How Long Does it Take to Marinate Fish? A to Z Guide


Here is a comprehensive guide on how long you should marinate fish for the best results!

The length of time depends on the type of fish and some other factors.

Let’s dive right in!

How Long Does it Take to Marinate Fish?

The marination process of fish can take anything between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending upon the type of fish (firm or flaky), type of marinade (mild or strong) and last but not least, the flavor you want to achieve.

Examples of firm fish include Salmon, Tuna, Halibut, Mackerel, Cod, Snapper, Shrimp, Sardines, Tilapia, Trout etc.

Examples of flaky fish include Flounder, Sole, Plaice, Grouper, Mullet, Bass etc.

I would recommend using a mild marinade for firm fish.

For flaky fish use a stronger marinade like lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce,
honey, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, curry powder, etc.

Other seafood such as shrimps can take 15-30 minutes to marinate based on their size.

It is best to keep the preparation in the fridge to ensure it does not go bad. This is especially true if you plan to marinate for long hours.

Table: Marination Time Based on Fish Type

Fish TypeTime
Firm Fish (Steaks)30 min - 2 hours
Firm Fish (Fillets)30 min - 1 hour
Flaky Fish30 min

Can You Marinate Fish Overnight?

Yes, you MAY marinate fish overnight, but there is no exact answer for this as it depends on various other factors. Many chefs recommend this as a method to ensure the marinade is absorbed perfectly inside the fish while others do not.

This is even better if you plan to cook the fish in the marinade.

Few others recommend not to do marination for more than a few hours as the marinade actually “cooks” the exterior of the fish (as it is Pacific in nature).

While it is always great to experiment, if you plan to marinate fish for a longer duration than a few hours, best to use the mild marinade to ensure that the fish does not fall apart later.

Here is a great video by Chef Ricardo explaining the overnight marinating of the fish –

Things to Know When Marinating Frozen Fish

Frozen fish can be marinated, but the results will be different from marinating thawed fish. You must keep the fish back in freezer/fridge after you have applied the marinade. This ensures the fish does not spill during the process of marination.

After the marination time is over, just take out the fish and directly cook it.

Cooking a frozen fish for sure will take a bit more time than the thawed one. But you save time you might spend in thawing. Also, this virtually eliminates the possibility of fish going bad.

How Long to Marinate Fish in Lemon? Can I Marinate it Overnight?

You can marinate fish in lemon for up to 1-2 hours. Lemon and herb marinate is a great mild option for fish.

You can marinate fish in a lemon marinade if you want stronger flavors. It is not generally recommended to put the citrus-based marinade on fish for too long.

Ensure to refrigerate the fish once you apply the marinade.

Here is a great lemon herb marinade recipe –

How do you Store Marinated Fish in the Fridge?

Yes, you can. Once you apply the marinade, you should keep the fish in the fridge so that it does not spoil. This is even more important if you are looking for extended marination hours.

How long to Marinate Fish Before Frying?

You can marinate fish for 15 min to 2 hours before frying. The marination time is a function of the type of fish, type of marinade and what kind of overall results in terms of flavors you are looking for.

What is Marination?

Marination is the process of soaking or steeping food in a liquid, usually, an acidulated water solution, to tenderize the meat and impart flavor.

The term “marinade” refers specifically to an acidic mixture used for this purpose. Marinating is often done before cooking, but it may also be done after cooking (post-cooking).

What Are Some Good Marinades for Seafood?

Fish and shellfish are especially suited to marinades because they have high moisture content and absorb flavors quickly. Most marinades contain oil and/or vinegar and seasonings such as salt, pepper, herbs, spices, garlic, onions, citrus juice, wine, beer, etc.

A marinade should not be too salty, as it will draw out the juices from the fish. It must be adjusted to taste; if the flavor is too strong, add more seasoning.

Marinades that use alcohol keep the fish moist longer than those without it. If you want to make your own

Final Words

I hope this quick guide helped you with the right time to marinate your fish for the best results!

Do share this with your friends and family who love seafood!

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About Amanda Jones

Amanda is a person with an eye for detail. She has been cooking since her childhood and loves to bake too. Recently, she's made the decision to pursue baking full-time and quit her 9 to 5 job. In the meantime, she still enjoys cooking and baking for friends and family, especially when it comes time for special occasions like birthdays or holidays!