This recipe is all you need to make the BEST pan seared salmon with extra crispy skin! And of course, the inside of the fish is tender, moist, flaky, and evenly cooked. With a simple Mediterranean-style seasoning and a generous splash of fresh lemon, this salmon fillet recipe hits all the right notes. Here, I pair it with a super simple arugula salad to keep things bright and healthy! But there are tons of other ways to serve this crispy pan seared salmon– I have lots of suggestions for you below.
A couple of tips make all the difference for cooking salmon perfectly on the inside, while getting that extra crispy crust. Read on!
If you’ve been browsing my Mediterranean diet recipes collection, you’ve probably seen a good number of fish and salmon recipes.
Aside from the fact that salmon is a great Mediterranean diet ingredient, it is one of my personal favorites. It is delicious, packed with nutrients, and makes the perfect “fancy” dinner in a snap!
That’s why I am always looking for creative ways to prepare salmon. And I’m loving this crispy pan seared salmon, served with a little arugula…although, the possibilities are endless as far as what to serve along.
Pan Seared Salmon Recipe…What Makes it special?
Two words...crunchy skin!
I do a lot of baked salmon, like this lemon garlic salmon or salmon and veggies in foil packets. But one of the methods I’ve been after lately is pan-searing with just a bit of good extra virgin olive oil.
In this crispy pan seared salmon recipe, it’s really the simple technique of pan-frying that provides the biggest return on flavor. Golden, crispy skin that is deep and delicious, and an interior that is perfectly tender and moist. Every bite a delight!
So for this reason, the seasoning is kept simple. Salmon already has lots of rich flavor, and pan-searing highlights that. So, pairing it with some simple Mediterranean spices like dry oregano and paprika, then finishing with a splash of fresh lemon juice is all you need.
Simple ingredients, BIG flavors!
This is also why I think serving this salmon with a simple peppery arugula salad is just perfection!
If you’ve not tried it before, pan-seared salmon is quick and easy. Making this restaurant-quality, crispy pan-seared salmon at home comes together in about 15 minutes and is easy enough even for less experienced cooks.
Let’s cover the basics though…
How to Pan Sear Salmon?
Does pan searing salmon sound pretty scary to you?I know it may sound intimidating, but it is actually super simple! You probably sear chicken and other meats in a skillet all the time, and it’s not too much different than that.
Here’s how we do it:
1- Your salmon fillets must be dried well on both sides. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Then add spices to rub the salmon
2- Heat your extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking, then reduce the heat to medium-low and add 1 salmon fillet skin side down. Press on the fish with a spatula for about 10 seconds to ensure the skin is pressed fully into the hot pan. After the first one, repeat one at a time for the rest of your fillets. (Press for about 10 seconds each.)
3- Once each fillet is in the pan, cook for approximately 4 minutes with the skin side down. After 4 minutes, flip the fillet if it releases easily from the pan. If the fish is sticking and resisting, it’s not ready to flip so give another little bit (but don’t exceed 6 minutes of cooking on the skin side.)
4- When ready, flip to flesh side and cook quickly for about 15 seconds or until desired doneness.
Tips for BEST, Crispy Pan Seared Salmon with Skin
1. Dry The Salmon Very Well
If you want super crispy, browned salmon, you must make sure you dry both sides very well with paper towels. Excess moisture will make your salmon steam instead of sear, leaving you with a soggy piece of fish.
2. Salt the fish and season RIGHT before cooking
Don’t salt the salmon and let it sit. The salt will draw out excess moisture and your salmon will no longer be dry. Instead, let your pan heat up and add kosher salt and spices to the salmon in the meantime.
3. Make Sure Skillet & Oil is Heated (you’ll lower the heat later)
To get that extra crunch skin, first warm the olive oil in the pan until shimmering, then lower the heat just before you add the salmon. The burst of high heat will crisp the skin and render the fat, but lowering the heat helps to avoid smoking the oil and totally burning the skin. Managing the heat is the name of the game here.
4. Gently Add Salmon to the Heated Skillet with a Spatula Away From You
Remember, your oil is hot, so gently lay the salmon in the pan with a spatula away from you (not towards you) so you don’t get burned with hot oil.
5. Add Salmon Skin Side Down First and Press Gently
Always place salmon in your heated skillet skin-side down. Once in the pan, take your spatula and press the salmon gently into the pan. This will ensure the fillet and skin do not curl up and ensure you are getting an even crispy skin. Press for about 10 seconds for each fillet and do one at a time.
6. IMPORTANT Secret: Cook Salmon Skin side down 90% of the Cooking Time
Cooking the salmon skin side down for most of the cooking process is key. Ensures extra crunch and the top of your salmon with the spices don’t burn.
7- Be Patient. Do not Flip the Salmon Until Skin Can Easily Release and Flesh Flakes
If you go to flip the fish and it is resisting, or the skin is sticking, don’t force it. Leave for another minute or so and check again. You will know salmon is ready to turn when it releases with ease. To help you flip, use your spatula at bottom and fork at the top.
