Pan-fried salmon fillets are so delicious when cooked in butter and olive oil. The skin becomes wonderfully crispy and the flesh is juicy and flavorful.
Who needs fast food, when this homemade dish is ready in just ten minutes? Even the leftovers are good, especially in a salad.
I love salmon. It seems like people tend to either love strong-tasting fish such as tuna and salmon, or delicate white fish such as cod. Me? I belong to the first group. I adore salmon. Especially thick, fatty salmon steaks.
Although I usually make baked salmon, or grilled salmon in the summer, I have to say that pan-fried salmon is so delicious, especially when cooked in butter. And the bonus: it's a very easy meal to prepare, making it very suitable for a quick weeknight dinner.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this easy salmon recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
Salmon fillets: I prefer to use skin-on fillets - the skin is just so delicious. If at all possible, try to get sustainable salmon.
To season: I use kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme.
For frying: I use a mix of olive oil and butter.
Optional additions: Lemon slices and chopped parsley. Optional, but they do add flavor and color to the dish.
Pan-frying salmon is as easy as can be. The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to season the salmon.
Next, you heat some olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet.
When the butter starts foaming, add the salmon fillets to the pan, skin-side-down.
Fry the salmon, undisturbed, until the skin is crisp and browned, then flip it and cook it for 2-3 more minutes, until it's cooked through.
Don't forget to drizzle (or brush) the salmon with the pan juices after you've arranged it on plates. The pan sauce is amazing and adds tons of flavor to the dish.
Frequently asked questions
when salmon is done, it transforms from red and translucent to pink and opaque.
The USDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145°F, although many cooks feel that it's better to cook salmon to 130°F and then let it rest for five minutes.
Apart from using a thermometer, another way to check for doneness is to gently press down on the top of the fillets with a fork. If the flesh flakes (separates) easily, the fish is done.
To make sure the skin is nice and crispy, pan-fry the salmon skin side down for about 4 minutes over medium-high heat.
Turn it to the other side only after you can see (when lifting the edge) that the skin is browned. It's also important to add enough fat to the frying pan.
Personally, I love salmon skin. Especially when fried and crispy! But if you prefer to cook it without the skin, simply follow the same instructions, cooking it for about 3 minutes per side.
I recommend defrosting the salmon before using it in this recipe. It's fine to use frozen salmon when baking it in the oven. But when pan-frying, I feel that it should be thawed to ensure it is evenly cooked.
Recommended side dishes
This is such a versatile dish. It goes with anything, really. I often serve it with one of the following sides:
You can keep the leftovers for 3 days in the fridge, in an airtight container. I prefer to avoid reheating the leftovers because reheating can dry them out.
Instead, I crumble them cold over a salad. Sometimes I chop them up and mix them with some cream cheese and have that for my lunch the next day. It's really good!
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Pan-Fried Salmon Fillets with Crispy Skin
- 4 (6-oz) salmon fillets 1-inch thick, skin on
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 lemon slices ¼-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Season the salmon with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme.
- Heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet, swirling to coat.
- When the butter starts foaming, add the salmon fillets to the pan, skin-side-down. If using, add the lemon slices too.
- Fry the salmon, undisturbed, until the skin is crisp and browned, about 4 minutes.
- Flip the fish and the lemon slices over, lower the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the fish is cooked through, 2-3 more minutes.
- Transfer the salmon to a plate and baste it with the pan juices. Top each fillet with a lemon slice, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve.