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pan-seared branzino fish fillets recipfillets.
4.75 from 20 votes

Pan-Seared Branzino

This pan-seared branzino recipe is a speedy dinner for two that can be ready in about 10 minutes. It's a fancy dish you can serve for a romantic dinner without breaking your wallet.
Prep Time 4 mins
Cook Time 6 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, world
Servings 2
Calories 247 kcal


  • a stainless steel or cast-iron skillet


  • 2 branzino fish fillets, (pat the fish dry with paper towels, let them come to room temperature)
  • sea salt and black pepper, (as needed)
  • 1 tablespoon canola, avocado, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs thyme leaves
  • ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice


  • With your hand at least 12 inches away, lightly sprinkle salt and black pepper on both sides of fish fillets in a single layer, right before cooking.
  • Preheat a large skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add oil and heat it for a few seconds until shimmers, and let it spread across the pan.
  • Cook fish fillets, skin-side up for about 45-60 seconds or until lightly golden browned. At this point, you only need to give the flesh a nice golden color as it will continue to cook after flipping.
  • Carefully flip the fish fillets and cook the skin for about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, hold for a few seconds to ensure even cooking and crisp skin all over.
  • Add butter, thyme, and fresh lemon juice to the pan. Tilt the pan slightly and use a spoon to baste the fish with melted butter. Continue basting for a few seconds until the fish is fully cooked and the skin is crispy.


Preheating the pan. I made a slight change to the preheating of the pan temperature to make it more suitable for all types of cooking pans (stainless or cast iron) and stoves (gas or electric).
Here's how to test if your pan is hot enough for searing,  place a single drop of water into the pan if it sizzles or jumps around instead of evaporating instantly, your pan is ready.
In this recipe, I used a stainless steel pan It can take about 2-3 minutes to preheat on a gas stove or longer if you are using an electric stove. 
Cooking time. I also reduced the cooking time to prevent overcooking for some users due to differences in the type of pan and stove they are using.
The cooking times will vary for a number of reasons. For example, a gas cooktop heats up more quickly than an electric one. For that reason, please check the doneness of the fish and adjust the cooking time accordingly to prevent undercooking, overcooking, and/or burning. 
Non-stick pans. I do not recommend using a non-stick pan for searing crispy-skinned fish. The fish needs to be cooked in a preheated pan and non-stick pans will have serious problems (the coating will break down and start releasing toxic chemicals into the air) if you heat them without food in them.
If you decide to use a non-stick pan, you should start with a cold pan and heat it up with some oil in it. Please keep in mind that the final result of the fish won't be as crisp as it could be.
To store the leftover: Place the leftover pan-seared fish in an airtight container. Properly stored, it can last 3-4 days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer. 
To reheat the leftover: Place the fish fillets on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil for 1-3 minutes on each side to reheat it. Leave the oven door partially ajar during cooking. 


Calories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 15gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 60mgPotassium: 231mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 474IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Keyword branzino fish fillets, how to cook branzino fish, pan-seared branzino
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