Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

A Culinary Delight

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce recipe

Introduction to the Dish

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce is a culinary masterpiece, blending the rich flavors of the ocean with a zesty, creamy sauce. This dish stands out for its simplicity and elegance, making it a favorite for both weeknight dinners and special occasions. The golden crust of the salmon, achieved through searing, pairs perfectly with the tangy and buttery notes of the lemon sauce, creating a harmony of flavors.

Brief History of Pan Seared Salmon

The origins of Pan Seared Salmon trace back to European culinary traditions, where the emphasis was on enhancing the natural flavors of high-quality ingredients. Over time, this cooking method gained popularity across the globe, evolving with regional twists and variations. The technique of searing salmon, specifically, has been celebrated for its ability to lock in the fish’s moisture and flavor, making it a staple in modern gastronomy.

Popularity and Nutritional Value

The popularity of Pan Seared Salmon lies in its health benefits and versatility. Salmon is renowned for its high content of Omega-3 Fatty Acids, essential for heart and brain health. Additionally, it’s a great source of protein and vitamins. The dish’s adaptability allows it to fit into various dietary preferences, making it a sought-after recipe for health-conscious food enthusiasts and culinary experts alike.

Recipe and Preparation

Ingredients List

Creating this exquisite dish requires the following ingredients:

  • Fresh salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught for the best flavor and texture.
  • High-quality butter, which forms the base of the sauce.
  • Fresh lemons, both juice and zest, for that vibrant citrus kick.
  • Garlic cloves, finely minced, to add depth to the sauce.
  • Fresh herbs like dill or parsley, to complement the fish’s flavor.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  • Optional additions like capers or white wine can enhance the sauce’s complexity.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Preparing the Salmon

  1. Begin by patting the salmon fillets dry with paper towels. This ensures a crispier sear.
  2. Season the fillets generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add a touch of olive oil.
  4. Once hot, place the salmon fillets skin-side down (if skin-on), pressing them lightly to ensure even contact with the pan.
  5. Cook undisturbed for a few minutes until the skin is crispy and releases easily from the pan.

Making the Lemon Butter Sauce

  1. In the same pan, reduce the heat to medium and add butter.
  2. Once melted, add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Stir in lemon juice, zest, and any additional herbs or spices.
  4. Let the sauce simmer gently, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  5. Spoon the sauce over the cooked salmon fillets, ensuring they are well-coated.

Tips for Perfect Searing

  • Ensure the pan is hot before adding the salmon to achieve a perfect sear.
  • Avoid moving the salmon around too much in the pan; patience is key.
  • Cook the salmon to your preferred level of doneness, but be mindful not to overcook.

Serving Suggestions

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce can be served with:

  • A side of steamed green vegetables like asparagus or green beans.
  • Fluffy quinoa or a bed of creamy mashed potatoes.
  • A crisp, fresh salad to add a refreshing contrast to the rich flavors.

Advanced Cooking Techniques

Variations of the Recipe

Exploring variations of Pan Seared Salmon can elevate this classic dish to new culinary heights. Consider incorporating:

  • Different Herbs and Spices: Experiment with thyme, rosemary, or a Cajun spice mix for a different flavor profile.
  • Marinades: Before searing, marinate the salmon in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, and honey for an Asian twist.
  • Crust Options: Create a crust with crushed almonds or sesame seeds for added texture.
  • Sauce Variations: Apart from lemon butter, try a creamy dill sauce or a spicy Cajun-inspired sauce for diversity.

Pairing with Wines and Sides

The right wine and side dishes can transform Pan Seared Salmon into a gourmet meal:

  • Wine Pairings: A crisp Chardonnay or a light Pinot Noir complements the rich flavors of the salmon. For a zestier sauce, opt for a Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Side Dishes: Pair the salmon with roasted vegetables, a light arugula salad, or garlic mashed potatoes. For a healthier option, serve with brown rice or a quinoa salad.


  • Best Type of Salmon for Searing: Opt for thicker cuts like king or Atlantic salmon for a juicy interior and crisp exterior.
  • How to Avoid Overcooking: Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness (145°F is ideal) and remember that salmon continues to cook slightly after being removed from heat.
  • Alternative Sauces and Seasonings: Beyond lemon butter, try a balsamic glaze, a teriyaki sauce, or a simple herb and garlic rub for variety.


