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Easy Lemon Butter Fish in 20 Minutes

This Easy Lemon Butter Fish only takes 20 minutes and a handful of simple ingredients. It’s a delicious and nutritious fish recipe using firm white fish fillets. Pair with rice and vegetables for a healthy weeknight dinner.

Lemon Butter Fish on white plate with fork
This easy fish recipe calls for firm white fish fillets in a simple lemon butter sauce.

Easy Lemon Butter Fish Recipe

A dish like Lemon Butter Fish may be more frequently ordered at restaurants rather than made at home, as it’s not what people tend to think of as Tuesday night fare. But an easy fish recipe can be, and absolutely is a fabulous weeknight dinner. This easy fish recipe with lemon butter sauce goes from stovetop to table top in just 20 minutes, just like our Seared Halibut, Fish with Fruit Salsa, and Perfect Barramundi.

What You’ll Love about This Simple, Healthy Fish Recipe

  • It’s much healthier than most busy weeknight dinners. You’ll feel fantastic about feeding your family an easy cod recipe instead of pizza (though there’s definitely a time and place for good pizza).
  • This is one fish recipe that’s unbelievably quick, coming together in just 20 minutes.
  • You’ll have a delicious fish dinner on the table using simple pantry ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your kitchen.
  • You can use a number of firm white fish, including cod, halibut, mahi mahi, bass, or snapper.
  • There’s zero frying involved. Your family will be amazed at your ability to make the best fish recipe without any greasy breading.
Fish in Lemon Butter Sauce in a plate with lemon slices
Your family will love this healthy fish recipe, with BIG flavor and no messy frying involved.

What Fish is Easiest to Cook?

This lemon butter fish recipe is fabulous with any tender, flaky, mild flavored white fish. Any firm white fish such as cod, halibut, snapper, or mahi mahi would work beautifully.

You’ll want four generous pieces of firm white fish fillets that are about 6 inches in length and 1 inch thick. Definitely look for that 1-inch thickness, as thinner fish fillets won’t cook up as nicely and tend to fall apart easily. Also look for fish fillets with the same thickness throughout, so your fish cooks evenly.

Watch This Recipe in Action

15-Minute Lemon Butter Fish ⭐️

How to Make Fish With Lemon Butter Sauce

Simple Equipment:

Basic Pantry Ingredients:

  • Melted butter (I use salted, but unsalted is fine) – real butter makes a huge difference in flavor, so skip the butter substitutes.
  • Juice and zest of lemon — avoid bottled lemon juice. If your lemon is on the larger size, use less of it.
  • Kosher salt, plus extra to taste – Here’s why we always, always use kosher salt in our cooking.
  • Paprika, for a bit of smoky flavor and natural color
  • Garlic powder; it serves as your weeknight time-saving aromatic. Note that while freshly minced garlic is fantastic for marinades, it can burn easily in the skillet.
  • Onion powder, for the same reasons as above. 
  • Freshly ground black pepper – we always use fresh peppercorns, with whole black tellicherry as our favorite. Use a pepper grinder to grind your black pepper fresh. It makes a huge flavor difference. 
  • Olive oil; we use olive oil for most of our cooking, which is healthier and works really well with most recipes. We even use it in chocolate cake — ridiculously moist, with no trace of olive flavor.  
  • Freshly chopped basil or parsley leaves, for garnish and flavor
  • Lemon slices for serving – fish always looks prettier with freshly sliced lemon slivers on top.
lemon butter fish fillets on white plate
Serve pan fried fish with your choice of grains and vegetables, for a fast and healthy meal.

Easy Lemon Butter Fish Recipe
Commonly Asked Questions

Is this fish recipe healthy?

Firm white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, and snapper are full of lean protein and a great source of omega-3’s and minerals. You can serve the lemon butter sauce on the side, to keep it super low in fat.

What is the healthiest fish to eat?

Tuna and salmon rank high on the list of healthiest fish to eat, but fish like cod and halibut are packed with nutrients as well.

What is the best tasting fish for this recipe?

Almost any firm white fish fillets that are 1-inch thick will taste fabulous using the cooking method below. Cod has a very mild flavor with flaky texture.
Halibut has a mildly sweet flavor and is a bit more robust in texture, which works wonderfully for this recipe. Sea Bass also has a very mild, delicate flavor, with a matching texture.

How long should I cook fish fillets?

Actual cook time will vary, depending on starting temperature of the fish fillets themselves and thickness of the fish. We recommend starting with 2 minutes per side, to avoid over-cooking, as you never want to over-cook fish.

