Grilling Baskets for Whole Fish

Published July 1, 2011. From Cook's Illustrated.

Fish baskets can make the task of wrestling whole fish off the grill a lot less dicey.

Overview:

These oblong, two-piece metal cages keep skin from sticking to the grill and corral your catch for easier flipping. We grilled large whole striped bass and smaller whole red snapper in six heavy-gauge wire baskets costing $11 to $25, most featuring nonstick coatings and two boasting removable handles. Only the two largest baskets easily cradled a 2 1/2-pound striped bass; of these, our winner also allowed successful turning of fish as small as 3/4 pound. (The wide-set wires of the other large model, from Steven Raichlen, let the little ones get away.) And because its handle is removable, we could lay the basket flat and, if necessary, close the grill lid. A removable handle was a must for another reason: It allowed the basket to fit easily in the dishwasher.

These oblong, two-piece metal cages keep skin from sticking to the grill and corral your catch for easier flipping. We grilled large whole striped bass and smaller whole red snapper in six heavy-gauge wire baskets costing $11 to $25, most featuring nonstick coatings and two boasting removable handles. Only the two largest baskets easily cradled a 2 1/2-pound striped bass; of these, our winner also allowed successful turning of fish as small as 3/4 pound. (The wide-set wires of the other large model, from Steven Raichlen, let the little ones get away.) And because its handle is removable, we could lay the basket flat and, if necessary, close the grill lid. A removable handle was a must for another reason: It allowed the basket to fit easily in the dishwasher.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Charcoal Companion Ultimate Nonstick Fish-Grilling Basket

    A heavy-gauge metal cage treated with a black nonstick coating, this large fish-shaped basket easily accommodated a 2 1/2-pound whole striped bass as well as smaller fish, thanks to wires set less than 2 inches apart. The two pieces latched firmly together and kept the fish securely in place during turning, and the nonstick coating released the fish with the skin intact. The perpendicular removable handle, which is made of rosewood, stayed cool, felt sturdy, and allowed the cage to fit in the dishwasher.

    • Cleanup ★★★
    • Capacity ★★★
    • Sticking ★★★
    • Maneuverability ★★½

    $24.99

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  • Not Recommended

    Cuisinart Simply Grilling Nonstick Fish Fillet Basket

    There was a lot to like about this basket: It closed securely and held the fish tightly in place, and its rubber-coated handle made the tool easy to flip. But it was too small for fish larger than 1 pound, which severely limits its usefulness. (If you can’t make enough fish to adequately feed two people, what’s the point?) Furthermore, the handle, which can’t be removed, protruded past the edge of the grill, raising the end of the basket (and the fish) above the grates and preventing the lid from closing.

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Capacity
    • Sticking ★★★
    • Maneuverability ★★★

    $12.99

  • Not Recommended

    Onward Grill Pro Non-Stick Fish Basket

    As with the other small grill baskets, this model’s handle extended past the edge of the grill, raising part of the fish 2 inches from the grate, and it could only accommodate small fish (no more than 1 pound). Its closing mechanism was also faulty, making us fear that the cage might open as we flipped.

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Capacity
    • Sticking ★★★
    • Maneuverability ★★

    $11.16

  • Not Recommended

    Steven Raichlen Best of Barbecue Nonstick Large Fish Grilling Basket

    Although large enough to hold a 2 1/2-pound whole fish, the cage on this model was hard to securely close because the latches did not line up (a backup model shared the problem). The removable handle has a fussy clip that must be held open to reattach it, putting our fingers too close to the fire. The wires on this basket are very far apart (at 2 1/2 inches, more than half an inch farther apart than those of our winner), which let any fish weighing less than 3/4 pound slip right through when we turned the basket.

    • Cleanup ★★★
    • Capacity
    • Sticking ★★★
    • Maneuverability

    $24.99

  • Not Recommended

    Outset 22-Inch Fish Basket

    This small basket uses a copper-colored nonstick coating, which may account for its higher price but made no perceptible difference in how the fish came out. The design resembles all the other smaller fish baskets, with a nonremovable handle at one end that rests on the grill edge, raising part of the fish away from the grates. For a device that can hold only smaller fish, it’s not worth the price.

    • Cleanup ★★
    • Capacity
    • Sticking ★★★
    • Maneuverability ★★

    $25

  • Not Recommended

    Grillfinity Large Fish Basket

    This basket uses the same design as the rest of the smaller models in our lineup, except its stainless-steel wires lack a nonstick coating. Even fish coated with oil before grilling got stuck on the wires of the cage, which, when opened after grilling, ripped pieces of skin away and compromised the appeal of the finished dish. The wires required scrubbing, even after going through the dishwasher.

    • Cleanup
    • Capacity
    • Sticking
    • Maneuverability ★★

    $16.50

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