Pan Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin

I make pan-seared salmon almost once a week because it’s such an easy and delicious weeknight meal! This time I decided to make a light and creamy avocado crema and Thai chili frisée salad to accompany the fish and boy was this good!

The acidity from both the crema and salad brightens up the flavors of the dish. Plus, I also love how it balances out the fattiness of the fish.

I prefer to use salmon with the skin on for this recipe because I love love love how crispy it turns out, and I personally think it’s the best part! If you love salmon and are looking for new ways to enjoy it, give this recipe a try! I promise you’ll love it just as much as I do 🙂

Why you’ll love this recipe

Sometimes it can be difficult to prepare dinner during the weeknight, especially when you’re exhausted from work but having a solid list of go-to recipes ready can make the process easier! This delicious pan-seared salmon recipe is one of my regulars because it’s healthy, delicious, and most importantly, comes together in just 30 minutes!

The smoothness of the avocado crema and the crispness of the frisée salad complements the salmon very well, making it a memorable meal that you’ll want to make over and over again. Plating this dish also allows you to get creative, so you can let your inner master chef shine! If you’re ready to impress your friends or family with this dish, don’t sleep on this recipe.  

Ingredients & Substitutions

Skin-on salmon filet: since salmon is the star of the show, be sure to use the freshest and highest-quality fish you can find.

Salt & Ground black pepper

Neutral oil: feel free to use any neutral-tasting oil including canola, corn, avocado, vegetable, sunflower seed, or grapeseed oil.

Avocado Crema Ingredients & Substitutions

Avocado: for best results, be sure to use ripe avocados.

Cilantro: cilantro will add freshness to the sauce. If you don’t like cilantro, you can skip this.

Greek yogurt: greek yogurt makes the avocado crema extra creamy and velvety. It can be substituted with sour cream or creme fraiche. 

Lime juice: lime juice adds a tart taste to the crema and salad, however, it can also be substituted with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.

Garlic: garlic adds a sharp garlicky flavor and aroma.

Jalapeno: adding jalapeno pepper to the crema adds a subtle hint of spice. For a spicier kick, serrano peppers are a good alternative. 

Water: water is used to thin out the sauce. Feel free to adjust the amount of water added based on your preferences. For example, if you prefer a thinner sauce, add a splash of more water.


Spicy Frisée Salad Ingredients & Substitutions

Frisée: frisée is slightly bitter so it is an acquired taste. If you can’t find frisée or if you want to substitute it, you can also replace it with any leafy greens of your choice, including arugula or escarole. 

Thai chili peppers: these tiny Thai chili peppers add a ton of heat to the salad. They can be substituted with jalapeno peppers or serrano peppers.

Lime juice: lime juice will make the salad zesty and tangy. It can be substituted with lemon juice.

Olive oil: the olive oil is the base of dressing for the frisée salad.

Honey: honey is added to balance out the tartness of the lime juice. I like using wildflower honey but you can use any type of honey you prefer. You can also substitute the honey with white sugar, brown sugar, or agave syrup.

Garlic: garlic makes everything better, and this dressing is no exception!

Salt & Ground black pepper: a pinch of each is all you need.

How do I prepare Pan Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin?

To prepare this dish, simply follow the recipe below!

Step 1: Make the avocado crema

To start, add the avocado, cilantro, greek yogurt, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt, and water in a blender or food processor. Blend the mixture until smooth. If the crema is too thick, you can add water a tablespoon at a time to loosen it up. If it’s too thin, you can add more avocado or yogurt to the mixture. Once you’re happy with the consistency and taste, set it aside in the fridge until ready to use. 

Step 2: Make the frisée salad

For the salad, combine the frisée and chopped Thai chili peppers in a bowl. Then, add the lime juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper and mix well. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the salmon

Pat the salmon filets with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Then, season them with salt and pepper on each side.

Step 4: Pan-fry the salmon

In a pan, preheat the oil on medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, place the salmon filets skin side down on the pan. Pan fry for 4 to 5 minutes until they turn crisp and golden brown.

Next, flip the filets for another 2 to 4 minutes or until your desired doneness. You can also adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your salmon. (You can refer to the tips below for the suggested cooking time). Once they’re done, transfer the filets to a cooling rack to drain any excess oil.

Step 5: Plate and serve!

For plating, add two spoonfuls of the avocado crema to the bottom of the plate. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also make a swirl or any design you like. (You can also watch the video below to see how I did mine!) 

Then, place the salmon skin side up on top of the avocado crema. Top with the frisée salad and serve immediately!

Cooking Tips for Pan Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin

Once you master the technique for pan-frying salmon, this recipe will be easy peasy to make. If you want to know how to make this dish perfectly every time, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:

  • Feel free to substitute the frisée for any greens of your choice. Some good alternatives include arugula and escarole. If you don’t want the frisée salad to be spicy, you can also omit the Thai chili peppers.
  • Don’t skip the step of patting the salmon filets dry with paper towels since this will minimize the oil from splattering when frying. Patting the skin dry will also help create beautiful crispy skin. If you want to, after patting the skin dry, leave the salmon skin side up at room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking. This will ensure the skin is completely dry!
  • For medium doneness, cook a ½-inch thick salmon filet for 4 minutes skin side down then flip and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. For 1 ½ to 2 inches thick filets, cook skin side down for 4 minutes then flip and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a frisée?

