How to Cook Fish in One Pot in Just Minutes

How to cook fish and sides in one pot in minutes.


A tradition for hundreds of years, fish boils are a popular way to cook fish in the Great Lakes region. The tradition was likely brought to the region by Scandinavians who settled in the area where fish were plentiful.

Basic Equipment

A fish boil is just what it sounds like—how to cook fish in a large pot for a crowd. While a cast-iron kettle would be the traditional type of pot for a fish boil, stainless steel or aluminum pots also work.

Cooks can make a fire under the pot or use a propane system like a turkey fryer. You’ll also need a large wire basket and a smaller wire basket—these will hold the fish and other ingredients in the pot.

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While whitefish and trout are traditional ingredients, salmon and walleye are also common. When cooking for a crowd, think 3/4 to 1 pound of fish chunks per person. Traditional fish boils also include potatoes and onions which are cooked with the fish.

Get the fish ready by removing large scales. If the fish is still whole, slit it and remove the gills and internal organs. Cut the fish into chunks or steaks, minus the head and fins. Fillets can also be used but may fall apart during the boil.

A gallon of water should be used for every three pounds of fish. When it comes to salt, think a quarter cup of salt per pound of fish.

You’ll also need seasoning to throw in the boil. The easiest way to do this is to make a cheesecloth packet with herbs such as peppercorns, bay leaves and allspice.

Many serve coleslaw and slices of bread along with the meal. You can also include parsley for the potatoes and lemon slices for the fish.

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How to Cook Fish

Bring the water and half of the salt to a rolling boil. Place the potatoes in a large wire basket and lower into the water. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the onions and boil them with the potatoes for 4 minutes. Next, add the rest of the salt and lower the smaller basket containing the fish. Boil for 10-12 minutes until the fish flakes easily.

Before removing the baskets, skim the froth from the top of the pot. Drain the baskets and serve immediately.

Need an outdoor table to serve your fish boil on? Check out this rock-solid picnic table with benches.

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Rachel Brougham
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