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Whole roasted mackerel: the omega-3 powerhouse

I think mackerel might be the best fish ever. I’m in love.

I love eating fish. I was actually a pescatarian from the ages of 15 to 25, so a lot of my protein came from seafood. However, near the end of that time, I developed an allergy to shellfish and pretty much every fish that thrives off of them. It was the worst, and not just because I like fish, but because the right ones are so freaking good for you. That meant no to anything except the really huge fish that eat other fish (and therefore have a lot of mercury) or the really tiny fish that eat mainly sea plants.

Enter mackerel, my saviour. Specifically, Atlantic mackerel.

Not only is mackerel the fish with the highest omega-3 content, it’s also chock-full of selenium, a powerful antioxidant, and plenty of D and B vitamins. Outside of it being a nutrient powerhouse, mackerel is sustainable and low in mercury. You will notice there are other varieties, like King or Spanish, which are much bigger and contain a lot more mercury, and aren’t recommended for regular consumption.

It’s pretty much undisputed at this point that we need to get more omega-3s into our bodies, both with conventional doctors and natural health professionals. It aids in heart health, brain health, joint health, and a myriad of other potential concerns. However, in the standard North American diet, we eat way more omega-6s (found in processed vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and more) than 3s, which leads to inflammation and throws our bodies out of whack. While omega-6s are an essential fatty acid that we need, they do take up real estate where those nourishing omega-3s would like to be, so we need to make sure we keep the 3s high enough to combat inflammation caused by the 6s. If you want to learn more about these two fatty acids, this is a helpful article.

While you can certainly take fish oil supplements daily, it’s always good to get your nutrients from whole foods as much as possible. Mackerel is highly delicious way to do so.

These fish are usually about a pound, so they are often sold whole and are much cheaper to buy that way. You may not find them at the grocery store, but most fishmongers sell them and can gut and clean them for you. If you want to do it yourself at home, I support that! (Please comment to let me know if you’re interested in learning how to gut your own fish; it’s a little messy, but pretty easy.)

You can stuff your mackerel with pretty much anything aromatic. Below is my go-to for any fish, but I’m also loving a version right now with lime, shallots and jalapeño. Serve it up with your favourite crunchy or tangy condiments (ahem, sauerkraut), plus whatever veggies you have on hand.

This recipe is for a single fish, enough for approximately two servings, but feel free to double or triple up. Because it is so oily, it makes for great leftovers and won’t dry out easily. I love keeping some in the fridge to throw on top of a salad for lunch, since it tastes just as good cold.

Whole roasted mackerel

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Course: Main Course

Keyword: AIP, egg-free, fish, gluten-free, grain-free, keto, mackerel, nut-free, omega-3, paleo, whole 30

Servings: 2


1 whole Atlantic mackerel, gutted and cleaned

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tb avocado oil or other heat-stable oil

Sea salt

1 lemon half sliced thinly, half reserved for finishing

1 clove garlic thinly sliced

3 sprigs oregano


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F and put a rectangular glass baking dish in the oven to heat up.

  2. Sprinkle olive oil and salt the cavity.

  3. Stuff the cavity with aromatics (lemon, garlic and oregano).

  4. Rub avocado oil on the outside of the fish and sprinkle salt all over.

  5. Take out the baking dish and place the fish on it; it will sizzle. Your smoke alarm may go off. Be ready.

  6. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until the fish flakes and is easy to open up and fillet.

  7. Fillet the fish, squeeze the remaining half a lemon on top, and serve. (There are plenty of good videos online for how to fillet a fish.)

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