This delicious easy oven-baked swordfish with lemon and olive oil vinaigrette requires minimum preparation and is ready in less than 30 minutes.
It is a perfect example of the simplicity of the Mediterranean cuisine, and combines the meaty texture of swordfish with the tangy flavor and citrus taste of lemon.
Just like this easy salmon recipe swordfish is very simple to make, comes together in minutes and is perfect as a weeknight dinner.
But contrary to salmon, swordfish can dry out easily, which means that you should be careful not to over-cook it.
According to bonappetite.com swordfish can be cooked in many ways and you'll most often find it in steaks. If you purchase it in whole slices, you can easily cut them with a sharp knife.
To make a swordfish steak, first you cut the body of the fish in thick slices and then you cut each slice in half. If the fish is large, you will also cut each half in the middle, so from one slice you'll get 4 steaks.
However, the shape of the swordfish steak is not as important as its thickness, because the thickness will determine the cooking time.
Generally, most swordfish steaks are 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.
For my taste, the best swordfish is made on the grill over the charcoals, but since this is not always very easy, baking it in the oven or pan-searing it in a skillet are your next best options.
Some simple ingredients are all you need to make this delicious recipe:
- Swordfish steaks
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice (you can also add a bit of lemon zest)
- Dried oregano
See recipe card for quantities.
Prep: Preheat your oven and pat dry the steaks with paper towels. Sprinkle the salt and black pepper on both sides.
Bake: Rub the olive oil onto both sides of the swordfish and transfer them to a baking dish. Bake for 12 -15 minutes or until the fish is white and flakes easily with a fork (if using a kitchen thermometer the internal temperature should register 145 °F / 63 °C).
Make the lemon vinaigrette: Transfer the olive oil, the lemon juice, the garlic, the oregano and a pinch of salt to jar, close the lid firmly and shake until you get a creamy dressing.
Serve with the vinaigrette on the side, to drizzle over the steaks.
Many recipes bake swordfish at 375 °F. However, baking it at a higher temperature (400 °F ) cooks the fish faster and keeps it juicy because it has less time to dry out.
Adjust the cooking time based on the thickness of your swordfish fillets:
- For 1-inch thick pieces the baking time will be 12-15 minutes.
- For thinner steaks reduce the baking time by 2 minutes approximately, and for thicker pieces increase it by 2 minutes.
Check for doneness by ensuring the fish flakes easily with a fork or by using a kitchen thermometer.
Any flat baking dish will do. I prefer a dish with tall sides (such as a casserole) because the juices and the olive oil can sizzle, so the sides prevent them from splattering the interior of the oven.
To marinate or not?
I tried this recipe with and without marinating the swordfish.
The differences were minimal, but without marinating them, the fillets were juicier and more tender.
With the marinade the fillets were a tad less moist. In a way this makes sense because the acidity of the marinade "cooks" the flesh (it causes the fibers to coagulate and the meat to firm up).
In terms of taste I didn't notice any dramatic differences either, probably because the lemon vinaigrette that gets drizzled over the baked fish provides so much flavor and richness.
The marinade (optional)
If you choose to marinate the fish steaks you can do that in a small bowl or you can use a zip lock bag. Just add 1 tablespoon olive oil, one tablespoon lemon juice, half a garlic clove (minced), a pinch of salt and a pinch of dried oregano for every swordfish steak.
Substitutions - Variations
Olive oil. If possible, use extra virgin olive oil especially for the lemon vinaigrette. For baking you can also use butter or another vegetable oil.
Oregano. Dried or fresh thyme, fresh dill, fresh rosemary or finely chopped green onions can be used for a different flavor. If you have another kind of seasoning like Italian seasoning, you can also try that.
Extra spices such as sumac, white and pink peppercorns, ground coriander, or saffron can also be used.
Garlic. You can just omit it, or replace it with dried garlic granules or chopped shallots.
Swordfish can be substituted with other meaty fish such as tuna, salmon, or halibut but the baking times may be different.
Storage - Reheating
Transfer any leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
This baked swordfish can be eaten cold from the fridge (actually, it's very nice this way, especially with some of the lemon vinaigrette) or you can briefly reheat it in a microwave oven.
How to choose swordfish
When choosing swordfish, there are a few things you pay attention to, in order make sure the quality is good.
Appearance: Look for swordfish fillets or steaks that have a firm texture and moist appearance. Avoid fish that appears dull or dry.
Smell: Fresh swordfish should have a mild, clean, and slight ocean smell. Avoid fish that has a strong, fishy odor or ammonia smell as it may indicate that the fish is not fresh.
Texture: Gently press the flesh of the swordfish with your finger. It should feel firm and dense. Avoid fish that feels soft or mushy.
Source: Whenever possible, choose swordfish that is sustainably sourced. Look for certifications such as MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) or labels indicating that the fish is caught using sustainable fishing practices. These certifications ensure that the fish is sourced responsibly and helps protect the marine environment.
Purchase from a reputable source (a trusted fishmonger, seafood market, or grocery store known for their quality seafood).
Remember to store the swordfish properly once you bring it home. Keep it refrigerated and use it the same or the next day for the best flavor and quality.
Side dishes - Pairing
Oven-baked swordfish with lemon vinaigrette pairs well with a variety of side dishes. It can be served with balsamic glazed roasted vegetables, asparagus, green beans, Air fryer Brussels sprouts, or a light salad. You can also serve it with rice or quinoa.
In these photos it's served with a simple couscous salad with fresh parsley, chopped cherry tomatoes and cucumbers.
Here are some more side dishes you can serve it with:
Finish this healthy meal with a refreshing, healthy treat like this strawberry milkshake without ice cream.
Oven baked swordfish recipe with lemon vinaigrette
- 4 swordfish steaks 1-inch thick, (approximately 6 oz / 170 grams each)
- Sea salt (or kosher salt to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the lemon vinaigrette:
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup (54 g) extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest, optional
- A pinch of salt
- Salt and pepper both sides of the swordfish steaks 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat your oven to 400 °F (205 °C) and line a baking dish with parchment paper (when using a porcelain casserole I find that the parchment paper is not necessary).
- Rub both sides of the steaks with the olive oil and the minced garlic and place them in the baking dish.Bake, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork (a kitchen thermometer should register 145 °F / 63 °C).
- In the meantime, transfer the ingredients for the vinaigrette to jar, close it tightly with th elid and shake to combine.
- Remove the swordfish from the oven, plate and serve with the lemon vinaigrette on the side.
Swordfish is a meaty fish with white flesh and mild slightly sweet taste. It is similar to mahi-mahi and fresh tuna, so if you like the taste of these fish, you'll probably also like the taste of swordfish.
Yes, frozen swordfish can be used in this recipe, as long as you thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.
No, it is not necessary to rinse swordfish before cooking, but it can remove any bone fragments and bits of skin if the fillets are not completely clean. In any case, if there's any moisture on the flesh, pat it dry with paper towels before you begin the cooking process.
Flaking with a fork is the easiest way to tell if the fish is done. The meat should be fork-tender with off-white color. You can also use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature in the thickest part of the fillet. When cooked properly, the temperature should be 145ºF (63ºC).
Like most white fish, swordfish is high in protein and low in fat, carbs and calories. So, nutrition-wise it is considered a very healthy option suitable for people who follow the Mediterranean Diet. It is also suitable for paleo and keto diets.
However, being a large fish, swordfish swordfish has high levels of mercury which is toxic in large amounts. That's why swordfish is not recommended for pregnant women, those breastfeeding, or young children. Even for normal adults, swordfish and other top ocean predators should be eaten in moderation. For weekly consumption it is best to choose smaller fish.
The white gunk we sometimes see oozing out from cooked fish is a type of coagulated protein called albumin.
This is something normal that happens sometimes and it's not related with the quality of the fish. If that white stuff bothers you, you can easily remove it by scrapping it out with a spoon. Salting the fish 30 minutes before cooking or marinating can eliminate or decrease it.