Pan-fried salmon is 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 fifteen minutes? Even the leftovers are good, especially in a salad.
I enjoy salmon recipes such as salmon steak, baked salmon, or grilled salmon. This pan-fried salmon is especially good thanks to being cooked in butter, so I've been making it almost weekly in recent months.
The bonus: it's an easy meal to prepare, making it suitable for a quick weeknight dinner.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Salmon fillets: I prefer skin-on fillets. Salmon skin is delicious!
- To season: 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.
- The best way to vary this recipe is to experiment with different spices and herbs. Good options that I tried and liked include onion powder, paprika, and dried oregano. I usually add ½ teaspoon of each.
- You can skip the butter and cook the salmon in two tablespoons of olive oil. It has been my experience, however, that butter enhances the salmon's flavor.
Pan-Fried Salmon Instructions
The detailed instructions for making this recipe are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
Your first step is to season the salmon.
Next, heat olive oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet. When the butter starts foaming, add the salmon fillets to the pan, skin-side-down. You can add lemon slices, too.
Sear 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.
Transfer the cooked salmon to a plate, drizzle or brush it with the pan juices, garnish with lemon and parsley, and serve.
Don't forget to drizzle (or brush) the salmon with the pan juices after you've arranged it on plates. The pan sauce is buttery and rich. It adds wonderful flavor to the dish.
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. However, many cooks feel it's better to cook salmon to an internal temperature of 125°F or 130°F and 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 fish with a fork. If the flesh flakes (separates) easily, the salmon is done.
To ensure the skin is crispy, cook 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.
Yes. 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.
No. I recommend defrosting the salmon before using it in this recipe. It's OK to use frozen salmon when baking salmon in the oven. But when pan-frying, the salmon should be thawed to ensure it is evenly cooked.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to three days. I prefer to avoid reheating the leftovers because reheating can dry them out.
Sometimes, I chop the leftovers up, mix them with cream cheese, and have that for my lunch the next day on thick slices of almond flour bread. It's delicious!
More Salmon Recipes
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- Season the salmon fillets 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 salmon and lemon slices, lower the heat to medium, and continue cooking until the fish is cooked through, for about 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.
- *The salmon's internal temperature should reach 145ºF. If it's very thick, you'll need to cook the edges for about 2 minutes per edge.
- If your salmon is frozen, defrost it thoroughly before using it in this recipe.
- Don't forget to drizzle (or brush) the salmon with the pan juices after you've arranged it on the plates. The pan sauce is delicious.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to three days. I prefer to avoid reheating the leftovers because reheating can dry them out. Instead, I crumble them cold over a salad.