How to Sear Salmon

Searing salmon is a cooking skill everyone can easily master at home. Crispy on top and perfectly soft in the center, this restaurant-style salmon turns out perfect. Learn how to sear salmon at home with just a skillet and 3 ingredients!

Try these sauces with your perfectly cooked salmon: Capers Sauce for Fish, Butter Sauce for Fish, and Cucumber Mango Salsa.

two pieces of seared salmon on a white plate garnished with fresh herbs and lemon

Oi, Gente!!

Searing salmon is one of those cooking skills you just have to have. The best part is, it’s actually pretty easy to sear salmon to perfection at home, in less than 10 minutes, and I’m about to walk you through how.

Other than the actual salmon, all you need is a good nonstick skillet pan, oil, salt and pepper.

I like my salmon medium-cooked yet flaky, and crispy on top and bottom. But, whether you like it crispy, or not so crispy on the outside, flaky done or perfectly soft on the inside will be up to you, once you get the hang of it.

And let me tell you: The serving possibilities are endless!

I personally love to serve seared salmon with a simple chimichurri sauce and a Chimichurri Salad, or my Cucumber Mango Salsa and Brazilian rice over the summer as quick easy meals. Or with Capers Sauce for Fish or Butter Sauce for Fish for a more elevated serving option. But there are so many other great pairing options – keep scrolling for some of my great sides suggestions!

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do.

Beijinhos xx

More basic cooking skills to work on: How to Pan Sear Chicken Breasts, How to Cook Marinated Steaks, How to Make Steak and Onions, How to Cook Dry beans, How to Cook Wheat Berries, How to Cook Quail Eggs, How to Spatchcock Poultry, How to Make Breadcrumbs.

Ingredients:

two pieces of raw salmon on a cutting board with ingredients in bowls around them

remember!

  • Salmon — skin-on, de-scaled. Make sure it’s completely de-boned. When it’s possible, purchase fillets that are even in size so the pieces can cook evenly.
  • High Smoke Point Oil — I like canola oil for this, but grapeseed, avocado, vegetable, etc. all work, too.
  • Salt and Pepper — medium grain kosher salt is a must in my kitchen. (Diamond Crystal is my favorite brand.) Freshly ground black pepper is also excellent.

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How to Pan Sear Salmon

two pieces of seasoned salmon on a cutting board before cooking

Pat dry on both sides. To make sure your salmon gets crispy and perfectly cooked we need to make sure it is patted dry with a paper towel.

Season on both sides with salt and pepper and then let it rest on the counter about 10 minutes. This is important so that the salt can penetrate the salmon and so that the salmon isn’t too cold from the fridge getting in contact with the heat.

Heat the pan over medium-high heat and drizzle with the oil. We want to make sure the pan is hot and that there’s enough oil in the pan to ensure the heat in the pan is distributed evenly and you can get a nice even crispy crust.

collage of two images showing raw salmon in a skillet for searing

Add the salmon skin side down in the hot oil.

Sear without touching the fish AT ALL for about 5-6 minutes, depending on how thick your salmon is, until the flesh starts to whiten up and look opaque towards the middle like in the image above.

Pro Tip!

To get a good sear, the fish needs to be left alone. So don’t fuss with it and try to move it around the pan because it won’t work nearly as well. Trust the process!


Flip flesh side down and cook the same way, without touching, for about 1-3 minutes, depending on how crispy and done you like. If you like it crispy like in the images, and

Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and fresh chopped herbs, like parsley.

collage of two images showing how to flip and finish seared salmon

How long to pan sear salmon:

This depend on how thick your salmon fillets are, your skillet, your heat source and how hot your pan is. It’s best to keep an eye on the salmon instead of setting a timer, but typically, this recipe takes less than 10 minutes from start to finish.

Watch the salmon turn opaque and don’t move it around the pan before flipping, then do the same on the other side. It will be less than 5 minutes per side.

Pro Steps to Remember for a Perfectly Crispy Salmon

  1. Remove the salmon from the fridge 10-15 mins before
  2. Pat the salmon dry
  3. Hot, hot pan
  4. Don’t touch, lift, poke, or move the salmon around

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a nice sear on salmon?

The pan needs to be hot, hot, hot… and you need to let the salmon cook without moving it around the pan. You will not get a good sear if you continually move the salmon before it forms a nice crust.

Do you pan fry salmon on high or low heat?

High heat is important for pan frying salmon to get it crispy.

Is it better to pan sear or bake salmon?

That depends on you! I like pan searing salmon because it’s ready quickly and doesn’t require me to heat up the oven. Plus, I think it tastes much better, too! Can’t beat that crispy flaky combo!!

How do you pan sear salmon without sticking it?

Using a nonstick skillet is key, as is using enough oil to coat the pan and having the pan be hot enough to where it does not stick.

two pieces of seared salmon on a plate garnished with lemon and fresh chopped herbs

What to Serve:

One of my favorite ways to serve crispy pan seared salmon is my Spinach Almond Pesto.

And if you love pasta make it a Pesto Pasta situation, and ta-da!

On that pesto pasta note, my creamy Pesto Alfredo is also an excellent serving option, I’ve served this combo at many dinner parties and it’s easy on me, and never disappoints my guests.

If you’re looking for other side dish recommendations for serving your seared salmon, my Air Fryer Broccolini, Air Fryer Butternut Squash, Baked Asparagus with Parmesan and Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes are all AMAZING, too.

And, of course, rice also pairs wonderfully with seared salmon and make it for a great weeknight meal. My Instant Pot Brown Rice and Carrot Rice are some of my go-to’s, but

More Salmon recipes:


two pieces of seared salmon on a plate garnished with lemon and fresh chopped herbs
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5 from 3 votes

Pan Seared Salmon

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 Servings
Calories: 241kcal
Author: Aline Shaw

Ingredients

  • 2x 6-8oz Salmon Fillets, de-boned, de-scaled, skin-on
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • High smoke point oil canola, grapeseed, avocado, etc.

Instructions

  • Pat dry on both sides, to make sure your salmon doesn't stick, gets crispy and is perfectly cooked.
  • Season on both sides with salt and pepper and then let it rest on the counter about 10 minutes. This is important so that the salt can penetrate the salmon. Also, sitting out for a little bit ensures that the salmon isn't too cold from the fridge.
  • Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When it's hot, drizzle with the oil. Make sure there's enough oil in the pan so the salmon crisps and cooks evenly.
  • Add the salmon to the hot skillet, skin side down and sear. Do not touch the fish or move it around until the flesh starts to whiten up and look opaque (like the images above in the post), 6-8 minutes, depending on how thick your salmon fillet is.
  • Flip flesh side down and cook the same way, approximately 1-3 minutes, depending on how crispy on top you like.
  • Once cooked through, serve immediately with your favorite side dishes.

Bom Apetite!!

    Did you make this recipe? Show me how it turned out! Snap a photo and share with me on Instagram tagging @aline_shaw!

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1fillet | Calories: 241kcal | Protein: 34g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 75mg | Potassium: 833mg | Vitamin A: 68IU | Calcium: 20mg | Iron: 1mg

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