Cilantro-Lime Bluegills with Garlic Butter


There seems to be no shortage of Bluegills. Anglers in my home state of Indiana pull in thousands of them per day and there’s always another mess to boat tomorrow. The fish is ubiquitous in North America, which leads to this very common native fish to be rather overlooked. It’s much more exciting to nab that big largemouth, walleye, or striper. But it’s definitely fun to reel in chubby bluegill after chubby bluegill when they’re hitting hard. 

Where I live in Indiana, the most common thing to do with the hundreds and hundreds of bluegill fillets in our deep freezers, is to throw down a big ‘ol fish fry. And I have to say… I will never pass up the opportunity for a gill-fry where I can stack my plate full of crispy fillets, mac n’ cheese, baked beans, and corn on the cob from the garden. 

But, I have to admit, I’m a bit bored of just breaded and fried bluegills, so I have been looking for ways to make them more interesting. What I found was that this unsuspecting, common fish that has been right under our noses forever, is tender, flaky, mild, and VERY versatile in the kitchen!

Here is one of my first forays into next level Bluegill dishes, Cilantro-Lime Bluegills in Garlic Butter!


¼ Cup melted butter, unsalted.

6 cloves minced garlic

Juice of two small limes (about 2 tbsp)

¼ Cup diced red bell pepper

1 lb Bluegill fillets (though you could use whole fish if you prefer, roughly 4 large or 6 medium bluegills)

Sea Salt 

Black Pepper

½ Cup chopped cilantro leaves 



Preheat oven to 425 degrees (Fahrenheit)

Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish with melted butter or olive oil 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together butter, garlic, and lime juice.

Sprinkle the Bluegills with Salt and Pepper. (Go easy, you can add more to your taste when serving.)

Sprinkle with the chopped red bell pepper

Drizzle the fillets with the butter, garlic, and lime mixture

Bake for about 9-12 minutes. When the fish is opaquely white throughout and flakey it is done. 

Sprinkle with cilantro when serving. 



Vegetable side: Grilled or Sauteed Zucchini and yellow Squash

Beer: Modelo, Pacifico, or Corona with a lime

Wine: Pinot Grigio or dry Riesling 

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