Crispy skin skillet salmon

My family loves salmon.  I've done many different versions of salmon, but they all prefer my simple crispy skin skillet salmon.  I love it too, because it's so simple, you can make it in minutes.  It's so good that just some fresh lemon juice is all it needs.  No sauce! Many times, this salmon dish is our carb free meal of the day with just a vegetable or salad accompaniment.  In the feature image, the salmon fillet is accompanied with a "Greek style" tabouleh and roasted carrots with balsamic vinegar and mascapone cheese.

How about the salmon skin?  Most people only want salmon fillets, but if you ask my daughters, the salmon skin is the best part.  It's like a crisp chip.  Read my tips to get a crisp and tasty chip!  Not only does it taste delicious, the skin of the salmon contains the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids on the fish and cooking the fillets with the skin on can also keep the nutrients and oils inside the salmon itself that may otherwise be lost during the cooking process.

Tips for cooking simple crispy skin skillet salmon.

Salmon fillet.

I like buying my salmon from a reputable fish market like Sprouts or Whole Foods that will allow you to specify exactly what part of the salmon you would like to have and they may even de-scale it for you.  The part of the salmon closer to the head is thicker and fattier than the tail and is preferable, because it is less likely to overcook and is juicier!  I usually calculate a little less than 8 oz. (227 g) per individual and have the fish monger cut a piece to that spec.

Eventhough sockeye salmon is more expensive and popular, this species to me,  is less oily so the meat tends to be denser, less flaky and the salmon skin doesn't crisp up as well.  I prefer the Atlantic, Coho or King salmon varieties.

De-scaling salmon skin.

It is easy to de-scale salmon yourself with no fancy tools if your fish monger does not de-scale the fish for you.  A small serrated knife is all that is needed.  It is best to de-scale your fish in the sink as the scales tend to fly everywhere during de-scaling!

Place your serrated knife on the surface of the salmon skin and scrape the knife in the opposite direction of the scale formation.  When the scales are removed, the skin loses the shiny lustre and looks "matte".  In this way, you can tell the spots you have missed.

Wash the salmon after de-scaling and thoroughly dry the salmon with a paper towel.

Scaling salmon

De-scale salmon by running a serrate knife in the opposite direction to the scales.

Preparing the salmon fillets.

It is easier to seaon the salmon after it has been cut into the individual portion sizes than trying to cut the fillet after the seasonings have been added.  Use a sharp knife to cut the salmon with the skin side up.

Season salmon fillet after being cut into individual portions

Season salmon fillet after being cut into individual portions.

Seasoning the salmon fillets.

I like to season the flesh with a simple mixture of salt, pepper and fresh herbs like oregano or thyme. For the skin,  generously sprinkle salt only.  This allows any moisture to be extracted which helps crisping the skin. Place your fillets on a stack of paper towels with the skin side down to dry up the skin and allow it to season for at least 30 minutes.

Cooking the salmon fillets.

I don't like my salmon dry and overcooked.  In order to get the salmon fillets to be tender and flaky,  I cook my salmon fillets in a hot cast iron skillet to sear the outside. The skin doesn't seem to crisp up as well in a non-stick skillet, due to the medium temperature. Heat the  cast iron skillet until it is hot.  If your skillet is not well oiled, spray a thin layer of cooking oil. Place the salmon, flesh side down and skin side up.  Do not overcrowd the pan, allow sufficient room to be able to flip the fillet without damaging the fillets.  Reduce the heat to medium and place a lid to PARTIALLY cover the pan.  This prevents the fish oil from splattering all over the stove and also allows the steam to escape.  Cook until half of the fillet appears opaque (about 3 minutes, but this really depends on the thickness of your fillet).  Turn it over so that the skin side is down and continue cooking.  By cooking with the skin side down last, the skin has an opportunity to crisp rather than steam which will make the skin soggy.

Salmon fillet

Salmon fillet cooked with fresh oregano, sprinkled with additional fresh herbs! By serving it with the flesh side up, the moisture will cause the skin to soften.

If you like the skin crispy, make sure that you plate it with the skin side up so that the moisture created on the plate does not make the skin soggy.  Add additional fresh herbs to your fillet  and serve with your favorite sides.  Enjoy and let me know how your salmon turned out in the comment section.

Crispy skin skillet salmon


Michelle Sam
This very simple skillet salmon recipe is SO easy and delicious. If you can find a salmon fillet with the skin, try crisping the skin which is both delicious and healthy. The salmon skin has a higher amount of Omega-3 oils than the actual meat.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 4 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Marinating time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 245 kcal


  • cast iron skillet


  • 680 g Salmon fillet with skin About 170 g (6 oz) per person
  • tsp coarse sea salt depending on taste
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper depending on taste
  • 1 tsp fresh oregano or dried
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or dried


  • De-scale salmon fillet. Reputable fish mongers may do this for you.
  • Cut the salmon fillet into individual portions.
  • Dry the fillet with a paper towel.
  • Generously season the skin side wih just salt.
  • Season the flesh side with salt, pepper and herbs.
  • Place the fillets on paper towels, skin side down for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat cast iron skillet until hot.
  • If your skillet is not oiled, spray a little oil to prevent sticking, but the salmon should render oil.
  • Sear the salmon fillets, placing the flesh side down first. (Skin side up) Do not overcrowd the skillet.
  • PARTIALLY cover with a lid to prevent the oil from splattering and allow air for the steam to escape.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and cook funtil the sides of the fillet is half cooked. (about 3 minutes depending on the fillet thickness)
  • Flip the salmon fillets and cook the skin last to ensure a crispy skin. Do not overcook!
  • When cooked, remove the salmon and plate it skin side up to keep the skin crispy! Serve with your choice of sides. Enjoy!


Serving: 4gCalories: 245kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 34gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 947mgPotassium: 850mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 136IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 35mgIron: 2mg
Keyword easy salmon, Pan seared salmon, Salmon, Seared salmon
Tried this recipe?Let me know how it was or if you have any questions or suggestions!
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