Juicy pan fried salmon filet, cooked in a few minutes and your answer to a healthy and easy dinner option!

salmon in a pan after being cooked

There are many ways to cook salmon thankfully. That’s what makes it such a popular choice for seafood and for the home chef to cook. But pan fried salmon is probably my favorite way to cook this delicious fish. The fast cook time and high heat seals in the flavor and keeps the salmon juicy and moist on the inside, with a crispy crust to die for.

Like any recipe, if you begin with a quality ingredient, you have a much better chance of creating a delicious meal and salmon is no different. While Atlantic salmon might be what you see most of the time at your local grocery store, try and find some wild salmon because the taste difference is definitely noticeable. You can tell by the color, the wild salmon has a deep orange color and Atlantic salmon is a much paler orange color and probably has color added to it.

This salmon is usually always farmed and fed with processed feed so the fish don’t get that opportunity to build up the same color as the wild salmon. My favorites are Copper River Salmon which is usually available only between May through September but produces some of the best salmon used in restaurants world wide.

a filet of salmon in a pan

Tips for cooking salmon

  • A good non-stick pan will make your life much easier, preferably cast iron.
  • I prefer to use olive oil for cooking the salmon.
  • Keep it simple, season with salt and black pepper is all it needs
  • Tongs are great for turning salmon filets in the pan.
  • Add a dollop of good butter after it’s done cooking and use it to baste the salmon by spooning it over the fish.

FAQ’s about pan fried salmon

What’s the difference between pan fried and pan seared?

There isn’t much difference except the amount of oil you use. Generally pan seared salmon only takes splash of oil whereas pan fried is enough to see the oil bubble around the base of the salmon. Check out my seared salmon recipe for a better idea.

Should I leave the skin on my salmon ?

This is purely up to you. I like to keep it on so it helps retain as much moisture as possible and to keep the fish easy for handling. I don’t eat the skin but some people like to eat it when it”s good and crispy. The skin can also be removed before serving as it easily peels away from the salmon.

What’s the perfect size of salmon filet per person?

Usually a piece 4-6 ounces is what you’d be served in a restaurant so you can use that as a guide.

What side goes down in the pan first?

Whichever side you’d like to present is usually the side that will go down first in the pan. For instance if you want to serve the salmon skin side up, place the skin side down in the pan first.

Does this salmon finish cooking in the oven?

Yes it does. I prefer to cook it this way so it cooks more evenly but still has a good crispy sear on it because it was started in a heavy pan.

What is the best pan for cooking pan fried salmon?

Any heavy pan will work such as a cast iron pan. As long as the pan is oven safe.

How do I know when my salmon is cooked?

Salmon cooks quickly and you don’t want to overcook it. The best way is to use a thermometer and poke it in the thickest part of the filet. It should read 125 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can lightly press on top of the fish and it should feel firm and slightly springy.

pan fried salmon in a black pan

what to serve with pan fried salmon

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Any fresh green leafy salad
  • grains such as quinoa, couscous or rice
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Grilled lemon slices
  • Your favorite salsa or pico de gallo
  • Sautéed spinach or kale

more great salmon recipes

Simple Pan Fried Salmon

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: foodnessgracious
Juicy pan fried salmon filet, cooked in a few minutes and your answer to a healthy and easy dinner option!
Print Recipe


  • 12 oz wild salmon filet cut into two even pieces
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 450°F
  • Place an oven safe pan about 8-10 inches wide over a medium heat
  • Add the oil and wait until it begins to smoke slightly
  • Place each salmon filet skin side facing up into the pan
  • Cook the salmon without touching it for about 3 minutes
  • Turn the salmon over and cook for another 3 minutes before transferring the pan to the hot oven
  • Roast the salmon in the oven for about 4-5 minutes depending on the thickness
  • Once the salmon is cooked season with salt and black pepper and serve