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This pan seared salmon gets a beautifully golden crust while the inside is perfectly flaky. Plus it cooks in delicious chipotle and lime flavors. It’s a quick entree that’s ready in only 15 minutes!

Update: This recipe was originally published in 2020 and has been republished with all new photos.

It’s easier than you think you make perfect pan-seared salmon. I’m going to show you the best way to make fresh salmon (or frozen) with minimal ingredients.

While there are plenty of ways to make delicious salmon (I have great recipes for both the air fryer and oven), pan searing in a hot skillet is my favorite way to cook it. A game changer! When you sear salmon you get a crust on the outside that’s so satisfying with the tender inside of the fish.

Today’s recipe for restaurant quality salmon is an ideal start to creating a healthy meal. Pair these tender salmon fillets with roasted vegetables, rice or potatoes, and a salad made with fresh produce. Sweet potatoes are especially yummy with this healthy recipe. This salmon is also a great option for fish tacos!

Pan Seared Chipotle Lime Salmon Ingredients

  • Salmon: I prefer wild salmon over farmed salmon but what kind of salmon you use is up to you. Both fresh and frozen salmon fillets work. If using frozen let them thaw completely first. We want our salmon to be room temperature when you cook it so the inside will cook evenly. You may also opt for fillets that have skin on one side or fillets without skin.
  • Olive oil or avocado oil: If using olive oil, I recommend extra virgin.
  • Butter or ghee: We’ll melt butter with lime juice and garlic to finish this dish. Salted butter, unsalted butter, or ghee can be used. You can also choose a vegan butter if you want to keep this entree dairy free.
  • Lime juice: The bright tangy flavor of lime goes beautifully with the chipotle seasoning. You can use prepackaged lime juice from your grocery store or fresh lime juice. You can even substitute fresh lemon juice if you prefer.
  • Minced garlic: You can mince your own garlic or use a jarred variety.
  • Fresh parsley: Parsey adds some freshness to this delicious seafood entree. Another herb like fresh cilantro can be used if you like.
  • Seasonings: Chipotle chile pepper (can also be called chipotle chili powder or just chipotle powder) salt, and black pepper are the only seasonings you need for this salmon.

How to Make Pan Seared Chipotle Lime Salmon

To make this entree, first heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat to medium heat.

Pat salmon dry with a paper towel. (This will help achieve crispy skin.)

Season the top of the salmon (if your salmon has skin on one side this will be the skinless side) with salt, pepper, and chipotle chile pepper. Gently press the seasonings into the salmon.

When oil is hot, place salmon skin side up (flesh side down) in the hot pan. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, until the part touching the skillet has a golden brown crust.

Carefully flip the salmon so skin side is now down. A fish spatula works well for this job because its very flexible, but any spatula will do the job. Add ghee, lime juice, and minced garlic to the bottom of the pan. Sauté for another few minutes, until salmon is opaque. Sprinkle parsley over the salmon when you’re ready to serve! Garnish with lime wedges for an extra special presentation.

What is that white stuff you see when you cook salmon?

It’s called albumin and it’s a protein that exists in liquid form inside salmon. As salmon cooks, the albumin solidifies and moves to the surface of the fish. That’s why you don’t see it when the salmon is raw. Cooking is what brings it to the surface.

If you don’t like seeing the albumin you’ll want to cook your salmon at a lower temperature which means this particular recipe isn’t for you. (We’re all about getting that crispy crust here and we need some heat for that.)

The good news is that albumin is not bad for you. Even if you don’t see it on the outside of your fish it’s still there! It’s just hidden on the inside. So don’t let it bother you, friend!

Can you pan sear frozen salmon?

No. If using frozen salmon you’ll want to thaw it first. But don’t worry! Seafood thaws quickly! Just place it in its packaging in cool water for about 15 to 20 minutes.

How to avoid overcooking salmon

Salmon (like most seafood) is easy to overcook. When overcooked it’s tough and dry – not pleasant! Perfectly cooked salmon should be opaque and flake easily with a fork. That’s what we’re going for here.

