You'll love this tasty Blackened Grouper Sandwich, a classic Florida dish! I layer seasoned, fresh grouper on toasted rolls with a crunchy mango slaw and tangy lime aioli. Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes and you'll feel like you're dining oceanside, soaking up the Florida sun!
We eat a lot of seafood in my house. Not only is it nutritious, seafood is also quick and easy to cook, which makes it perfect for weeknight meals. Some of my favorite family-friendly seafood dishes are my Salmon Burgers with Dill Yogurt Sauce, Award-Winning Shrimp Saganaki and Miso Maple Glazed Salmon. But this mouthwatering sandwich may just top the list!
Why you'll love this dish
A grouper sandwich is a must-have Florida dish that's a staple on restaurant menus! But you can make a pretty darn tasty and healthy grouper sandwich at home too.
My Blackened Grouper Sandwich features fresh, seasoned Florida grouper on a warm, toasted bun. I top it with a sweet, crunchy mango slaw and a tangy lime aioli. Yum! Even your kids will gobble it up.
When you dive into this sandwich, you'll feel like you're on vacation, dining on the beach, soaking up the sun. The only other thing you'll need is a cold drink in your hand!
What is a grouper sandwich?
Although it may not be as well known as a Cuban sandwich or key lime pie, the grouper sandwich is a Florida institution! After a long day at the beach, it's hard to beat a fresh grouper sandwich and a cold drink at a relaxing beachside cafe.
Grouper is the ideal fish for sandwiches because of its mild flavor and firm texture. It also pairs well with a wide variety of sauces and toppings. And it doesn't fall apart when you bite into it like some other types of fish.
There are more than twenty varieties of grouper found in the Gulf and Atlantic around Florida. Grouper is a firm white fish with a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Its mild but distinctive flavor is somewhere between bass and halibut.
When cooked, grouper has a firm texture and large, chunky flakes. It's a lean fish but remains moist when cooked.
Grouper is also a versatile fish. You can grill it, bake it, pan fry it or poach it. One of the most popular ways to serve it is deep-fried on a sandwich.
A grouper sandwich can be fried, grilled, or blackened. A classic grouper sandwich is pretty simple- a piece of fresh fish served on a bun with perhaps a slice of tomato, lettuce, and a dollop of tartar sauce.
However there are endless variations of this classic sandwich- every restaurant has its own version! Some include a slice of American cheese on their sandwich. Others top their grouper with different types of slaws and flavored mayonnaise. I've even seen it sandwiched between two donuts!
What does "blackened" mean?
“Blackened” should not be confused with “burnt.” In the culinary world, blackened means that the food is coated in a blend of spices that takes on a very dark brown, almost black color when cooked. Blackened usually refers to meat, chicken or seafood. When the protein in seared in a pan, a light crust forms.
Blackening spices are typically blends that use traditional herbs and spices from Cajun and Creole cooking. Blackening is a great way to add flavor to your food without adding a lot of calories and fat.
Grouper is a very nutritious food. It's low in mercury, low in saturated fat, and high in protein. It's also a good source of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
Grouper also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, although not as much as fatty fish like salmon, herring or mackerel. Read my post all about the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because of all the health benefits, the Dietary Guidelines for American recommends eating at least 8 ounces (2 servings) of seafood per week. But in reality, about 94% of children and 80% of adults currently do not eat the recommended amount of seafood.
- Grouper fillets- the star of the dish
- Dried spices- I use paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt
- Olive oil- I use heart-healthy olive oil instead of butter to sear the fish in the skillet
- Coleslaw mix- the slaw adds a nice crunchy texture to this sandwich. You can use pre-packaged coleslaw mix or you can shred your own veggies. I use a combination of red cabbage, green cabbage, and carrots.
