Flavorful and moist pan-seared salmon gets served with a delicious Lemon Butter Sauce and buttery dill peas. The green peas, which are ever-so-slightly sweet, balance out the savory lemon butter salmon. Top with crusty bites of bread and fresh chives, and you have a salmon dinner worthy of date night, dinner parties and the in-laws.
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Lemon Butter Sauce for Salmon
This is my recipe for silky, decadent, lemon butter sauce for salmon. Lemon and chives brighten the richness while garlic and shallot add savoriness, making it great for fish, seafood and even vegetables.
This easy-to-make sauce (which is basically a beurre blanc) is made with butter and milk, not cream.
However, if the sauce breaks (which can happen!) half-and-half or cream, whisked vigorously into the sauce over low heat, can re-emulsify the sauce and bring it back to life. So don’t stress if you find your sauce has broken.
How to Make Lemon Butter Salmon
The instructions might look like a lot, but the process itself is very simple! As always, I write my recipes to be as clear, concise and efficient as possible because I believe your time is valuable. There are a few components to this dish (the dill peas, crusty bread, salmon, and sauce) and in order to get this done in a timely fashion and all at the same time, I’ve written the recipe to have you move between a few components as you cook. Let’s jump in.
- Toast the bread (get that out of the way early, it can sit for a while because it doesn’t need to be warm when served) and set aside.
- Make the Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce. Keep is warm over low heat. If you know one of your burners runs hot, avoid using that one! Stir the sauce occasionally to make sure it’s staying emulsified. If your sauce breaks (which is common) it’s easily fixable. See my notes in the section above.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Get this started now! We’ll move on to another component, but this way the water is heating while you’re working. Aka, no wasted time!
- Cook the salmon then transfer to a plate and let rest.
- Drop the peas in the boiling water and cook just until warmed through. Drain and add back to the saucepan.
- Toss the peas with some of the Lemon Butter Sauce and a hearty amount of fresh dill. Season with salt and pepper. (ABS, always be seasoning!)
- Serve it up! Divide peas between serving bowls then top with salmon, chunks of toasty bread, lemon butter sauce and fresh herbs.
Choosing the Salmon
This recipe features my go-to method for cooking pan-seared salmon (ya’ll love this recipe!). As I note in my tutorial for pan-seared salmon, thickness is super important for achieving perfectly cooked salmon. This method requires a thick piece of skin-on salmon. Ideally, the fillets should be between 1 and 1 ¼ inches thick.
How do you get such gorgeous, thick pieces of salmon? Ask your fish monger or seafood counter for a center-cut skin-on salmon fillet. (Alternatively, buy a whole side of salmon and cut it down yourself. Use the thicker pieces for this recipe and save the thinner pieces for a quick stint under the broiler some night).
Most wild-caught salmon fillets are not overly thick. So yes, farm-raised works best here. Look for USA-raised salmon fillets without added coloring and you’ll be guaranteed a quality piece of fish.
If you prefer wild-caught, you can absolutely still use that. But you’ll want to significantly decrease the cook time (as short as 2 minutes per side). Cook time definitely changes depending on the thickness of the salmon.
- Serve with fingerling potatoes and asparagus.
- Add chopped capers to the peas. Or sprinkle capers over the entire dish.
- Skip the peas and serve the lemon butter salmon with pasta (these browned butter garlic noodles are delish).
- Serve with sautéed broccoli instead of peas.
- Swap the salmon out for your favorite meaty white fish (cod, halibut, haddock).
- Swap the salmon for pan-seared scallops or shrimp. Lobster would also be delish.
Lemon Butter Salmon with Dill Peas
- 4 slices baguette or crusty bread
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- ½ recipe Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce
- 1 ½ pound center-cut skin-on salmon fillet
- Cracked black pepper
- 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill + more for serving*
- Sliced chives for serving
- Heat oven to broil with rack set 6 inches from element. Arranges slices of bread on baking sheet; brush tops with olive oil and season with salt. Toast under broiler until tops are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Prepare Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce according to recipe instructions. Keep warm over low heat; whisking occasionally.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil.
- Meanwhile, cut salmon fillet into four 6-ounce fillets. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked pepper in bottom of an unheated 12-inch nonstick skillet. Arrange salmon fillets, skin side down, in skillet. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon each kosher salt and cracked pepper over fillets.
- Heat skillet over medium-high and cook salmon fillets, without moving, until fat begins to render, skin starts to brown, and the bottom ¼-inch of salmon fillets begin to turn opaque, 6–7 minutes.
- Flip salmon fillets and continue to cook without moving until flesh side starts to brown, centers are still slightly translucent, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in centers registers 125ºF, 6–8 minutes more. Transfer salmon fillets to a plate, skin side down, and let rest 5 minutes.
- Season boiling water generously with salt, add peas and cook 3 minutes; drain and return to saucepan. Stir in 2 tablespoons Lemon Garlic Butter Sauce and fresh dill; season with salt, pepper and additional butter sauce to taste. Keep warm over low heat.
- Divide peas between serving plates and top each with a salmon fillet. Spoon butter sauce over salmon and sprinkle with chives and dill. Tear toasted bread into bite-sized pieces then sprinkle over salmon and peas.
- * For the best results, use thick salmon fillets, preferably center-cut. For a full tutorial on this salmon cooking method, check out this recipe. You can also use 4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, at least 1-inch thick
- Use kosher salt—not table salt. Table salt will make the salmon too salty and it’s small granules will not create a crust on the salmon.
- You can use 2 teaspoons dried dill in place of fresh dill in the peas.
- Gluten-Free: to make this recipe completely gluten-free, use sorghum flour instead of all-purpose flour in the butter sauce.
- The USDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145ºF (63ºC), however I find salmon is always overcooked when cooked to that temperature. I recommend removing it from heat when it reaches an internal temperature of 125ºF (52ºC).