8. How Long to Cook Salmon on Each Side in Your Pan?
You will cook the salmon for about 4 minutes on the skin side down first until it is cooked most of the way through and skin releases easily. Flip it over and cook on flesh side for only another 15 seconds or so.
9. One last safety tip. Use a Splatter Screen
While salmon is cooking in your pan, keep safe and also keep your stove-top clean by using a splatter screen like this one (affiliate.)
What is the best pan for cooking fish?
In my opinion, the absolutely best pan for cooking fish, including salmon, is a cast-iron skillet. They are heavy, sturdy, and heat evenly so your fish cooks perfectly.
Cast iron is great because when it is seasoned properly and used a lot, it creates a natural non-stick surface that food won’t stick to. A seasoned cast-iron skillet develops a non-stick polymerized surface from a thin layer of oil that adheres to the pan – all the non-stick you love minus the nasty chemicals!
How can you tell when salmon is done cooking?
The best way to tell if salmon is cooked properly is to squeeze the sides on the fish. If the salmon begins to flake easily, you have just created a perfectly cooked salmon fillet! Do a little celebratory dance.
I like to eliminate any guesswork by using an instant read thermometer. Salmon is ready when it registers a minimum of 110°F (43°C) in the very center for rare, 120°F (49°C) for medium-rare, or 130°F (54°C) for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.
Do you eat the skin on salmon?
YES! When it is delicious and crispy, you can definitely eat that skin. Most people don’t think you can or don’t want to because many cooking methods can leave skin soggy and flabby. But you will get none of that here! Crunchy skin on salmon is like eating the crunchy skin of turkey and chicken. Sinful and delicious!
What to serve along with this seared salmon recipe?
There are so many other options to serve along this salmon fillet recipe. Just remember, if you go for a more complex salad or side dish, make those first since the salmon is going to cook so fast. You don’t want your salmon skin to get soggy as you are finishing up your side(s).
If you have leftover cooked salmon, store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Leftover salmon is ideal for flaking cold and adding to salads the next day!
If you want to reheat, heat a pan over medium heat, put salmon in skin side down for a few minutes, flip to flesh side for 30-60 seconds, and enjoy!
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This 15-minute crispy pan seared salmon will quickly become a go-to dinner! Prepared Mediterranean-style and served with a simple arugula salad. Be sure to read all the tips in the post above.
- 1 lb to 1.25 lb boneless salmon fillet (4 to 5 salmon fillets about 4 oz each), skin on
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp dry oregano
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp paprika
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Zest of 1 lemon + Juice of 1 ½ lemon
- 5 oz baby arugula to serve along
- Pat salmon dry on both sides and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- In small bowl, mix together the dry oregano, garlic powder and paprika. Season the flesh side of the fish with this spice mixture.
- In a large cast iron skillet, heat 2 tbsp EVOO over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Reduce heat to medium-low and add one salmon fillet, skin-side down, and press the top with the back of a fish spatula for about 10 seconds (this prevents the skin from curling up.) Add the remaining salmon fillets, one at a time, pressing each with the spatula for 10 seconds. Cook for about 4 minutes. If skin resists lifting (or if it’s sticking to the pan), allow the fish to cook for a little bit longer until you are able to lift up easily (no more than 6 minutes in total). Using the spatula and a fork to assist in flipping, flip the fish to the flesh side to cook for about 15 seconds. ( Salmon is ready when it registers 110°F (43°C) in the very center for rare, 120°F (49°C) for medium-rare, or 130°F (54°C) for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.)
- Remove from heat and immediately add lemon juice and lemon zest.
- In a bowl, add the baby arugula. Season with salt and add juice of ½ lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Toss to combine.
- Serve salmon with arugula salad. Enjoy!
- Cook’s Tip #1: Remember to place salmon in the pan skin side down first, and be sure to hold spatula on top for the first 10 seconds to avoid having the fish and skin curl up.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Cook the fish 90 percent of the way on skin-side, then turn over and cook for just a brief 15 seconds or so on flesh side. Salmon is ready when flesh easily flakes and its internal temperature registers 110°F (43°C) in the very center for rare, 120°F (49°C) for medium-rare, or 130°F (54°C) for medium, 5 to 7 minutes total.
- What to Serve Along? Add a dollop of Greek Tzatziki sauce. And if you want something more than arugula next to it, try Moroccan Carrot Salad or Batata Harra (spicy potatoes). More ideas in the post above this recipe card.
- Leftovers? If you have leftover cooked salmon, store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Leftover salmon is ideal for flaking cold and adding to salads the next day! If you want to reheat, heat a pan over medium heat, put salmon in skin side down for a few minutes, flip to flesh side for 30-60 seconds, and enjoy!
- Visit our Online Shop to browse our quality extra virgin olive oils and all-natural spices
- Category: Entree
- Method: Pan Seared
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Pan Seared Salmon, How to Pan Sear Salmon, Salmon Fillet Recipe
*This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2016 and has recently been updated with new information and media for readers’ benefit. Enjoy!