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Easily cook pan-seared salmon with this garlic butter salmon recipe. It’s so juicy with a bright lemon garlic butter sauce, fast, and uses simple everyday ingredients!

If you can’t get enough of these flavors, try my Quick and Easy Garlic Butter Shrimp Scampi or Garlic Butter Steak Bites next.

close-up of skillet garlic butter salmon

Why you’ll love it

When I first started cooking on my own, I was actually nervous about learning how to cook salmon, but this no-fuss method is so simple. The tips below for this tasty lemon garlic butter salmon will ensure you have flaky, tender, perfectly cooked salmon every time.

What could be better than a simple garlic butter sauce for salmon? This recipe is great for busy weeknights, date night, or when you’ve got company. It doesn’t take much to make salmon taste really delicious. Getting back to the basics is what makes this so special.

What you’ll need

  • Salmon – most salmon fillets that you buy from the grocery store, Atlantic salmon in particular, will be around 1″ thick, and that’s what our kitchen based the timing on in this recipe
  • Salt & pepper – it’s important to generously season each piece of salmon to bring out the flavors
  • Olive oil – for pan searing
  • Butter – the base of the delicious sauce
  • Lemon juice – for brightness and acidity. Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice.
  • Garlic – for more savory flavor
  • Parsley – a pop of freshness and contrast
ingredients for garlic butter salmon in prep bowls

Tools for this recipe

Check out Natasha’s favorite kitchen essentials, gadgets, and cookware!

Pro tips

  • Let the fish warm up for 15-20 minutes prior to starting the recipe if you can, and pat it dry before adding the salt & pepper. This helps it not stick to the pan.
  • Ensure the pan gets nice and hot before you add the salmon. If your skillet is small, work in two batches to not crowd the fish.
  • Resist the urge to move the salmon around the pan. It needs to cook undisturbed to get a nice sear. When you go to flip the salmon, if it’s sticking, give it a little more time to release naturally.
garlic butter salmon in a skillet

How do you know when salmon is cooked?

  • The key to pan searing salmon is to watch the color of the salmon change. The light pink color moves up slowly as it cooks, giving you an idea of how close it is to being ready.
  • It will continue cooking a little after removed from the heat, too. It’s easy to overcook salmon, so keep a close eye on the color.

How to make garlic butter salmon

This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.

salmon in a skillet before and after flipping

Cut the salmon into four equal sized pieces, pat dry, and season with salt & pepper. Heat up the oil and a quarter of the butter in a skillet. Cook the salmon skin-side down until it releases naturally, then flip and continue cooking. Transfer to a plate.

making garlic butter sauce in a skillet and adding salmon fillets

Melt the remaining butter in the pan, and stir in the garlic and lemon juice until the garlic is fragrant/just cooked. Remove the skillet from the heat, and then return the fish. Spoon the sauce over, and garnish with fresh parsley.

Substitutions and variations

  • This recipe has only been tested as written, so make any subs at your discretion. We found the flavors to be well balanced, but that said, you’re welcome to change up the quantities (e.g., add more lemon juice or garlic).
  • The salmon skin is crispy, keeps the salmon moist, and tastes great when served right away, but you can definitely discard it if that’s not your thing.

What to serve with this salmon

Leftovers and storage

  • I like to eat seafood fresh, but leftovers will keep for a couple of days in the fridge in an airtight container. I don’t recommend freezing this one.
  • Warm it up slowly over a low heat in a saucepan. If you reheat too fast and on a high heat, it’s liable to dry out.
  • Leftovers of this salmon are fantastic served cold in a salad for lunch the next day.
garlic butter salmon on a black plate with arugula salad and a lemon wedge

If you made this garlic butter pan-seared salmon recipe, let me know in the comments below. You can also tag me on Instagram with any S&L recipe you made!

close-up of skillet garlic butter salmon
4.90 from 19 votes

Garlic Butter Salmon

Easily cook pan-seared salmon with this garlic butter salmon recipe. It's so juicy with a bright lemon garlic butter sauce, fast, and uses simple everyday ingredients!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound salmon cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice or more, to taste
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley optional


