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.
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!
Ingredients for it
- 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
How to cook salmon in a pan
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
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.
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.
Tools for this recipe
- My trusty Le Creuset enameled cast iron skillet is wonderful for pan frying.
- A splatter guard can help minimize clean-up.
- I use tongs to easily flip the salmon.
What to serve with it
- It's delicious served with lemon wedges so everyone can control how much lemon juice to add to theirs. I also like to sprinkle on a bit of chopped parsley for freshness. Fresh dill is good too.
- For sides, try anything from rice to pesto gnocchi, these garlic mashed potatoes, or veggies like my easy asparagus or glazed carrots.
- It's also delicious with some homemade tzatziki sauce, which is one of my favorite things 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!
Questions? Ask me in the comments below! As always, tag me #saltandlavender on Instagram if you've made one of my recipes.
Easy Pan Seared Salmon
- 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.
Chris O says
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!❤️
Aww that's so great to hear, Chris!! Appreciate you taking the time to come back and write me a review. 🙂
This looks easy enough. I should give it a try some time. Salmon is one of my favorite fish 😀
Yes, let me know if you try it! Thank you 🙂