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Restaurant-Style Pan Seared Salmon

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Pan seared salmon

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Restaurant-quality pan seared salmon—crisp on top and just barely cooked in the center—is easy to make at home.

how to make pan-seared salmon

Golden and crisp on top and just barely cooked at the center, this pan seared salmon is one of my go-to recipes when I have to hit the kitchen running. Not only is it fast—15 minutes start to finish!—it’s also elegant. In fact, it’s the way salmon is typically prepared in fine dining restaurants (the same method is often used for cooking steak and scallops). This is really more of a technique than a traditional recipe, and it’s simple to master at home.

The secret to making perfect pan seared salmon is in the combination of selecting the right size salmon fillets, proper seasoning, and resisting the urge to fiddle with the fillets as they cook. Letting the salmon sear untouched in hot oil creates a beautiful, golden crust that makes the dish restaurant-worthy.

What You’ll Need To Make Pan Seared Salmon
how to make pan-seared salmon

The ingredients are simple: olive oil, salt, pepper, and salmon. I recommend using 6-ounce salmon fillets; these are often sold already portioned and ready to cook at the fish counter. This size will ensure that the salmon cooks fully on the interior without overcooking on the exterior. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by seasoning the salmon with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Don’t skimp on the salt—the biggest mistake most home cooks make is under-seasoning their food.

how to make pan-seared salmon

Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Cook the salmon, skin side up, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Resist the urge to fiddle with the fillets as they cook. Letting the fish sear untouched in hot oil creates a lovely, flavorful, and golden crust.

how to make pan-seared salmon

Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes more.

how to make pan-seared salmon

Transfer to a platter and serve. Enjoy!

how to make pan-seared salmon

More Salmon Recipes

Restaurant-Style Pan-Seared Salmon

Restaurant-quality pan seared salmon—crisp on top and just barely cooked in the center—is easy to make at home.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 15 Minutes


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, 1¼ in thick (I have my fish monger remove the skin, but it's fine to leave it on if you like)


  1. Season the salmon with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Cook the salmon, without moving, skin side up, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Carefully flip the fillets and reduce the heat to medium. Continue cooking until done to your liking, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and serve.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 384
  • Fat: 26 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 35 g
  • Sodium: 336 mg
  • Cholesterol: 94 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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  • My husband and I LOVE salmon and eat it frequently. We used to “poach” it, and it was really good, but…not as good as this recipe. We make it exactly was written and it always turn out perfect.
    Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes,

    • — Janet on March 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Ok, I usually try to do a marinade or glaze for my salmon. I found this and gave it a go. Wow! As simple as this is, the salmon came out perfect. From this point on this is my go to for salmon. Nuf said. Thank you.

    • — Fred Schenker on March 12, 2023
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  • Quite possibly the best (and easiest) way to cook Salmon. Keep your heat high, open a window and turn your fan on full.
    I like it best when it’s still rare in the middle and crispy outside.
    thank you for the great method!

    • — Erik on March 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hello Jennifer

    I am so glad I read your instructions on how to cook Restaurant-Style Pan Seared Salmon. Oh my goodness just what I have been trying to do for my son and I. Super simple and delicious. I have only been cooking for a year now that my 18-year-old son is living with me. These instructions and this have taken my cooking skills to the next level. The part where you say “Resist the urge to fiddle with the fillets as they cook” is what I was doing wrong for a whole year. Thanks so much

    Mike Sanchez

    • — Mike Sanchez on March 1, 2023
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  • Just cooked the salmon tonight – Wow!!! It’s just perfect! Thank you!

    • — Tracy on February 28, 2023
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  • Skin side down, not up. Nice and crispy if you like the skin but also serves as a protective layer to ensure you don’t overcook

    • — Chuck on February 24, 2023
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    • The taste was perfect…but not sure why..it caused me and my husband both to cough, but it wasn’t causing smoke. I cooked just as directed. I am wondering if anyone else had this happen. My husband has lung problems, so I am not sure I should try this again.

      • — DELBA SAMUELS on February 25, 2023
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  • Perfect!

    Crispy on the top, somewhat rare in the middle, and skin crunchy! We had mashed garlic potatoes and corn with the salmon. Perfect meal! Thank you.

    • — Betty on February 19, 2023
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  • By the time I saw your request to send a photo, the last drop was literally licked up. 😋
    This recipe was beyond delicious and unbelievably easy. Right up my ally. Thank you so SO much.
    I will definitely be looking for more of your easy, delicious recipes

    • — Sheena Wolovitz on February 16, 2023
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  • I have made this recipe twice now. It is quick, delicious and foolproof.

    • — Cathleen M on February 14, 2023
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  • Followed the recipe exactly as written, (how easy was that!)
    Thank you

    • — Lisa Ermel on February 1, 2023
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  • Delicious! My husband usually grills our salmon, which we have a couple of times a week. But when we have freezing weather, that’s not too fun for him. This is a perfect alternative! I accidentally cooked it skin side down to begin with the first couple of times I made it. Then I looked at the recipe again and saw it said skin side up at first. So, I did that. I discovered that the skin side down at first made the whole thing come out so much better and more predictable! I have to confess that I have even eaten the delicious crispy, crunchy skin. When I did it skin side up first, the skin wasn’t as crispy, which means not nearly as tasty. Who knew!

