How to Make the Best-Ever Salmon in a Cast-Iron Skillet

The best way to cook salmon? In a piping hot skillet! Cast iron salmon turns out tender with that perfectly crispy skin we all love. Find out how to make it.

Is there anything a cast-iron skillet can’t do? It’s the workhorse behind these easy skillet suppers, and it makes some darn good desserts, too. Master cast iron cooking with our guide. When it comes to more delicate foods, like fish, you don’t need to hesitate to use your skillet. In fact, using cast iron is just the thing to create exceptionally tender salmon with a nice, crispy skin. And to do it is simple. We’ll break it down!

What Kind of Salmon Is Best?

Before you can even start cooking, though, you’re going to want to buy the right kind of salmon. Our Test Kitchen recommends shopping at a seafood market or fishmonger for the freshest possible fish. However, any good grocery store with a seafood counter and helpful staff works just fine, too. When choosing your salmon, always to be sure to smell it. It shouldn’t ever smell fishy (in a bad way) or ammonia-like. The fish should also be firm and free of bruises or discoloration.

As far as farm-raised or wild-caught, the decision is up to you. Both are healthy options. Farm-raised or Atlantic salmon are often milder in flavor. When shopping for wild-caught salmon, opt for Chinook, Coho or Sockeye. These will have a more pronounced salmon flavor.

How Do You Cook Salmon in an Iron Skillet in the Oven?

Once you have a good piece of fish, you’re going to need a good basic recipe. This oven-roasted salmon is a great recipe to know by heart, plus you can easily customize it to suit your taste. To make it, you’ll need:

  • Center-cut salmon filet, 1-1½ pounds
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Step 1: Heat Up the Skillet

For this recipe, you don’t even need to turn on your stovetop, which I like because it gives you some hands-off time to prep a quick side salad. Instead, place your cast-iron skillet into a cold oven and heat to 450ºF.

Step 2: Place the Salmon in the Cast Iron

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When the pan is getting nice and hot, brush the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Once the oven has come up to temperature, remove the pan and lay the fish skin side down inside. If you ever find yourself asking how do I make crispy salmon? this is how! A hot pan is exactly how you get the skin so delectably crispy.

Step 3: Bake!

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With the salmon in place, return the skillet to the oven and cook uncovered for 14 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 125ºF. Remove from the pan and cut the salmon into single serving sizes.

How Do You Finish Your Salmon?

Of course, you can enjoy your salmon simply with salt and pepper. Good fish doesn’t need much accompaniment! However, if you want to up your flavor and customize your meal, you can try a few easy toppers:

  • Gremolata: In a small bowl, mix a quarter cup minced, fresh parsley, two tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon lemon juice, a minced clove of garlic, a teaspoon of grated lemon peel, a half teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of pepper. Spoon this over your salmon before serving.
  • Dill and caper butter: In a bowl, mix a quarter cup of softened butter, a tablespoon of minced shallot, a tablespoon of minced, fresh dill, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a teaspoon of chopped capers. Add a dollop right before serving. You can try these flavored butters, too!
  • Maple soy glaze: In a dish, stir together a quarter cup of maple syrup with two tablespoons of soy sauce, a minced green onion, a half teaspoon fresh, grated ginger and a quarter teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Brush on before serving.

However you top your salmon, you’re sure to end up with a tender piece of fish with amazing crispy skin.

Try these salmon recipes next!
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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an associate editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.