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Crispy pan seared salmon filets in a parmesan cream sauce with couscous on the side.
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4.91 from 22 votes

Crispy Pan Seared Salmon with Lemon Parmesan Sauce

Crispy pan seared salmon with lemon parmesan cream sauce is the perfect weeknight meal! Pair with Israeli couscous and sautéed zucchini. Perfect weeknight meal that comes together quickly, yet fancy enough to serve to company!
Prep15 mins
Cook25 mins
Total40 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: coconut milk pan sauce, couscous, crispy salmon, crispy salmon skin, healthy dinner, how to pan sear salmon, lemon parmesan cream sauce, parmesan cream sauce, weeknight salmon
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 583kcal
Author: Ari Laing


For salmon:

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets about 1 lb 
  • 1 tsp kosher salt 
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed or extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large shallots minced 
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 
  • 1 cup coconut milk full fat or light OR 1 cup heavy cream 
  • cup mascarpone cheese room temperature 
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese grated 
  • 2 lemons halved and grilled (grilling optional, but highly recommended!)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh chives chopped, plus more for serving 
  • 3 Tbsp fresh dill chopped, plus more for serving 

Optional, for serving: 

  • 2 medium zucchini cut into ¼” pieces 
  • 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided 
  • ½ tsp kosher salt 
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous 
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts toasted 
  • ½ - 1 cup arugula or other micro greens 
  • Crusty baguette 


  • Dry salmon before cooking. Place salmon filets on a paper-towel lined plate to dry. Let sit 5-10 minutes, then turn over and dry an additional 5-10 minutes. Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper.  
  • Cook the zucchini. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place zucchini on a rimmed baking sheet, then drizzle with 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  
  • Make the couscous. Place 1 ¼ cups water in a sauce pan then bring to a boil. Add couscous, turn heat to a simmer, then cover and set aside until all water has absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork, drizzle in remaining 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, roasted zucchini, and pine nuts. Gently toss to combine.
  • Cook the salmon. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add salmon skin side down. Cook until skin is crisp and salmon easily pulls away from the pan, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook other side until salmon registers between 110 and 120 F for medium rare, about 3 minutes more. Cook longer as desired, but remember the fish will continue to cook a little after you remove it from the pan. 
  • Make the sauce. Remove salmon from pan and set aside. Meanwhile, to the same pan add shallots and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, then cook 30 seconds more. Pour in coconut milk or heavy cream and mascarpone cheese, then stir until cheese has completely melted. Add parmesan, juice from 1-2 lemons (start with 2-3 Tbsp, then add more if you love lemon OR just place lemon halves into sauce!), and fresh herbs, then whisk to combine. Taste sauce and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove from the heat, then either return salmon to the pan or serve on the side with sauce spooned on top.
  • Serve immediately with couscous, arugula, and crusty bread. 



Salmon: skin will stay crispier on salmon if not placed back into the sauce.
Nutrition facts include salmon and pan sauce only.


Serving: 1filet and ¼ of sauce | Calories: 583kcal | Carbohydrates: 10.5g | Protein: 48.6g | Fat: 39.6g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 831mg | Fiber: 2.7g | Sugar: 2.9g
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