Mackerel Rollmops
fish fillets being put into a storage jar with herbs and spices

Mackerel Rollmops

Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 rollmops
fish fillets being put into a storage jar with herbs and spices

My family love rollmops which are basically pickled herring.

Mackerel vs Herring

During the British summer, living near the south coast of England we catch far more mackerel than we do herring. The Scandinavians have been pickling fish for centuries and there are plenty of recipes on the web for pickling mackerel.

One one recent fishing trip my eldest son and I were discussing ways of storing mackerel other than freezing them. Defrosted mackerel is not very good for cooking as it loses its firmness and falls apart. What would mackerel taste like if we pickled it rollmop style? How would it compare to traditional herring?

Making the Rollmops

So a culinary experiment was born with some of that days catch destined for the pickling jars.

mackerel fillets on a cutting board

I use a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for making herring rollmops so we just substituted mackerel and followed his recipe.

mackerel fillets soaking a deep dish of pickling brine
Our mackerel fillets soaking in brine

Now we had to wait a week before tasting the alternative rollmops.

The Result

At the family tasting session I am pleased to say that the mackerel rollmops were a great success. The only slight surprise was that there was little or no difference in taste between the mackerel and herring pickled this way.

fish fillets being put into a storage jar with herbs and spices

Cider Vinegar and Orange Mackerel Rollmops

Mackerel fillets pickled in an aromatic and zingy marinade
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Course: Snack
Cuisine: 🇬🇧 British
Keyword: British, fish, mackerel
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Soaking Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6 rollmops
Calories: 757kcal
Author: Richard


  • 6 fresh mackerel gutted and filleted

For the Brine:

  • 60 g salt

For the marinade:

  • 500 ml cider vinegar
  • 250 ml cider
  • 12 allspice berries
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Zest of 1 large orange pared into wide strips with no white pith
  • 1 onion small, red or white, very thinly sliced


  • Check the mackerel fillets for any pin bones and remove as necessary. Dissolve the salt in 500ml cold water to make a brine, then add the fillets. Leave for two to three hours.
  • Meanwhile, make the marinade. Put all the ingredients in a saucepan, bring slowly to a boil and simmer for a minute. Set aside to cool.
  • Drain the mackerel fillets from the brine and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Roll them up, skin side out, from tail end to head end, and pack the rolls into three sterilised 500ml preserving jars. Pour the ­marinade over the mackerel, making sure you get some of the spices and zest in each jar, then seal.
  • Store in the fridge for at least three days before eating. They’re best eaten five to 10 days from ­jarring, but will keep for up to a month. The longer you leave them, the softer and more pickled they’ll get.


Calories: 757kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 91g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g

You may also like one of my other recipes …

Cider Vinegar and Orange Rollmops
Herring fillets pickled in an aromatic and zingy marinade
Check out this recipe
Grandads Cookbook may reference or include sections of text and images reproduced courtesy of:
  • Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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