Pan Seared Salmon

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5 from 33 votes
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Cook restaurant-style pan seared salmon in the comfort of your kitchen with only 5 ingredients and in less than 10 minutes! The salmon fillets turn out juicy and flaky, with moist flesh under flawlessly crispy skin. 

pan sear salmon.

Flaky and juicy salmon fillets are my top choice when I need to put together a quick dinner for myself or the entire family. 

We regularly enjoy cooking with salmon, whether that be air fryer salmon, sauteed salmon, lemon and pepper salmon, or evening stuffed salmon.

When we want to let the natural flavors of the fish shine and pair it with hearty sides, nothing beats pan-cooking the fish to perfection. 

Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works
  2. Ingredients needed
  3. How to pan sear salmon
  4. Tips for success
  5. Flavor variations
  6. What to serve with pan seared salmon
  7. Storage instructions 
  8. Recommended tools to make this recipe
  9. More delicious ways to cook salmon
  10. Frequently asked questions
  11. Pan Seared Salmon (Recipe Card)

Why this recipe works

If you enjoy the authentic buttery flavor of salmon without too many flavors overshadowing it, this pan seared salmon recipe will win your heart. The salmon fillets are seasoned with only salt and pepper and are seared to crispy golden perfection in butter and olive oil.

  • It needs minimal ingredients. If you have brought home some juicy cuts of fresh salmon and are looking for a simple but delicious way to cook them, this is the recipe to go for (along with baked salmon!).
  • It cooks quickly and easily. Like we do with blackened salmon or cast iron salmon, hot and fast is my favorite way to cook salmon. It takes a couple of minutes to cook salmon fillets in a heated pan and you never end up with overcooked salmon so long as you flip the fish at the right time (try it with honey garlic salmon, too).
  • It’s super versatile. This salmon pairs well with something simple like a green salad or baked potato, or something more elaborate like cabbage steaks and a potato au gratin

Ingredients needed

Salmon is a fish that doesn’t need much to taste exceptionally good. Using a proper cooking technique is all you need to make it shine. Here is what you’ll need. 

  • Salmon. Use skin-on salmon fillets, as the skin crisps up nicely once it touches the hot pan. It creates an additional layer of flavor and texture. 
  • Butter. It gives the seared fish a rich flavor and creates the most amazing golden crust. 
  • Olive oil. Adding a small amount of oil to the pan will help prevent the butter from burning. If you don’t like cooking with butter, feel free to use olive oil only. 
  • Salt and pepper. Nothing else is needed to enhance this fish’s rich buttery flavor. You can add other spices of your choice.

How to pan sear salmon

  1. Prepare the salmon fillets– Remove the salmon from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Pat dry the fillets using paper towels. Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper. 
  2. Add the fillets to a heated pan– Place a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the butter and olive oil. Add the fillets to the pan with the skin side down when the butter has melted. 
  3. Cook and serve– Cook the fillets for 4-5 minutes until the skin is golden and crispy. Flip the fillets and cook them for another 2 minutes. Don’t overcook the salmon to keep it nice and moist inside. 
pan seared salmon.

Tips for success

  • If you are frying a few fillets at a time, ensure they have the same thickness to end up with evenly cooked fish. Otherwise, you must flip the fillets and remove them from the pan at different times. 
  • Don’t touch the salmon while it cooks. Touch it only once when flipping the fillets. This will ensure a good and even sear on the fish and a nice crust on both sides. 
  • When using frozen salmon, defrost the fillets in the fridge first. If you don’t have much time to do this, hold the fillets under running cold water to remove the ice layer on the fish. Then pat dry it using paper towels and cook. 

Flavor variations

If you want to experiment, feel free to add more ingredients to this salmon dish. Here are a few ideas. 

  • Cook with garlic. Adding chopped or crushed garlic to the pan is the easiest way to enhance the flavor of this simple dish. As a bonus, you will have a delicious garlic butter sauce that you can pour over the fish right before serving it. 
  • Add Mediterranean flavors. Add sun-dried tomatoes, capers, or Kalamata olives to the pan to give the salmon a Mediterranean twist. 
  • Use fresh herbs. Put a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme into the pan when you melt the butter. Wilting a handful of spinach in the hot pan once you remove the fillets is a great way to make a quick side dish for the fish. Fresh parsley and dill are other herb options that work amazingly for salmon. 
  • Add an Asian sauce. For some Asian salmon flavors, drizzle some katsu, eel, or bulgogi sauce.

What to serve with pan seared salmon

This dish’s simplicity makes it so easy to pair it with a range of side dishes or even on top of a salmon bowl. From vegetables to salads and pasta to rice, here are our favorite dishes to serve with pan-seared salmon. 

Storage instructions 

To store. Store leftover cooked salmon in an airtight container in the fridge. Eat it within 3 days. 

To reheat. You can bring the salmon to room temperature and use it cold for salads and sandwiches. If you want to warm it up, use the microwave or put the fish in the oven preheated to 275F degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. 

To freeze. Put cooked salmon fillets into a freezer bag, push out the excess air, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the fillets in the fridge before reheating them. 

Leftover idea

Cooked salmon is such a fabulous protein option that can be added to a plethora of dishes. Flake the fish over a rice salad, add it to a quesadilla, or even use it as a pizza topping. Of course, you can also use it as a meal prep with some potatoes and broccolini.

how to pan sear salmon.

More delicious ways to cook salmon

Frequently asked questions

Is it better to pan sear or bake salmon?