More to Cook and Eat


Did you make this?

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easy fish recipes

Easy Lemon Butter Fish in 20 Minutes

4.71 from 171 ratings
This Easy Lemon Butter Fish only takes 20 minutes and a handful of ingredients. It's a delicious and nutritious weeknight meal the entire family will devour (even non-fish eaters!)
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes
Servings: 4
Author: Amy Dong

Ingredients  

  • 4 firm white fish fillets, about 6 inches long, 1-inch thickness throughout (cod, halibut, or mahi mahi are great )
  • 3 TB melted butter
  • Juice and zest from 1 medium lemon
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 TB olive oil
  • freshly chopped basil or parsley leaves, for garnish and flavor
  • extra lemon slices for serving

Instructions

  • Use paper towels to thoroughly pat-dry excess moisture from fish fillets. This step is crucial for fish to brown nicely in pan – otherwise, it will steam instead of brown. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, combine melted butter, lemon juice and zest, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Stir to combine well. Taste and add a bit more kosher salt, if desired.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 tsp kosher salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Evenly press spice mixture onto all sides of fish fillets.
  • In a large, heavy pan over medium high heat, heat up the olive oil until hot. Once your oil is sizzling,  Cook 2 fish fillets at a time to avoid overcrowding (allows for even browning). Cook each side just until fish becomes opaque, feels somewhat firm in the center, and is browned, about 2-3 minutes per side; lightly drizzle some of the lemon butter sauce as you cook, reserving the rest for serving. Take care not to over-cook, as that will result in a tougher texture. Season with extra kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Serve fish with with remaining lemon butter sauce, basil or parsley, and lemon wedges.

Notes

*Be sure to use coarse kosher salt, not fine table salt. Learn more about kosher salt!
*Actual cook time varies, depending on type, cut, and starting temp of fish. I typically cook 2-3 minutes per side for cold fish fillets that are 1-inch in thickness.
*Check for doneness by lightly pressing fillet centers for firmness. Once it feels somewhat firm, it’s usually done. The key to tender, flaky fish is to not overcook. 
*A large splatter guard helps a ton against random oil splattering during cooking.
*Serve with Perfect Instant Pot Brown Rice or Best Easy Roasted Vegetables Recipe for a healthy meal that happens to be gluten-free.
If you enjoyed this recipe, please come back and give it a rating ♡

Nutrition (per serving)

Calories: 302kcal | Carbohydrates: 9.9g | Protein: 25.7g | Fat: 19.8g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 88.1mg | Sodium: 158.1mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 3.2g
Course: Dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Vegetarian
Method: Skillet

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Recipe Rating




133 comments

    • phx cooks
    • 5 stars

    That’s so great!!! Your share is very awesome. I really love cooking. I hope you will share more recipe like these. Thank you for sharing.

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you enjoyed this, thank you!

    • James
    • 5 stars

    Tried this recipe and it was great! Now I’m wondering if this could be used with different kinds of fish. I guess most would only vary with the cooking time. I actually got it done a bit more than 15 minutes because I added my own twists with it haha.

      • chewoutloud

      James, you can definitely use another firm, white fish fillet. Adjust cook time according to thickness, yes! And cooking is all about personal twists 🙂

    • Francesca
    • 5 stars

    I don’t really like cooking but this was really easy to make and husband said it was the best fish he’s ever tried! Thank you for sharing!

    • Ellen Jacobs

    My motto is usually, ‘if it has to be cooked, it doesn’t get bought’. None-the-less, hubby bought some frozen nice thick cod fillets and has been working long hours, so I sucked it up and did a search. Decided to try this based on reviews and ease. It was EASY and DELISh. I will say, that because I don’t cook, I sort of didn’t calc that I needed 2 lemons not really one: so without one to slice, re reading the notes and understanding the topping with lemon was to help keep moisture, I sliced a zucchini and scatter them around the fish with a couple on top.. When I turned, I switched the ones surrounding the fish with the top ones… I am certain it would be wonderful as written but this small necessary modification since I didn’t have another lemon was wonderful.
    I just hope he doesn’t think this is a new me.

      • chewoutloud

      So happy you guys enjoyed this, Ellen! 🙂 🙂

    • Zapoteca
    • 5 stars

    Easy Lemon Butter Fish recipe is great! I made it according to your recipe and the taste is great! Everyone in the family likes it, it makes me happy. thank you

      • chewoutloud

      So glad your family loved this!

