Salmon with Lemon Cream Sauce

We used skin-on salmon for this recipe, but you can use skinless fillets if you want. The skin tastes great when it is fried and crispy (salmon bacon!).

When buying skin-on fish, make certain the fish has been scaled. Ask your fishmonger to do this at the store.

Make sure you use "heavy" whipping cream for the sauce or it will curdle.

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, fish stock, clam juice, white wine, or water
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp canola or rice bran oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
  • Parsley for garnish


1 Cook the lemon cream sauce: Pour the lemon juice, broth and cream into a small pot and bring to a simmer. Immediately lower the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. The last minute or two, uncover the pot and increase the heat to high to reduce the sauce a bit.

2 Prep the salmon: While the sauce is cooking, rinse the salmon in cold water and check for any stray scales (if skin-on). Use needle nose pliers to remove any pin bones. Pat the fish dry with paper towels.

3 Cook the salmon fillets: Add the oil to a sauté pan large enough to fit the fillets in one layer. Heat the pan on high and let the pan heat up for 90 seconds.

You can either lay the fillets in the pan skin-side down or skin-side up. If you lay the fillets down skin-side down, this will help crisp up the skin which is great to eat (try it, if you haven't, it tastes like salmon bacon!).

If you lay the fillets down skin-side up first, the fillets will be easier to turn over without falling apart, because the raw skin helps hold the fillet together. Your choice.

Lay the fillets in the hot pan and lower the heat to medium.

Let the fillets sizzle steadily for 3-5 minutes, depending on how thick the fish is. A 1-inch-thick fillet will take about 5 minutes.

With a metal spatula, gently turn the fillets over. Cook for another 1-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you like your fish.

We like our salmon a little rare in the center, so we cook the second side of a 1-inch fillet about 3 minutes.

4 Pour lemon cream sauce over the salmon: Place the salmon fillets on plates and pour lemon cream sauce over them and sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.

If you've crisped up the skin, serve the fillets skin-side up so they stay crispy. Otherwise serve the fillets skin-side down.

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  • Michael Pinto

    Am planning to barbecue salmon on a cedar plank this weekend – I will try this sauce and perhaps throw on a few capers…….

  • Darlene

    I followed the directions completely. The sauce never thickened up! Never, even after we finished dinner and it was cooled. Fail.

  • AJ

    This was great. for the sauce, I used wine and one swanson flavor boost packet
    and added a little garlic and onion powder. For the salmon, I followed roasted salmon sheet pan meal recipe.

  • Jeanette Schmidt

    I’m still trying to figure out why people water down the cream with broth only to have to thicken it back up with butter and flour. Hey, I have an idea! DON’T WATER DOWN YOUR CREAM! And if you want it thicker, use cheese. A little fat in your diet is good for you and adds lots of flavor! Less work, better food! Enjoy.

  • Elise Bauer

    Make sure you use heavy whipping cream or it will curdle. If it does curdle, you may be able to save it by puréeing it in a blender.

  • Dr. Banjo

    Ir curdled and was too thin. I stirred and stirred then added corn starch.

  • Ernie LePire

    I know this post is about aged, but wanted to pass along a method for lessening the smell when cooking fish in the house. Have a small pan of vinegar simmering on the back burner while cooking, leave it there until the pans are cleaned. It’s magic !

  • Liz

    I made it the first time and thought was a little bland. Tonight cooked some shallots in olive oil first then added fresh sage, lemon zest and used clam juice instead of broth. Was delicious!

  • Ahsan

    I tried this today, it turned out great! As a new cook I struggle with cooking times – your instructions were SPOT ON!

    I am looking forward to trying more of your recipes now.

  • Jamie Cortiaus

    My sauce curdle at first, but then I kept stirring and it came together. I was a little freaked out because I had 2 1/2 lbs of salmon cooked and had doubled this sauce recipe.
    EVERYONE love it.
    You always have such great recipes.

    • Mary Ellen

      I agree, the recipes on this site are almost always interesting and delicious. I’m so grateful that I happened to find them.

  • Jen

    Try adding a bit of dill to the sauce, it really adds more depth to an already delicious base.

    • Mary Ellen

      Great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?!

  • Sleeping Mom

    Our family really enjoyed this recipe! I like the cream and lemon flavor over salmon. Thank you for sharing!

  • Horst D Heller

    In preparation of any fish, I always rinse the fish under cold running water first, soak it with plenty of lemon juice and let it stand for 5 to 10 minutes depending on what fish I am using. Than salt it lightly and cook immediately. (A hint – never let any fish soak to long in lemon juice or any other asset containing liquid, it’ll loose firmness on the outside.).) I would not push the subject with the burned skin too much, It’ll be a matter of personal taste.

  • Alicia

    I should have also added that my 20 month old gobbled this up! She was about to lick the cream off the plate!!

  • Alicia

    Absolutely delicious and yet so simple. This will definitely be in my salmon rotation (when I am not making the panko crusted one!) Thanks for a great dinner!

  • Mary Morris

    Oooh, the rich cream infused with the tartness of the lemon poured over a crispy skinned salmon fillet sounds heavenly, served with white rice and fresh, young sauteed asparagus in season..A quick and perfect meal complimented with a good glass of wine – Mary

  • Chicbaker123

    Fried salmon skin is the best! Last week, my parents deskinned a large portion of salmon and fried up the strips of skin. Eat them side by side! Dip both in some tartar sauce, serve with rice and greens, and it’s one of the best meals.

  • Tracy

    Salmon bacon – what a great way to describe it!

    I agree – crispy skin salmon is awesome. I often don’t even bother if the salmon is in good nick and the skin nice and crispy.

    If I do a sauce, I usually just make a kinda-sorta buerre blanc using the fish juices, wine and butter.

    One of the other ways I like it is to use Szechuan pepper and salt on the skin, and serve with white rice and bok choi (Maybe add a splash of light soy over the fish on serving)

  • Cary

    One of my absolute favorite restaurant meals and the only way I ever end up making salmon is an amped up version of this! Dust the salmon in flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and rubbed sage before cooking. Saute minced shallots to start the lemon cream sauce, deglaze wine, add lemon, stock and cream, reduce. Add capers, diced tomato and ulienne basil at the end before tpping the salmon. Absolutely perfect.
    Thanks for the reminder to buy some salmon soon!

  • Paul

    Sauciers from the past are spinning in thier graves. This looks quite good and while the sauce works, I believe it could be improved with a couple simple steps. Put the stock in the pan as you outline in your recipe, do not cover and reduce, while the salmon is cooking. Remove the salmon from the pan when done and dump any residual oil (at this point I would add some shallots and saute, a minute or two but that is optional). Pour lemon juice into pan, then the stock and heavy cream. Reduce until the desired consistance but not to the point that the cream starts to separate, and serve. If the cream separates a bit add just a tablespoon more cream and swirl and it will come back together.