Main Course

How to Pan Sear Fish

Fish is a healthy, lean protein that is a great option for a quick and easy meal. Pan searing fish is a simple way to prepare it, and it can be flavoured with a variety of seasonings to suit your taste.


This cooking method is quick, easy, and produces a moist and flavorful fish every time. Keep reading for all the details on how to pan sear fish like a pro!


Now unless you live on the ocean and regularly go fishing, you are likely headed to the grocery store to purchase your fish. Fish at the grocery store is usually either fresh, thawed from frozen, or frozen so you can thaw it yourself at home, and all of these can be good options.

When purchasing fresh or thawed from frozen you’ll want to smell it. It should not have a fishy smell, which is what drives most people away from cooking fish at home. Smell it before you cook it, and if it smells bad it is bad.


You can pan sear any type of small filet, which refers to an entire side of a fish like tilapia or snapper, or you can pan sear fish portions where a larger fish has been cut up like salmon or sea bass.

How to Pan Sear Fish:

Today I’m using halibut portions. Use a sharp knife to trim the fish of any undesired skin.

In much of the US today you’ll most likely find fish with the skin off.

This cooking method that I’m showing you does not change whether you have the skin on or off.

If you do leave it on just be sure to sear it skin side first.


You can marinate your fish with one of my many marinade options for 15 minutes.

Don’t ever marinate fish much longer than that, or you can use a seasoning blend.

Today I’ll use my favorite seafood blend which goes great with any fish.

You’ll mix 1/2 teaspoon of dried dill with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Give this a stir and then use that mixture to season both sides of the fish portions or fillets.

Next heat a heavy skillet over high heat.

Once heated add in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat it briefly until it’s shimmering.

Lay your fillets or portions carefully into the hot oil and cook the fish 2/3 of the way through.

Now fish is easy because you can visually monitor the progress of the cooking by watching the color and translucency of the fish change.

Once the fish is 2/3 of the way cooked through give it a flip and continue cooking until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Your actual cooking time will depend on how thick the fillet is.

A thicker fillet or portion will need more time. So if you think your piece may need additional time lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until it’s done.

I promise it’s super easy to get the hang of cooking fish, and you’ll catch on really quickly.

With any piece of fish I always drizzle a little bit of lemon juice over the top just before serving.

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

How to Pan Sear Fish

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

No reviews


  • 4 (6 ounce) fish filets halibut, sea bass, cod, tilapia, sole
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon , juiced (about 1/4 cup)

Fish Seasoning Mix

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Use a sharp knife to trim the fish of any undesired skin. Most fish can be eaten with the skin on. This is a matter of personal preference. If you choose to cook your fish with the skin on, sear the skin side first.
  2. Season both sides of each fillet with your desired seasonings or immerse in a marinade for up to 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Once heated, add in olive oil and let heat briefly until shimmering, about 1 minute.
  4. Lay fillets carefully into the hot oil. Cook the fish 2/3 of the way through. Once fish is 2/3 of the way through cooking time, flip and continue cooking until done.
  5. Check fish to see if it is cooked through. Actual cooking time will depend on how thick the fillet is. The fish should no longer be translucent and should flake easily with a fork. If it needs additional time, lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until done. Drizzle lemon juice over finished fish.


  • Sweet Honey-Garlic Marinade:
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Spicy Latin Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • Thai Inspired Marinade:
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons crushed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

Back to top button