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Whole Rainbow Trout Recipe with Soy-Citrus

This rainbow trout recipe is a great way to cook a whole fish. Everything is prepared in a single skillet. The fish gets seared on the stovetop before finishing in the oven, so you don’t need to flip it while cooking.

The soy-citrus sauce brings a sweet tang and the flavors blend together beautifully. It takes about 10 minutes of prep and less than 20 minutes to cook!

A whole baked rainbow trout on a serving platter.

If it sounds intimidating to cook a whole fish, you need to try this recipe. You might even find it is easier to cook a whole fish than to cook fillets (however, our bourbon salmon and rockfish recipes are pretty easy).

There isn’t any need to remove the skin, bones, or head. Cooking the fish whole, with the skin still intact will ensure that the meat stays moist and tender. The skin peels off easily and the flesh readily pulls away from the bones when the fish has finished cooking.

Our rainbow trout recipe is:

  • Simple, one-pan recipe that requires minimal prep
  • Flavorful and vibrant dish
  • Has a delicate and buttery flavor
  • Takes less than 20 minutes to cook

Whether you catch your own fish or buy it at the grocery store, this cooking method will make any trout dinner memorable. Serve it with some kimchi fried rice or instant pot black rice and a cucumber salad or maybe some steamed broccoli.

Ingredients needed for a baked rainbow trout recipe.

The Ingredients You Will Need:

  • 1 rainbow trout. This recipe if for a whole rainbow trout. Gut the fish, scrape the scales off, and trim the fins.
  • Olive oil. Any cooking oil will work but we always keep olive oil on hand.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemons. We used lemon slices to stuff inside the trout plus we added lemon juice to the sauce.
  • Red onion. You can also substitute with yellow or white onions. The onion gets stuffed inside the rainbow trout and used as an aromatic.
  • Garlic cloves. We sliced some garlic cloves to stuff inside the fish cavity then we minced a few more so we could add them to the pan sauce.
  • Italian parsley. Use a handful of parsley to stuff in the fish cavity as an aromatic then toss some chopped parsley into the pan sauce when the trout is finished baking.
  • Butter. You can use salted or unsalted butter. Salted butter will not make this recipe too salty so use whichever one you have on hand.
  • Soy sauce. If you want to keep the trout recipe gluten-free, purchase tamari or gluten free soy sauce.
  • Fresh ginger. Fresh grated ginger will add a warm, peppery bite to the sauce. If you freezy your ginger root then it will be much easier to grate.
  • Orange juice and lemon juice. The sauce gets finished with citrus juices. You can use freshly squeezed, concentrated, or bottled juice.

Showing how to remove the skin from a baked rainbow trout.

How to Cook A Whole Rainbow Trout:

Here is a quick overview of how to cook up an impressive whole rainbow trout recipe at home. Make sure to scroll to the printable recipe card for all the details.

  1. Scrape the scales off the skin and trim the fins.
  2. Stuff the cavity of the fish with aromatics.
  3. Place the trout in a hot skillet and give one side a good sear. Add the butter and soy sauce to the skillet then spoon the sauce over the top of the fish.
  4. Bake the trout in the oven.
  5. Remove the trout from the skillet but keep the sauce in the pan.
  6. Place the skillet on the stove and finish cooking the pan sauce.

Spooning sauce over a rainbow trout.

Our rainbow trout recipe is a great way to cook your fresh catch of the day. The recipe only takes 20 minutes to cook and the fish stays moist because its skin holds in the moisture. We also like that this dish can be made with just one skillet, which means fewer dishes to clean up!

Helpful Tips:

Did you catch your own fish? Make sure you clean your catch as soon as possible. Gutting the fish right away will keep it fresh and clean tasting. If you leave entrails in, they’ll quickly degrade the flavor of your prized catch!

If you purchase your trout in the supermarket, have the fishmonger descale the fish for you (it will already be gutted). It will save you a messy job.

Sear the fish on one side. You don’t need to flip the fish. The hot skillet gets the bottom of the fish seared and the oven will roast the top of the fish.

Use a large skillet. If your trout is too large for the skillet you can cut the head off to make it fit.

A fork flaking off a piece of rainbow trout.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I need to tie the fish with twine?

If you want to tie the fish with twine, you certainly can. Tying it closed will keep the aromatics inside and help it cook more evenly. Since we do not need to flip the trout in this recipe and it cooks from both sides, we kept things simple and did not tie the fish.

Do I need to cut slash marks on the outside of the fish?

You can if you want to. Many recipes for whole fish will have you cut slash marks through the skin so the fish cooks more evenly. I like to keep the skin intact so it holds moisture in. This recipe cooks trout very evenly since the skillet is already hot when you place it in the oven.

Helpful Tools:

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Some Other Recipes We Are Sure You Will Love:

Baked Salmon with Mustard Sauce is a quick and easy entrée that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. This baked salmon has a zesty flavor thanks to a creamy wholegrain mustard sauce.

If you’ve never cooked wolffish before, start with this baked wolffish recipe. It’s cooked in a white wine lemon butter sauce that complements the sweet, flaky flesh perfectly.

Sweet and tangy with a satisfying crunch, these fish tacos with pomegranate salsa are the best. Tender tilapia is served with crisp jicama slaw and sweet pomegranate salsa on a toasty corn tortilla. It’s a fun twist on taco night that we know you’ll like!

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A whole baked rainbow trout with citrus pan sauce.

Whole Rainbow Trout with Soy-Citrus

Yield: 1 trout
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 33 minutes

This dish is as easy as it gets. It's a whole rainbow trout cooked in soy citrus pan sauce, with just a few minutes of hands-on time needed to prep the ingredients and then pop it into the oven.


Prep the Rainbow Trout

  • 1 rainbow trout, gutted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 to 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion sliced, or 1 shallot
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley

For the Pan Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley


  1. Heat oven to 425°

Prep the Rainbow Trout

  1. Scrape the scales off the trout and use some kitchen scissors to trim the fins off.
  2. Coat the inside and outside of the trout with olive oil then salt and pepper. Stuff the fish with lemon slices, onion, garlic, and parsley.

Sear then Bake the Trout

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Place the fish in the skillet and press down firmly so the skin gets a good sear.
  3. Add the butter and soy sauce to the skillet and let the butter melt (it will foam and sizzle). Tilt the pan and spoon the butter mixture over the fish. Cook for 1 minute then remove the skillet from the heat (don’t flip the fish). 
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for 12 to 18 minutes.

Finish the Pan Sauce

  1. Remove the trout from the oven and transfer it to a platter. Leave the juices in the skillet and place the skillet on the stove over medium heat.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet and saute for just a few seconds. Add the orange juice and lemon juice, then simmer for about 2 minutes to reduce the sauce. Stir in the chopped parsley.
  3. Garnish the trout with lemon wedges and serve with the pan sauce. 


  • If you purchase your whole fish in the supermarket it will already be gutted. If you catch the fish yourself, make sure you gut it as soon as possible (don't wait until you get home). Gutting the fish right away will keep it fresh and clean tasting. If you leave the entrails in the fish too long then they will degrade the fish quickly and give it an unpleasant taste and odor.
  • Gutting the fish is easy. Simply slice the belly open and pull out the entrails, row, and lungs. Give the cavity a rinse until the water runs clear.
  • Leaving the head on your fish is a personal preference. If you want to cut the head off, it won't change the cooking time. As a matter of fact, if you have a large trout, you may want to cut the head off so it fits in the skillet easier.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 294Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 912mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 4gSugar: 14gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third-party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

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Saturday 3rd of December 2022

Hi, great recipe but… there is no need to scale a rainbow trout… since there are no scales…

Dahn Boquist

Monday 5th of December 2022

Glad you liked the recipe. All species of trout have scales. They are pretty small, though so I can understand how some people may not notice them. It certainly won't hurt if you don't remove the scales.


Sunday 27th of March 2022

Hey there! How much orange juice and lemon juice in the sauce?

Dahn Boquist

Sunday 27th of March 2022

Hi Callie, use 1/3 cup of each. Thanks for the question. I clarified the amounts in the recipe card.


Saturday 6th of November 2021

Wow! Just wow! I didn't expect it to be as good as it was...I paired it with black rice and it was phenomenal. This has to be one of the best recipes I've ever tried hands down.

Dahn Boquist

Sunday 7th of November 2021

That's quite a compliment, I'm glad you enjoyed this. Thanks for the comment


Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I adore rainbow trout! I usually steam or bake them..fresh and delicious!

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Thanks Angie

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

I really like to start fish on the stovetop, then finish in the oven. Just seems easier, and the results are terrific. And speaking of terrific, loving this recipe. So, so nice -- that sauce looks great. Thanks.

Dahn Boquist

Wednesday 18th of August 2021

Thanks John, it really is easy to start it on the stove. Makes such a well cooked fish

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