Easy Grilled Mackerel Fillets (Air-fryer Adaptable)

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This grilled mackerel with Asian spices is a quick, easy, healthy and flavorful fish recipe to make for your busy weeknight dinners.

a plate of Asian grilled mackerel fillets with a lime wedge on the side

You can cook the dish with an outdoor grill, a stovetop grill pan, or an air-fryer. I like to eat these grilled mackerel fillets with steamed rice and a side vegetable dish or a small bowl of soup. Here are some of the dishes you can serve with it:

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Mackerel (also called saba in some Asian countries): I prefer using fillets over whole fish since it is quicker to marinate and cook. 

Sake or rice wine: rubbing the fillets with a bit of sake or rice wine helps remove any overly strong fishy odor.

plates containing ingredients for the recipe

Marinade: the marinade consists of soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, ground turmeric, five spice powder, pepper and red pepper flakes if you like to add some heat. The mackerel fillets don’t need a long marinating time; otherwise, they may become too salty. I usually find 10-15 minutes on the kitchen counter is enough.

Cooking Notes

This Asian grilled mackerel fillets recipe is ready in under 30 minutes and here are the main cooking steps:

1️⃣ Rub the fillets with some sake or rice wine.

pouring some sake over mackerel fillets

2️⃣ Blitz together all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the fish for 10-15 minutes.

rubbing the fish with marinade

3️⃣ Grill the mackerel fillets for several minutes on each side until just cooked through.

cooking the mackerel fillets on a grill pan

Note: Don’t overcook the fish, or it will be dry. Serve right away with a wedge of lime or lemon on the side.

a plate of grilled mackerel fillets served with rice

⭐️ I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on FacebookYoutubePinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.

a plate of grilled saba fillets

Easy Grilled Mackerel Fillets (Air-fryer Adaptable)

This grilled mackerel fillet with Asian spices is a quick, easy, healthy and flavorful fish recipe to make for busy weeknight dinners.
Author: Sophie
5 from 1 vote
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 2 people


  • 2 mackerel fillets (about 12 oz/340g)
  • 1 tablespoon sake or rice wine

For the Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons chopped cilantro (or parsley)


  • Rub the mackerel fillets with the sake or rice wine. Set aside for about 4-5 minutes, then pat dry.
  • Mix together all ingredients for the marinade except the chopped cilantro. Rub the marinade over the fillets and set aside at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.
  • While marinating the fish, preheat your grill pan (or outdoor grill) over medium heat. Once it is hot, oil the grates.
  • Shake off excess aromatics on the mackerel and then cook on the grill until just cooked through, about 3 minutes each side. Adjust cooking time as needed and avoid overcooking the fish.
  • Sprinkle chopped cilantro over the flesh side of the mackerel fillets. Remove from the grill and serve right away.


To serve: serve the fish with a wedge of lime or lemon on the side. It goes great with steamed rice.
Air-fryer suggestion: preheat your air-fryer and cook the mackerel fillets at 180°C (350°F) until just cooked through. It may take 5-6 minutes, but exact cooking time will depend on your air-fryer and the size/thickness of the mackerel fillets.


Calories: 799kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 92g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 212mg | Sodium: 897mg | Potassium: 1896mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 118mg | Iron: 6mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Asian Fusion
Keyword: grilled mackerel, grilled saba
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