How to cook fresh mackerel

Mackerel are migratory fish and come to the UK in spring and summer, so now is a great time to buy fresh mackerel! They tend to prefer warmer waters, so the summer months, between June and October, are perfect. Are you looking to buy fresh mackerel? Look no further! At The Cornish Fish Co., we’ve got fresh and smoked mackerel available for you to order. Keep reading to find out more about mackerel and how you can enjoy it!

What is mackerel?

Mackerel are magnificent fish, with blue/black stripes along their backs and silver underbellies. They’re rich in Omega 3 and are abundant around the Cornish coast. They’re a sign that summer is here, and are enjoyed by many fish-lovers. 

Mackerel are generally quite small and are the fastest swimming fish in UK waters. Fishing for mackerel is very popular in the United Kingdom, with most people gaining their initial angling experience through mackerel fishing. You’ll find them around piers and harbours, the ideal spots for fishing on a summer’s day. Mackerel can even be used as bait for larger fish, with many fishermen stocking up in the summer months and freezing them for wintertime. It’s important to note that mackerel is often overfished and wasted, so we only catch it to fulfil demand. 

What does mackerel taste like?

Mackerel has an (undeserved) bad reputation for being greasy, strong, and “fishy-tasting”. Despite this, it’s loved by many. It’s an incredibly flavourful fish, with a balance of richness, saltiness and sweetness. Fresh mackerel is close to the authentic taste of the ocean, similar to tuna. No matter how you prepare it, its unique flavour will stand up for itself. It’s ideally paired with acidic flavours such as lemon, tomatoes, or capers. Its texture tends to be chewy and firm, yet tender. It’s worth noting that canned mackerel has a very different taste compared to when it is fresh, we personally think it’s best enjoyed fresh, but that’s up to you!

Is mackerel sustainable?

Conscious of the environmental impact? The North Atlantic Ocean is a very plentiful source of mackerel, so there’s little risk of extinction. With eco-friendly fishing being more popular in recent years, hand-line methods are favoured. This is the most sustainable fishing method, primarily used by smaller boats – just like the ones we source our fish from at The Cornish Fish Co. Industrial fishing of mackerel has been banned here in Cornwall, so you can rely on us to provide you with fresh, hook and line caught mackerel from small, family-owned day boats. 

Where can you buy fresh mackerel?

As previously mentioned, The Cornish Fish Co. supplies mackerel all through the summer months. Visiting our online shop, you have a choice of smoked mackerel or fresh mackerel – smoked mackerel is a very popular choice, as the smoky flavours pair well with the taste of the fish. Cornwall is an ideal place to buy mackerel from, as it is on the coast of the North Atlantic, where mackerel are commonly found. 

How do you cook fresh mackerel?

Want to buy fresh mackerel but not sure how to cook it? There are a few ways to cook mackerel, such as baking, barbecuing, grilling and pan-frying. You can even make pâté, rillettes, fishcakes and burgers using mackerel. Pan-fried mackerel is generally the most popular option, keep reading to find out how to cook the perfect pan-fried mackerel!

Pan-fried mackerel


  • 2 mackerel fillets, skin on and pin-boned
  • Olive oil, or rapeseed oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon


  1. Season the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper.
  1. Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan.
  1. Once the pan is hot, place the mackerel, skin-side down, into the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high. The fillets will start to curl up away from the heat. You should gently apply pressure to the fillet to ensure that the fish stays flat, with all of the skin staying in contact with the pan.
  1. Cook the fish for around 2–4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Once the skin is crisp and golden, turn the fillet over and turn off the heat. Keep the mackerel in the pan to cook through in the residual heat, then serve with a slice of lemon!

Sounds good, right? You can check out our other recipes here! Now you just need to get your hands on some fresh mackerel! Visit our online shop to browse all of our seafood options. 

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