In the world of easy dinner recipes, this herby mayo salmon dish reigns supreme. Crispy pan-seared salmon, brushed with a mixture of mayonnaise, fresh herbs and lemon, served hot and crispy and garnished with more herb mayo. It's a weeknight dinner warrior when you need a meal full of your favorite flavors and you have zero extra minutes to spare.
I'll make this short and sweet. If you're looking for a quick but flavorful main dish that's great for meal prep and weeknight cooking, but delicious enough for company...you've found it!
You're going to love this recipe because it's perfect and simple as it is written, but it gives you countless options for creating new flavors using the same concept. Using the mayo spread, just add a couple of complimentary flavors that you love. Maybe smoked paprika and lemon juice for a Spanish twist. Or garlic and basil if you're in the mood for Italian.
The mayonnaise acts as a glue to stick the flavorful ingredients to the fish, and it pulls double duty by keeping the salmon ultra moist.
Save this one to your mental recipe box, team! You'll be coming back to it over and over.
Ingredients for Seared Salmon with Mayonnaise Recipe:
Salmon: fresh salmon is a great option, but if you have frozen fillets, they work, too! Just thaw in the refrigerator overnight and dry well to remove excess water. Good substitutes for Atlantic salmon are sockeye salmon, steelhead trout or arctic char.
Mayo: I use full fat mayo in this recipe, but light mayonnaise should work, as well.
Herbs: fresh dill, parsley and fresh chives are a great mix, but use any combination of soft herbs you love. Basil, tarragon and Italian parsley are all great options.
Lemon: we use fresh lemon juice in the mayo mixture and garnish the salmon with lemon slices or wedges. You can use limes, if that's what you have!
Capers: capers add a lovely brininess to our herby mayo, essentially turning the sauce into a tartar sauce or remoulade. Chopped dill pickles or your favorite pickly veggie would also work.
Salt & pepper: because of course fish needs to be seasoned!
Full instructions, measurements and ingredients included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for this easy weeknight meal:
To begin, make the herby mayonnaise, which will serve as our cooking fat and flavor, as well as our sauce. Combine mayonnaise, dill, parsley, dijon, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper in a bowl. Stir well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Remove a little more than half of the herby mayo to a separate small bowl for serving with the finished fish. Add 1 tablespoon of diced capers to that mayonnaise mixture. Set aside.
Next, dry salmon fillets well. Season with remaining teaspoon of salt. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the flesh side of the fish with the herby mayo (the one without capers).
Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Place salmon in the pan (if serving salmon skin side up, start with the skin down in the pan. If serving skin side down, start with skin side up in the pan). When you place fish in the skillet, use your pastry brush to coat the face up side of the salmon with a thin coat of the herby mayo mixture.
Cook salmon for 4-5 minutes on each side, for a total of 8-10 minutes. Flip salmon gently and let the skin side sear.
Garnish with lemon slices and fresh herbs. Serve with herb mayo sauce with capers.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for the Best Salmon with Mayo:
It's not necessary to remove the skin before cooking salmon, as it can help hold the fillet together and adds extra flavor. However, if you prefer skinless salmon, you can ask your fishmonger to remove the skin or carefully remove it at home.
Yes, seasoning the salmon before searing is important to build flavor. For this recipe, I recommend seasoning the fish with salt and also using the flavorful mayo to brush over the fish.
Cooking time depends on the thickness of the salmon fillets. As a general rule, cook salmon for about 4-5 minutes per side over medium-high heat. If the fillet is thicker, you may need to cook it for a bit longer.
Salmon is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F and easily flakes with a fork. The flesh will be opaque and moist, but not raw. For medium salmon, cook for about 3 ½ minutes per side until an instant-read thermometer registers between 125℉ and 130℉.