Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter


Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter is a classic and elegant dish that brings out the rich, natural flavors of fresh salmon. This simple yet sophisticated recipe is perfect for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. With a combination of crispy seared salmon fillets and a zesty lemon butter sauce, this dish is sure to impress your family and friends.

Overview of the Recipe

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter involves searing salmon fillets to a perfect golden brown, then topping them with a bright and flavorful lemon butter sauce. The key to this recipe is achieving a nice crispy skin on the salmon while keeping the flesh tender and moist. The lemon butter sauce adds a tangy and buttery finish that complements the salmon beautifully.

History and Origin

Salmon has been a staple food for many cultures around the world, especially in regions where it is native, such as the Pacific Northwest, Scandinavia, and Japan. The method of pan-searing fish has long been used to create a deliciously crispy exterior while preserving the moist interior. The addition of lemon and butter is a classic culinary technique that enhances the flavor of the fish, making this dish a timeless favorite.


  • 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon slices, for garnish


  1. Season the Salmon: Begin by seasoning the salmon fillets with salt and black pepper. Make sure to coat them evenly for a well-balanced flavor.
  2. Heat the Oil: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Ensure the oil is hot but not smoking to achieve the perfect sear.
  3. Sear the Salmon: Place the salmon fillets in the skillet, skin-side up. Sear them for 4-5 minutes without moving them, allowing a golden-brown crust to form.
  4. Flip the Salmon: Carefully flip the salmon fillets and cook for another 4-5 minutes. The salmon should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. Once done, remove the salmon from the skillet and set aside.
  5. Prepare the Lemon Butter Sauce: In the same skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant.
  6. Add Lemon and Parsley: Stir in the lemon juice and chopped parsley. Cook for an additional minute to let the flavors meld together.
  7. Combine and Serve: Return the salmon fillets to the skillet, spooning the lemon butter sauce over them. Garnish with lemon slices and serve immediately.


This Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter serves four people. Each serving includes one salmon fillet drizzled with the rich lemon butter sauce. The dish pairs well with a variety of sides, such as steamed vegetables, rice, or a fresh green salad.

Pairing and Serving Suggestions

  • Vegetable Pairings: Asparagus, green beans, or broccoli are excellent choices. Simply steam or roast them to complement the salmon.
  • Grains: Serve the salmon with quinoa, couscous, or wild rice to create a well-rounded meal.
  • Salads: A crisp Caesar salad or a light arugula salad with a citrus vinaigrette would enhance the flavors of the salmon.

Variations of the Recipe

  • Herb Variations: Experiment with different herbs like dill, thyme, or basil to add unique flavors to the lemon butter sauce.
  • Citrus Variations: Substitute lemon juice with lime or orange juice for a different citrus profile.
  • Spicy Version: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the lemon butter sauce for a spicy kick.

Health Benefits

Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals. Omega-3s are known for their heart health benefits, including reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure. The use of olive oil and fresh herbs in this recipe also contributes to its nutritional value.


  • Choosing Salmon: Opt for wild-caught salmon when possible, as it tends to be higher in omega-3 fatty acids and has a better environmental impact.
  • Cooking Time: Be careful not to overcook the salmon. It should be just opaque in the center and flake easily with a fork.
  • Fresh Ingredients: Use fresh lemon juice and garlic for the best flavor.


What type of salmon is best for this recipe?

Wild-caught salmon, such as sockeye or king salmon, is ideal for this recipe due to its rich flavor and higher omega-3 content. However, farm-raised salmon can also be used if wild-caught is not available.

Can I use frozen salmon fillets?

Yes, you can use frozen salmon fillets. Make sure to thaw them completely and pat them dry before seasoning and cooking.

How can I tell when the salmon is done?

The salmon is done when it is opaque in the center and flakes easily with a fork. The internal temperature should reach 145°F (63°C).

Can I make the lemon butter sauce ahead of time?

It’s best to make the lemon butter sauce fresh to preserve its flavor and texture. However, you can prepare the garlic and lemon juice in advance to save time.

What other herbs can I use?

Feel free to experiment with herbs like dill, thyme, or basil. Each herb will add a unique flavor to the dish.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, this Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter recipe is naturally gluten-free.


Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter is a delicious and nutritious dish that is both easy to prepare and impressive to serve. With its crispy seared exterior and tangy lemon butter sauce, it’s a delightful meal that can be enjoyed on any occasion. Whether paired with vegetables, grains, or salads, this salmon recipe is versatile and sure to become a favorite in your culinary repertoire. Enjoy the health benefits and exceptional flavors of this classic dish with your loved ones.

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