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Cooking Methods

Learn the different methods of cooking seafood, explore recipes, and how to judge doneness

How Long Should I Cook Fish and How Do I Know When It’s Done?

The two biggest problems in seafood cooking are lack of freshness and overcooking. Fish and shellfish cook quickly, and it’s easy to overcook them.


Fish is perfectly cooked just at the point when it turns opaque. Insert a fork or the tip of a sharp knife at its thickest point and gently push the flesh aside, or flake it.

Some fish, such as tuna and shark, do not flake. Cut into the center of these to check for doneness.

Recipes give you a cooking time, such as “about 8 to 10 minutes.” You should always check before this suggested time. If it isn’t done, you can cook it further, but if you check it at eight minutes and it’s overcooked you can’t remedy the problem. Keep in mind that fish cooked just a bit too long will be dry and tough.

Cook fish for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, and measure at the thickest point. 

  • If baking, cook at 450° F and deep fat fry at 375° F. 
  • Add five minutes to your total cooking time if your fish is cooked in a sauce or is wrapped in foil or parchment. 
  • Double the cooking time when cooking frozen fish.

Fish should reach an internal temperature of 145 F. It usually isn’t practical to use a thermometer, but if it is cooked until opaque and flakes easily it is done.


Shrimp, scallops, crabs and lobsters turn opaque when done. Cut into the center to test.

Cook live clams, oysters and mussels until the shells are opened and the flesh is fully cooked. Before you eat them raw or partially cooked, be sure to read up on seafood safety.

The FDA recommends that in-shell oysters be steamed four to nine minutes or broiled three to five minutes after gaping. Shucked oysters should be fried for three minutes at 375° F; broiled, three minutes three inches from the heat source; baked, 10 minutes at 475° F; or boiled, three minutes.

Clams should be steamed for four to nine minutes.