- Mango- I dice fresh mango and add it to the slaw for sweetness
- Lime juice- adds brightness to the slaw and also to the lime aioli
- Honey- adds a hint of sweetness to the slaw
- 2% Greek yogurt- forms the base of the creamy lime aioli
- Mayonnaise- gives you that classic tartar sauce flavor
- Fresh herbs- for an extra pop of flavor, I like to stir some fresh cilantro or parsley into the aioli
- Sandwich rolls- you can use any type of roll you like such as kaiser rolls, brioche rolls or hamburger buns. I like to use soft rolls like potato rolls. Sometimes I make smaller versions of this sandwich to serve at parties and use slider rolls. My kids also like the smaller sandwiches.
1. Cook the grouper
First, make a simple spice rub by combining paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the grouper fillets with the spice mix, rubbing it in. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the fish. I like to use a cast iron skillet.
Cook 4 minutes then carefully flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes until the fish is cooked through.
I like to cook the grouper in a skillet because I like the nice crust it gets when it sears in the pan. However, you can also throw it on the grill or bake it in the oven. Any of those methods are healthier than deep-frying it like restaurants do.
2. Make the mango slaw
I top the grouper with a sweet, crunchy mango slaw. First, make the dressing by whisking lime juice and honey together in a medium bowl. Then, add the shredded vegetables and diced mango, season with a pinch of salt, and toss to combine.
3. Make the lime aioli
The final touch is the creamy lime aioli that I drizzle on the sandwiches. The classic grouper sandwich uses tartar sauce but I love the way the tangy sauce complements the zesty fish and sweet slaw. I make the aioli with a mixture of Greek yogurt and mayonnaise. Using Greek yogurt allows me to cut back on the amount of mayonnaise. Then I stir in fresh lime juice and some chopped, fresh herbs like cilantro or flat leaf parsley.
4. Assemble the sandwiches
Just before assembling the sandwiches, I toast the rolls. You don't want to serve the hot grouper on a cold bun! You can toast the rolls in a toaster oven or place them on a baking sheet and put them under the broiler for a minute or two.
Then, place the grouper fillets on the bottom halves of the toasted rolls. Top with a dollop of lime aioli and some mango slaw. Add the roll tops and serve!
What to serve with this dish
If you're a traditionalist, you can serve this sandwich with French fries, potato chips or sweet potato fries. For a healthier option, make my Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries, Zucchini Tots, Perfect Air Fryer Asparagus or Air Fryer Baked Sweet Potatoes.
To make this sandwich a complete meal, serve it with a salad like my Tuscan Kale and Apple Salad, Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad or Butter Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk Herb Dressing.
FAQs and chef's tips
Grouper has a mild yet distinct flavor. It's slightly sweet, similar to bass and halibut. Red grouper is sweeter and milder than black grouper.
Yes, it is! Grouper is low in mercury, low in saturated fat, and high in protein. It's also a good source of a wide variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamins B6 and B12, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium.
If you can't find grouper, you can substitute any firm white fish like sea bass, mahi mahi, halibut or snapper.
You can test to see if your fish is done is by testing it with a fork, at the thickest part, and twisting gently. The fish will flake easily when it's done. Also, when it's cooked, it will lose its translucent appearance and will be opaque.
More sandwich and burger recipes
Blackened Grouper Sandwich with Mango Slaw
- 4 grouper fillets (6 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 ½ cups shredded red and green cabbage and carrots (can use packaged coleslaw mix)
- 1 cup diced mango
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons 2% Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped herbs like cilantro or parsley (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 sandwich rolls
- To make the mango slaw, whisk the lime juice and honey together in a bowl. Add the cabbage, carrots, mango, and salt. Toss to combine.
- To make the lime aioli, mix the yogurt, mayonnaise, lime juice, and herbs together in a bowl.
- To make the blackened grouper, first make a spice rub by combining the paprika, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder and salt together in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with the spice mix, rubbing it in. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the grouper. Cook 4 minutes then carefully flip the pieces over and cook another 3-4 minutes or until fish is cooked through.
- To assemble the sandwiches, place each piece of grouper on a roll bottom and top with a dollop of lime aioli and some mango slaw. Add the roll tops and serve.