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Pan-Seared Steelhead Trout

Pan-Seared Steelhead Trout with Lemon Thyme Butter Sauce

Unlike rainbow trout, steelhead trout looks just like salmon. Today we’re cooking these beauties on a skillet to get that addicting crispy skin. Topped with silky smooth, tangy lemon thyme butter, this dinner in minutes is simply irresistible!


For trout:

  • 1lb skin-on steelhead trout, cut into 4 fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3-4 small sprigs of thyme
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 tablespoon pieces

For serving:


  1. To cook trout, pat dry fillets thoroughly with paper towel. Salt and pepper on all sides.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  3. Once the oil is sizzling, add the fillets skin-side down. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Then flip each fillet and continue to cook until cooked through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove onto a clean plate skin-side up and loosely cover with a foil, while prepare the sauce. (Don’t cover the fillets tightly, or the crispy skin will get soggy.)
  6. To make the sauce, add lemon juice, thyme and salt in a medium skillet.
  7. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and cook until it until reduced in half.
  8. Remove thyme sprigs, reduce the heat to low and add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Swirl the pan to slowly melt the butter before adding the remaining butter. (Note: The trick is to slowly melt the butter to get the silky sauce, instead of melted butter. You can pick up the skillet, hovering it over the heat and swirling it to melt the butter.)
  9. Serve the trout with side of rice, or vegetables of your choice, and lemon butter sauce on the side.If you tried this recipe, I’d love to read your feedback. Please leave your comment and rating below, or share on Instagram with #busycooks and tag us @busy_cooks. Thank you!!

Nutrition Information

Yield: 4 servings, Serving Size: 1 serving

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 289 Calories
  • Total Fat: 20.8g
  • Cholesterol: 79.1mg
  • Sodium: 964.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.8g
  • Sugar: 0.3g
  • Protein: 19g
Disclaimer: Nutritional information is estimate only. Read full disclosure here.
All images and text © for Busy Cooks
Scroll down to read more tips and story behind the recipe


Rainbow trout and steelhead trout are the same species of fish but they live completely different lives! Rainbow trout is a fish that spends its whole life in freshwater. Steelhead trout, on the other hand, spends time in both freshwater and seawater. These two lifestyles make a massive difference when it comes to the taste of these fish. 

Steelhead trout are very similar to salmon. They’re similar by both having a not overly fishy taste as well as very similar color and texture. They’re so similar that you could be forgiven for mistaking them for each other on the shelf! I certainly have done that myself!

Just like salmon, steelhead trout is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids, has high amounts of protein per serving and is low in fat. Trout is generally more affordable than buying salmon so that is an advantage of this lean protein source. 

Also, steelhead trout and salmon are so similar that they lend each other well to recipes meant for either fish. Both works well with lemon juice, melted butter or a delicious garlic lemon butter and fresh parsley.

This recipe for steelhead trout is so quick and easy, it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner! Pan-fry the trout, whip up a sauce and serve with some vegetables. Done and dusted! A delicious, melt-in-your-mouth dinner the whole family can enjoy. 

The steelhead trout fillets only take 10 minutes to cook fully. And to make dinner easier, you can prepare a simple side dish before making the trout (rice is a great option!). If you time everything right, you can have dinner ready in less than half an hour!


Today we’re cooking these beauties in a large skillet to get that addicting crispy skin.

Here’re some tips and tricks to help you get perfectly cooked steelhead trout fillets every time: 

  • Before cooking the fillets, pat the skin dry with paper towel. This removes any excess moisture from the skin before frying. Keeping the skin dry will make it that extra bit crispy! Season with a bit of salt and pepper and you are ready to fry. 
  • Oil should be super hot when adding the trout fillets skin side down. The heat should be turned down to medium heat. This keeps the skin crispy and while cooking the meat will stay juicy and moist. 
  • Once the fillets have been cooked, remove them from the skillet and cover them loosely with foil while preparing the sauce. Be careful not to cover them too tightly! Covering the cooked trout fillets too tightly will trap warm, moist air inside the foil. That crispy skin will go soggy fast! 

Following this method ensures perfectly cooked steelhead trout with crispy skin in minutes. They’re full of flavor with delicious tender meat and crispy skin every time.


“What do I serve my trout fillets with?” I hear you ask? Well, there’re so many options for side dishes for this recipe! 

Saffron rice, or plain white rice, roast vegetables or a side salad are all great side dish options. Keep your side dishes simple and allow the amazing flavor of the steelhead trout to blow everyone away. 

Need to make the weeknight dinner a bit more special? Then add this tangy, smooth lemon thyme butter sauce, which will transform this simple meal into an elegant dinner worth serving for a special occasion!

It’s rare that fish is served without a sauce or condiment of some kind and for good reason! A good sauce takes a fish from good to fantastic in one step.

Pan-seared steelhead trout with irresistibly crispy skin is an unbelievably quick and easy dinner for the whole family. #seafoodrecipe #troutrecipe #familydinner #busycooks

Hi, I’m Shinee

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15 comments on “Pan-Seared Steelhead Trout”

  1. Delicious. Such a nice subtle sauce that enhances the taste of the trout. Will make this again. And make the sauce for the next salmon we cook. Crispy skin delish.

  2. Great recipe for this fish. Skin perfectly crispy and sauce a perfect accompaniment. Directions insured the sauce was just right for the creamy texture.

    Rating: 5
  3. Used this recipe and it was so good, I used it again. No need to keep looking for other recipes!

    Rating: 5
  4. This was fabulous! I served it with mashed cauliflower rather than the rice. Lemon/ butter sauce was a nice complement. Can’t wait to make it again! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  5. Delicious! Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  6. Im a 55 yr old women and have never liked fish or seafood. Made this recipe for my husband and not only did he love it but to my surprise I loved it too. Made multiple times.

    Rating: 5
  7. Your recipe is quick and easy and worked great for me. Thanks so much!

    Rating: 5
  8. I thought I was buying salmon, but I bought steelhead trout instead. Oops! I found this recipe and it seemed simple enough for my first time. My husband and I both enjoyed it! We only used half the butter in our sauce, though, simply for preference. 

    Rating: 5
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