Recipe: Saucy Skillet Salmon

updated Feb 3, 2020
Saucy Skillet Salmon
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

I firmly believe that anything is better with a sauce — make a dish saucy and I am sold — so you bet this quick salmon dinner has me swooning. It’s cooked in a fresh tomato-based sauce that’s punched up with garlic, balsamic, and a hint of fresh thyme so it’s a little sweet and a little tangy. After the fillets soak up as much of the flavorful juices as they can, the rest is left for the couscous it’s served over, which ensures that not one bit of it will go to waste.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

A One-Skillet, Stovetop Meal for Any Night of the Week

Saucy dinners have a way of feeling more dressed up than most, but this recipe is as quick and easy as they come. The sauce comes together in the food processor or blender (cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and thyme are simply blitzed a few times to marry their flavors while still letting each sing out on its own) and then the salmon fillets are pan-seared, skin-side down, to ensure that their skin gets cracker-like before they’re flipped over and finished with a quick braise in the vibrant sauce. Served over couscous to catch every drop of sauce, this salmon dinner is a show-off that will hardly make you sweat.

Saucy Skillet Salmon

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 pints

    cherry tomatoes (about 20 ounces or 4 cups total)

  • 2

    cloves garlic, smashed

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 2 teaspoons

    balsamic vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    fresh thyme leaves

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 4

    (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets

  • Cooked couscous, for serving


  1. Place the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the oil, vinegar, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a blender or food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times until blended and saucy but still a little chunky; set aside.

  2. Use a paper towel or clean dish towel to pat each salmon fillet dry on both sides (to prevent them from sticking to the pan). Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the salmon skin-side down in the skillet, then press down on them so that the skin is in even contact with the pan and browns evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook without moving, gently pressing down on fish every so often, until the sides are cooked halfway up the fillets, 6 to 9 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Transfer the salmon skin-side up to a plate.

  4. Pour the tomato mixture into the skillet and bring it to a simmer. Return the salmon skin-side up to the pan, nestling them in the sauce. Cover and continue to simmer for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. An instant-read thermometer into the middle of the thickest fillet should read 120°F to 130°F for medium-rare or 135°F to 145°F if you prefer it more well-done. Serve the salmon, skin-side up, with plenty of its sauce, over cooked couscous.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.