Fancy but Easy Salmon Piccata
An easy Salmon Piccata recipe that’s truly restaurant-worthy! Crispy pan-fried salmon tossed in a quick lemon caper butter sauce! On the table in around 30 minutes!
I know you’ve heard of Chicken Piccata, but have you every tried making Salmon Piccata? It’s seriously the best.
Crispy, buttery salmon, pan-fried until golden then drizzled in a quick butter sauce made with lemons and capers. It’s the same sauce I use for these chicken meatballs, and I kid you not, it’s downright garlicky, lemony, and exploding with flavor!
Now, you can serve salmon piccata with homemade crusty bread, but if you’re into the pasta scene, I’ll toss my favorite al-dente pasta right into the pan sauce and serve it all alongside garlicky broccolini.
This is easy enough for a weeknight dinner and fancy enough to serve company!
Ingredients for salmon piccata:
- Salmon fillets: I suggest buying wild-caught salmon whenever possible. We’re not big on the skin, so I usually ask my fish monger to remove the salmon skin for me. You can ask them to cut the larger fillet into pieces as well.
- Seasonings: You’ll need kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to season the salmon filet with. I usually season on both sides and then pan fry the flavor for more flavor.
- Oil: I like to use avocado oil for this recipe. It’s a high heat oil and when you’re preparing salmon in a cast iron skillet, the oil can easily begin to smoke unless you use something high heat.
- Butter: You’ll need 4 tablespoons of cold butter. Cut the butter into four pieces and keep it cold! For this recipe, you’ll want to use unsalted butter to make sure it doesn’t end up becoming too salty with the lemon juice and broth.
- Garlic: Minced garlic is the heart and soul of piccata sauce along with the lemons and capers.
- Flour: just a tablespoon of all-purpose flour helps thicken up the sauce further. Since we don’t dredge the salmon in flour, for this recipe, we need a little flour to thicken the sauce.
- Chicken Broth: You can swap the chicken broth for white wine or even seafood stock. We don’t consume alcohol so chicken broth works perfectly for us!
- Capers: You’ll want the capers and the brine for this recipe. The brine adds a bit of a zing to the sauce and really elevates the flavor!
- Lemon Juice: You’ll need a full ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice for this recipe.
- Fresh parsley: adds a little color and freshness to the salmon piccata!
- Pasta: This is optional. But to make this a full meal, I like to toss pasta into most of the sauce at the end and then serve with the salmon filets on top. The remaining sauce gets drizzled all over the salmon or sometimes, I’ll save it and drizzle it over sautéed broccolini or broccoli.
How to make the best salmon piccata recipe:
- Season the fish. Start by removing the salmon from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before pan-frying. You want to do this to ensure that the salmon cooks evenly. Cooking a cold filet can cause it to be overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside. Season the fillets with kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
- Sear the salmon. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering, gently lay the salmon filets away from you flesh-side down and sear on the first side. Cook on the first side until golden, then flip and continue cooking the salmon to your liking. Salmon should usually be cooked to 125-130ºF if you’d like to use a meat thermometer. Remove the filets to a plate and keep warm. Keep in mind, that you don’t want to overcrowd the skillet. If the pan can’t hold all 4 fillets as once, it’s better to cook the salmon in batches. When the salmon is done, wad up some paper towel and using a pair of tongs clean any excess grease from the skillet.
- Make pan sauce. Add a tablespoon of cold butter to the skillet when it melts, add the minced garlic and let it cook in the butter for a few seconds before adding the flour. Whisk the flour to cook out the raw flavor. Then slowly drizzle in the chicken broth as you whisk. Stir in the caper brine, capers, and lemon juice. Allow the sauce to gain a simmer, then lower the heat to the lowest setting, and add a tablespoon of butter at a time, stirring until it melts into the sauce before adding the next. Add the chopped parsley. Taste the sauce and make sure to adjust if you feel it needs more salt, but it really shouldn’t!
- How to serve salmon piccata. You can add the salmon filets back to the skillet and spoon sauce over the filets if you’re serving this with crusty bread and a salad. If you’re serving this with pasta, I like to remove about a ¼ cup of sauce for serving and toss the rest with pasta right in the skillet. I dish this out family style with pasta on the bottom, salmon fillets on top, and then pour the remaining sauce over the salmon fillets. You could also serve this with rice instead of pasta if you’d like!
FAQs about this recipe:
- How did you make the broccolini? You can find the full recipe here.
- What pasta shapes do you suggest for this recipe? I like fusilli, you can also use gemelli, linguine, bucatini, or farfalle!
- What else can I serve this with? You could totally serve this with my best garlic bread, no-knead focaccia, or even mashed potatoes, fluff white or brown rice, or with a salad!
- Do I need to double the sauce if I’m making this with pasta? Nope! This recipe makes enough sauce for the pasta as written.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Baked Salmon in Foil
- Sheet Pan Garlic Butter Salmon, Potatoes, and Asparagus
- Chili-Lime Salmon in Foil
- Broiled Miso Ginger Salmon
- Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Salmon
- 4 (5-ounce) salmon filets
- Kosher salt + black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2-3 tablespoons capers (+ 2 tsp brine)
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
- 8 ounces dry pasta, cooked (optional)
- Prepared broccolini, for serving
- SEASON: Remove salmon from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Season filets with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, a big pinch of black pepper, and garlic powder.
- SEAR: Heat avocado oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Add salmon flesh side down and cook until golden; about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook for another 2-3 minute. Transfer the salmon to a plate and loosely tent with foil to keep warm.
- CLEAN: Lower the heat to low, using a wadded up paper towel, and a pair of tongs carefully wipe clean any remaining grease in pan; discard.
- SAUCE: Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan along with the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the flour and whisk. Allow the flour to cook for 1 minute, then slowly drizzle in the chicken broth as you whisk. Add caper brine, capers, and lemon juice. Allow the sauce to gain a simmer, then lower the heat to low. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the sauce and gently stir or whisk it in. Repeat with the the remaining butter adding in a tablespoon at a time. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and stir to combine.
- SERVE: If you want to serve with pasta, remove ¼ cup of sauce and set aside. Add cooked pasta to skillet and toss to combine. Plate pasta, top with salmon fillets and pour the remaining sauce over the salmon and serve with steamed or sauteed broccolini. Otherwise, you can add the salmon back to the skillet and let it simmer in the sauce for a minute if you’d like. Place the salmon fillets flesh-side down if you’d like to maintain a crispy skin.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 700Total Fat: 34gCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 38g
Estimated nutritional Information includes 9 ounces of pasta for the entire recipe.