Simple Cast Iron Salmon

A perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs on a plate.

This Cast Iron Salmon recipe contains all the useful tips and tricks you need to cook a perfect skin on salmon fillet every time. It’s an easy, healthy weeknight dinner option you can make in around ten minutes.

Who has time to cook a healthy dinner on a weeknight? The answer is, we all do! Check out the other quick, virtually effortless weeknight dinners here, on the blog. Here’s my 30 minute Teriyaki Beef Sticks and an Easy Chicken Caprese recipe for the Air Fryer (also 30 minutes) just to get you started!

A perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs on a plate.

Cast Iron Salmon with Lemon and Italian Herbs

Cooking salmon, or fish in general doesn’t have to be difficult or stressful. For the longest time I avoided cooking fish because I just didn’t know how. So today, I’m really excited to bring you this super easy, virtually foolproof recipe for Cast Iron Salmon. It’s full of the useful tips and tricks I’ve learned for cooking the very best seared salmon in a skillet.

The flavours in this dish are simple; just Italian seasoning and lemon with salt and pepper. These simple seasonings allow the natural flavour of the fish to shine through. The simple pay frying technique takes very little time, according to the thickness of the fillet, and results in a crispy skinned, mouth watering piece of fish.

Bookmark this useful post, and you’re well on your way to cooking moist, flavourful crispy skin on salmon every time.

Ingredients required to make cast iron salmon.

Ingredients

Simple is as simple does. There’s no need to overcomplicate a beautiful piece of fish. That’s why this recipe is low on ingredients but still results in one tasty piece of fish.

  • Olive Oil
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

I suggest Olive oil but you can use any light tasting high smoke point oil for pan frying fish. Try avocado oil or canola, corn, and other vegetable oils instead of extra virgin olive oil.

In general, Italian seasoning is a mixture of five essential dried herbs which sometimes contains other herbs and spices. The five main herbs are oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram. Additionally, Italian seasoning can also contain sage, red pepper flakes, cilantro, fennel, and parsley.

The key to any recipe with few ingredients is to buy a new bottle of Italian seasoning or use fresh dried herbs to make your own blend. The same goes for pepper as it has the most flavour when it is freshly ground into any recipe.

Three skin on salmon fillets in a cast iron skillet.

How to Choose Salmon Fillets

Firstly, give the fish the sniff test. Go on, follow your nose. The fish should smell only faintly fishy or salty sweet like the ocean, and nothing more. If it is overly fishy, give it a pass.

You can also give it a poke, if people aren’t already staring at you for fish sniffing. Press the fillet with your finger; if the flesh springs back, then it’s fresh. If your fingerprint stays, put it back.

Next, choose salmon fillets that are a bright pink coral, or deep red colour with nice marbling (depending on the variety). The fillets should also look nice and moist, and not dried out or sticky.

Finally, look for any obvious signs of trauma. These may or may not include brown spots on the belly flesh or skin. Inspect the fillet for obvious ‘gaping’; the issue that occurs when the cut edges of the fish begin to separate from each other.

Fresh lemon juice being squeezed over three skin on salmon fillets in a cast iron skillet.

Sustainable Salmon

These days, any fish lover should choose to source healthy fish with sustainability in mind. Sustainable fish are those species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem (Oceanwise).

Right now, over 20% of the world’s population depending on seafood as a protein. 50 % of the seafood we eat is wild caught, while the other half is raised through aquaculture.

With sustainability in mind, try to find sustainably sourced wild caught salmon over farmed salmon when you can. You’ll know it is a good choice when you see the Oceanwise symbol next to it or on the package.

Wild caught Pacific or Atlantic Salmon is a better option that farm raised salmon, as there is growing evidence that salmon farming is creating much more harm than good to the world’s ocean ecosystems.

A perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs on a plate.

How to Pan Fry Cast Iron Salmon

Allow the fish to come to room temperature before pan frying, then pat the salmon dry with paper towels and season all over with salt and pepper.

Coat the cast iron skillet well in olive oil, then heat it to medium high. The oil should be shimmering before you add the fish. The combination of dry skin, high heat, and hot oil will help prevent the salmon skin from sticking to the pan.

Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down and immediately reduce the heat to medium low. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and a squirt of lemon juice.

Cook the salmon skin side down, undisturbed, until it becomes crispy (about 5 minutes for an inch thick filet). If you find the filets are buckling, you can press down on them firmly with a fish spatula.

When the skin is crispy and the sides of the salmon fillet turns from a translucent pink to opaque lighter colour from the bottom up to the top, flip the fish over and cook the rest of the way. The skin should release nicely from the pan at this point.

A bite of perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs.

