Crispy-Skinned Fish Fillets Recipe

A lot of cooks will say they don’t know how to cook fish, but that’s a cover up for the real reason: it can be intimidating to sear skin-on fish fillets. No longer: thanks to this foolproof method, perfectly crispy skin can be yours. The key is in following the steps to the letter—starting with patting the fish dry, actually following the timing, and giving the fillets enough heat and room in the pan to crisp up nicely. Keeping the skin-side down for 4 minutes is essential to getting the right amount of golden-brown color, so use a timer and trust!

Crispy-Skinned Fish Fillets
Photo: Greg DuPree
Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
15 mins
4 servings


  • 4 4- to 6-oz. skin-on fish fillets, such as striped bass, branzino, or mackerel

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

  • Lemon slices, for serving (optional)


  1. Pat fish dry and season with salt.

  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl skillet to coat. Carefully add 2 fillets, skin side down (lay them away from you to avoid spattering). Shake skillet to prevent sticking. Press firmly on each fillet to help skin make contact with skillet. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are golden brown, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, skin side up. Repeat with remaining oil and fish.

  3. Serve fish with lemon slices, if using, or one of the sauces ahead.

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