Pan Seared Salmon Recipe

4.79 from 52 votes
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Everything you need to know about pan seared salmon. From what salmon to use to a fool proof tutorial on how to sear salmon fillet. Watch the step-by-step video tutorial to learn how to make the best salmon that’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. 

Everything you need to know about pan seared salmon. From what salmon to get to a fool proof how-to. Watch the step-by-step video tutorial to learn how to make the best pan seared salmon that's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. 


It’s advised to have seafood dishes twice a week and luckily, salmon is one of those ingredients that I never get tired of. You can make salmon recipes in many different ways. From baked dijon salmon and crispy orange glazed salmon to salmon in foil and grilled salmon fillets, there are so many ways to cook this delicious fish that’s packed with omega-3 and other nutrients. 

Wild caught salmon vs farm raised salmon

To answer this question, first let’s take a look at the definitions: 

Wild caught salmon is caught in natural environments like river and ocean and farm raised salmon is raised in farms and fed with fish feed. Wild salmon is much more expensive than farm raised and is harder to find in the supermarkets. According to healthline, farmed salmon has more fat and wild salmon is richer in minerals. It’s also leaner because the fish has more space to move compared to farmed salmon. 

So which one is better?  Both types of salmon have pros and cons. Not everyone is a fan of how wild salmon tastes and it’s usually harder to find. Farmed salmon is way more affordable and it’s easier to cook but it also has higher fat content.  In conclusion, it’s best to buy what suits your budget and preference. Always check with your store’s fish department to make sure the salmon is fresh. 

The marinade

this recipe is made with salmon, lemon, spices, salt, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, spinach and tomatoes.

Salmon has such rich flavor of its own. To make this Mediterranean style pan seared salmon, I marinated the fillets in a combination of these ingredients:

  • Garlic: I love using real garlic in my recipes, the flavor is much better than jarred minced garlic. However, you can also use garlic powder.
  • Olive oil: Cooking with olive oil is always great. If you like to use other kinds of oil, I suggest using avocado oil or vegetable oil.
  • Lemon: freshly squeezed lemon juice adds so much brightness to the flavor. If you don’t have fresh lemon on hand, use all natural lemon juice.
  • Spices: A combination of oregano, paprika, salt and pepper is perfect for this recipe. I don’t add other spices because I want the flavor of salmon to shine.

How to pan sear salmon

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. 
  • Brush the salmon fillets with a bit of olive oil and season with spices. If you’d like to marinate the salmon before cooking, you can refrigerate the fish at this stage for maximum 30 minutes.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the salmon skin side down in the pan. 
  • Cook untouched for about 4 minutes on one side and then flip the fish. 
  • Sear for another 5 minutes until the salmon is cooked completely. 
  • Serve seared salmon with your favorite side dish. In this case I sautéed some spinach and tomatoes.
Step by step photos to make pan seared salmon. Brush the fillets with some olive oil and season with spices and garlic. Sear the salmon for 4 minutes in each side until opaque and cooked through. As a side dish, saute onions, tomatoes and spinach to serve with salmon.

Pro tip: Pan seared salmon is crispy on the outside and flaky on the inside. It’s important to flip the salmon and let both sides get very crispy. Follow this tutorial and you will have perfect crispy salmon every time. 


You can make pan seared salmon with different flavors and sides, here are a few ideas:

  • Spicy: Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1/2 tablespoon harissa paste to your spice combination.
  • Garlic butter: Leave out the spice mix and only use garlic and lemon juice. A minute before the searing is done, drop 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into the pan and once melted, pour over the salmon fillets.
  • Other vegetables: Instead of spinach and tomatoes, sauté onions, zucchini and mushrooms.

Pan sear vs bake

Both methods word great for salmon and they are both pretty easy to do. Baked salmon requires less hands on time but more time in the oven. Pan seared salmon is crispier and cooks in a shorter time. If you’re looking for baked salmon recipes, try our baked salmon fillet with lemon or oven baked salmon with olives and capers. 

Frequently asked questions

How long to pan sear salmon?

