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Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce (Salmon Meuniere)

5 from 2 votes

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If you’re looking to kick your salmon game up a notch, you need to try this salmon meuniere! It’s a simple, pan-cooked salmon recipe with a bright, vibrant lemon-caper sauce that will make you feel like you’re eating at the best restaurant in town.

Overhead image of salmon with lemon caper sauce plated with quinoa and lemons on a white plate.

What you’ll love about this recipe: 


  • It uses just six simple ingredients. All you need are salmon fillets plus five common ingredients that pair beautifully to make a rich butter sauce.
  • Fast, 15-minute recipe. What more can you ask for?

Salmon Meuniere that would make Julia Child proud

If you’ve ever read about Julia Child, you’re probably familiar with sole meuniere, the recipe that made her fall in love with classic French cooking.

Julia had good taste, so it’s no surprise that this recipe is indeed delicious.

It’s also a little delicate and stuffy for my liking.

I definitely prefer this salmon meuniere, which features the same butter, lemon, and caper sauce over succulent salmon fillets with perfectly crisp skin.

A lot of people think cooking seafood is hard, but once you know how to cook salmon in a pan it’s actually really easy and perfect for weeknights. This easy salmon recipe can be whipped up in just a few minutes with almost no advance planning.

Serve it with a side of rice, quinoa, or mashed potatoes and your favorite green vegetable for a simple but delightful weeknight dinner.

Ingredients needed to make salmon in butter and lemon sauce.

What is meuniere?

Meuniere is a French method of cooking that involves dredging seafood in a light dusting of flour before sauteeing it in a hot pan and finishing it off with a rich browned butter sauce made with capers, and fresh herbs. The word “meuniere” literally means “miller’s wife” because of the use of milled flour.

Traditionally, this preparation is used for sole or trout, but it’s also a delicious way to prepare salmon fillets.

Ingredients you’ll need:

Salmon Fillets. Pick up two skin-on salmon fillets about 1-inch thick. For the best results, look for fillets that are roughly the same thickness throughout. The more your salmon tapers at one end, the more unevenly it will cook.

Butter. I always cook with unsalted butter, then add my own salt to taste.

Fresh Dill. Fresh dill adds a beautiful fresh flavor to the fatty fish and rich sauce. Traditional meuniere also uses fresh parsley. Feels free to use one or the other, or a combination of the two!

Capers. Capers are a small, olive-like berry with a salty, tangy flavor that adds a bright acidity to the sauce meunière.

Lemon. Fresh lemon juice is another ingredient that adds brightness to this recipe and cuts through all of the rich butter sauce. I like serving the salmon with a few thin slices of lemon for good measure!

Flour. Dusting the salmon skin in flour before pan frying it helps it come our so crispy and delicious!

Cooking salmon fillets in a pan.

How to pan fry salmon

  1. Dust the skin-side of the salmon with flour, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the salmon skin-side down in a skillet over medium heat, until the skin is crisp.
  3. Flip the salmon over, reduce the heat, and add the butter and capers. The butter will sizzle up and brown as it melts. Keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t burn!
  4. Stir in the fresh herbs just before serving.

Busy Foodie Tips and Tricks:

  • Don’t overcook the salmon! Salmon can be dry fishy if it’s cooked too much, but it’s cooked medium it’s juicy and tender. Use a meat thermometer and take your salmon off the heat when it reaches an internal temp of 125ºF.
  • Using skin-on salmon fillets also helps insulate the fish from the heat, preventing overcooking. The salmon is ready to flip when you can easily slide a spatula or fish turner underneath it. You can eat the skin or remove it before serving.
  • For the crispiest skin, be sure to pat it dry with a paper towel before dusting with flour.

Two portions of salmon meuniere on a white serving board with a bowl of quinoa in the background.

Frequently asked questions

How do I store leftovers?

Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Can I freeze it?

Yes! This recipe is so fast and easy to make, but it also does freeze well if you’re into meal prep. Freeze the salmon in the sauce for up to 3 months. Let the salmon thaw in the refrigerator before you reheat it. Reheat the salmon in a covered skillet over medium heat until just warmed through.

How do you know when salmon is done?

Using a meat thermometer is the most accurate way of knowing your fish is cooked properly.

For medium salmon, cook to an internal temp of 125ºF. For rare salmon, take it off the heat at 120ºF and for medium-well, cook it to 135ºF.

Remember that the temperature will continue to rise by a few degrees after you take the salmon off the stove.

Salmon is also done when it flakes easily with a fork, and you can get a pretty good visual indicated by looking it the side of the fillet straight-on.

Whats the difference between meuniere and piccata?

Meuniere and Piccata are really similar and use many of the same ingredients. The difference is mainly in the cooking method: meuniere uses browned butter, while piccata is made with a white wine or chicken stock base and has the butter stirred in at the end so it doesn’t brown.

Piccata comes from the Italian word for “to be pounded flat” and it’s often used as a way to prepare chicken or veal. Piccata recipes are also typically fried in a light batter, as opposed to meuniere recipes that are simply dredged in flour.

Other easy dinner recipes you might like:

Salmon meuniere on a white plate.
Salmon meuniere on a white plate.

Salmon with Lemon Caper Sauce

Salmon meunière is a tasty twist on a classic French recipe. We love it because it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, and it’s packed full of flavor. The lemon juice and capers give the sauce a delightfully tangy flavor that cuts through the richness of the fatty salmon.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Servings 2 people
Calories 359 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 salmon fillets about 1-inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tablespoon capers drained

Instructions
 

  • Use a paper towel to pat the salmon dry. salmon dry.  Season both sides with salt and pepper, then dust the salmon skin with flour.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the fish, skin-side down.
  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the salmon releases from the pan easily when you slide a spatula underneath it.
  • Flip the salmon over and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 125ºF or is done to your liking. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Flip the salmon skin-side down and add the butter to the pan; it will immediately begin to sizzle and brown. When the butter is melted, stir in the lemon juice, capers, and dill.
  • Serve hot.

Notes

Be sure the read the full blog post for tips, tricks, and ingredient substitutions. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 359kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 34gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 187mgPotassium: 842mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.2gVitamin A: 250IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 2mg
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By on November 17th, 2022
lauren

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I love to cook -- but even more importantly, I really like to eat! I have a demanding day job that keeps me busy, so time is precious. I'm a culinary school graduate and five-time cookbook author who's all about finding ways to make delicious, restaurant-quality meals at home on a tight schedule. Read more...

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