Best Pans for Cooking Fish

Best pans for cooking fish, fish cooking tips and recipes. Recommendations for the pan to use to cook you fish at home, which pan to choose and why. Buyers guide and cleaning tips.

best pans for cooking fish

Best Pans for Cooking Fish | If you stumbled upon this post, you are likely wanting the answer to the simple question: What pan from my cabinet should I use to cook fish at home? Well to keep it simple and concise, you should use your best sealed pan that you have available. This may not be a term that you are familiar with, so allow us to better describe below. In addition, you are going to need a pan that can easily contain all the fish you are looking to cook at one time with still leaving an inch between each filet of fish, so here we will explain which pan is best for your upcoming meal. Cooking fish in a pan can be very technical; not to worry, here we will give you all the tool necessary to properly serve well cooked fish at home.

how to choose your best “sealed” pan

Chef swears by using cast iron for everything. However, if you are new to cooking with cast iron, chances are you are not familiar with the importance of maintain your pan through “seasoning.” Two details to think about, cast iron always retain flavor, it’s the allure! And cast iron retains their heat far greater than that of a stainless-steel pan. You can get the pan up to temperature then drop the heat down so that the pan does not burn the fish while its searing, instead it is crusting the fish. If you are cooking a fish with skin here are the best quick tips to make sure you look like a professional:

tips to cooking the perfect fish on a pan:

  • The skin must be dry. Use a paper towel to pat the filet down to remove the moisture from the skin and the flesh. The skin side will be your presentation side as this will be the prettiest. (scallops – previously frozen, thawed and the fresh, they release water, biggest thing to do before cooking any to dry it. ALL FISH. Wrap in a tea towel before you sear it. Salmon and trout release a protective mucus.
  • Only use enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. You are not trying to submerge the fish in oil, remember in a pan you are to sear, not fry.
  • When searing skin down you will cook your fish 80% – 85% of the way on the skin side. SO it renders crispy. The reason some do not like to eat fish skin is because it is flabby, soft, and chewy. But when you render the skin it will be delicious.
  • Season both sides of the fish with salt, the flesh side  should be seasoned with pepper as well.
  • If your fish does not have skin on, then you will want to have a little more fat in the pan, extra butter or oil. In this situation make sure to put the shoulder side down first (skin contact side). Without skin you will want to use the opposing side of the fish as your presentation side up.

(skin note, skin is more likely to stick to the pan if not cooked properly. However the skin has more fat that will allow it to release from the pan if cooked properly.)

The issue most at home cooks experience when cooking fish is that their filet of fish sticks to the pan and tears. What should be a beautiful filet is now ruined when the fish is flipped. This happens because home cooks are typically afraid of heat and oil splatters. Let’s be honest here, restaurants offer world-class ventilation and high temperature stove tops / flat tops (see photo) that allow for a fish cook to cook a fish filet to perfection. At home, you need to recreate this environment. Hopefully your stove top has a solid hood to remove the intense aromas that will fill the room when cooking your fish. Hence, do not be in fear of the heat and the oil; the best meals require the most clean up.

Tip #1: Begin heating your pan on medium to high heat for one minute. Your pan needs to come to temperature before you begin the cooking process.

Tip #2: Fully coat the base of your pan in a high temperature cooking oil, we recommend avocado oil. Make sure that you grab the pan handle and with your wrist slowly rotate the oil until your pan is coated and there is excess to where you see a puddle. The fish will absorb the oil which is why you will want some excess. Watch the oil in the pan until you begin to see the oil activate and begin to naturally agitate.

Tip #3: Have your oven preset to 400 degrees before you sear your fish. You will want an oven safe pan available. Since the sear is intended to create a crispy and flavorful exterior. You may want to finish the cooking process in the oven for the thicker pieces of fish.

