This Pan-Seared Salmon Recipe is heavenly good and super easy to make. Tasty salmon that is crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside, coated with golden lemon garlic butter.
Pan-seared salmon sounds fancy (and maybe a bit intimidating), but it is actually VERY easy to make. With a good pan and a handful of simple ingredients, you can whip up a delicious healthy meal in minutes!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Salmon – I recommend using salmon with skin on to lock moisture in when cooking it. The skin can be easily removed once the salmon is fully cooked.
- Butter – the secret for a golden crispy texture is butter. It is also essential for the buttery lemon garlic sauce. If you need to replace it, you could use any flavorless high-smoke point oil, like avocado or grapeseed oil.
- Garlic – chopped garlic adds a ton of flavor. I used 5 cloves of garlic in this recipe, but you can add more or less depending on your taste.
- Lemon – fresh lemon juice brightens up the garlic butter sauce. Lime juice or bottled lemon juice are good alternatives if needed.
- Red Pepper Flakes – I love to sprinkle red pepper flakes when serving this pan-seared salmon. It adds a nice kick and blends deliciously with the rest of the ingredients. You can omit them if you don’t like hot flavors.
- Parsley – fresh chopped parsley not only makes your salmon look like out of a restaurant, but it also tastes delicious. Use fresh parsley whenever possible, or replace it with a different fresh herb. Fresh cilantro, tarragon, or basil work well too.
- Salt & Pepper – use sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
How to Make Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Garlic Butter
- Preheat your pan – preheat the pan over medium-low heat for at least 10 minutes (you want it to be VERY hot). My favorite to use is cast-iron because it sears more evenly, but any other heavy-bottomed pan works well too.
- Prep the ingredients – grab a chopping board and finely chop the garlic and zest lemon. Also, finely chop a few sprigs of parsley and set them aside.
- Make the sauce – add half the butter to the hot pan. Then add the chopped garlic and lemon zest and stir for about 20 seconds. Add the juice of half a lemon and stir-fry until the garlic starts to lightly brown. Remove the lemon garlic butter sauce from the pan and set it aside.
- Sear the salmon – return the pan to the burner and add the other half of the butter. Place the salmon fillet skin side down and season the top with sea salt and pepper. Sear for 4-6 minutes or until cooked through halfway, then use two spatulas to flip it and sear for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cooked to your liking. At this point, it’s easy to remove the skin.
- Add the sauce – use a wooden spatula to scrape off the bottom of the filet and then flip it back over. Turn off the heat and pour the lemon garlic butter over the salmon. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes and chopped parsley on top and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is salmon better baked or pan-seared?
Both methods are good and it depends on personal preference. Pan-seared salmon is a lot more flavorful and you can achieve that crispy texture on the outside. It works better when cooking smaller pieces. Baked salmon is less messy and it allows you to make bigger pieces at a time. It works better when cooking for a bigger crowd.
How long should I sear my salmon?
Sear until you reach an internal temperature of 120F (rare), 130F (medium rare), 135F (medium – my personal favorite), 145F (officially cooked through – in my opinion overcooked and dry).
What side of salmon do you sear first?
I suggest searing the skin side first so when you flip you can easily remove the skin. Also, fat from the skin is rendered and then you can cook the meaty part in the fat that was released from the skin.
Do you flip salmon when searing?
Always flip salmon or else it will dry out on one side without cooking properly on the other.
Pan-Seared Salmon Recipe (Easy, Simple & Healthy)
- 1 lbs salmon filet - skin on
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- sea salt
- red pepper flakes
- parsley for garnish
- Preheat a cast iron pan (or another heavy-bottom pan) over medium low heat for at least 10 minutes or until smoking hot.
- In the meantime, finely chop garlic and zest lemon.
- Add 1/2 the butter to the hot pan and add chopped garlic and lemon zest to it and stir for about 20 seconds, then add the juice of half a lemon and stir-fry until the garlic starts to lightly brown. Remove the lemon garlic butter sauce from the pan and set it aside.
- Return the pan to the burner and add the other half of the butter and then place the salmon filet skin side down and season the top with sea salt and pepper. Sear for 4-6 minutes or until cooked through halfway, then use two spatulas to flip it and sear for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Internal temperature guide in the blog post. At this point, it's easy to remove the skin.
- Use a wooden spatula to scrape off the bottom of the filet and then flip it back over. Turn off the heat and return lemon garlic butter to the pan. Enjoy!