These juicy pan-fried salmon bites are super easy to make during a weeknight, and most of the prep is inactive marinating time. If you’ve ever been scared to pan-fry fish on the stove, check out my tips below for perfectly moist and flavorful salmon bites below.
Types of salmon to use
I like to use fattier pieces of salmon, like Atlantic or King Salmon, to prevent the salmon bites from drying out. Try to pick pieces that are relatively thicker, at least one inch, with an even thickness running throughout most of the filet.
I like to buy my salmon from Costco because you can buy them in large filets (one side of the entire fish usually) and cut them down to your ideal size. Try to cut the salmon into one-inch cubes.
Seasonings in this recipe
This salmon bites recipe uses lots of dried herbs and spices to season the salmon chunks perfectly and give it a punchy and savory flavor. This recipe includes:
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper
- dried marjoram
- lemon juice
There are a few ingredients that add an extra oomph to this marinade, like sumac and lemon juice, that give tangy flavors, but also marjoram, which provides an earthy, fresh taste.
Making your own ingredient substitutions
Switching out the ingredients is fine if you don’t have something on hand. For the most part, you can substitute marjoram for Italian seasoning if you want a more herb-forward taste. You can switch out sumac for more lemon juice, but add it in one teaspoon measurements because it might be too tart. You can add other seasonings like parsley, basil, oregano, paprika, or cayenne to this recipe.
Tips for making perfect salmon bites
Here are some tips on how to make the best salmon bites:
- Cut similar-sized cubes. Cutting the salmon pieces in similar sizes will allow them to marinate and cook evenly. If you have some odd or thinner-shaped pieces, make sure to pull them from the pan early so they don’t overcook.
- Marinate the salmon for 30 minutes before cooking. This gives the salmon enough time to yield perfectly seasoned chunks throughout.
- Use a cast-iron pan for perfectly seared salmon that releases easily from the pan.
- In between batches, scrape the pan from excess bits of salmon or oil to get perfectly crusted pieces.
My favorite sides to serve with salmon bites
I like to pair pan-fried salmon bites with buttery seasoned rice, onion garlic bok choy, and crispy roasted Brussels sprouts. And let’s not forget some dipping sauces. I like spicy Sriracha or Sriracha mayo when I need a kick. You can also pair it with crab cake sauce for extra seasoning. Try pesto salmon, steaks, miso glazed salmon, and salmon poke bowls for more salmon recipes.
Is it better to bake or pan-fry salmon?
Baking and pan-frying salmon will give you different results. Baking and broiling salmon will give you soft and tender pieces, and pan-frying salmon pieces will give you a seared crust. Pan-frying is a faster way of cooking, without needing to preheat the oven.
How do you pan-fry salmon so it doesn’t stick?
Use a cast-iron pan seasoned with a bit of neutral oil, like avocado, and preheated on medium heat. Wait until the salmon releases from the pan and turn over. I like to use tongs to gently lift the salmon to see if it will easily release from the pan.
Do you need to flip salmon when frying?
When cooking these salmon bites, you will need to flip them to get a good sear on each side and for even cooking. For other recipes that include poaching the fish with a sauce, you won’t necessarily need to flip the salmon. However, this recipe requires flipping.
What is the best pan to fry salmon in?
I prefer to pan-fry salmon in a cast-iron pan because the seasoning helps prevent any sticking, even when the salmon doesn’t have skin. You can also cook these salmon bites in a stainless steel pan; just make sure to preheat the pan and add oil before adding the salmon. Both cast iron and stainless steel will give you a seared crust.
Pan-Fried Salmon Bites
- 16 oz Atlantic salmon cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tsp kosher salt Diamond Crystal brand
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sumac
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp dried marjoram or oregano
- 4 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp neutral oil add more if necessary
- cutting board and knife
- measuring cups and spoons
- cast-iron pan or stainless steel pan
- Cut the 16 oz Atlantic salmon into 1-inch cubes. Add them into a Tupperware container and sprinkle with all 1 tsp kosher salt.
- In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients: 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp sumac, ½ tsp black pepper , and ½ tsp dried marjoram. Mix until incorporated. Sprinkle all of it onto the salmon and mix until the pieces are fully coated. Cover with a lid and marinate for at least 30 minutes on the counter (so the salmon can stay room temperature for even cooking), but not more than 1 hour.
- After marinating, pour all 4 tsp lemon juice over the salmon and mix.
- If using a cast-iron pan: Preheat over medium heat and add the 2 tbsp neutral oil. Let oil warm for 30 seconds. Carefully, lower the salmon pieces in an even layer and leave an inch of space in between spaces. Sear for about 1 ½ minutes on each side or until it easily releases from the pan and has a browned side.
- Turn carefully, and cook for another 1 ½ minutes. Remove them from the pan once it reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F. Repeat with any raw pieces.
- If using a stainless steel pan: Preheat over medium-high heat and add 2 tbsp neutral oil to warm for 30 seconds. Place the salmon pieces in an even layer without crowding the pieces. Cook on one side for about 2 minutes or until it easily releases from the pan and is brown. Turn and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan once it reaches an internal temperature of 145 °F. Repeat with the rest of the salmon.
- Serve immediately.