Roberta’s Lemon Herb Fish (in parchment paper)

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Lemon Herb Fish in parchment paper is an incredibly healthy recipe that is also stunningly beautiful.   Prep it ahead of time and you’ll have an easy weeknight 30 minute meal, or a company-worthy dish.

Healthy Lemon Herb Fish ready to bake in a parchment packet

My friend Roberta has been doing Weight Watchers for years.  She’s had a lot of success with the program and so she plans to stick with it for life.  Because she minimizes calories, she’s learned lots of tricks to maximize flavor.  This is how she does fish.  It’s practically calorie free.

Tilapia with fresh lemons

She let me in on her secret the other day while we were having lunch.  (She probably took pity on me after she ordered a large salad, and I ordered my usual: anything as long as it comes with a big pile of fries on the side, please.)

Tilapia with lemons and thyme

She bakes her fish on a bed of thinly sliced lemons.  Roberta slices them with a sharp knife.  I did mine with my mandolin.  It makes incredibly thin and even slices. That mandolin was so inexpensive, and I’ve gotten a ton of use out of it.  If you don’t have one yet, go out and get one—you won’t believe the cool things you can do with it.

I used Tilapia, but I can’t think of a fish that wouldn’t be great cooked like this.

Roberta's Lemon Herb Fish topped with fresh sage

Roberta uses seasoning salt.  I sprinkled on sea salt and pepper, then topped the fish with fresh herbs.

Use whatever fresh herbs you like.  I used sage and thyme.

Roberta sprays the fish with an olive oil spray and bakes it on a baking sheet.  I drizzled mine instead and wrapped it up in parchment packets.  To wrap the fish, layer out the lemons, fish and herbs on a sheet of parchment paper about the size of your baking sheet.  Bring up the long sides together, and fold over twice, like you were closing a paper bag, creasing well after each fold.  Then fold each end twice, the same way, only folding it under, so the packet stays neatly wrapped while it bakes.

You could serve these at a dinner party with each packet containing a different fresh herb.  How cute would that be.

Ok, I admit it, I dotted on a little bit of butter just before I closed up my packages.  Just don’t tell Roberta.
I baked the tilapia at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.  You can eat your moist, steaming hot lemony fish right from the packet.

I have to say I was blown away by how much bright citrus flavor gets into the fish by cooking it on top of the lemons like this.  I especially like the micro-thin slices that I got with my mandolin…they cooked down enough that I could actually eat them along with the fish.  I’m going to use this technique a lot from now on.   And remember, you don’t have to use parchment paper; you’ll get the same great flavor just using a baking sheet like Roberta does.

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5 from 2 votes

Roberta’s Lemon Herb Fish (in parchment paper)

Lemon Herb Fish in parchment paper is an incredibly healthy recipe that is also stunningly beautiful.   Prep it ahead of time and you'll have an easy weeknight 30 minute meal, or a company-worthy dish.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 2 servings


  • 2 fish fillets, I used tilapia
  • 2 lemons, washed and very thinly sliced
  • fresh herbs, I used sage and thyme
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • a drizzle of good olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter for dotting, optional but good!


  • Set oven to 400F
  • Fan out the sliced lemons on two sheets of parchment paper to form a bed for the fish.
  • Lay the fish on the lemons, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Arrange the fresh herbs on top of the fish, and then give it a light drizzle of olive oil. Dot with butter, if using.
  • Wrap the fish in the paper. Bring the two long sides up and fold like a lunch bag. Fold the two end as well, tucking them under the fish so the packet stays secure. Make a small slit in the paper to allow steam to escape.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. Serve the fish hot, still in the packets.


Don’t forget to pin this lemon herb fish in parchment!

Lemon Herb Fish in parchment paper is an incredibly healthy recipe that is also stunningly beautiful.   Prep it ahead of time and you'll have an easy weeknight meal, or a company-worthy dish. #fish #parchment #glutenfree #paleo #whole30 #lowcarb #meatless #seafood #papillote #fatfree #healthy #weightwatchers #dinner #maincourse #30minutemeal #bakedfish

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  • Reply
    June 15, 2020 at 6:31 pm

    I’m like a few years late but I wanted to try this but I only have salmon, and can’t go to stores. Will that work

    • Reply
      June 15, 2020 at 6:33 pm

      Yes, but salmon tends to be thicker, so you might need to cook it longer.