Depending on the size and thickness of the fish, it would take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes to sear salmon on each side. It’s important not to overcook the salmon otherwise it will be dry inside. 

How to know if salmon is cooked?

There are a couple of ways to see if salmon is cooked properly:
The salmon turns from pink to opaque. 
The internal temperature would be at 140ºF when an instant thermometer is inserted in the middle. 
That being said, make sure not to overcook the salmon. It keeps cooking for a few more minutes when it’s off the heat, so keep that in mind when you’re cooking fish. 

What kind of pan should I use?

It’s best to use a nonstick pan when it comes to searing a tender fish such as salmon. You don’t want the skin or flesh to stick to the pan. 

Skin on or skin off?

Keep the skin on at all times unless you’re poaching the salmon. Cooking salmon with the skin on will prevent it from being overcooked. It also keeps the shape of the salmon fillet while being seared. 

overhead shot of two salmon fillets with tomatoes and spinach.

Serving suggestions

You can serve salmon with many different sides. We served it with some sauteed onions and spinach with juicy burst tomatoes. You can also serve it with salads such as Mediterranean potato salad, Cucumber tomato avocado salad, Mediterranean green bean salad or simply some batata harra (Lebanese spicy potatoes), brown rice or Greek potatoes.

What to do with the leftovers

You can store the leftover salmon in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. My suggestion is to always try to serve salmon fresh and finish it in one sitting. However, you can also turn your leftovers to Greek salmon salad or salmon patties using a few vegetables and spices. 

wo seared salmon fillets on a plate with cooked spinach and tomatoes.

More seafood recipes

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4.79 from 52 votes

Pan Seared Salmon Recipe

Everything you need to know about pan seared salmon. From what salmon to get to a fool proof how-to. Watch the step-by-step video tutorial to learn how to make the best pan seared salmon that's crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. 
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Marinade: 15 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
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  • 2 Salmon fillets
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil , divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lemon, juice of

Sauteed tomatoes and spinach

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion , sliced
  • 2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Place the salmon fillets on a plate. Rub 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on the fillets.
  • Top salmon fillets with oregano, paprika, black pepper, salt, garlic and lemon juice. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  • Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a non stick pan over medium heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the salmon fillets skin side down in the pan. Sear untouched for about 4 minutes until the skin side starts looking opaque.
  • Flip and sear the other side until cooked.

Sauteed tomatoes and spinach

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
  • Saute sliced onion until translucent.
  • Add in the tomatoes and cook so they start bursting.
  • Add in the spinach and cook until it's wilted. Season with salt and pepper.



  • Store the leftover cooked salmon in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. 
  • Depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets, it takes between 4 to 6 minutes to cook. Keep a close eye to make sure not to overcook the salmon. 


Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1283mg | Potassium: 1535mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 3889IU | Vitamin C: 77mg | Calcium: 124mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Shadi HasanzadeNemati

I'm here to show you how to make delicious Persian, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food at home. My easy to follow recipes will bring exciting new flavors to your table!

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4.79 from 52 votes (14 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Great tips for perfectly cooked salmon, and the tomatoes and spinach are so refreshing. This is beautiful, healthful, and perfect for summer.

  2. 5 stars
    Yum! Pan seared salmon is my favorite. Thanks so much for this recipe. I’m going to make it this weekend.

  3. 5 stars
    We have salmon at least once a week in my house. This pan seared version is going on our must make list ASAP! Love the flavors on the salmon and the tomato spinach side.

  4. 5 stars
    I love how crispy the outside of this salmon is. Yet it’s not dry at all. Thank you for sharing this will be getting made frequently.

  5. 5 stars
    The salmon was delicious! I usually fix on the grill or in the oven. This looked so easy I decided to try it. I did not marinate it. I followed your directions otherwise. Fixed rice and steamed veggies for our sides. Dinner was ready in 10 minutes once salmon was in the skillet! A keeper for sure! Thanks for sharing.

  6. 5 stars
    I can’t wait to try this recipe. It looks delicious. I guess this is Keto friendly as i am on Keto diet.