Stuffed Salmon

published Jul 18, 2021
Stuffed Salmon

These pan-fried salmon fillets are stuffed with a decadent mixture of spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan.


Prep15 minutes

Cook12 minutes to 15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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Salmon stuffed with spinach, cream, mozzarella and parmesan, pan-fried, and on a plate with an arugula side salad
Credit: Tara Holland
Stuffed salmon

This cheesy stuffed salmon may defy many culinary aficionados’ strong beliefs that seafood and cheese should never be combined, but trust me when I say it’s worth breaking the rules for.

Here, salmon fillets are stuffed with a creamy mixture of spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan that’s hit with a little lemon zest and ground nutmeg to cut through the gooey richness. After they’re pan-fried, the stuffed fillets are finished off with a spoonful of lemony browned butter and served alongside a peppery arugula salad, but there are many other dishes that pair beautifully with this fish dinner.

Things to Look Out for When Buying Salmon

The critical thing to do when shopping is making sure the salmon doesn’t smell fishy — it should have a salty aroma and smell of the ocean.

When prepping the salmon, always run your hand over the surface of the fish to double check that all the pin bones have been removed. If buying packaged or frozen salmon, it’s usually already done for you, but if you buy fresh from a fishmonger, you can ask them to remove the bones for you.

Credit: Perry Santanachote
Stuffed Salmon

The Best Accompaniments to Stuffed Salmon

This flavor-packed stuffed salmon only requires a side or two to ensure it’s a showstopping meal. Here are a few accompaniments to try.

What to Do with Any Leftover Creamy Filling

If you have leftover filling after stuffing the salmon, don’t toss it! It can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Here are a few ways I love to repurpose it.

  • Make a quick spinach-artichoke dip: Chop up some marinated artichokes, and add an extra handful of grated Parmesan and shredded mozzarella. Transfer to a greased ramekin, and top with a layer of mozzarella. Bake at 375ºF until bubbly and golden, about 20 minutes. 
  • Make a creamy sauce: Transfer the leftover mix to a small saucepan and whisk in a cup of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream for a cheesy, creamy spinach sauce to accompany baked chicken breasts.
  • Make cheesy baked bread: Cut 2-inch slits in a demi baguette and spread the spinach-cream cheese mixture in between the gaps. Sprinkle with more shredded mozzarella and bake at 375ºF until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden.

Stuffed Salmon

These pan-fried salmon fillets are stuffed with a decadent mixture of spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 12 minutes to 15 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 4 ounces

    full-fat cream cheese

  • 2 ounces

    frozen chopped spinach (about 3/4 cup frozen)

  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 2 ounces

    low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup store-bought, or 1/3 cup grated on the small holes of a box grater)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    ground nutmeg or red pepper flakes

  • 4

    (6-ounce) center-cut salmon fillets, preferably skinless

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 5 ounces

    baby arugula (about 6 cups)


  1. Place 4 ounces cream cheese in a medium bowl. Thaw 2 ounces spinach according to package instructions.

  2. Wrap the spinach in paper towels or a kitchen towel and wring out until completely dry. Add to the bowl of cream cheese.

  3. Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon until you have 1 teaspoon zest, then add to the bowl. Cut the lemon in half. Juice half the zested lemon until you have 2 teaspoons juice. Cut the remaining lemon half into wedges. Reserve the juice and wedges.

  4. Shred 2 ounces mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup), and finely grate 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup). Add the mozzarella, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or red pepper flakes to the bowl of cream cheese. Let sit until the cream cheese is softened, about 20 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.

  5. Place 4 salmon fillets on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, carefully cut a 2-inch-long, 3/4-inch-deep slit into the side of each salmon fillet to create a pocket (be sure not to cut all the way through). Season the salmon fillets all over, including the pocket, with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the black pepper. Stuff each pocket with about 2 heaping tablespoons of spinach-cream cheese mixture and use a table knife to spread it evenly (you will have some filling left over).

  6. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the salmon (work in 2 batches if needed so as not to crowd the pan), press them down with a fish or flat spatula into the pan for about a minute, and sear until golden-brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the salmon, cover, and cook until the second side is golden-brown, the fish is opaque, and the filling is melted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil.

  7. Add 3 tablespoons unsalted butter to the skillet. When melted, swirl the pan around until the butter is golden-brown and nutty-smelling, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the reserved 2 teaspoons lemon juice, season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

  8. Divide 5 ounces baby arugula between 4 plates, then drizzle with olive oil. Top each with a piece of salmon. Spoon the browned butter over the salmon and serve with the lemon wedges.

Recipe Notes

Oven directions: Place the stuffed salmon on a parchment-lined rimmed baked sheet and bake in the top third of a 350ºF oven until the center of the salmon is opaque and the filling is melted, 10 to 12 minutes.

Make ahead: The cream cheese filling can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature to soften so it is easier to spread when you stuff the salmon pockets.

Storage: Leftover cooked salmon can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.