    • Joycelyn

    Hi Amy
    Am eager to try your recipe so am wondering if you could let me know what brand fry pan you used in your video to cook the fish as it’s different than the fry pan on the amazon link you provided. Of the two, I would prefer to find and purchase the brand in the video you used over the Cuisinart, as I’m not much of a fan of Cuisinart.

      • chewoutloud

      It looks like Stone Earth is the pan featured in the video, which we do like to use for various nonstick recipes. That said, your best browning (or searing) will come from either a well-oiled cast iron skillet or heavy stainless steel like All Clad (if you don’t like Cuisinart.)

    • Janice Miersma
    • 5 stars

    This was excellent. I used walleye fillets. Thank you.

      • chewoutloud

      So happy you enjoyed this dish, Janice! 🙂

    • Thomas James
    • 5 stars

    Look yummy! One of my favorite Lemon Butter Fish, nice to see your recipe, easy to follow, will cook this for family this weekend.Thanks you!

    • Ana
    • 5 stars

    This is the most successful salmon recipe I have ever done. Husband can’t stop talking about it! thank you

      • chewoutloud

      Awesome, Ana!! So very happy to hear you guys loved this dish 🙂

    • Jami

    This can’t be the correct nutritional information. White fish is much higher in protein. Perhaps 17 grams??

    • Thea
    • 5 stars

    This simple and quick recipe gives fabulous results! Cooked this for New Year’s Eve dinner and all the guests felt like they ate in a 5 star restaurant. Delicious!

      • chewoutloud

      Fantastic, Thea! So glad everyone loved this fish dish! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Liz
    • 5 stars

    Loved it. Struggle to cook fish but this was super easy & great amount of flavour.

      • chewoutloud

      So happy this recipe works well for you! 🙂

    • Allie
    • 5 stars

    This was my first attempt at cooking fish. While searching for something easy yet delicious I came across this recipe to make for a date night. It did not disappoint – was delicious and easy!!! I used tilapia since it was fresh and available and served alongside with roasted asparagus and red potatoes. I think next go round I will add in some more garlic since the garlic powder seemed a little mild.

      • chewoutloud

      So happy you enjoyed this so much, Allie! Thanks for letting us know 🙂 🙂

    • Ashley
    • 5 stars

    Fast, easy recipe – makes cooking fish less intimidating! I used Alaskan cod and it was a great, light meal.

      • chewoutloud

      So so happy you guys enjoyed this dish, Ashley! 🙂 Happy continued cooking!

    • Andrea
    • 5 stars

    I made this lemon butter fish dish the other night with cod. It was delicious. Flavorful, moist, and tender. My teenage boys ate it and asked for more! I only did 2 filets instead of 4, and that caused a little too much oil in the pan, which caused (I think) the filets to crumble instead of stay firm and in one piece like the picture. But it was delicious anyway! Thanks!

      • chewoutloud

      So so happy you liked this dish (and your teens, too!)… thank you for coming over to let us know. Happy continued cooking!

    • Brittaney
    • 5 stars

    This was amazing! I’m always afraid of messing up white fish, or having it turn out bland and boring. This recipe was fantastic, easy, and the whole family devoured the fish (I used Pickerel….fantastic). There were hardly any leftovers! I’ll definitely be using this recipe again, thank so much!

      • chewoutloud

      Yippee!!! So so happy you guys loved this dish, Brittaney! 🙂 And thanks for coming back to let us know. Happy continued cooking!

    • Dj
    • 5 stars

    I am a horrible cook, but I found this to be easy and delicious. I will definitely be adding it to the few dishes that I have actually successfully accomplished. LOL. I’ll have to look through your site and find more!!!

      • chewoutloud

      So happy to hear that, Dj! 🙂 It truly makes my day. We have tons of easy/quick/delicious dinner recipes here, so hope you find more to add to your rotation 🙂

    • Scott
    • 5 stars

    Printed this one out because I use it all the time.

      • chewoutloud

      That’s awesome, Scott! So happy this recipe is a regular 🙂

    • Williams
    • 5 stars

    I love to cook and I’m always looking for new recipes for my menu, which makes me always interested in my work. Today’s my lucky day, Lemon Butter Fish is great, just follow the instructions and everything is easy, I like it. Thanks for your sharing

      • chewoutloud

      So glad you liked the dish!

    • steak grills

    Oh just 15 minutes for great dish, amazing. I will try it soon. Thanks for sharing.

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