This Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta is a perfect date night dinner. Easy to make and ready in 15 minutes, this crispy salmon and pasta is delicious and beautiful.
Learn how to cook a salmon fillet in the skillet so you get a gorgeous crispy exterior and tender juicy interior. Perfect for serving with the easy, creamy lemon sauce and pasta.
How to sear salmon
Pan-seared salmon is very simple to prepare. With these tips, you'll be pan searing salmon like a pro!
- Make sure you remove the salmon from the refrigerator in advance. Around 15 minutes should be enough, this is to help to ensure the salmon doesn't stick to the pan.
- Rub the salmon with a little olive oil and season with salt. Oiling the fish rather than the pan means you can use a higher heat under your pan without the worry that your oil will get too hot and start to smoke or worse set on fire.
- Once you have oiled the salmon use a non-stick skillet or frying pan to ensure that your salmon crisps up nicely and doesn't stick to the pan.
- You want to cook the salmon over medium-high heat. This will give you the crispy exterior without overcooking the inside.
- Cook the salmon presentation side down. This means you are going to start cooking the top of the salmon first. By doing this you can get a beautiful crisp golden crust and then flip and continue cooking for as long as you need to get a soft succulent interior.
- Cook the salmon for 3 minutes on the presentation side then carefully flip and cook for a further 2 minutes on the other side, then if your fillet is extra large give each of the sides a minute to crisp up. This will give you a crisp exterior and a soft interior. If you like a firmer finish, then check the recipe notes for additional timings.
How to make a lemon cream sauce for pasta
The simple creamy sauce is a mixture of white wine and cream, spiked with plenty of lemon juice (and zest) and finished with parsley.
To make the sauce a shallot is cooked gently in butter and then the pan is deglazed with white wine. If you don't have white wine or can't drink it, then you can replace that with fish stock or vegetable stock. (I have a great recipe for shrimp stock that would be great here too!)
Once the wine has reduced then lemon juice is added and finally the heavy cream. Once this has come to a simmer the sauce gets a final seasoning in the form of plenty of black pepper, lemon zest, and fresh parsley.
You want to use either freshly milled black pepper, or store bought cracked pepper. It really makes so much difference. The pre-ground pepper powdery pepper will add a sawdust texture to your beautiful creamy sauce.
Sides: This Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta would be perfect served with some roasted asparagus or broccoli. Alternatively serve this with a fresh green salad and made with a lemon mustard dressing.
Dessert: To balance the creamy main course serve a fresh dessert based around fruit. If strawberries are in season then a simple bowl of strawberries, drizzled with a little balsamic syrup would make a perfect end to the meal. Alternatively, a crisp lemon or apple sorbet would finish the meal well.
Wine: Lemon sauces can cause problems with so many wines, the acidity of the lemon works to soften and mellow the wine. However here the cream helps to overcome that. So try pairing this with a Sémillon. Or buck convention and opt for a red! Salmon is such a rich fish that it can take a low-tannin red like a Valpolicella.
For more delicious pasta ideas why not try:
- Garlic Butter Pasta with Garlic Chicken
- Shrimp Chorizo Pasta
- Pasta with Chicken Broth and Butter
- Creamy Chicken and Bacon Pasta
- Roasted Cauliflower Pasta with Creamy Garlic Sauce
- Creamy Pepper Steak Pasta
- Black Truffle Pasta
- See ALL 45+ Pasta Recipes
And for more ways to enjoy salmon why not try:
- Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Risotto
- Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Smashed Potatoes
- Seared Salmon with Peas and Chorizo
- Smoky Blackened Salmon Soft Tacos
- Grilled Salmon with Strawberry Salsa (The Crumbly Kitchen)
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Pan Seared Salmon with Creamy Lemon Pasta Recipe
- 5 oz spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 salmon fillets (skin on or off)
- salt and fresh ground black pepper - see note 1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 shallot - finely chopped - see note 2
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup dry white wine - see note 3
- ½ cup heavy cream - see note 4
- 1 lemon - see note 5
- 3 tablespoon coarsely chopped parsley
- Lemon wedges - to serve
Cook the Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and then the salt.
- Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. (around 1 minute less than the packet suggests)
- When the pasta is cooked, reserve 2 cups of the cooking water and then drain.
Whilst the pasta is boiling cook the salmon and sauce
- Season the top of the salmon fillets evenly with salt.
- Rub the salmon fillets with olive oil and then place a large nonstick frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add salmon, presentation side down. Sauté for 3 minutes and then flip and cook for a further 2 minutes. Then flip the salmon onto each side and sear for a minute. (see note 6)
- Transfer salmon to a warmed plate. (You can tent with foil, but this will stop the salmon from being as crispy.)
- Add the chopped shallot to the skillet/frying pan and add in the butter
- Gently fry the shallot until softened.
- Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir for 30 seconds until aromatic (don't let the garlic burn)
- Add the wine to the pan and scrape any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
- Cook the wine for about a minute (it will start to evaporate pretty quick) then stir in the zest of the lemon and the juice of half the lemon. (see note 5)
- Pour in the heavy cream (See note 5) and heat through.
- Add the parsley and season generously with salt and black pepper. Taste your sauce, it should taste good. If not, add more salt and more lemon juice.
- Add the pasta and ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water to the sauce and stir over low heat.
- Gently toss the pasta about until everything is well coated and the pasta is cooked to your liking. You can add more cooking water if the sauce starts to thicken too much.
- Serve with the seared salmon on the side, a garnish of parsley and some lemon wedges.
- You want to use either freshly milled black pepper, or store bought cracked pepper. It really makes so much difference. The pre-ground pepper powdery pepper will add a sawdust texture to your beautiful creamy sauce.
- If you can't get shallot then use half a small onion.
- If you don't have white wine or can't drink it, then you can replace that with fish stock or vegetable stock. (I have a great recipe for shrimp stock that would be great here too!)
- Heavy cream or thickened cream is perfect here. I find that single cream and half and half will split due to the lemon juice. Whipping cream could be used, but add the lemon slowly and mix well.
- You will need all of the zest of the lemon, but unless you have a very small lemon, you will probably only need the juice from half of it.
- If you prefer your salmon firm, cook for an additional 2 minutes on the underside.