Learn how to cook salmon in a skillet in just a few easy steps! With this technique for pan-seared salmon added to your cooking repertoire, you'll always be just a few minutes away from a quick and easy dinner. Plus, we have tips on how to saute salmon with skin, and a no-fuss method for removing the skin before serving.

By Kristin Porter of Iowa Girl Eats
August 07, 2017

Before you start learning how to saute salmon in a pan, it's important to understand the difference between the varieties of salmon available at your grocery store. Most varieties of wild salmon are available fresh from May to October and frozen year-round. Wild salmon typically comes in Pacific Coast varieties such as coho (silver), sockeye (red), Chinook (king), pink, and chum. Atlantic salmon is usually farmed and more readily available for a lower price.

For an easy recipe to learn to saute salmon, try our Skillet-Seared Salmon recipe.

Step 1: Choose and Season Your Salmon

Photo Credit: Kristin Porter

Start by choosing a salmon fillet. For cooking salmon in a skillet, 4-ounce fillets generally work best because they won't overcrowd your pan. Brush both the skin and the flesh side with extra virgin olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

For a super-easy pan-seared salmon recipe, try our Skillet-Seared Salmon.

Step 2: Start Skin-Side Down

Photo Credit: Kristin Porter

Place the salmon skin-side down in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until you can see the salmon to changing color up the side.

Step 3: Flip and Remove Skin

Photo Credit: Kristin Porter

Flip the salmon and let it cook for about half the time it cooked on the first side. While the salmon is cooking on the second side, use tongs to gently peel back the skin. The skin should be crisp and peel off in one strip, which you can discard.

Step 4: Add a Glaze or Sauce

Photo Credit: Kristin Porter

Once the skin is removed, you can add a glaze, sauce, or even just a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to give the salmon fillet more flavor. We love this Maple-Bourbon Glaze, but feel free to be creative and use any glaze or sauce you want. For inspiration, try one of our favorite 30-minute salmon recipes.

Step 5: Check Salmon for Doneness

After adding a sauce, flip the salmon one more time. To check for doneness, insert a fork and gently twist. The salmon is done as soon as it begins to flake and becomes opaque. You can also insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the fillet. If the temperature reaches 145 degrees F, your salmon is done. If the salmon flakes easily when the fork is inserted and the internal temperature is high enough, remove it from the skillet and transfer it to your plate.

Step 6: Dig In!

Photo Credit: Kristin Porter

For an easy and healthy meal, serve the pan-seared salmon with a helping of veggies and a starch, like rice. Then grab a fork and dig in!

For a few ideas for healthy side dishes and dinners, take a peek at our healthy salmon recipes.

How to Grill Salmon

You don't have to limit yourself to pan-seared salmon—grilled salmon is just as easy and delicious! Whether you grill salmon fillets on a cedar plank, in a basket, on foil, or directly on the grill, we have tips to help you achieve that mouthwatering smoky flavor.

How to Bake Salmon

It takes less than 10 minutes in the oven to serve up a flaky fish dinner that's much better than any freezer meal. You can even cut down on dishes by making oven-baked salmon in a foil pack!


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