    • — Donna on February 1, 2023
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  • I made this recipe and thoroughly enjoyed it. Like you it is my quick go to supper.
    Very delicious! I love your website and have made several other recipes
    Thank you

    • — Doris Bronstein on January 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this last night and it sure gives me hope for the future!! It was delicious! I can’t wait to eat my left-overs tonite. I didn’t measure the olive oil but it looked like a tablespoon. And it was a little thicker so cooked it about 30 – 40 seconds longer each side.

    • — Kim Potter on January 15, 2023
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  • I made this tonight with Trader Joe’s Wild Alaskan Salmon and it turned out perfectly. My skeptical wife admitted it was excellent. Thank you…

    • — Doc on January 12, 2023
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  • Supremely simple and delicious! I made this last night and must admit that the ingredients and cooking technique seemed “too simple.” I went ahead and followed Jenn’s recipe exactly, and it was delicious! Don’t doubt it, just make it, it’s perfect. We cook a lot of fish and I feel like I’m always over marinating or flavoring with herbs and seasonings, probably not necessary. This will be a new “go-to” recipe for salmon! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Nancy on January 5, 2023
    • Reply
  • Yum PERFECT!! Served with homemade pesto and rice! As always…thank you Jenn!!!

    • — Jen Moore on January 5, 2023
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  • Perfect timing at 5 & 4. Great tip to turn down the heat at flipping time!

    • — Andrea on January 3, 2023
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  • This was the best salmon I’ve ever made! Perfect crust and so easy. Truly tasted like it was from a restaurant. Only downside is that it smoked a lot and really stunk up my house. Next time (and there will be a next time) I’ll run the vent fan from the beginning—I turned it on halfway through

    • — Elsa on December 18, 2022
    • Reply
  • I am giving this recipe 5 stars because we just had a *delicious* dinner, but I did make a small change and now I have a question. My frying pan looked like the one in the photo, with a very thin lining of olive oil across the bottom of the large pan. However, I used MUCH more than a tablespoon (I’m embarrassed to say how much, and I was eyeballing it, but I would guess perhaps 1/2 cup or more?) Was this a bad mistake? While the fish was outstanding, I did note that it was on the “done” side of perfect, and probably could have gotten away with 3.5 / 3 minutes of cooking per side instead of 4 / 4 — now I’m thinking that might be because I used more oil than the recipe called for. Anyway, delicious. Thanks, Jenn!!

    • — G. Ben on December 10, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi G, glad you enjoyed this despite it being a bit overcooked. Yes, I think the amount of oil caused it to cook more quickly so next time, I’d cut back significantly and you’ll get better results. 🙂

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2022
      • Reply
  • So easy and so good!
    I made this last night with wild caught Alaskan Coho salmon and tonight with wild caught Alaskan King salmon. Yum and yum! It’s nice enough to serve to company. I did cover the pan for a few minutes on each side while cooking just to keep the splattering down. Thanks for this easy method to cook one of our favorite fish.

    • — Gretha on November 27, 2022
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  • I spread a balsamic glaze on the salmon before pan-searing, which gave it an extra crispy “shell” and tangy sweetness.

    • — Kris on November 7, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn,
    It came out excellent, like you said crispy on the outside, moist on the inside. However I used butter instead of oil (the French debate about butter vs olive oil) it made the skin that much more tasty in the end, and sprinkled it with organic garlic powder and organic dill weed. Then topped it with a slice of lemon. I used fresh Atlantic salmon.

    • — Dominique Janssens on October 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I was amazed! I made this recipe. I left the skin on the salmon but I goofed and put the skin side down. In a minute I turned it over and discovered the skin slid right off each piece easily so I removed it. I finished cooking 4 minutes on that side then 5 minutes on the other. It turned out beautiful and delicious! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    • — Candace on September 25, 2022
    • Reply
  • This is so good! Really easy and amazing. Do it exactly as Jenn says.

    • — Beth G on September 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • The best at-home salmon I’ve ever made! Thanks, Jenn.

    • — Francis on September 12, 2022
    • Reply
  • I love the technique. 1st time I’ve actually gotten crispy skin you can eat like a chip or crisp. Seasoned as directed with my own additions to taste and they were cooked perfectly.

    • — Dixie on September 8, 2022
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  • I had always thought you did skin side down first. Mind blown!! This was so easy and came out so incredibly tasty! The simple seasoning of salt and pepper allows the salmon to be the star of the show! And the crust on the top was the bomb!!

    • — Rich Dezelon on August 25, 2022
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    • Glad you enjoyed it!

