Grilled swordfish is easy to prepare, and topped with fresh lemon and basil compound butter, it makes a simple yet flavorful main dish.

Serving platter with grilled swordfish steaks topped with lemon basil butter.

You may think that grilling fish is somewhat tricky, and it can be, but swordfish, with its firm, steak-like texture stands up well to this method of cooking and you don’t need to be an expert to have it turn out perfectly.

Tips for grilling swordfish

Swordfish steaks cook through in less than ten minutes and all that’s needed to prepare them for the grill is a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  • Preheat the grill: Start with clean grill grates and preheat to a high temperature.
  • Season the fish: Drizzle the swordfish steaks with lemon juice and let them sit for a minute to absorb it, then rub both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  • Oil the grates: Even though you oiled the fish, it’s important to oil the grill grates too.
  • Grill the swordfish: Grill until the steaks are opaque all the way through. Depending on thickness, 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 minutes per side should be plenty (don’t overcook).
  • Top with compound butter: A compound butter melts over the fish just as it comes off the grill and adds extra flavor and moisture.
Plated serving of grilled swordfish with lemon basil butter.

Swordfish FAQs

How do I tell if swordfish is fresh?

Swordfish steaks range in color from creamy white to pale pink and often have areas of dark flesh (called the bloodline) running through them. Look for steaks where those dark areas are more red than brown as this is a good indicator of freshness.

Is swordfish considered sustainable?

Most swordfish harvested from US and Canadian waters is sustainably fished and considered to be a good, eco-friendly choice by

Can swordfish be served like salmon or tuna?

Swordfish should be cooked until it’s opaque all the way through, but watch it carefully to avoid overcooking and drying it out.

Can you eat the skin?

The skin on swordfish is very tough and while we recommend grilling with the skin on, it shouldn’t be eaten.

More grilled fish recipes

Grilled swordfish steaks topped with lemon basil butter

Grilled Swordfish with Lemon-Basil Butter

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Swordfish is a great choice for grilling, and topped with fresh lemon basil butter, it makes a quick flavorful meal with very little fuss.


  • 2 swordfish steaks, 1-inch thick (about 2 lbs)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the lemon-basil butter:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1/2 clove)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil


  1. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat.
  2. Cut each swordfish steak in half, drizzle with lemon juice and let stand for 1 minute.
  3. Rub both sides of each steak with olive oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
  4. Place the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt and basil in a small bowl and combine well. Set aside until ready to serve.
  5. Oil the grill grates and add the fish.
  6. Grill the swordfish steaks until opaque throughout, 3-1/2 to 4-1/2 minutes per side. To avoid drying out the fish, do not leave unattended.
  7. Top each piece of fish with about 1 tablespoon of the lemon-basil butter just as it comes off the grill.
  8. Allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 564Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 207mgSodium: 465mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 54g

Note: Nutrition information is estimated and may vary from your actual results.