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How to Cook Mackerel

How to Cook Mackerel

Last Updated on 24th February 2022 by

Mackerel has a distinctive, strong flavor. This oily fish is nutrient rich, so it’s a healthy addition to your diet. These are an easy fish to find in the market, since they’re so sustainable.

If you’re worried about overfishing of mackerel, you can put your mind at ease and make them a regular part of your diet without feeling guilty.

When I think of cooked mackerel, the first thing that comes to mind is mackerel fried filet. It’s a simple but elegant dish served for breakfast throughout the world, and it’s probably one of the best ways to have this fish.

It’s not the only way, though, and I’ll show you a method or two to cook mackerel, and you can compare to see which is your favorite.

How to Cook Mackerel in a Can

Mackerel one of several fish that’s often sold in the can, because it preserves so well. If you’re getting it from the can, it’s already cooked and ready to eat. You’ll probably want to warm it up, though, unless you’re adding it to salad or a sandwich.

One of the best ways to use canned mackerel is to incorporate it into a soup, stew, or stir fry. Use it in place of chicken or any kind of fish, and it makes a great substitute for tuna in any dish you would have used that fish for.

How to cook canned mackerel and make a soup from it? Let me show you a quick and easy method you can use. Try sautéing some garlic and onions together in butter and then pour can of tomatoes (or use sliced tomatoes) into the skillet as well. Add in enough water to cover your mixture and make it a broth, and then add in a variety of sliced or diced vegetables.

Let these cook for a few minutes until they become soft, then take your prepared canned mackerel and add it as well. Mix that around and bring everything to a simmer, then season with black pepper, salt, and whatever other spices you like.

If too much of the water has evaporated to make a soup, you can just add a little bit more and mix it through.

How to Cook Whole Mackerel

If I have whole mackerel available, I’ll probably go straight to frying it up as my preferred method of how to cook mackerel like this. Try this recipe for fried mackerel and see how it compares to something like tilapia or catfish.


  • 4 whole mackerel (cut into fillets, if desired)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 large knob of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper


  1. Using the salt and pepper, season the flour in a bowl.
  2. If you’re fileting the fish, cut and wash it and then pat it dry. Otherwise, skip to the next step.
  3. Coat your fish in the flour by rolling it around.
  4. Heat up the butter and oil in a skillet on the stovetop at medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the fish (if filets, with the skin facing down).
  5. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side until the fish is slightly crisped. Be careful about overcooking the fish, as it burns and dries out easily.

You can use this same method for how to cook king mackerel and mackerel steaks. The steaks may take a little longer to cook, as they tend to be made from thick pieces of fish.

How to cook mackerel steaks so that they cook thoroughly and are not underdone? You can check to make sure that the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees Fahrenheit by the time you are done cooking them. 

How to Cook Mackerel in the Oven

Oven baked mackerel filets are heavenly when well seasoned. The natural oils in this fish helps them to cook through in a way that produces a moist and succulent fish. How do you cook mackerel when you are using the oven?


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare the fish with seasoning by sprinkling it with salt and pepper and then rubbing the fish down with cooking oil and lemon pepper or other seasonings you would like to use.
  3. Place the fish onto a baking sheet and put it into the oven on the middle rack once the oven has heated all the way.
  4. Then, cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit and starts to turn golden brown and crispy on the outside. 

You can garnish your mackerel with a can of stewed tomatoes or make a garish yourself. To make a homemade garnish that is excellent for any kind of mackerel, slice up onions and tomatoes and mince a couple cloves of garlic.

Then, heat up a tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add your veggies, once the butter has melted. Cook them until the garlic starts to turn brown and fragrant and the onion softens.

You can pour that over your fried, grilled, or baked mackerel for a tasty, saucy garnish.

How to Cook Spanish Mackerel

No matter what kind of mackerel you are cooking, you can use the same methods I have already provided for you. These cook up nicely on the grill as well, giving you a flame grilled and slightly charred texture.

The frying pan is the quickest way to cook up Spanish mackerel or any other kind of mackerel, but the added oil and frying method can be unhealthy, adding a lot of cholesterol to the dish.

Baking in the oven can be one of the simplest and healthiest methods, and you can use a heart-healthy oil for a lower cholesterol dish, like coconut oil or olive oil.

Or, you can leave off the oil entirely. Remember that mackerel has its own oils that help it cook through and remain juicy and tender.

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I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!