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This creamy lemon salmon recipe is decadent yet easy with very few ingredients and is ready in only 20 minutes! The bright lemon cream sauce is really addictive.
Why you’ll love it
This is one of those elegant yet really simple dishes that will wow your family (or guests) with hardly any effort on your part. The pan-seared salmon is perfectly crisp on the outside and flaky and tender on the inside, and the zesty lemon cream sauce makes the best pairing.
Learning to cook salmon on the stovetop, in my opinion, is an essential kitchen skill to have. The good news is that it’s super easy to master! In fact, it’s so effortless that you’ll be making this quick salmon recipe on any old weeknight, not just special occasions.
What you’ll need
- Salmon – we’re using fresh salmon that’s cut into four pieces
- Garlic powder and salt & pepper – for perfectly seasoning each piece of fish individually
- Flour – for dredging and getting a great crust/browning on the salmon, and it also thickens up the sauce a little
- Olive oil and butter – for sautéing and making the rich base of the sauce
- Chicken broth – it gives even more savory flavor to the sauce. You can definitely use dry white wine instead.
- Lemon juice – always use freshly squeezed
- Italian seasoning – grab a jar of this fragrant blend that has rosemary and thyme and other dried herbs. I use it for so many sauces!
- Dijon mustard – it’s a flavor enhancer to build up the layers of savory taste
- Heavy cream – what makes the sauce luxurious
- Italian parsley – for a pop of freshness to top it all off
If you want to highlight the lemon flavor even more, some lemon zest would give another burst of lemony goodness to the sauce. It’s easy to grate with a Microplane zester.
How to make creamy lemon salmon
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Cut the salmon into 4 roughly equal sized pieces. Coat in garlic powder, salt & pepper, and flour. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the fish for 3-4 minutes per side, taking care to not overcook it. Transfer to a plate.
Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, and Dijon mustard to the pan. Stir it until the mustard has been incorporated, and then let it simmer for a minute or two. Pour in the cream, add the salmon back in, and simmer until the salmon has cooked through. Top with fresh parsley.
Tips for how to cook salmon
- It’s very important to use your eyes to guide the process! Watch for the color change as the salmon is cooking. It will start as a brighter, deeper pink and transition to a lighter shade of pink.
- If it’s sticking to the pan, don’t force it off. Let it cook more, and it will naturally release.
- Note that if your fish is thicker than about 1″, the cooking time may vary.
Substitutions and variations
- You can use salmon with or without the skin. If you do happen to buy skin-on salmon but don’t want to eat the skin, it’s really easy to peel it off once the fish is cooked. I’d do it after the searing step.
- I suggest using full-fat cream vs. something like half-and-half or milk. In my experience, the sauce is much more likely to curdle when you have that much lemon juice in it and use something with a much lower fat content.
- What to add in some greens? Toss in a handful of spinach once it’s nearly done cooking! Whatever fresh herbs you have in the garden would work too.
What to serve with it
- I enjoy eating this lemon salon with a pile of Garlic Mashed Potatoes to soak up that delicious creamy sauce! Rice or pasta works too. Try it over top of these Easy Garlic Butter Noodles.
- For a veggie side dish, try steamed vegetables, fresh corn, or this Simple Asparagus Recipe.
- Go ahead and grate some fresh parmesan cheese from a block if you want to go all-out on the decadence. That would make it extra tasty.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days, but we do prefer eating seafood leftovers sooner rather than later.
- Reheat over a low heat in a covered saucepan. If the heat is too high, the sauce is liable to separate.
- Leftover salmon is really good served cold in my Super Simple Parmesan Arugula Salad the next day. Simply crumble it over top!
- Freezing this one won’t work well since it has dairy.
Any questions, or did you make this recipe? Are you a fan of a good cream sauce for salmon? Talk to me in the comments below! You can also tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram with your beautiful creations.
Creamy Lemon Salmon
- 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Flour for dredging
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
- Fresh parsley to taste, chopped
- Cut your salmon into 4 pieces. Sprinkle it with the garlic powder and season with salt & pepper. Dredge each piece in flour on all sides.
- Add the olive oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the fish. Cook it for 3-4 minutes/side or until it’s nicely browned. Be careful not to overcook – the salmon shouldn’t be cooked fully yet. Remove salmon to a plate and set aside.
- Add the chicken broth, lemon juice, Italian seasoning, and Dijon mustard to the pan. Stir until mustard has dissolved, and let it bubble for a minute or two.
- Add the cream to the pan, along with the salmon. Let it cook for a few more minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit and the fish has cooked through.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving. Serve immediately.
- I don’t recommend subbing the heavy cream with half-and-half or milk because then the sauce is likely to break because of the citrus juice, and the sauce won’t thicken up as well.
- See blog post for tips on cooking the fish.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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This recipe was originally published on June 13, 2018. It’s been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!