      • — Jenn on August 26, 2022
      • Reply
  • Perfect 👍🏼

    • — Paul on August 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • This recipe is amazingly simple and absolutely perfect. The key is to do as Jenn instructs and not try to nudge the fish along before it has developed its sear. We love salmon at my house and all of us agree–we’ve paid a lot more for this type of salmon at restaurants, but we’ve never had better salmon than cooking at home with Jenn’s recipe. I use a thermometer to make sure I get it medium, not overcooked. At my house we eat this at least once a week, and sometimes two or three times. I am sure I’ve made it dozens of times, and this recipe has never failed me, it’s divine!

    • — J on August 11, 2022
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  • I did precisely what you said and it was PERFECT!!!! Thank you!!!!

    • — Martie Best on August 10, 2022
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    • Is there a trick for flipping the salmon so it doesn’t stick to the pan? I used oil and a nonstick pan. Sad it wasn’t as pretty as the pictures. Hope it tastes good.

      • — Candace on September 28, 2022
      • Reply
      • Hi Candace, sorry you had a problem with the salmon sticking. Usually, when something sticks to the pan, it’s because it’s not ready to be moved/flipped. Next time, I’d let that side cook for a bit longer before attempting to flip it. Hope it tasted good though!

        • — Jenn on September 29, 2022
        • Reply
  • This is my go to method for cooking salmon since finding this page. I add a LOT of seasoning, like, a lot a lot. Usually Everglades along with smoked paprika and a little Peri Peri. It’s pretty perfect every time on a bed of rice with some roasted brocolli and a little drizzle of balsamic reduction.

    • — Peter on August 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Super delicious. Very easy. Making again tonight😀

    • — Colleen on July 16, 2022
    • Reply
  • Fabulous! Served with your French lentil salad and greens.
    Delicious and healthy.

    • — Kaci Bloemers on July 5, 2022
    • Reply
  • Omg, the easiest salmon recipe, my favourite kind, that I’ve ever made. It tasted yummy.

    • — Geri on June 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was so easy and fast. Most of all, delicious!! If you can, source wild caught Salmon. Makes a huge difference in taste.

    • — TJ on June 20, 2022
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  • This method was great, because Im NOT a griller and it worked perfect for me.

    I added a few additional ingredients. Along with the sea salt, pepper, I added a shake or two of old bay on top of each piece. Also at the very end of cooking I added 1-tablespoon of butter for extra flavor. I learned that trick when cooking steak.
    IT TURNED OUT PERFECT!! My guest loved it and I gave them the recipe.

    • — Deb on June 10, 2022
    • Reply
  • Not a big salmon fan, eat it cause it’s healthy. But after this recipe, I’m sold! I have never gotten so much flavor from salmon, especially with so few ingredients. This will be a weekly go to meal. Thank you.

    • — Tom Hopkins on May 30, 2022
    • Reply
  • The BEST salmon I’ve ever had!! Even better than a restaurant! It was so crispy on the outside and super moist on the inside. I also love how was quick & easy it was to prepare. Thank you so much!

    • — Steph on May 22, 2022
    • Reply
  • Love this cooking technique for salmon. Would this technique also be suitable for black sea bass?

    • — Laura on May 14, 2022
    • Reply
    • Sure – I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on May 17, 2022
      • Reply
      • It was sublime❣️ Thank you for all that you create and share😊

        • — LW on May 24, 2022
        • Reply
  • I made this last night and was crushed when I tried to flip the filets and they fell apart. After reading through some of the comments I see that I’m clearly the only one this happened to! I suspect my non-stick pan was the problem. Not so non-stick! I used an Always Pan by Our Place and it was a disaster. I will try again using my regular non-stick pan and hope to have a perfect flip! Despite the messy presentation however it was incredibly delicious. Thank you for the exact instructions and showing me how to properly pan-sear salmon. I’ve always wanted to know how high-end restaurants get that yummy crust and barely cooked center. Hopefully my next attempt will be a success! Can’t wait to explore some of your other recipes. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Mia on April 28, 2022
    • Reply
  • this was awesome … I’ve been having trouble searing salmon after I sous vide, it typically will fall apart and the skin will stick to the pan … for salmon, this tried and true recipe is just fine … simple and perfect

    • — Bo on April 11, 2022
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    • This was superb. I have never had salmon come out this good.

      • — Ashley on May 16, 2022
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    • This is the easiest, best tasting way to cook fresh salmon. It is my go to salmon recipe. Never disappointed.

      • — Grieb on June 6, 2022
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  • 5 stars. My first time cooking a salmon filet. It was delicious!

    • — Jeanne on April 9, 2022
    • Reply
    • Awesome recipe. Easy and straightforward and tasty results

      • — Lorenzo S on April 24, 2022
      • Reply
  • I tried it, and we all loved it. Easy and delicious.
    Thank you.

    • — Eva on April 9, 2022
    • Reply
  • Came out fantastic! Thank you.

    • — Lisa on April 3, 2022
    • Reply
  • This was the BEST technique I’ve ever came across! This was excellent! The entire family loved it!!!! Thank you for sharing!!!!

    • — Condria on March 21, 2022
    • Reply

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