and easy! We always make extra of the lemon sauce to put over veggies we serve with the fish.

    • Laurel
    • 5 stars

    Fabulous! I made mine with 1 mahi mahi and 2 salmon filets. Husband, college teen and I all loved it! Thanks for posting.

    • Jen
    • 5 stars

    FRIGGING DOPE! I am a fish hater. Can’t say that anymore

      • Amy Dong

      That’s the best news, Jen!

    • Tony Pellitteri
    • 5 stars

    This was fantastic! I doubled the recipe (6 kids), so I used jarred minced garlic instead of fresh (4T is a lot of garlic to peel and mince). The recipe is simple but so flavorful. Since I was doubling, I used two pans and turned on my oven’s convection fan. 5 minutes @400F brought the fish up to about 160F in the middle, so I could have reduced the time by a bit, but it really didn’t taste overcooked! Everybody loved it, even the 3-year-old and the one who doesn’t like fish…he went for seconds! Try this recipe, you won’t be disappointed!

    • Sonya
    • 5 stars

    I have been cooking for many years and can honestly say that this is one of the best fish recipes I’ve ever made. Definitely plan to make it again and to use the technique of stovetop to oven with other thick fish fillets. I couldn’t believe how good it was – definitely fine restaurant quality! Thanks for sharing it.

    • Algonquin J. Calhoun

    Uh…are you supposed to turn if over before you put it in the oven..? A little unclear…

      • Algonquin J. Calhoun

      Please delete my comment…I misread the instructions.

    • Melanie
    • 5 stars

    Very tasty. ✅
    Quick and easy to prepare. ✅
    Dry parsley seems to work if needed. ✅

    10/10 this is a recipe I will be saving and returning to. The taste is impeccably balanced between rich, tart and savoury. Totally elevated dinner this evening.

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