Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

May 9, 2017

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Cilantro Lime Salmon is such an exciting way to make salmon! It’s boasting with so much fresh flavor and who could resist that sauce! Not to mention you can have this ready in 20 minutes, can’t beat that.

four cilantro lime salmon fillets on white platter

Pan Seared Salmon with Cilantro Lime Sauce

Lately I’ve been obsessed with just searing the salmon in a pan. I think it may actually be my choice method of cooking it — with grilling in a close second.

I just love the way it gets this perfectly seared crisp crust on the exterior while the interior stays perfectly tender and doesn’t dry out. I also love the pan searing method because it’s one of the quickest. No preheating an oven or grill and it’s ready in about 7 minutes.

This cilantro lime salmon is packed to the max with flavor thanks to a simple light rub, which consists of cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper, then it’s topped with the simplest fresh sauce, which consists of sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, green onions and garlic. All good things right?

I knew this was going to be good, but it was even better than I was expecting. If you like salmon and easy, quick recipes then please try this pan seared salmon recipe! I’m really just obsessed with how delicious it is!

four cilantro lime salmon drizzled with cilantro sauce

Cilantro Lime Salmon Ingredients

This recipe consists of a simple pan seared salmon and a flavorful cilantro cream sauce. Here’s what you’ll need to make both:

  • Skinless salmon fillets
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground coriander
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Sour cream
  • Green onions
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime juice
  • Garlic
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make Cilantro Lime Salmon

Never cooked salmon in a pan before? Don’t fret, it’s easy! Here are the basic steps for how to pan sear salmon:

  • Make the cilantro sauce: Add the cilantro lime sauce ingredients to a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Season the salmon: Dab both sides of the salmon with a paper towel, then sprinkle with spice mixture.
  • Pan sear the salmon: Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add the salmon to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides.
  • Serve the salmon: Once cooked to your liking, plate the salmon and drizzle with cilantro cream sauce.

How Long to Pan Sear Salmon

I used four 6 oz. salmon fillets in this cilantro lime salmon recipe and cooked them for roughly 4 minutes on one side and 2 – 3 minutes on the other. 

four cilantro lime salmon fillets on white platter

Can I Use Greek Yogurt Instead of Sour Cream?

I bet you could, but your cilantro lime sauce wouldn’t be as rich. If you use Greek yogurt, I recommend using whole Greek yogurt rather than low-fat.

What to Serve with Cilantro Lime Salmon

This cilantro lime salmon pairs nicely with lots of fresh side dishes! A few of my favorite salmon sides are:

Tips for Making Cilantro Lime Salmon

  • When measuring out the cilantro just be sure to pack it into the measuring cup otherwise you won’t get as much flavor — the cilantro really is the crowning flavor.
  • Be sure to let the skillet get hot before you add the salmon so you get a good sear on it.
  • Don’t move the salmon as it cooks. Also key in getting it to brown nicely.
  • If you have a bigger family than me and need more servings, you should have enough cilantro lime sauce for about 5 – 6 fillets. Just be sure to increase the amount on the spice rub and use two skillets.

More Salmon Recipes You’ll Love:

Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
5 from 16 votes

Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce

This is such an exciting way to make salmon! It's boasting with so much fresh flavor and who could resist that sauce! Not to mention you can have this ready in 20 minutes so it's perfect for a quick dinner.
Servings: 4
Prep10 minutes
Cook8 minutes
Ready in: 18 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

Sauce

  • 1/2 cup natural sour cream
  • 2 green onions , end trimmed, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup packed cilantro (mostly leaves, some stem)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic , sliced

Instructions

For the sauce:

  • Add sour cream, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and season with salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp). 
  • Process until cilantro has been very finely minced. Set aside at room temperature while preparing salmon.

For the salmon:

  • In a small bowl whisk together cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/2 - 3/4 tsp salt (depending on how salty you like things) and 1/2 tsp black pepper. 
  • Dab both sides of salmon dry with paper towels, season both sides evenly with cumin mixture and lightly rub over salmon. Heat a (heavy) 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. 
  • Add oil and once oil is shimmering add salmon (top side down first. Also leave space between fillets) and cook about 4 minutes, without moving, until golden brown on bottom.
  • Flip and cook salmon on opposite side until salmon has cooked through, about 2 - 3 minutes longer. Serve warm with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce.

Notes

  • When measuring out the cilantro just be sure to pack it into the measuring cup otherwise you won't get as much flavor — the cilantro really is the crowning flavor.
  • If you have a bigger family than me and need more servings, you should have enough cilantro lime sauce for about 5 - 6 fillets. Just be sure to increase the amount on the spice rub and use two skillets.
Nutrition Facts
Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 370 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 108mg36%
Sodium 101mg4%
Potassium 910mg26%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 445IU9%
Vitamin C 4.3mg5%
Calcium 61mg6%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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76 Comments

  • Susan

    Wow! I tried this to have an alternate way to make salmon from my standard – and I have a new standard! This is DELICIOUS. The rub is fantastic.
    My fillets had skin, so I only put the rub on the one side, and did skin side down for the first cooking period. When it was done, I couldn’t believe how easy the skin came off! Makes yummy addition to dog breakfast the next day :)
    I also ran out of cilantro (which I use one of the tube jobbies), so added a little more coriander into the sauce. I don’t stock sour cream, so I used half non-fat mayonnaise and half heavy whipping cream with a small splash of apple cider vinegar. After the salmon was done I threw the sauce in the pan for just a couple minutes to warm it up.
    Thank you for sharing this!!

  • Sheila

    I am doing this tonight for my moms 89 birthday. I have made it tons of times but wanted to know if I can put rub on the fish early and put in refrigerator? I was afraid it would not crisp up as well after being cold.😰

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      You could put the seasoning on earlier I would maybe just keep it uncovered so it stays dry.

  • Rian Glynn

    Super happy I found this recipe! I made the sauce with Mayo to accommodate my daughters dairy allergy, which might sound weird it was still amazing.

  • Trina Robinson

    Hands down, one of the BEST salmon recipes I’ve ever made. My kids even love it. It’s become one of our staples. We do add 2 jalapeños to the sauce portion of the recipe because we like things a little bit spicier. I double the sauce recipe because we like to keep it on hand for fish tacos & as a dipping sauce for baked avocados among other things. We love to serve the salmon with a side of quinoa & steamed veggies of some kind.

  • Angela Cowardin

    This was absolutely amazing. I made this for a few girlfriends last night and everybody raved about the sauce which I have to admit was delicious! I put all of the sauce ingredients in a little mini blender and decided to add a jalapeño to it for kicks. The jalapeño I added was not hot but added additional flavor to an already amazing sauce. This one is going in the favorite recipe file for sure. I imagine the sauce would be delicious on just about anything including chicken. Simple recipe and out of this world!

  • Jennifer Bidka

    This was absolutely yummy! We did sub the sour cream with plain Greek yogurt due to our diet. Will use this recipe often! Thanks!