Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce

December 1, 2018  ·  Published February 20, 2017

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Pan Seared Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce is one of the tastiest, easiest recipes you’ll ever try!  Tender salmon fillets are pan seared until perfectly golden brown then covered in a simple, vibrant and rich lemon butter sauce. A reader favorite!

pan seared salmon fillets on a serving platter topped with a garlic lemon butter sauce. Served with a side of asparagus.

Easy Pan Seared Salmon Recipe

I love to sear salmon in a skillet because it yields a perfectly crisp seared exterior while the interior stays nice and tender. When you think there’s just no time for dinner, there’s always time to sear a salmon fillet and add a bright squeeze of lemon juice.

But here we’ve got 5 extra minutes so I made this seriously delicious garlic butter lemon sauce. That saying the “the secret’s in the sauce” holds true on this one.

The lemon butter sauce for salmon is made up of 4 basic ingredients (garlic, butter, fresh lemon juice and chicken broth) and once you try it you’ll want to add it to everything.

This pan fried salmon recipe is a restaurant-worthy dish that you can make in the comfort of your own home in 20 minutes!

Want to see how easy it is? Watch this video.


Showing how to cook salmon in a pan

Pan Seared Salmon Ingredients

  • Salmon fillets – main ingredient. Rich in omega 3 and great source of protein!
  • Salt and pepper – so the salmon isn’t bland.
  • Olive oil – to help brown the salmon and prevent sticking.
  • Chicken broth – to create a sauce. White wine will work great too.
  • Fresh lemon – for bright flavor. It’s the perfect complement to salmon.
  • Garlic – for another layer of flavor.
  • Butter – for richness.
  • Honey – to balance out the tartness of the lemon.
  • Parsley – for a nice colorful garnish.

Pouring lemon butter sauce over pan fried salmon fillets on a white platter.

How to Cook Salmon in a Pan

  • Let salmon rest at room temperature briefly, so it cooks evenly.
  • Make the lemon butter sauce. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tsp butter over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Pour in chicken broth and lemon juice.
  • Let sauce simmer until it has reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in butter and honey, set sauce aside.
  • Dab both sides of salmon dry with paper towels, season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add salmon and cook until done to your liking.
  • Plate salmon and drizzle each serving generously with lemon butter sauce, sprinkle with parsley.

How Long to Cook Salmon in a Pan

For this garlic butter salmon recipe, I used 6-oz salmon fillets. I cooked them for about 4 minutes on the first side until golden brown then flip and cooked through, about 2 – 3 minutes longer.

Overhead image of four cooked salmon fillets on a serving platter.

What to Serve with Salmon

I just served this lemon garlic salmon with rice and steamed asparagus and it all came together perfectly! If you need a few more ideas, here are some additional sides for salmon I enjoy:

Other Ways to Use the Lemon Butter Sauce

Love this lemon butter sauce recipe? Try it on:

If you want an even richer sauce, you can add an extra tablespoon or two of butter here but I like to keep it on the healthier side so I kept it at a minimal 3 tablespoons (plus the teaspoon to sauté the garlic) and it’s just enough.

Close up image of single salmon fillet after cooking.

Tips for Making Pan Seared

  • Let salmon rest briefly before cooking so it cooks more evenly.
  • Preheat the pan and oil, this will help salmon brown better. Don’t add to a cold skillet.
  • Dab salmon dry before adding to pan, this will give you better browning.
  • Don’t move salmon as it cooks. Again, better browning.
  • Don’t over-cook it! Salmon should still look slightly pink in the center.
  • Serve it with a sauce. Pan seared salmon is great on its own, but a lemon butter sauce like this just takes it to a whole new level of delicious.

More Salmon Dinner Ideas to Try!

Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce

4.86 from 95 votes

This Pan Seared Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce is one of the easiest tastiest dinners you can make! This salmon recipe requires minimal ingredients and it comes together so quickly.

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp + 1 tsp unsalted butter , diced into 1 Tbsp pieces
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • Lemon slices for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Remove salmon fillets from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature 10 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the garlic lemon butter sauce. In a small saucepan, melt 1 tsp butter over medium heat. 

  3. Add garlic and saute until lightly golden brown, about 1 - 2 minutes. Pour in chicken broth and lemon juice. 
  4. Let sauce simmer until it has reduced by half (to about 3 Tbsp), about 3 minutes. Stir in butter and honey and whisk until combined, set sauce aside.

  5. Dab both sides of salmon dry with paper towels, season both sides with salt and pepper. 
  6. Heat olive oil in a (heavy) 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. 
  7. Once oil is shimmering add salmon and cook about 4 minutes on the first side until golden brown on bottom then flip and cook salmon on opposite side until salmon has cooked through, about 2 - 3 minutes longer.
  8. Plate salmon (leaving oil in pan) and drizzle each serving generously with butter sauce, sprinkle with parsley and garnish with lemon slices if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • If you want an even richer sauce, you can add an extra tablespoon or two of butter here but I like to keep it on the healthier side so I kept it at a minimal 3 tablespoons (plus the teaspoon to sauté the garlic) and it's just enough.
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 347 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 116mg39%
Sodium 81mg4%
Potassium 856mg24%
Carbohydrates 2g1%
Protein 34g68%
Vitamin A 495IU10%
Vitamin C 5.9mg7%
Calcium 28mg3%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Salmon, salmon recipes
Author: Jaclyn
Recipe first published Feb. 2017.

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268 Comments

  • Adam Weston

    Made this tonight and it was very good. I used a Meyer lemon, which I recommend if they are available. After tasting the sauce, I made a couple small adjustments. I added 50% more honey to balance out the lemon a bit more. And about 1/2 tsp dry dill. The sauce is not thick, but it will thicken a little as it cools. I made orange rice to go with this, and my partner and I really enjoyed the meal.

  • Irene

    I used water instead of chicken broth and a little more garlic since I had a lot of those. The sauce doesn’t taste good by itself, I would say perhaps too sour, but when drizzled on salmon, it’s amazing. And if it does turn out too sour, one can add more honey to offset the taste.

  • Lisa

    I was looking for a quick,simple and easy sauce for salmon. The sauce didn’t really jump out at me at first, but I kept playing with it. I added extra fresh garlic, salt and pepper and adjusted the lemon, honey and parsley. Oh and I used about a 1/2c of chicken stock instead of broth and reduced to 1/3. The sauce still didn’t taste like anything to write home about -I was still unsure. Once I tasted the sauce with the salmon… Oh my… SO GOOD!! That was a total game changer. I loved the combination of the honey, lemon and garlic on the fish. The magic happens when the sauce is combined with the flavor of the fish. I grilled my salmon in a traditional manner, rubbed in olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. This recipe is totally adjustable to fit one’s tastes. This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing.

    • Jeramie Hourigan

      Hi just want to know how long did you grilled the salmon? Thanks

  • Carrie

    This sauce is watery even after reducing it and very lemony and sour. I tripled the honey from what the recipe called for and it was ok. I will not use this recipe again.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry to hear you felt that way. This is intended to be just more of a brothy sauce and not so much a gravy but if you are looking for a thicker sauce you can always thicken with a little cornstarch slurry. And as far as the lemon goes you could half that amount to a milder flavor.

  • Sheila

    This was terrible and I am an experienced cook who followed it to a tee

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      If the salmon was chewy it was probably over cooked. Sorry it didn’t turn out perfect for you.

  • Lori J Bodendorf

    Fantastic! Extra butter and garlic made it very flavorful. My family loved it. Thank you!