If you’re not familiar with frisée, it is a type of lettuce known for its curly and bushy leaves. It has a peppery taste with a hint of bitterness, but it can maintain its crispness when used in salads. Similar to regular lettuce, you can also add frisée to your sandwiches to add freshness! When buying frisée make sure to choose a head that has a vibrant green color with crispy leaves. If you don’t plan on using the frisée right away, make sure to store it in a sealed plastic bag inside the fridge. 

What is crema?

Crema is a Mexican condiment that’s typically used as a condiment, sauce ingredient, or topping for popular dishes like tacos, soups, enchiladas, and chilis. Crema is slightly tangy with a touch of sweetness and is closely related to sour cream and creme fraiche in taste and use. While I didn’t use crema in this recipe, I used Greek yogurt which is a lighter and healthier alternative to crema. I also added avocado to this recipe because I think salmon and avocado complement each other very well. Avocado also has natural fats to help make the consistency of the crema velvety smooth. I wanted to add some heat to the crema so I used jalapeno peppers but you can omit the pepper if you want to adjust the spiciness.

What pan should I use to cook the salmon?

In my opinion, the best way to cook a skin-on salmon is using a stainless steel fry pan. While you can use any brand, I prefer using All-Clad cookware for the perfect cook every single time. The second best option is to use a cast iron pan. Both stainless steel and cast iron pan help regulate the heat so that it cooks the fish evenly and gives it a beautiful sear. 

Why do you cook fish skin side down first?

You’ve probably also seen this technique in other recipes, but it’s best to cook any type of fish skin side down first to protect the meat from overcooking. Since you’ll need to sear the skin for a sufficient time to turn crispy, cooking it first will prevent the meat from drying out. Besides, cooking the skin first will also make it easier to flip the filet later because of the fat and protein that it contains.

Can you store leftover this Pan Seared Salmon?

If you’ve made more servings of the salmon you can eat for one meal, you can store the leftovers in an airtight container. Cooked salmon will stay good for 3 to 4 days as long as you keep it in the fridge. If you need to reheat the salmon, place them on a baking sheet and bake them at 275°F (135°C) for 15 minutes or until warmed all the way through. Alternatively, you can microwave them for 1 to 2 minutes until warm. 

What other dishes can you enjoy with Pan Seared Salmon?

Although you already have the avocado crema and frisée salad to accompany the crispy salmon, here are some great side dishes that would taste delicious with this pan-seared salmon!

1. Pomme puree – similar to mashed potatoes, my Garlic Pomme Puree recipe is silky, creamy, and delicious as a side with any salmon dish.

2. Pasta – if you’re looking to carb it up, a plate of pasta will definitely hit the spot. I recommend checking out my Roasted Red Pepper Shrimp Pasta or Uni Pasta recipes. they’re gooooood~

3. Fries – you can’t even go wrong with fries as a side dish, especially this one. For a unique twist on regular fries, check out my Korean Fries recipe

4. Brussels Sprouts – brussels sprouts are a classic side dish that I often find underrated by many. If there’s one vegetable side you have to make, it’s my Brussels Sprouts with Shallot & Garlic Chips recipe! It’s garlicky and packed with so much flavor. 

Looking for more easy and delicious salmon recipes? Check them out below!

Pan Seared Salmon with Crispy Skin

Servings 2 people
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 (8 oz) salmon filet skin on
  • 1/2 tsp salt adjust to taste
  • 1/8 tsp pepper adjust to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil

Avocado Crema

  • 1 avocado peeled and pitted
  • 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 2 tbsp lime juice about 1 lime
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 2 tbsp water more if needed

Spicy Frisée Salad

  • 1/2 lb frisée washed
  • 2 thai chili peppers
  • 2 tbsp lime juice about 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • pinch of salt and pepper to taste


  • To prepare the avocado crema, combine the avocado, cilantro, greek yogurt, lime juice, garlic, jalapeno, salt, and water in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. If the crema is too thick, add water a tbsp at a time. If the crema is too thin, add more avocado or greek yogurt.
  • To prepare the salad, combine the frisée and chopped thai chili peppers in a bowl. Add lime juice, olive oil, honey, garlic, salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Pat the salmon filets with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  • In a pan, heat the oil on medium high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, place the salmon filets skin side down in the pan.
  • Cook skin side down for 4-5 minutes until crisp. Flip the salmon and cook for another 2-4 minutes for medium doneness, depending on the thickness of the salmon. For a 1-inch thick salmon, 2 minutes should be sufficient. For a 1.5 to 2 inch thick salmon, cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Transfer the salmon on a cooling rack to allow any excess oil to drip off.
  • To plate, add two spoonfuls of the avocado crema on the bottom of the plate. If you're feeling fancy, make a swirl or any design. Place the salmon skin side up on top of the avocado crema. Top with salad and serve immediately.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Fusion

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