How to Pan Sear Salmon – Easy Meal Prep Salmon Salad
For a quick
healthy dinner on a weeknight, whip up this crispy pan seared salmon salad in
10 minutes or less! I’ll show you how to pan sear salmon with the skin on for
this satisfyingly simple salmon arugula salad.
Salmon is one of the healthiest proteins we can eat—in large part due to its rich omega-3 content—but it can be tricky to cook. Some people think they don’t like the taste, but more often people just don’t know how to cook salmon filets. Luckily, this crispy pan seared salmon is one of the easiest methods! (If you know how to do it right…)
Sure, you can pop a salmon filet into the oven, with just about any spread or sauce slathered on top, and it can turn out delicious. But, salmon is a delicate protein—meaning it’s easy to overcook and quick to dry out, especially in the oven. Instead, learning how to pan sear salmon allows you to enjoy a juicier, crispier filet!
All it takes is a hot pan, some cooking fat, and about 2 minutes to sear on each side of the filet. Quick as that, you’ve got crispy pan seared salmon ready to serve as you please! I think it’s especially delicious served as part of a salmon salad over greens, like in this salmon arugula salad recipe, but you can also serve it with roasted veggies, pasta—whatever you like.
Salmon Salad Meal Prep Components
For meal prep purposes, salmon generally isn’t an ideal protein choice. Much in the same way that it’s a delicate protein to cook, it also doesn’t last as long stored in the fridge. (About 3 days, typically.) But, there are still ways to incorporate salmon meal prep meals into your healthy routine!
of prepping and cooking everything ahead of time, minimum preppers would just
prep basic components that they can use to quickly cook meals during the week.
Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, depending on what
works best for our lifestyle, schedule, budget, etc.
Maybe you want just your breakfasts and lunches fully prepped and ready, but can take the time to cook a fresh meal for dinner. Find what works for you! For this crispy pan seared salmon salad recipe, I’ll show you how to prep the components of the meal—in the minimal prep style—so you can quickly throw together a 10 minute dinner during the week.
Butternut Squash & Store
When I made
this salmon arugula salad recipe, I used roasted butternut squash as one of my
salad components. It’s tasty served cold, and adds some healthy, starchy carbs
to my salmon salad meal! You could also use sweet potato cubes or another
roasted veggie that you enjoy cold, and you can roast it ahead of time on your
To roast butternut squash, simply season the cubes with oil, salt and pepper (or whichever seasonings you like). Then, pop the tray in the oven at 425°F for 20-30 minutes, until tender, and allow to cool before storing! This way, you can keep your roasted squash in the fridge, so it’s ready to add onto your salmon salad at the time of serving.
The other components for your meal prep salad can be thrown together at the time of serving. I will leave arugula stored in the bag or container that I purchased it in, and I’ll slice red onion while my crispy pan seared salmon is cooking. (If you’d rather slice your red onion on prep day, go for it!)
Portion Salmon Filets
If you’re making your salmon salad with farm-raised salmon, your filets may already be cut and portioned—maybe even with the skin off. But, if you’re using wild-caught salmon, you’ll likely have larger filets with the skin on that need to be cut into smaller portion sizes. Do this on prep day to save time throughout the week!
size depends on your preference—3 to 5 oz is standard. Usually, I just eyeball
it, and I cut my salmon filets with kitchen shears since they do the best job
of slicing through the skin. Once portioned, I typically store my salmon filets
in individual zip-top bags or an airtight container with a paper towel in it to
soak up excess moisture.
That’s what I do when using fresh salmon filets, although recently I’ve been using frozen salmon filets. (Thanks to my Butcher Box subscription—which sends me individual, pre-portioned frozen filets!)
Frozen salmon is actually very easy to work with, just transfer it to the fridge to thaw for about 24 hours before you want to cook with it. And, frozen salmon is a fantastic option for meal prep because it’s so easy to store without going bad!
On the day or
weeknight that you’re ready to cook, grab your fresh/thawed and portioned
filet. For a crispy pan seared salmon filet, start by seasoning your salmon
with a bit of salt and pepper. Then, heat a pan over medium-high heat and melt
some ghee—or a different cooking fat, but I think ghee works best.
hot, place your seasoned salmon filet into the pan skin side up and allow to
sear for about 2 minutes. Set a timer if needed! Then, flip the filet and sear
for another 2 minutes. (If you have a thicker salmon filet, or if you prefer
your salmon cooked more well-done, you may want to sear it for an extra minute
And just like
that, in about 5 minutes, you’ve got a crispy pan seared salmon filet ready to
serve on a bed of greens!
Seared Salmon Salad Ingredients
Either while your salmon is searing or after it’s cooked, toss together your other salmon salad components. I’m keeping this salad super simple: just a few handfuls of arugula, a few tablespoons of sliced red onion, and about ½ cup of the cold, roasted squash that I cooked on my prep day.
I give those
veggies a toss, then drizzle on a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar as my
dressing. If you’d like to serve your salmon salad with a different dressing
that you enjoy, go for it!
It’s all so
quick and easy, I’ll just throw together that arugula salad while the salmon
filet is still on the pan. Once my crispy pan seared salmon is cooked to my
liking, I transfer it straight from the pan onto the salad. A fresh, healthy
dinner that’s hot and ready to eat in under 10 minutes!
Jazz it up
with any other toppings if you like. Some lemon wedges for an acidic element,
sliced avocado for creaminess, crunchy sunflower seeds, a fried egg or poached
egg for added yolky goodness—get creative!
1 salmon filet (3–5 oz) salt & pepper, to taste ~1 Tbsp ghee
2 cups arugula 3 Tbsp red onion, thinly sliced ½ cup roasted butternut squash, cold extra virgin olive oil, to taste balsamic vinegar, to taste
½ lemon, cut into wedges ½ avocado, sliced fried egg
Season salmon filet with salt and pepper.
In a pan over medium heat, melt ghee. Place salmon filet into warm pan, skin side up.
Allow to sear for about 2 minutes, then flip and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or so. (May need to cook 1-2 minutes longer for thicker salmon filets, or if you prefer your salmon more well-done.)
To prepare salad, add arugula to a large bowl with sliced red onion and roasted butternut squash*.
Drizzle salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, tossing to coat.
Serve salad on a plate with salmon, lemon wedges, sliced avocado, a fried egg, or any other toppings you like.
To roast butternut squash:
Season cubes with oil, salt and pepper, then roast at 425°F or 220°C for 20-30 minutes.
Allow to cool and store before using in salad.
*Nutrition does not include optional topping ideas.