Tip #4: Always start by searing the skin side down first. You can cook the skin longer without burning the flesh of the fish. Space your filets at least one inch apart from each other, this allows for an easier initial flip of the fish with a fish spatula. Use a thin fish spatula to easily glide between the hot pan and your filet of fish after you place a hard sear onto one side of the fish.

Tip #5:  Plan ahead for a “pan sauce.” No need to have a separate pan available for a quick sauce. Using the same pan you cooked your fish in is the best way to create a sauce that will naturally pair perfectly with your fish. You will keep your pan on medium and follow the instructions listed in the post below.

Types of pans to cook fish in

Common households will have 4 types of pans, all of which you could technically use to cook fish. However, there will be a major quality difference between the pan options.

Stainless Steel Pans-The most common pan in a home will be a stainless steel pan of a variety of sized, The brand ‘All Clad’ takes the cake in popularity and quality. Stainless steel pans are used to sear really well. The problem with stainless steel is that these pans stick really easily. Meaning that your fish will adhere to the base of the pan. In order to solve this issue when cooking on a stainless-steel pan you should follow these instructions:

  1. Prepare your space, if you have high quality hood ventilation you can prepare to cook inside, otherwise due to the aromas, splatter and heat necessity please consider using an outside burner or grill.
  2. Get your pan Medium! So that it can get sealed with oil. But not to a point where it will burn the oil.
  3. Use extra oil that you would in a better sealed pan.

Season your stainless steel pan? If you have an open flame be careful. Chef’s best tip to preparing your stainless steel pan at home.

  1. Get you pan piping hot.
  2. Take a kitchen towel that has been dipped in oil. Use kitchen tongs and wipe the oil around the whole pan.
  3. Take the pan off the heat and let the pan start to cool. At this point the metal will start to contract and pull the oil in.
  4. Then put the pan over medium flame and add your high temperature cooking oil (canola, safflower). Don’t let this pan cool all the way.
  5. Begin your process.

Aluminum pans– are poor quality pans that absorb heat very fast but do not retain heat. They warp easily because they are a softer metal.

Non-Stick Pan

Flat Top

Grill Fish– Easiest and cleanest. Grill pan!

Oil hot and pan hot should not have a problem.

Buyer’s Guide | Pans for Cooking Fish

                How are pans measured?

                What size pans should I own?

                Quality Details:

                What Makes a bad pan?

                Pans to NOT cook fish on:

                Do brand name pans matter?

Best way to clean your pan:

Preparation is key with everything in life, but especially when cooking. It is best to put in as much effort to clean while you cook, this way you are not left with hours of post meal scrubbing. The best way to prepare yourself to clean your pans after cooking, is to immediately fill your pan ½ way with water and put the heat on low. This will allow the particles that are stuck to the pan to soften and boil themselves away from adhering to the pan. After just a few minutes of simmering turn the heat off and go enjoy your meal. This step is crucial for your post meal clean up. Utilize the rough side of your sponge and some elbow grease to remove the solids from the base of your pan. Personally, I avoid the dishwasher even if the package says that your pan is dishwasher safe. A soft dish soap and some TLC is all your pan requires, and it is best to avoid those harsh dishwasher chemicals. If you have used a cast iron pan, please see our post on maintenance for your cast iron for more cleaning and storage tips! (INSERT LINK to CAST IRON POST)

Simple Pan Sauce Recipe:

Best Types of Fish to Sear in a Pan:

  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Sea Bass
  • Tilapia
  • Branzino
  • Trout
  • Cod
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Perch
  • Artic Char
  • Red Snapper
  • Pike
  • Catfish
  • Monkfish
  • Scallops

Other Fish Cooking Methods: (Grill, Pan Grill, Poach, Roast, Fry, Parchment Bake, Sous Vide, Carpaccio, Crudo, Ceviche, Crusted Fish[macadamia nut, sesame tuna], Cured Fish, Smoked Fish, Battered)

In need of more inspiration for cooking fish while not using a classic fish pan? You have come to the right place. Here we will discuss other terrific methods for cooking fish at home to mix things up.


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