Pan searing is a simple cooking technique that will produce the very best salmon. We’re cooking on medium-high heat to achieve the crispiness we want on the outside. This makes it especially important that you pay close attention to your fish as it cooks because it can quickly get overdone. It takes no more than 7 to 9 minutes total cook time in a skillet and the time varies based on the thickness of the fish and how high your heat is.

A few tips to remember when cooking salmon:

  1. Always start with room temperature salmon. Pat it dry with paper towels so that it will cook evenly.
  2. Cook in hot oil. Get that oil hot before adding the salmon to the skillet. To achieve the best sear you should hear a sizzle as soon as you place in the salmon in the pan.
  3. Once you place the salmon in the skillet leave it alone. Don’t move it around, don’t touch it, and don’t even look at wrong until you achieve that beautifully browned crust on the side touching the skillet. This takes no more than 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Now that the first side is done, gently flip the salmon.
  5. Now cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. Cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the fillets and the temperature of your skillet. (In this recipe we’re also adding a few ingredients for a simple sauce during this step.)
  6. Your finished salmon should be opaque. When you press the top with a fork you’ll notice that it starts to flake apart. That means it’s ready!

How to Store Leftovers

Want to enjoy this salmon the next day? Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat salmon in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop until warmed through.

How to serve this healthy salmon recipe

Thinking of a green side for a low carb meal? I recommend my Spicy Roasted BroccoliEasy Roasted BroccoliBalsamic Bacon Brussels SproutsGarlic Green BeansSimple Sautéed CabbageRoasted Brussels Sprouts, or Roasted Green Beans with Almonds.

Maybe you’d like to add some grains or carbs to this healthy dinner? Try serving with traditional white or brown rice, Easy Seasoned Roasted PotatoesEasy Diced Air Fryer Potatoes, or Skillet Breakfast Potatoes. You’ll also love my Smashed & Roasted Italian PotatoesBaked Herb Potato RoundsSmashed & Roasted Rosemary Garlic Potatoes, Light & Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and Cinnamon Pecan Sweet Potato Rounds.

5 from 3 votes

Easy Pan Seared Chipotle Lime Salmon

By Christina
This pan seared salmon gets a beautifully golden crust while the inside is perfectly flaky. Plus it cooks in delicious chipotle and lime flavors. It's a quick entree that's ready in only 15 minutes!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 9 minutes
Total: 14 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • 4 6-ounce salmon fillets, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle chile pepper, can also be called chipotle chili powder or chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup butter or ghee, vegan butter also works well if wanting to stay dairy free
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
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Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Pat salmon dry with paper towels. (This will help get the skin crispy.)
  • Season the top of the salmon (if your salmon has skin on one side this will be the side without skin) with salt, pepper, and chipotle chile pepper. Gently press the seasonings into the salmon.
  • When oil is hot, place the salmon skin side up in the skillet. Sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until the part touching the skillet has a golden brown crust.
  • Carefully flip the salmon so skin side is now down. Add ghee, lime juice, and minced garlic to skillet. Sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes, until salmon is opaque.
  • Sprinkle parsley over the salmon when you're ready to serve!

Notes

You’ll find tips for perfectly pan seared salmon above this recipe card plus lots of recommendations for sides you’ll enjoy with this entree.

Nutrition

Serving: 1fillet, Calories: 376kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 122mg, Sodium: 382mg, Potassium: 833mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 168IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4 Comments

  1. lauren Hobson says:

    I made this last night. I have wanted to pan sear salmon but always worried it wouldnt cook through or would burn. Your recipe made it so easy to do and it was perfection. Highly recommend this salmon. We made you balsalmic brussel sprouts as a side and they also were perfect

    1. Christina says:

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Lauren! I really appreciate it!

  2. Tiffany Mickelson says:

    This salmon was so good and easy! Top got nice and crispy and even my 6 year old liked it!!

  3. Gayle Gebhard says:

    Excellent recipe. Beautiful sear. I used smoke paprika. Everyone loved it. Will be making again.