This easy pan-seared salmon recipe is made using a cast iron skillet. Seasoned with lemons and capers in a butter sauce. Ready in 15 minutes!
Seared salmon is an easy weeknight meal you can have ready in less than 15 minutes.
★ Why You'll Love this Recipe ★
This pan-seared method of cooking salmon is easy to pull off. You'll end up with moist, flaky salmon in a bright lemon-butter sauce. Salty capers add the perfect finishing touch.
This meal is gourmet quality yet quick and easy to make. Win!
Made on the Stove Top
This simple pan-seared method is great for cooking salmon year-round. No need to fire up the grill to get delicious flavor and texture.
You'll be using a cast iron skillet and by searing the outside, you'll lock in moisture and add a light crisp which perfectly compliments the melt-in-your-mouth inside.
The key is not overcooking and following the steps for pan-searing. Don't worry, I'll break the process down into just a few steps.
First step: gather your ingredients.
★ Ingredient You'll Need ★
This recipe is very simple, requiring just 7 ingredients total.
For this recipe, we're cooking the salmon with lemon and capers for a classic flavor. We're seasoning with thyme but you could use dill, rosemary, sage or parsley instead.
Here's everything you need:
- Salmon. For the best flavor and texture, use fresh raw salmon fillets. Next best would be frozen raw salmon. You do not want to start with cooked, smoked or canned salmon. Center-cut fillets are ideal as they are about 2" thick. If using thinner salmon cuts, you may need to reduce cook time.
- Olive oil. You can use another high-heat, neutral cooking oil (vegetable, avocado, grape or corn), but olive oil adds a nice flavor to this dish.
- Butter. Butter adds delicious flavor and helps create the pan sauce. Use salted butter or you can add your own salt if using unsalted.
- Fresh thyme. Or another herb or your choice.
- Garlic. Garlic is a classic flavor used with salmon — it adds an earthy bite to the sauce. I like to buy already peeled garlic to save time or you can use minced garlic or garlic paste.
- Capers. You can add more or less to taste. These add texture and busts of salt.
- Lemons. Lemon brightens the sauce by adding freshness and acidity. Fresh lemons, juiced are far more flavorful than buying lemon juice. Worth the extra bit of time to slice and squeeze.
That's all you need!
★ How to Make this Recipe ★
Here's an overview of the steps involved to give you an idea of the full process. For the full recipe with ingredients and quantities, see below.
This recipe has just 3 steps!
- Heat oil in skillet then add salmon, skin down.
- Flip then add herbs, garlic, butter, lemon and capers.
- Finish cooking then serve, topped with sauce from pan.
Truly couldn't get much easier than this YET tastes amazing!
★ Tips & FAQs ★
How to Smash the Garlic
Using the flat side of the knife, carefully press down onto the garlic placed on a flat cutting board. If you're not comfortable doing that, you can finely chop the garlic or use garlic paste instead.
What to Serve with Pan-seared Salmon
Serve salmon with your desired sides — rice or orzo pasta are great options plus a vegetables completes this meal. A side salad or a roasted vegetable like asparagus would be delicious.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days.
Leftovers can also be frozen for up to 6 months. To reheat, let thaw to room temperature then heat in a 400˚ hot oven or microwave in :30 intervals until just warmed. You do not want to cook the salmon, just heat it enough to enjoy.
★ More Recipes You'll Love ★
If you are a big fan of salmon, you have to check out my Maple Chipotle Grilled Salmon! It's amazing. 🙂
Are you a seafood lover? Browse all my seafood recipes
Simple Seared Salmon
- 2 salmon fillets, center-cut (2" thick)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 cloves garlic smashed with a knife
- 2 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1 lemon juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel and season with salt and black pepper.
- Add oil to a cast iron skillet over medium heat. When a drop of water sizzle, oil is ready. Add the salmon fillets skin side down.
- Sear salmon for 3-4 minutes or until skin releases from the pan. Filet will release easily when ready to flip.
- Flip salmon then add butter, thyme, garlic, capers and lemon juice.
- Cook salmon for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until temperature reaches 125-145° in the thickest part.* While salmon sears on the second side, baste the skin side with butter from the pan.
- Using a spoon, scoop capers and butter sauce from pan and add to the top of the salmon before serving.