  • Reply
    June 8, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Roberta is a genius.

  • Reply
    Jacquelyn Grandy
    June 7, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Ok, this looks easy enough for me to cook up. I know fish is one of the easiest things to make, but it has always intimidated me. I have only cooked salmon thus far and still I sometimes over or undercook it. I love how this is all cooked in parchment and that there are no messy pans to clean up. All you have to do for clean up is compost the parchment and lemons.

    I am going to give this a try! Thanks Sue.

  • Reply
    Lea Ann
    June 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Pinned! And as always, great photos. I love this idea. I’ve done lemon/lime slices baked on top of fish, but wrapped in parchment with herbs is way better. I’ve never thought to slice lemons on the mandolin. Thanks for the tip.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Fish in parchment–classic! I love all the different herb options. Plus, how easy is it to cook fish like this? I vote for super easy. Great all-round. 🙂

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm

      The ease is a big plus, and there’s no pans to clean up either. I like that you can make the packets ahead and keep them in the refrigerator, too. Fish is usually such a last minute thing.

  • Reply
    The Silver Bunny
    June 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Superb ! Great inspiration !

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Yum. I make this a lot and play with infused olive oils. Basil olive oil is really good–I still use lemon slices underneath, the basil oil, and then sliced tomatoes on top. Is that weird? It’s good.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      Sounds amazing. I haven’t played around with infused oils yet, but I want to.

    • Reply
      Janet Wise
      April 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm

      Sue, it’s worth the trip to Balboa Island to Olive Oil and Beyond for oils and vinegars. The store’s owner goes annually and picks out the fruits he wants to infuse his oils with. His recent trip produced some incredible bergamot, some blood orange, onion, porcini and some I cannot remember. Everything is organic and bottled on the premises. Just had to say something!

      • Reply
        January 25, 2019 at 7:54 am

        It wounds amazing, I’d love to get there!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    This is a beauty. I will be doing this with tilapia this week! (I threw out my mandolin after I sliced off a piece of my finger – I cannot play with sharp objects).

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      I find the mandolin a lot safer than my sharp knife…I have to keep a huge box of bandaids in my kitchen cabinet…

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I love this, definitely going to try it out one of these days. And you definitely sold me on the mandolin. On the list to buy now!

  • Reply
    thyme (Sarah)
    June 5, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I got so excited seeing this dish! I know how awesome and fresh it tastes because we make it over here too. In fact, I have a huge bag of flounder from Sam’s and I wish I had a bunch of lemons. My kids love the crackling of the parchment and the aroma when you cut into each adorable parcel. Yours looks just delicious!!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 11:45 pm

      Thanks Sarah, but I will never be able to photograph fish the way you. (That must sound weird to non-food bloggers) We don’t get flounder down here, and I miss it.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Sue, that is utterly beautiful, I don’t eat fish but i would dip my fork into that parchment parcel.

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      Well, the fish isn’t quite as pretty once it’s cooked, but it does taste good. No fish at all? You’re missing out on so much!!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    This is a wonderful technique for cooking fish. Your photos are wonderful and succeeded in making me hungry. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  • Reply
    Tricia @ saving room for dessert
    June 5, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve heard of this but haven’t tried it … yet! I also have a mandolin but have never figured out how to use it. I know that is a poor excuse. This is a beautiful packet of fish. Yum!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    I usually put the dish with the fish under the broiler for about 10 minutes (5 minutes on each side), but this looks interesting too. I will try it.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve done this with foil before and loved the way it turned out. The flavors are amazing when they cook together like this. Very thin potato slices mixed in are delicious as well!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      You reminded me that I guess you can put the packets on the grill, especially using foil. I’ll try the potatoes, that does sound good.

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    This is one of my favorite ways to keep delicate fish intact and impart flavor. I love your dinner party idea – how fun would that be! I love how simple and beautiful this is!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      Too bad we don’t all live in the same town…how fun would a food bloggers block party be? (say that 3 times fast)

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I need to eat more fish. I live on cape cod for petes sake!

    • Reply
      Sue/the view from great island
      June 5, 2012 at 10:42 pm

      The fish here in CA just isn’t nearly as good as it is in New England, but I will say there seem to be more varieties available. I’m going to force myself to branch out, but I’m pining for some lobster!