Pan-searing and baking both work well for salmon. Baking salmon is a great cooking method for salmon if the fillets are frozen and you don’t have time to defrost them. Cooking salmon in the pan, on the other hand, is much quicker and helps crisp up the salmon skin. 

What side of salmon do you sear first?

If you are using skin-on salmon fillets, put them in the pan with the skin side down first. The skin will become nice and crispy, making it easy to flip the fillet with a spatula without damaging its integrity. 

How do you know when salmon is done pan searing?

You can use a meat thermometer to determine if the salmon fillets are done cooking. The internal temperature of perfectly cooked salmon should be around 125 degrees F. 
If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, press on the fillet with your finger or a fork. If the fillet flakes easily, it’s time to remove it from the pan. 

pan seared salmon recipe.

Pan Seared Salmon

5 from 33 votes
This pan seared salmon has an extra crispy exterior and flaky flesh, and cooks up in less than 10 minutes!
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 8 minutes
Total: 9 minutes

Ingredients  

  • 4 salmon fillets 150 grams/6 oz
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions 

  • Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels and season them generously with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter and olive oil.
  • Once the butter has melted and the skillet is hot, carefully place the salmon fillets skin-side down in the skillet.
  • Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes on the skin side, without moving them, until the skin is crispy and golden brown.
  • Using a spatula, carefully flip the salmon fillets over and continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes until the salmon is cooked through, but still moist and tender in the center.

Notes

TO STORE. Store leftover cooked salmon in an airtight container in the fridge. Eat it within 3 days. 
TO REHEAT. You can bring the salmon to room temperature and use it cold for salads and sandwiches. If you want to warm it up, use the microwave or put the fish in the oven preheated to 275F degrees for 15 minutes or until heated through. 
TO FREEZE. Put cooked salmon fillets into a freezer bag, push out the excess air, and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost the fillets in the fridge before reheating them. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 35gFat: 14gSodium: 885mgPotassium: 864mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 68IUCalcium: 23mgIron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. Haha she totally worded that rather rudely, I think. Eff French – bet you took something far cooler that year. 😉

  2. I can’t believe they turn students down from this!! I studied Spanish, and it was just start at the bottom and work your way up kind of thing. Sure, if I didn’t pass the first one I couldn’t move on, but they never restricted anyone from starting. What a snatch, I hope she spills chocolate croissants on her white clothes forever.

    1. That is a terrible thing to say, Brittany. Imagine if she was wearing those white clothes at a later stage and had chocolate crumbs left on that. She’d have an instant sweet treat.

      You disgust me.

  3. Aww poor high school Arman! Whatever though, Asia is better than France anyways (actually not really, France is like my all time favourite country but I’m trying to make you feel better lol). This salmon looks awesome!

  4. Ferme la bouche! Dumb teacher. I for one, could read and write French fairly well but my pronunciation was dreadful. Who would have got along better in France? You, of course. Speaking the language is so much more important than being able to correctly compose an essay. I highly doubt you would be barred entry to the Eiffel Tower if you failed to hand in an essay. If anyone wants to send me to Paris to test this theory I will happily comply.
    I took French in high school but the first year the school could not afford a french teacher so they had the Spanish teacher, Mr. Rollalazo, teach French 1. Needless to say, we all spoke French with a Spanish accent. 🙂 I do wish I had kept up with my studies following graduation but, alas, much of my former knowledge has gone by the wayside. C’est la vie!
    I have been craving salmon lately. In fact, I am trying to figure out how to telepathically get my mom to select salmon as our Christmas dinner. So, celebrate away!

    1. Hahaha ferme la bouche! You ferme la bouche!

      I hope you try this recipe out- It would be une fantastique Christmas dish 😉

  5. THIS FRENCH GIRL LOVES HER SALMON… ESPECIALLY ASIAN STYLE!!! The French and their snooty pretentious ways can SUCK IT! LOL!! Lets celebrate with salmon mon ami!

      1. Genevieve Germaine Dubois – that’s my name. If that doesn’t scream French, then I don’t live on Earth. LOL!!!!

  6. You stubborn goat, you.

    I still need to finish my Rosetta Stone french…I’ll get around to it eventually, I swear. And you have to have a decent accent when you use that thing otherwise it won’t pick up that you’re saying the word correctly. The first few lessons I was ready to throw my laptop out the damn window.

    1. Excuse me. A stubborn goat is accurate.

      That’s right!!!! I remember you starting this a while back and it was also your monthly goal. What happened, huh 😉

  7. I took 6 years of French and had the WORST accent ever. I could have used your mad skillz 😉 Salmon sounds fab – pinning!

  8. I wanted to take French in high school but it wasn’t offered so I took Spanish instead and continued on with Spanish in college. Sadly today I remember very little of it. 🙁

    The salmon looks delicious!

  9. hehe…loved your story! In high school I took Spanish and Latin – problem is, I can barely remember any of it at this point. If you don’t use it, you lose it!

    Love this salmon! It’s funny because just last night, I was telling Justin we should make salmon this weekend. Good timing!

  10. Mmm I love salmon. I totally thought about using the translation sites, but I was warned against them and didn’t want to get in trouble. I was a bit of a goody goody as a student.

  11. I saw this on Instagram this morning while riding the train and I wanted to faceplant into my phone. I love salmon and the way you presented it….just, WOW.

  12. Bon app—I love you, you stubborn goat you! I took Spanish but I’d take this sexy salmon over tacos any day.