  • Take the salmon out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before starting the recipe if you can. Cut the salmon into 4 equal pieces and pat it dry with paper towel. Season each piece generously with salt & pepper.
  • Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Allow the pan to heat up for a few minutes.
  • Cook the salmon (skin-side down) for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and flip the fish over and cook for another 2-4 minutes (should be cooked through). Transfer the salmon to a plate.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the remaining butter to the pan and let it melt. Stir in the garlic and lemon juice. Continue stirring for a minute or so until the garlic is just cooked (do not let it burn or it'll taste bitter). Take the skillet off the heat once it's done.
  • Add the salmon back to the skillet and spoon some sauce over top and sprinkle parsley on if using. Serve immediately. I like to add more fresh lemon juice to mine, so you may want to serve it with lemon wedges so everyone can add more as needed. The salmon skin is nice and crispy (and tasty) if you eat it right away, but you can easily peel it off once it's cooked if you prefer.


  • I used Atlantic salmon that was about 1″ thick for this recipe. If your salmon is thicker or thinner, you may need to adjust cooking time a bit. If you use skinless salmon, it’ll cook faster.
  • It’s ok if you’ve got a bit over a pound of salmon, just make sure it’s not too much over or the salmon pieces will be crowded in the pan and not cook properly.


Calories: 297kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 22g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 92mg, Sodium: 150mg, Potassium: 573mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 396IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

© Salt & Lavender Inc. Content and photographs are copyrighted. Sharing this blog post is much appreciated, but copying and pasting full recipes without authorization to social media is strictly prohibited.

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Hi! I’m Natasha.

Salt & Lavender is a recipe blog with a focus on delicious comfort food using everyday ingredients. Beat the weekday grind with hundreds of easy-to-follow and hassle-free recipes!

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4.90 from 19 votes (1 rating without comment)

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  1. Karen says:

    I bought salmon steaks for this recipe. How do you crisp the skin since the heat is touching the salmon side not the skin. Should I have bought a filet?

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi! Yes, this recipe was intended for salmon fillets, but you could use the steaks – no problem. I’d probably just grab them with tongs when they’re almost cooked through and hold the skin against the pan and rotate as needed to cook it a bit.

  2. Stephanie K says:

    5 stars
    I just made this tonight. OMG. Delish! The whole family and a friend LOVED it! Nothing left over. 🙂

    1. Natasha says:

      Perfect!! I’m thrilled to hear that, Stephanie! 😀 Thanks for taking the time to write me a review.

  3. Carla says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is amazing. So easy and tastes better than a restaurant. I’ve made it several times!

    1. Natasha says:

      Yay!! I’m so happy to hear that, Carla!

  4. Bobi says:

    5 stars
    My new favorite salmon recipe! It was crusty on the outside and tender and flaky on the inside. It was also very easy. Thank you!👍

    1. Natasha says:

      Fantastic!! So pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for your review! 😀

  5. Melissa says:

    5 stars
    Hello just wanted to let you know my salmon was almost and I was wondering if it’s 297 calories per piece or per salmon Thank you Melissa

    1. Natasha says:

      Your salmon was almost what? Yes, it’s 297 calories per serving… so 1/4 pound per person.

  6. Kathryn Martin says:

    5 stars
    This is literally thee best salmon recipe I’ve ever tried. I don’t think I will ever make salmon any other way!

    1. Natasha says:

      Aww I’m thrilled to hear that!! Thanks so much for letting me know. 😀

  7. Sandy Annable says:

    Making this tonight! Can’t wait to give it a try! Always looking forward to a little different twist for salmon!

    1. Natasha says:

      I hope you enjoy it, Sandy!! 🙂

  8. Mary says:

    Do you leave the skin on the salmon? I want to make it tomorrow!!

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi Mary! I do… it’s all explained in the recipe if you read it through. 🙂 I prefer to keep the skin on since it helps keep it moist while cooking and it’s also tasty (but also easy to remove after you’ve cooked it if you prefer). Hope you enjoy it!

  9. Isabel says:

    5 stars
    This was extremely easy to make and absolutely delicious! Will be making this again and again. Thanks for an easy and healthy recipe!

    1. Natasha says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Isabel!! Thanks for reviewing it! 😀

  10. Barb says:

    Hi Natasha, sure wish you would add a “Jump to Recipe” button to your recipes! Thanks!

    1. Natasha says:

      Hi Barb, the blog posts are full of useful tips that help ensure recipe success. I earn my living through ad revenue, so scrolling for a few seconds if you don’t want to read the posts still ensures I get paid for my hard work. 🙂