Crispy-Skinned Seared Trout Fillets with Lemon

published Jan 15, 2022
Crispy-Skinned Seared Trout Fillets with Lemon Recipe

Here's how to cook perfectly seared trout complete with crispy skin.

Serves2 to 3

Prep5 minutes

Cook7 minutes to 8 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Crispy skinned seared trout on a plate
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

One of my all-time favorite fishes to cook at home when I’m looking for a simple fish dinner is trout. Milder than salmon (and less expensive!) but with a similar flavor profile, trout fillets come with skin that crisps up beautifully when seared in a pan. Plus, it takes only a few minutes to cook, making it a great weeknight fish dinner option.

Seasoned simply with salt and served with lemon wedges, pan-seared trout will quickly become a family favorite. In fact, my daughter loves the crispy skin so much she saves it to eat last. Here’s how to do it.

How to Buy Trout

The most common forms of trout sold are rainbow and steelhead. Rainbow trout live exclusively in fresh water and are on the smaller side. Steelhead trout are actually rainbow trout, but they live in salt water and spawn in fresh water and tend to be larger. This recipe works best with rainbow trout fillets, which are smaller and thinner than steelhead fillets (which are more similar to true salmon).

Rainbow trout is usually sold in three ways: whole for stuffing and roasting, boneless whole which have the bones removed but the head is still intact, and fillets, which have skin but no bones. The fillets are the easiest to cook, but if the store only has the boneless whole, cut off the head, cut the rest of it into two fillets, and trim off any fins and the tail before using in this recipe (or ask the fishmonger to take care of it for you!).

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

How to Cook Trout Fillets

  • Dry and season the fish. Pat the fillets dry to minimize splattering and help with crisping up the skin. Season simply with salt.
  • Use a nonstick pan. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan, which is crucial if you want to make sure the fish doesn’t stick. Get it hot because you want the skin to crisp up quickly before the flesh overcooks!
  • Fry mostly skin-side down. If you want delicious, crispy skin, fry skin-side down first. It’ll take a few minutes to get crisp, and the fish will be almost cooked through. Flip and cook just briefly on the second side.

Serving Seared Trout Fillets

Since rainbow trout fillets are thin, you can only fit about two fillets in a large nonstick pan. If you want to cook more, you’ll have to cook them in multiple rounds, adding more oil to the pan between batches if needed. Serve the trout preferably skin-side up so that it doesn’t get soggy, with lemon wedges for a spritz of fresh flavor. Pair this versatile fish with anything from rice to roasted veggies to mashed potatoes — you really can’t go wrong.

Crispy-Skinned Seared Trout Fillets with Lemon Recipe

Here's how to cook perfectly seared trout complete with crispy skin.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 7 minutes to 8 minutes

Serves 2 to 3

Nutritional Info


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons

    vegetable or canola oil

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 2

    (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skin-on freshwater trout fillets, such as rainbow trout

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt


  1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, cut 1/2 medium lemon into 4 wedges and set aside for serving. Pat 2 boneless, skin-on trout fillets dry with paper towels. If needed, cut the fillets in half crosswise to fit in the pan. Season on both sides with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt.

  2. Place the trout skin-side down in the pan and cook undisturbed until the skin is starting to brown and feels crisp when tapped, 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Using a flat or fish spatula, carefully flip each fillet and cook until the flesh is just cooked through and starting to flake, about 1 minute more. Slide each fillet skin-side up onto plates and serve with the lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.