Garlic Butter Pan-Seared Salmon

updated Sep 6, 2022
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Garlic Butter Pan-Seared Salmon

Once you try this buttery method, you'll never pan sear plain salmon again.


Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook10 minutes to 15 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

Pan-seared salmon is pretty great — you get a nice amber crust that gives way to moist and tender salmon underneath without a ton of effort. But when you add butter and a heap of garlic, pan-seared salmon goes from wonderful to wow.

Basting pan-seared salmon in garlic butter not only speeds up the cooking time, but it also flavors the fish beautifully. Once you try this method, you’ll never pan-sear plain salmon again.

Give Pan-Seared Salmon a Garlic-Butter Baste

Basting, or pouring cooking liquid over something as it cooks, is mostly reserved for steak and turkey — but it doesn’t have to be! Here, you’ll start by cooking the salmon flesh-side down in hot olive oil. When you give your fillets a flip, you’ll also add butter and garlic to the pan. While the underside of the salmon continues to cook from the heat of the pan, you’ll spoon the melted garlic butter over the fillets to season and cook them from the top. Keep an eye on the cooking time — especially for thin fillets. The goal is opaque flesh that flakes easily.

Garlic Butter Pan-Seared Salmon

Once you try this buttery method, you'll never pan sear plain salmon again.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook time 10 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 4 cloves


  • 2 sprigs

    fresh parsley

  • 4

    (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, preferably center cut

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil


  1. Cut 2 tablespoons unsalted butter into 2 pieces. Halve 1 medium lemon. Juice one half until you have 1 1/2 teaspoons; cut the remaining half into 4 wedges for serving. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Pick the leaves from 2 fresh parsley sprigs and coarsely chop until you have 1 tablespoon. Pat 4 salmon fillets dry with a paper towel and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large (12-inch) nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the salmon skin-side down and sear until golden-brown on the bottom, 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes. Flip the salmon.

  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the butter and garlic, placing it in between the pieces of salmon. Continue to cook, occasionally using a spoon to baste the salmon with the butter after it melts, until the salmon is just cooked through (at least 140ºF on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part), 2 to 4 1/2 minutes more.

  4. Turn off the heat. Transfer the salmon to a plate with a flat spatula. Add the lemon juice and parsley to the pan and stir to combine. Taste the sauce and season with kosher salt as needed. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and serve with the lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

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