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This simple pan seared salmon is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside every time! You only need 20 minutes to make this restaurant-worthy yet easy dish at home.

Love this technique? My Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon, this Garlic Butter Salmon, and my Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Salmon all use this cooking method. 

pan seared salmon on a black plate surrounded by lemon wedges

Why you’ll love it

Pan fried salmon may seem a little intimidating if you’ve never made it before, but it’s actually an easy technique to master. You will feel very impressed with yourself, and it opens up so many opportunities for dinner. Buttery, flaky salmon with a delicious crust is ready in just 20 minutes at home.

This is a basic recipe that’s all about the simplicity, but of course you can dress up salmon endless ways. We’re focusing on learning a new skill here. In this blog post, I walk you through exactly how to cook it like a pro and include a whole bunch of helpful tips!

What you’ll need

  • Salmon – I prefer to buy it with the skin on. It helps keep it moist, makes it easier to flip, and the skin crisps up beautifully. It’s also delicious and nutritious!
  • Salt & pepper – I like to season fish generously
  • Olive oil and butter – for frying
  • Fresh lemon juice, dill, parsley – optional, for garnishing

Tools for this recipe

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

How to cook salmon in a skillet

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

raw salmon being seasoned and added to a skillet

Take the fish out of the fridge before cooking it (15-30 minutes will do). Cut it into 4 pieces, and pat it dry completely with paper towel. Season with salt & pepper. Add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat and let it heat up until it’s good and hot. Cook it skin-side down first for 5 minutes.

salmon in a skillet before and after being pan seared

Then flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until it’s done!

How long to cook salmon

  • For a 1″ thick piece of salmon with skin, cook it for 5 minutes skin-side down in the skillet, and then flip it and cook it for an additional 2-4 minutes.
  • With skinless you may need to adjust timing, erring on the side of less time to compensate. Use your eyes to guide you. Watch the color change as the fish cooks. It goes from a brighter/deeper pink to a lighter pink.

Tips for success

  • Don’t be tempted to move the salmon around the pan. Let it cook. If it’s sticking when you try to flip it, don’t panic. Just let it cook for a little longer if it doesn’t release easily.
  • Don’t crowd the pan. It’s better to give the each piece plenty of room and do two batches vs. cramming them all in there, and then they would steam and the sear won’t be as good.
  • This recipe is written for 1 pound, but you can cook as much as you have on hand! If the pan gets dry, simply add a little more butter and olive oil.

What to serve with salmon

Leftovers and storage

  • For leftovers, I recommend discarding the skin after it’s cooked and before packing it up in an airtight container in the fridge since it won’t be crispy anymore when you reheat it. It’s best to eat cooked salmon within a day or two.
  • To reheat, wrap it in foil and place in the oven at 275F for 15-20 minutes or until it’s 145F in the thickest part. In a microwave, reduce the power and microwave in 30-second increments so you don’t overcook it.
  • It’s also delicious served cold in a salad the next day!
close-up of crispy pan seared salmon

If you made this easy salmon recipe, please leave a star rating and review below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you’ve made one of my recipes.

pan seared salmon on a black plate surrounded by lemon wedges
5 from 4 votes

Easy Pan Seared Salmon

This simple pan seared salmon is perfectly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside every time! You only need 20 minutes to make this restaurant-worthy yet easy dish at home.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 pound salmon cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • 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 the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Let the skillet heat up for a few minutes.
  • Cook the salmon (skin-side down) for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and flip it over and cook for another 2-4 minutes or until it's cooked through (it'll take a little longer if your salmon is more than 1" thick, and less if thinner than 1"). Keep in mind the salmon will continue to cook a bit even after taking it out of the skillet, so don't overdo it.
  • To serve, it's delicious with fresh lemon juice squeezed over top, and there's more suggestions in the blog post. If you're not a fan of the skin (it's crispy and delicious if you eat it right away), it's easy to peel off once it's cooked.


  • I used Atlantic salmon that was about 1″ thick for this recipe.
  • If you’re wanting to cook more than a pound of salmon, I recommend cooking it in batches so it’s not crowded in the pan and it gets a nice sear. Add more oil/butter as needed.
  • See blog post for more tips and process photos.
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.


Calories: 217kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 70mg, Sodium: 75mg, Potassium: 557mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 133IU, Calcium: 14mg, 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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5 from 4 votes

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  1. Pat Nassano says:

    5 stars
    This is the best and easiest pan seared salmon I have tried and there have been quite few…no more searching for me!!

    1. Natasha says:

      That’s great to hear, Pat!! 😀 Thanks for your review!

  2. Shannon says:

    5 stars
    This is the best “basic” salmon I have ever made at home and will definitely be my go to from here on out… Thank you!!

    1. Natasha says:

      You’re very welcome! 😀

  3. Chris O says:

    5 stars
    This was exactly what I was looking for…salmon came out perfect, basic and delicious! I’m not afraid to cook it anymore! Bless your heart!❤️

    1. Natasha says:

      Aww that’s so great to hear, Chris!! Appreciate you taking the time to come back and write me a review. 🙂

  4. Arys says:

    5 stars
    This looks easy enough. I should give it a try some time. Salmon is one of my favorite fish 😀

    1. Natasha says:

      Yes, let me know if you try it! Thank you 🙂