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This lemon butter fish cooked in an herby lemon butter sauce tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant but is incredibly easy to make and only takes 15 minutes from start to finish.
If you’re looking for a quick dinner that’s sure to impress, serve this lemon butter fish alongside caramelized braised leeks, potato asparagus salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette, or sauteed broccolini.
The secret to making this taste like restaurant quality is the browned butter or Beurre noisette in French. All it means is gently cooking butter on the stove until it’s golden brown in color with an amazing nutty aroma.
- White fish – such as cod, halibut, snapper, etc. Aim for fillets that are around 1-inch thick, otherwise, you’ll risk overcooking them.
- Olive oil – for searing the fish.
- Kosher salt and pepper – this is really the only seasoning so be more liberal with it.
- All-purpose flour (regular or gluten-free) – helps the fish develop a nice crust.
- Butter – dairy-free or regular unsalted – for making the brown butter
- Garlic – gets infused into the butter for flavor but isn’t actually eaten.
- Fresh thyme – adds a nice earthy element to the sauce.
- Fresh lemon juice – a hit of acidity and brightness to round out the sauce.
How to Make Lemon Butter Fish
This dish comes together really quickly, so it’s helpful to have everything prepped and next to the stove ready to go.
Make the sauce by browning the butter and then adding the garlic cloves and fresh thyme sprigs followed by the lemon juice.
Season the fish, but first, pat them dry with a paper towel, and then season generously with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and flour.
Pan-sear the fish in the olive oil for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
Pour the sauce over the fillet(s) just before serving and garnish with fresh herbs and lemon.
Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations
Please remember that recipes are just a starting point.
How can you make this lemon butter fish using what you already have? Here are some ideas…
- No thyme? – use another woody hard stemmed herb such as rosemary, oregano, or sage.
- No garlic? – just leave it out.
- Variations – use other spices along with salt and pepper to season the fish such as blends like za’atar or Italian, or individual spices like smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and so on.
More Easy Recipes
Lemon Butter Fish
- 1 pound white fish, about 1-inch thickness such as cod, halibut, snapper, etc.,
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour regular or gluten-free
- fresh lemon slices, for garnish
Lemon Butter Sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter dairy-free or regular unsalted
- 2 garlic cloves, skin removed and lightly smashed
- fresh thyme sprigs
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter, smashed garlic cloves, and thyme sprigs. Cook while continuously stirring for about 3 minutes or until the butter starts to turn golden brown and smells nutty. Remove from the stove.
- Pour into a small bowl, discard the thyme sprigs and garlic, and add the lemon juice, kosher salt, and pepper, to taste. Add more lemon juice if desired. Set aside.
- Pat your fillet(s) dry with a paper towel and season both sides with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle on the flour and use your hands to lightly spread it over each side.
- Put the skillet back on the stove over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the fish and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. If your fish is thinner than 1-inch, cook it for less time. It's done cooking when it's opaque and feels somewhat firm to the touch.
- Pour the lemon butter sauce over before serving. Garnish with fresh thyme and lemon if desired.