Easter go-to foods such as lamb, eggs, and hot cross buns are rich with the ancient religious symbolism of sacrifice and rebirth. But enjoying fish as part of Easter meals from Good Friday through Easter Sunday remains a resonant way for Christians to connect to the works and identity of Jesus Christ.

After his death, Jesus appeared to his disciples — most of whom were fishermen — on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Upon returning from an unsuccessful fishing trip, the hungry disciples were met by the resurrected Jesus, and he performed a miracle, providing them with abundant fish and bread. And while first-century Jews who had converted to Christianity still retained some of their Jewish traditions of Passover, such as eating lamb, by the second century, the letters in the Greek word for “fish” — ichthys — became an acronym for “Jesus Christ, Son of God Savior in Greek,” making fish a symbol of Christianity through the ages.

These seven easy Easter fish recipes offer fresh ideas for holiday appetizers, brunch spreads, and main course fare.

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Lox and bagels for Easter brunch are delightful, but so too is smoked salmon (brined, then lightly smoked) on a Wolferman’s English muffin. The salmon is layered with tomato, topped with a classic poached egg, and smothered in a rich hollandaise sauce that comes together quickly in a blender. To warm the sauce, use a double boiler method on the stovetop or microwave in 15-second increments on high, stirring in between, until warm.

MORE: What’s the Difference Between Lox and Smoked Salmon?

Easter fish recipes with a plate of smoked salmon eggs Benedict.

Crab cakes

Crab cakes make a terrific, crowd-pleasing appetizer or brunch meal. The sweet meat of Dungeness crab is perfect for crab cakes, but the hard shell of this species makes it tricky to crack. Fresh, shucked crabmeat is a worthwhile shortcut and investment. The best part of this recipe is you may have most of, if not all, the remaining ingredients — mayonnaise, seasonings, egg, breadcrumbs, and butter — already on hand. Chilling the crab cakes in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before frying helps keep them compact. 

Easter fish recipes with several crab cakes topped with sauce.

Shrimp and Grits

Pairing sweet, meaty shrimp with grits and andouille sausage, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes is a classic South Carolina low country dish that makes for a satisfying, flavor-packed Easter fish recipe. Salting the shrimp 45 minutes before cooking will thoroughly season them and assist in getting a nice brown sear on them when they hit the pan. Butter, grated cheese, and a spoonful of mascarpone make the grits extra creamy.

Bowl of shrimp and grits.

Caviar and tinned fish

Easter and other holidays call for caviar — pile it on a blini (a small buckwheat flour pancake), crackers, or toast points, top with crème fraiche, hard-boiled egg, or chopped scallions, and serve with sparkling wine. Tinned sardines have been enjoyed worldwide since antiquity, and like other tinned fish, such as salmon and tuna, are versatile, economical, and delicious. Layer sardines in a holiday casserole of creamy scalloped potatoes for a satisfying dish reminding you of seafood potato chowder.

Easter fish recipes with a spread of caviar.

Smoked Salmon Rillettes Dip

Rillette is a slow cooking method traditionally reserved for cooking pork in its fat until it falls apart and is spreadable. In other words, absolutely luscious! Spin rich smoked salmon into a luscious rillette-style dip to add to an Easter appetizer board and serve with vegetables, crackers, or grilled pita strips. 

Easter fish recipes with a jar of smoked salmon dip and crackers.

Broiled Halibut with Lime Tarragon Aioli

John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus the “Lamb of God.” Since the first century, eating lamb on Easter Sunday has symbolized Jesus and his sacrifices. This broiled halibut topped with an aioli made with tarragon — a citrusy herb with soft spice notes — is perfect for observing the Lenten tradition of eating fish on the Friday (Good Friday) before Easter Sunday. Serve with grilled asparagus — a sign of spring’s arrival.

Easter fish recipes with a plate of broiled halibut topped with sauce.

Salt-Baked Sea Bass

In the latter half of the 19th century, ham became part of a traditional Easter dinner since it was more affordable than lamb, mouthwatering, and made an excellent presentation. We love this holiday-worthy, salt-baked sea bass recipe, which will impress and is so simple to pull off. Pack a fillet or whole fish in kosher salt, and top with lemon and herbs, and in just 30 minutes, you’ll render a moist, tender fish. And since the salt crust creates an enclosed, compact cooking environment, the aroma of fish will not permeate your home. Serve with the best of the season’s vegetables, and drizzle with a purée of bright herbs. 

Salt baked sea bass on a platter.

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Theresa Gambacorta is a food writer and 25-year veteran of New York City's restaurant industry. Her writing has appeared in such titles as La Cucina Italiana, Men's Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, and Centennial's special interest publications. She is the co-author of chef Joey Campanaro's Big Love Cooking (Chronicle) and is currently working on a cookbook about Persian cuisine to be published by Knopf.

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