Are Triggerfish Good to Eat?

Are Triggerfish good to eat

If you’re an offshore fisherman, you’ve encountered a Triggerfish.

Triggerfish have become notorious to me for stealing bait and putting up a solid fight, but they’re also excellent at eating. If you’re lucky enough to catch a triggerfish, you might wonder what Triggerfish taste like and how to prepare it.

Here’s what you need to know about Triggerfish, plus three delicious recipes to try.

What Does Triggerfish Taste Like? 

Triggerfish have a light, delicate flavor similar to other white fish like tilapia or flounder. The flesh is firm but not oily, making it a versatile option for cooking. Triggerfish should have a moist, flaky texture and almost a sweet flavor when cooked properly.

I think Triggerfish taste excellent, no matter how you choose to cook Triggerfish. 

What is a Triggerfish

Before we get into where to find Triggerfish and how to prepare this delicious fish, let’s learn more about Triggerfish. Triggerfish are part of the Balistidae family, with over 40 species of Triggerfish. The more popular triggerfish species include clown triggerfish, gray Triggerfish, reef triggerfish, queen triggerfish, and titan triggerfish.

Their unique name comes from a special spine on their dorsal fin that is used to lock themselves into position to prevent them from being pulled off their preferred spot by currents. While this ability might make it more difficult for you to hook them, their delicious meat makes up for it.

Where to Find Triggerfish

Triggerfish can be found all along the east coast of the US in offshore water, anywhere from a couple of miles off the beach to past the canyons. They can also be found nearshore in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean waters.

The most productive Triggerfish populations are, without a doubt, in Florida waters. Along the Flordia coast, anglers are catching Triggerfish year round.

How to Prepare Triggerfish 

Fried Triggerfish in skillet

One of the best things about eating Triggerfish is that there are many ways to prepare it. This fish can be baked, grilled, fried, or even steamed. It pairs well with bold flavors like garlic and lemon and herbs like rosemary and thyme. If you’re looking for inspiration, here are three recipes to cook Triggerfish. 

Recipe 1: Pan-fried Triggerfish with Lemon Butter Sauce


1 lb triggerfish fillets, rinsed and dried

2 tbsp butter, melted

1/4 cup lemon juice

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot.

2. Season the triggerfish fillets with salt and pepper, then place them in the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until the fish is golden brown and cooked through.

3. Remove the pan from heat, then stir in the melted butter and lemon juice. Serve immediately over a bed of steamed vegetables or rice.

Recipe 2: Baked Triggerfish with Creamy Pesto Sauce


1 lb triggerfish fillets, rinsed and dried

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking dish or line it with parchment paper.

2. In a small bowl, mix the garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil, and heavy cream until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

3. Arrange the triggerfish fillets in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Pour the pesto sauce over the fish, making sure that each piece is evenly coated with sauce.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish is golden brown and the center is cooked through. Serve over a bed of steamed vegetables or rice, if desired.

Recipe 3: Grilled Triggerfish with Tangy Mango Salsa


1 lb triggerfish fillets, rinsed and dried

2 mangoes, peeled and diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup red onion, diced

2 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1/4 cup lime juice

Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the grate using a paper towel dipped in cooking oil.

2. Combine the mangoes, bell pepper, red onion, and cilantro in a large bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

3. Grill the triggerfish fillets for 4-5 minutes per side or until cooked through and lightly charred on the outside. Top the fillets with mango salsa and serve immediately.

So, are Triggerfish good to eat? Absolutely! With their mild, flaky flavor and versatile cooking methods, it’s easy to see why so many of my fellow anglers enjoy catching and eating Triggerfish. Whether grilling up some grilled triggerfish or pan-frying your fish in lemon butter.

Common Questions Related to Triggerfish

Man holding triggerfish

Is a triggerfish poisonous?

No, Triggerfish are not poisonous. They are pretty healthy and nutritious, with high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Is it safe to eat Triggerfish?

Yes, it is safe to eat Triggerfish. Triggerfish are low in mercury and other heavy metals.

What’s another name for Triggerfish?

Some alternative names for Triggerfish include Picasso, Pinktail, filefish, leatherjacket, turbot, etc.

Why are they called Triggerfish?

The distinct spines on their dorsal fins are thought to resemble triggers. These spines snap shut when the fish is threatened, making them one of the ocean’s most unique-looking and distinctive fish species. Additionally, some fishermen believe Triggerfish are so-called because they can be pretty feisty and aggressive once hooked.

Wrapping Up

Triggerfish swimming near reef

Whether you’re looking for an easy weeknight meal or something to impress your guests at your next barbecue, Triggerfish is an excellent option. This versatile fish has a delicate flavor that pairs well with bold seasonings and herbs. So if you’re lucky enough to catch Triggerfish (or find one at your local fish market), give one of these recipes a try!

For more info on whether other fish species are good to eat, check out the pages below:

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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