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Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

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Simple and summery, pan-seared halibut with a sweet cherry tomato and basil sauce comes together in 30 minutes.

Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

Fresh Pacific halibut is a seasonal splurge. It needs very little to enhance its flavor—in fact, it’s almost a sin to fuss too much with it. I like to prepare it simply: pan-seared until golden and crisp with a quick sauté of sweet, garlicky cherry tomatoes on the side. Depending on how long you cook the tomatoes, they can be firm and fresh or soft and jammy. I usually aim for somewhere right in between, but they’re delicious either way.

What You’ll Need To Make Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

halibut ingredients

Pacific halibut is a firm, dense, and sweet white fish, available fresh from March into November. Avoid frozen halibut, as it tends to be dry. If you don’t have access to fresh halibut, another mild white fish like haddock, mahi mahi, sea bass, tilapia, or cod may be substituted.

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

cherry tomatoes and seasoning in bowl

Toss to combine and set aside.

tossed cherry tomatoes and seasoning

Season the halibut all over with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

seasoning halibut with salt and pepperHeat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. It’s important that the pan is good and hot. If the fish doesn’t sizzle when you place it in the oil, take it out and give he pan another minute or two to heat up.

Place the fish, presentation-side down, in the pan. (Be sure not to crowd the pan, or the fish will steam instead of sear.)

pan-searing halibut on first side

Cook, without touching, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and lower the heat to medium; continue cooking until the halibut is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked halibut to a plate or serving platter.

pan-searing halibut on second side

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the cherry tomato mixture.

cherry tomatoes in pan

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices, a few minutes. saucy cherry tomatoes

Stir in basil, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

finishing cherry tomato sauce with basil

Serve the halibut filets with the cherry tomatoes spooned over top and alongside.

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Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

Simple and summery, pan-seared halibut with a sweet cherry tomato and basil sauce comes together in 30 minutes.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes


  • 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved (preferably mixed colors)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut filets (or other mild white fish)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, a heaping ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  2. Season the halibut all over with ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Place the fish, presentation-side down, in the pan and cook, without touching, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and lower the heat to medium; continue cooking until the halibut is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked halibut to a plate or serving platter.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the cherry tomato mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices, a few minutes. Stir in basil, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve the halibut filets with the cherry tomatoes spooned over top and alongside.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 263
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Sodium: 631 mg
  • Cholesterol: 83 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • I was thinking halibut, pesto, tomatoes ~ so searched and your recipe came up. Perfecto!
    Instead of basil in the tomatoes, I smeared a bit of pesto on top of the fish after it was cooked; used a nice white to deglaze the pan before putting the tomatoes in, which once cooked I poured over the fish; served with a side of pesto pasta, a glass of white wine. I was one happy cook! Thanks!

    • — Susan on September 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Simple ingredients and great flavor. Another recipe added to my favorites list. Last time I had it with couscous and today will be brown rice.

    • — Ang on September 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Unbelievable flavor – better than a restaurant! I used red snapper because that’s what my local fish market had, and it turned out phenomenal. Can’t wait to try it again with another white fish.

    • — Liz on August 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • I used mahimahi. It turned out wonderfully flavorful. The fish was so delicious with the tomatoes. Thank you for a healthy dinner.

    • — Mary M. on July 24, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. Just made your pan seared halibut with cherry tomatoes, except I substituted a cod loin. It was absolutely delicious- the tomatoes, garlic and basil gave it a decidedly Mediterranean flavor. Served it with your smashed potatoes. You never fail to satisfy us with your recipes. Thank you.

    • — Dena Broeders on April 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was absolutely delicious! I used grouper instead and it was really great. And very easy as well.

    • — Tara on April 28, 2023
    • Reply
  • I just made your Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil recipe and enjoyed it so much, I plan on making it again and again. I loved it and can’t wait to share your recipe. Thank you for this and all your other wonderful recipes I have enjoyed.

