Fish en Papillote Recipe

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If you want to bake tender, flavorful fish, then you’ll want to try this fish en papillote. Baked inside a sheet of parchment paper, you can expect a mouthwatering, fork-tender piece of fish on your plate.

Whole Fish en Papillote

Fish can be a tricky thing to bake because it can tend to overcook very easily, which translates to dry and rubbery fish. Nothing is worse than dry fish!

One way to avoid this calamity is to utilize the French method of “en papillote” which literally translates to in paper or in parchment in French.

To use this method, you simply place a whole fish or fillet of fish inside a packet of parchment paper. 

How do you make parchment packets for fish?

Once the fish is placed on the parchment paper, the paper is scrunched up and folded together along the edges to effectively seal the fish inside the paper. 

The idea behind cooking fish in wrapped paper like this is to have the fish bake in its own steam. This helps ensure the fish maintains its moisture as it cooks.

fish en papillote with thyme and olives

How do you cook en papillote?

You typically season the fish with salt and pepper like your normally would, but you can also add additional ingredients like olive oil, herbs, olives, and veggies that you enjoy inside the packet for enhanced flavor.

A topping like sauce vierge would also be a fantastic choice for your fish packet.

The sealed packet of fish is then placed on a baking sheet and set inside the oven to bake for about 15 minutes. 

You can use a variety of fish depending on your preference, but usually cod, salmon, tilapia, or flounder are popular choices. For my fish en papillote, I used a piece of fresh tilapia.

I seasoned my tilapia with the usual salt and pepper, then some garlic-infused olive oil, thyme, green olives, and bloomed saffron (my personal favorite!).

fish en papillote tilapia

Fish en papillote is traditionally served in its sealed parchment paper so that guests can not only smell the delicious aroma as they rip into the paper, but it also helps keep the juices of the fish in place.

It’s a perfectly light and easy dish to create for any lunch or dinner. 

fish en papillote recipe

Fish en Papillote

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Tilapia cooked inside a parchment paper packet for a perfectly moist and tender fish.


  • 1 fillet of tilapia, or cod, salmon, snapper etc.
  • A generous pinch of kosher salt
  • A slight sprinkle of freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp of good olive oil to drizzle
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • the juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2-3 jumbo green olives, pitted
  • bloomed saffron (see note)
  • parchment paper for wrapping
  • 1 egg white for sealing paper shut


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take a large sheet of parchment paper and fold it in half vertically like a book. Cut out a wide heart shape from the folded parchment paper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan, then add the minced garlic and cook for about 10 to 15 seconds, just until fragrant. Set aside.
  3. Place the fish fillet on one side of the heart-shaped parchment paper. Brush the egg white on the entire border of the parchment paper.
  4. Season the fish fillet with salt and pepper. Drizzle the olive oil that's been cooked with garlic on top of the fish (trying not to get any of the actual garlic pieces on the fish). Add the lemon juice and bloomed saffron. Top fish with thyme and green olives.
  5. Fold the parchment paper over the fish, bringing the empty side over to the occupied side so that the edges meet and create a pocket. Press down on all the edges to seal the paper shut.
  6. Curl the edges of the parchment paper under the fish to create a taco-shaped, sealed envelope. Place the fish onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Serve fish in its paper so that guests can rip into the paper themselves. This helps maintain moisture and aroma.


To bloom saffron, add a pinch of saffron threads to a bowl. Then add just enough hot water to soak them. Let them sit for at least 10 minutes in the hot liquid before using the liquid.

If you don't want to use saffron, you can also use a splash of white wine as an alternative.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298
Fish en Papillote Recipe

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