Summary of the Cooking Process

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce is a testament to the beauty of simple, yet sophisticated cooking. The process involves seasoning the salmon, searing it to perfection, and complementing it with a rich, citrus-infused butter sauce. This dish not only tantalizes the taste buds but also offers a healthy, satisfying meal.

Encouraging Home Cooking

Embracing the art of home cooking with recipes like Pan Seared Salmon can be a rewarding experience. It’s an opportunity to explore new flavors, hone culinary skills, and enjoy wholesome, freshly prepared meals. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned cook, dishes like this prove that gourmet cooking is accessible and enjoyable in any home kitchen.

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

This Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce recipe is a perfect blend of simplicity and elegance. It features tender salmon fillets, crisply seared and draped in a rich, citrus-infused butter sauce. Ideal for a nutritious weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this dish is both healthy and flavorful.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, European
Servings 4 people
Calories 400 kcal


  • Large skillet (preferably non-stick)
  • Spatula
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Garlic press (optional)
  • Zester or grater
  • Knife and cutting board


  • 4 salmon fillets 6 ounces each, skin on or off based on preference
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill chopped (or parsley)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth


Prepare the Salmon:

  • Pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towels. This helps in getting a good sear.
  • Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper.

Sear the Salmon:

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the salmon fillets in the skillet, skin-side down (if they have skin).
  • Cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side, until the skin is crispy and golden.
  • Carefully flip the salmon and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the desired doneness is reached.
  • Remove the salmon from the skillet and set aside on a plate.

Make the Lemon Butter Sauce:

  • In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium and add butter.
  • Once the butter has melted, add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  • If using, pour in the white wine or chicken broth, and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and fresh dill. Stir to combine.
  • Cook for another minute until the sauce has slightly thickened.

Combine and Serve:

  • Return the salmon to the skillet and spoon the lemon butter sauce over the fillets.
  • Cook for another minute, allowing the salmon to soak up some of the sauce.
  • Serve immediately, garnished with additional herbs if desired.

Serving Suggestions

  • Serve the pan-seared salmon with a side of steamed vegetables, like asparagus or green beans.
  • For a heartier meal, accompany it with mashed potatoes or a light salad.


  • For an extra flavor boost, consider adding a splash of white wine to the lemon butter sauce.
  • If you prefer a thicker sauce, a teaspoon of flour can be whisked into the butter before adding other ingredients.
  • The skin of the salmon can be left on for a crispy texture or removed based on personal preference.
Keyword Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

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Karen Elliot

Written by Karen Elliot

Hi, I'm Karen Elliot is a food blogger who founded to make cooking easier. Growing up on a farm in Spain, Karen was inspired by exquisite dishes prepared using simple ingredients. Karen Elliot is particularly known for making anyone can cook.


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  1. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner tonight and it was really delicious! Restaurant quality and very easy to make! I only made 5 filets and wish I made more! The family loved it! Salmon is a tricky meat for me to cook for some reason. Doesn’t always come out well. But with this recipe you’ve made me an expert! Lol!! Thanks again!

  2. 5 stars
    This was worked out really nice – a tasty and healthy dinner with rice and salad..
    We are a multi racial family (Chinese and Polish) and all three of us, including our 6 year old daughter, enjoyed the salmon cooked this way. I was worried it would be too sour for my wife, but it was perfect. Thanks very much. Your site has become the # 1 go to for me for trusted recipes.

  3. 5 stars
    Out of all the foods I ever cooked, this recipe is still considered the best by my roommate. He says it is restaurant quality and that he’d pay for this meal.

  4. 5 stars
    Absolutely to die for! I prepare salmon fairly often with pretty good results. However this combination of flavors and easy preparation scores 10 in my opinion! I pressed a few garlic cloves and added with the zest and juice. For side dish, I did easy chunks of Yukon gold potatoes with a little garlic added (steamed quickly in microwave with a little garlic). Sauce and parsley garnish over all. This is a restaurant quality meal! Thank you. I love your fun and friendly instructions!

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