    • — Frances on April 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • This recipe is out of this world! It is so incredibly flavorful that you forget it’s healthy…haha! Jenn, thank you! You are amazing at your craft and we are so lucky you freely share your knowledge with us. When we make your recipes we always feel we are at an upscale restaurant. I’m amazed how a few simple ingredients can yield such a fantastic dish. We made it twice in one week….first with halibut and then with sea bass. Thank you!

    • — Carolina Trujillo on March 27, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💕

      • — Jenn on March 27, 2023
      • Reply
  • I have made this a few times and it never fails to be delicious. The only thing I do differently is we love cod so that is my fish choice. Posting on FB with a picture❣️

    • — Gail on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • I made the Halibut recipe and just want to rave about it.

    • — Kristin BP on December 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Fish, not me but if it comes from Jenn I’m willing to give it a whirl. What’s not to love about her recipes, right! Hubby loves to plank during the summer so I’d be happy as a girl with direction to plank this recipe. Can you help me please?

    You never cease to amaze me and my family with your recipes. You’ve made me WANT to cook, thank you.

    • — Cindi on August 21, 2022
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Cindy! 💗 I do think you could make the halibut on a cedar plank (use the guidance from this recipe) and you can cook the tomatoes inside while the fish cooks. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 22, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is a great tasting recipe! I made the brussel sprouts and kale salad to go along with the fish and my family really enjoyed dinner. Thank you for sharing your food expertise.

    • — Wendy on August 19, 2022
    • Reply
  • Tomatoes were absolutely delicious, but I didn’t have halibut and thought cod might work, using the same cooking time and temperatures. I was wrong – it turned to leather. We will get some halibut and try again with total confidence that it will be scrumptious.
    Not giving any stars because I substituted another kind of fish, so the bad result was my fault☹️. Again, the tomatoes were eye-poppingly good.

    • — Judy on August 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • There, I’ve done it again! My cousin’s college-age daughter is wrapping up the summer with me. She has been my guest during her summer internship. During her stay, she has been introduced to many, many of Jenn’s recipes. Last night, it was the pan-seared fish (I used Chilean Sea Bass) and as usual it was a major hit. Asked what is my secret in the kitchen, I replied, “I learned the value of reading from my wife who was a Reading teacher. And I just apply my reading gift to Jenn’s blog and two cookbooks. And Voila!”

    • — GrandBob on August 11, 2022
    • Reply
    • I agree— Jenn you have produced another dinner winner! I used Sea Bass and our homegrown tomatoes and basil. Thank you for sharing your talents.

      • — Jenn P on August 18, 2022
      • Reply
  • OMG, Jenn! Another winner. This was the easiest and most delicious dish ever. My college boys went nuts for it and I’ll be doubling the tomatoes next time because I couldn’t get enough of them. I served it with crusty ciabatta to soak up the juices and a salad. Not only is it delicious, it is beautiful. Wish I could attach a picture of my platter. Another plus is that I cooked it on our grill with a side burner so the whole house doesn’t stink like fish!

    • — Lori on August 7, 2022
    • Reply
  • Fabulous recipe!!! Thank you! Was easy to make! Thank you!

    • — Mary Jane Dowd on June 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • I was headed home knowing there wasn’t anything in the house to eat. I’m focused on eating healthier, so I decided to stop by HEB grocery and pick up a piece of fish. I grabbed the halibut knowing I would need a recipe to not mess it up, BUT I knew I could find a great recipe at OUAC. Importantly, I knew it would be simple.
    The good news was I found this recipe. The bad news was that I didn’t have any cherry tomatoes. No problem, as I just wanted a simple recipe to cook a nice piece of fish.
    Don’t mock me. I’ve never had any confidence cooking fish and this not only gave me a recipe but it gave me a technique. The fish was delicious. Thank you.

    • — Jerald B. on June 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • I followed the recipe but the halibut portion was more challenging for me. Had a hard time getting it not to stick to the pan and I lost the browning parts. Also when I placed it in the side plate while doing the tomato’s there was a pool of liquid at the bottom which I didn’t care for. I had paper towel dried the fish prior to going into the pan. Overall it was still good but wish I had the fish portion down better.

