How to Pan Sear Crisp, Moist Salmon Fillets – Make restaurant-quality, perfectly cooked salmon in your own kitchen! Golden crust, moist & flaky within. Fast, easy tutorial, 20 minute meal, healthy & delicious.
It all started when my stepdaughter, aka “the pickiest eater on planet Earth,” developed a taste for salmon. Once I discovered she liked this great alternative to red meat, which can be high in saturated fat, I was determined to perfect my cooked salmon technique. I much prefer it to red meat, which is high in saturated fat. She preferred the pan seared salmon served at one of our favorite local restaurants– it was moist and flaky with a crisp golden crust. After struggling to make it the same way at home, I finally landed on a technique that produces restaurant-quality salmon every time. And my stepdaughter? She now likes mine better than the restaurant version!
This technique involves a simple combination of pan searing and oven roasting. Use boneless fillets, skin on for a crispy skin or skin off for a crispy golden crust — either will work. By following this great recipe, you can have perfectly seared salmon filets on the table in less than 20 minutes. Roast some veggies, steam a little couscous, and you’ve got a healthy, satisfying meal.
Restaurant? We don’t need no stinkin’ restaurant! Give yourself a pat on the back and a Michelin star, you’ll be rocking salmon fillets like a boss from now on.
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How to Sear Salmon Fillets
Make restaurant-quality salmon in your own kitchen! Golden crust, moist & flaky within. Fast, easy tutorial, 20 minute meal, healthy & delicious.
- Boneless salmon fillets skin off or skin on (up to 4 per batch)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
You will also need: Cast iron or PFOA-free nonstick skillet with metal handle
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. If you have time, let the salmon come to room temperature, it will cook faster and more evenly that way (but don't stress, when I'm in a hurry I do it straight from the fridge). The salmon fillets should be generously seasoned with salt and pepper.
Place skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes till drops of water sizzle and bead on the surface when you sprinkle them. When water dries pour 2 tbsp olive oil and swirl around the bottom of the pan to evenly coat. Oil will begin to smoke lightly after a moment or two.
Place salmon fillets gently into the skillet, up to 4 at a time (depending on the size of your skillet), making sure not to crowd the pan. The fillets should not touch. If using skin-on fillets, the skin side should be facing upward, with meat against the pan.
Turn the burner up to high heat. Let the salmon sear for 2-3 minutes till a golden brown crust begins to form on the bottom edge of the meat. You'll be able to see the crust starting at the edge where the meat touches the pan. Once you see that, there is no need to lift the salmon and check-- the crust will continue developing in the oven. The less you disturb the salmon during cooking, the better.
At this point, do not turn the salmon. Instead, transfer the whole skillet to the preheated oven. Let the salmon continue roasting in the oven for another 6-10 minutes. How long it cooks will depend on the thickness of the fillets and desired doneness-- some people like salmon a little on the rare side. Our family likes it fully cooked and flaking, but still moist. For a fillet that is 1-inch thick at its thickest point, this usually takes around 7-8 minutes in the oven. Once cooked you can cut into the thickest part of a fillet with a sharp knife to make sure it's done to your liking.
When the salmon is done roasting, use an oven mitt to carefully remove the skillet from the oven. I do mean carefully, the skillet will be hot and the oil will be sizzling!
Remove the fillets from the pan carefully with tongs or a fish spatula, plate them crust-side up, and serve. Keep in mind that if you keep them in the hot skillet they will continue to cook. If you're not serving the fillets immediately, you might want to take them out of the oven a little under-done and leave them in the hot skillet to finish cooking before you serve them. If you've left the skin on, it will be crisp at this point. Skin off, the only crispy area will be that golden brown crust. My stepdaughter likes that part the best. These are especially nice with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!