How to Know When Salmon is Done Cooking

After you flip the fish, cook it for another minute until it reaches your desired doneness and depending on the thickness of the fillet. Use a thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part to accurately read the temperature. Salmon is medium rare at 120 F and medium at 125 F to 130F. The salmon should still be moist with a slightly translucent center.

I do not recommend cooking salmon past 130 F as it will become dry and overcooked. The flesh of overcooked salmon is slightly chalky with an unpleasant flavour.

A fork with a bite of perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs.

Helpful Tips for Perfect Cast Iron Salmon

  1. Select fresh fish with a bright colour.
  2. Allow the fish to come to room temperature before pan frying.
  3. Dry the fish with paper towel before adding seasoning.
  4. Heat oil in the pan over medium high heat until it shimmers.
  5. Place fish skin side down in hot pan.
  6. Fry the fish skin side down for 90% of the cooking time.
  7. Once the sides of the filet turn opaque, flip the fish.
  8. Use a thermometer for best accuracy.
  9. Salmon is medium rare at 120 F and medium at 125 F – 130 F.
A fork with a bite of perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs.

Cast Iron Salmon Leftovers

Store any leftover fish in the fridge for up to two days. You can use the leftover in so many delicious ways!

  • Use Salmon instead of Tuna in a Nicoise Salad.
  • Toss with pasta and Alfredo sauce or Pesto for a quick repurposed lunch or dinner.
  • Salmon Wraps
  • Mix it with mayonnaise for Salmon Salad. Eat it in sandwiches or as an appetizer with crackers or sliced cucumbers.
  • As a protein portion in a rice bowl.
Pinterest image featuring perfectly cooked juicy cast iron salmon.

If you make this Simple Cast Iron Salmon recipe, please be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Pinterest for my latest recipes. Also, if you do make this recipe, please tag me on Instagram, I’d love to see what you guys are making! Thank you so much for reading my blog.

Yield: serves 3

Simple Cast Iron Salmon

A perfectly cooked skin on cast iron salmon with lemon and herbs on a plate.

This Cast Iron Salmon recipe contains all the useful tips and tricks you need to cook a perfect skin on salmon filet every time. It's an easy, healthy weeknight dinner option you can make in around ten minutes.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 - 8 oz salmon fillets with skin
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Allow the fish to come to room temperature before pan frying.
  2. Pat the salmon dry and season all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Coat the cast iron skillet well in olive oil, then heat it to medium high. The oil should be shimmering before you add the fish.
  4. Place the salmon, skin side down and reduce heat to medium low. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and a squirt of lemon juice.
  5. Allow the fish to fry skin side down, undisturbed, until it becomes crispy (about 5 minutes for an inch thick filet). If you find the filets are buckling, you can press down on them firmly with a fish spatula.
  6. When the skin is crispy and the sides of the salmon filet turns from a translucent pink to opaque lighter colour from the bottom up to the top, flip the fish over and cook the rest of the way. The skin should release nicely from the pan at this point.
  7. Cook for another minute, until the salmon reaches medium rare (120 F) or medium (125 F to 130F) when a thermometer is inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the filet.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

3

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 561Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 845mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 51g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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33 comments

  1. Terri

    I had never made salmon in a cast iron. I LOVE this simple, healthy and delicious dinner!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      No? It’s delicious. Love cooking with my cast iron!

  2. Ramona

    I haven’t made a recipe like this in quite some time and I am super excited to as I am a big fan of cast iron salmon or salmon in general! Thank you for sharing this recipe, I cant wait to make it!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Excellent! I hope you love this recipe as much as I do.

  3. Chandice

    Cooking salmon at home has always intimidated me but using the cast-iron skillet gives it that crispy skin with perfectly soft and cooked center. Thank you!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      So glad this recipe worked out for you! This technique really results in a delicious fish.

  4. David

    Looks very tasty! I make salmon a lot but never thought to try it in my cast iron skillet, would think it would stick…your tips seem to solve that issue!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Yes, as long as you start with room temperature fish and a hot oiled pan, you should be good!

  5. Jessica

    In the past, I have only prepared salmon on the grill but since it’s not quite warm enough for grilling yet and the craving for salmon struck strong, I decided to give this method a go. And, I’m so glad I did! It turned out absolutely perfect. Tonight I’m going to use the leftovers in a rice bowl as suggested. My mouth is already watering.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      So great to hear Jessica. Glad you enjoyed this recipe.

  6. Linda

    Cooking salmon in a cast iron makes this dish extra delicious! Love every bite of this salmon

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It sure does. Thank you for letting me know how much you liked the fish.

  7. Marie

    Oh wow, this cast-iron salmon is just perfect! I love how your method produces a delightfully crunchy skin, it creates such a nice contrast with the juicy flesh. I don’t think I’ll ever cook salmon any other way.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I agree, it is the PERFECT way to cook Salmon, especially if you want crispy skin.

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