    • — Luanne on March 23, 2022
    • Reply
    • So sorry you had trouble, Luanne. Did you use a nonstick pan?

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2022
      • Reply
    • Bingo ! I recently came across a video showing how to make certain your pan is hot enough so that your food doesn’t stick. (some say I have too much time on my hands)
      I can’t find the video but the problem is that the pan is not hot enough when you add the food.
      To determine when you have the right temp, heat the pan, let it get ‘hot’, and drop 1/8 teaspoon of water in the pan. If it sizzles and/or breaks into small pieces it is not quite ready. Wait a while, test again. You are looking for it to form a “mercury” type ball. Well, that’s close to the solution but I’m fairly certain that your pan wasn’t hot enough.

      • — Jerald B. on June 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • Best fish recipe ever!!! I’m normally afraid of “messing up” fish but this was so easy and so delicious. Can’t wait to make it again and again!!!

    • — DeannaS on March 13, 2022
    • Reply
  • I have made this recipe a couple of times and it comes out delicious. The sauce adds flavor and color to the dish.

    • — Maria V Murillo on February 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Simple and delicious!

    • — Lorraine Marier on February 11, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is my new favorite way to cook fish. I have used the halibut but I find the thinner rockfish was easier and better. It made a huge splatter mess so I treated myself to a splatter shield for the pan. Can’t wait to try it. I added a splash of white wine and tablespoon of butter at end. It was restaurant worthy. But great without it too. I love all of these recipes – my go to source.

    • — Anne on January 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Great recipe to Serve to guests. Restaurant quality. I add a dash of butter and it is superb served over Israeli couscous. If you want to impress guests serve this. Easy to adjust for 6 people. Recipe is very forgiving.

      • — Anne Abraham on July 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • This is our favorite recipe from Jenn’s first book. The kids request it regularly. For adults, it does look and taste like a dish at an upscale restaurant. Thank you, Jenn – yum delicious!

  • Perfection! What a treat. My son also enjoyed this dish. ( I didn’t put any of the tomatoes on his, just the saucey bits.) Can’t believe how easy this was and how gourmet it tasted.

  • My husband doesn’t like tomatoes.

    Nor is he big into fish.

    He likes to remind me every time I make seafood that he ‘Can’t really do seconds of fish’ still to this day- even after 18 years together, as if I could forget.

    I’ll probably have to get it etched on his headstone so he can Rest In Peace knowing I won’t forget that truly valuable piece of information.

    Well you got his number with this one! Not only did he eat an entire second portion, there wasn’t a tomato left on his plate.

  • Simple, easy and delicious. I used Mahi Mahi and paired with cooked quinoa.

  • Just made this tonight with the Mahi my husband caught while fishing last night! Holy moly the sauce complemented the fresh fish SO well. We are already brainstorming on what else we can use this tomato topping! Thanks for yet ANOTHER delicious recipe, Jenn! (Also made your chunky peanut butter cookies for dessert because why not?!)


  • Stop whatever you are doing. Run to the store. Buy the ingredients for this recipe. Make it for dinner tonight! You will be amazed at the wonderful dish you created! I made this for dinner guests last night. Seriously, they thought they were eating at a 5-star restaurant. It was FANTASTIC! I made the sauce in advance, so all I had to do was cook the fish right before we ate and pour the sauce on it. Instant happiness. And is very simple to make.

  • Absolutely delicious! If you’re like me and prefer plain, grilled halibut, try this as a change-up! I have made the tomato mixture, along with some added shallots, served over thin spaghetti with Parmesan cheese for a vegetarian dinner, too.

  • The tomatoes are an amazing accompaniment to the fish. I had some bass fillets in the freezer and my cherry tomato plant is being super productive this year. I shared this recipe with my vegetarian daughter and she will try it with tofu. Thanks Jenn, another winner.

  • I have so enjoyed this recipe. I have prepared it using cod, and I have also prepared the tomatoes, adding them to pasta and fresh basil pesto. Recommended!!

