This simple pan-fried sole recipe highlights the fish's delicate texture and flavor and does not overpower them.
Sole is a mild fish with a delicate texture and flavor. So when you cook it, you definitely don't want to overwhelm this fish with lots of spices and ingredients.
That's why I love this simple, delicious pan-fried sole recipe that uses just a little butter to enhance the fish's naturally delicate flavor. It's very tasty, easy to make, and you can keep it gluten-free if you use almond flour.
The ingredients you'll need
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this pan-fried sole recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Sole fillets: I use skinless fillets. I normally buy them frozen and defrost them overnight in the fridge. You can definitely buy them fresh if you'd like - I sometimes by them fresh at Whole Foods.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you might want to reduce the amount you use, or the fish could end up too salty.
Flour: Just a dusting of flour is all it takes. Or you can use blanched almond flour instead and keep this recipe gluten-free. Almond flour is an excellent flour substitute and it works well in this recipe.
Unsalted butter: I love using European butter, it's so creamy and flavorful. But any butter will be great.
Lemon and parsley: For serving. You can skip the parsley, which I mostly use for garnish, but a squirt of fresh lemon juice greatly enhances this dish.
How to make pan-fried sole
It's easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. You start by seasoning the fish with salt and pepper. Sometimes I add a bit of garlic powder, but usually, I opt for minimal seasoning.
2. Next, dust both sides of each fillet with flour. Shake the excess off - you want the fish very thinly coated, so you don't want any excess flour.
3. Cook the fish in butter until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Start with medium-high heat, but lower it to medium after flipping the fish. Garnish and serve.
The most important thing is to avoid overcooking the fish, or it will turn out very dry. I find that 3 minutes per side over medium to medium-high heat is perfect.
What skillet to use
I prefer to use a nonstick skillet to minimize the risk of sticking. This is especially true when using almond flour, which does tend to stick more than wheat flour does.
How to serve pan-fried sole
Rather than pouring warm butter-lemon sauce over the fish, as traditional recipes often suggest, I prefer to serve the fish with lemon wedges on the side.
This allows diners to squirt a little lemon juice on top of their fish right before they eat it. I find that serving it this way ensures crispy, non-soggy fish.
As for sides, I often serve this dish with a side of roasted asparagus. It's also excellent with roasted brussels sprouts. But you can serve it with any side you like - it's a truly versatile dish that goes well with almost anything.
What about leftovers?
Leftovers keep okay in the fridge, in a sealed container, for up to 3 days. But they are not as good as when fresh. Reheat the leftovers very gently, covered, in the microwave on 50% power. I haven't experimented with freezing the leftovers, so I don't know if that would work.
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Pan-Fried Sole Recipe
- 4 (6 oz) skinless sole fillets
- ½ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup white whole-wheat flour, or blanched almond flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
- Parsley for garnish
- Season the sole fillets with salt and pepper, then dust with flour on both sides, shaking the excess off.
- In two large nonstick skillets, or in a double-burner nonstick griddle, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add the fish.
- Cook the fish, turning once with two wide spatulas, until golden-brown, about 3 minutes on each side. You might need to lower the heat to medium after turning, depending on how hot your pan gets.
- Transfer the fish to plates. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.