  • This was very good, especially with cherry tomatoes and basil right from the garden. I used nice thick cod, which has a more mild flavor. Cod is also not as firm as halibut, so the fillets sort of fell apart. I didn’t use a nonstick pan (ever the rebel!) and it did stick too much in my cast iron pan. The flavor was great though! I’ll definitely make it again using a nonstick pan and maybe even spring for the halibut (twice as expensive as cod) next time too.

    • Your skillet wasn’t hot enough to keep the fish from sticking.

      • — Jerald B. on June 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • I love this recipe. It’s absolutely delicious. When halibut is out of season would this work with salmon?
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

    • Sure (and so glad you like the recipes)! 🙂

  • I made this with Orange Roughy and grape shaped tomatoes as substitutions
    and it was absolutely delicious!
    Thank you so much for this recipe.

  • So easy, delicious and healthy.

  • Followed this recipe as indicated but it did not yield a sauce. Perhaps I needed more tomatoes and should have cooked them longer. I love halibut but I found this recipe to be a bit bland.

  • I used this recipe using cod filets from Costco. Served fish and tomato sauce over pasta along with a simple salad. It was delicious! I have already shared it with my sister and two daughters.

    • — Elizabeth Pentecost
    • Reply
    • The frozen wild cod? I just bought a bag and was hoping it would work with this recipe:)

  • I love this recipe from the cookbook! What brand of nonstick pans do you like? Thank you!

    • Glad you like this! My favorite brand is All-Clad. They can be a bit pricy so if you’d like to spend a little less, Calphalon and Analon are also good.

      • Thank you so much! I can’t wait for your next book!

  • LOVE this simple, quick and very delicious halibut recipe!!
    I failed to add oil before fish and it stuck a bit, but did not hurt the overall effect once topped with the sautéed tomato mixture! Such a tasty dish, and perfect for the fresh halibut we just caught in Alaska!! Thanks again Jenn!

  • This was so simple yet delicious. A lovely summertime meal that is light and takes advantage of seasonal ingredients! Thank you for another winning recipe!

  • This recipe is not only easy to make, flavourful and delicious, it’s beautiful to look at too.
    I made it with fresh cod and it was amazing. To be honest, I didn’t think that I’d like fish and tomatoes together, but knowing it was one of Jenn’s recipes, gave it a try and I’m very happy I did! You’re the best Jenn! Thanks for another fabulous recipe.

  • Simple and delicious. The tomato mix is surprisingly tasty. Served with Jenn’s couscous and a fennel-cucumber salad. Perfect Sunday dinner for a summer evening. As another reviewer noted, halibut here in Victoria is plentiful and that’s what I used but I’m sure it would be good with almost any fish.

  • Love it! Used frozen cod and it was delicious. I can only imagine what it would taste like if it were fresh halibut. Easy, fast and healthy – what more could you ask for?

  • This was a v. successful dinner for two. Rather than frozen supermarket catch of the day I had some fresh brown trout which gave me two small steak cuts to pan sear. My sides were a Knorr Rice “Select” and green beans. … I am a late -to-the -kitchen “cooker” (84) in new care-giver mode and enjoy your recipes.

  • This is a winner! Easy to prepare and very tasty! I used halibut, but easily see myself using cod and/or haddock—which are both very plentiful here in SE Massachusetts. Thanks, Jenn!

  • I made this tonight using a thick piece of fresh cod, basil from my garden and local tomatoes. This recipe is quick, simple, tasty and looks beautiful on the platter. I served it with Lemon Israeli Couscous, a lettuce salad and a green bean salad.

  • This is one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook and I make it often. It works equally well with salmon!

  • The sauce was outstanding. Love halibut and this recipe made it much more fulfilling. You’re the best, Jenn.

  • Amazing! Simple, clean and yammy. My little kids enjoyed it too.

  • This is delicious and very simple to make. When the email with this recipe came this morning, I had been planning halibut for dinner anyway so I tried it. We all, including my grandson who is staying with us, really enjoyed it. Halibut is plentiful here in Victoria at this time of year so this will definitely be made again. Thank you.

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