This outrageously yummy pan-seared red snapper features fresh red snapper seared in oil and butter and served with a tangy caper and lemon pan sauce.
I had red snapper for the first time a few years ago. And I must say, while I’ve always loved seafood, I loved learning to enjoy red snapper fillet recipes and yellowtail snapper recipe main dishes with delicious side dishes. Pan-seared red snapper is a delicious and healthy seafood dish that is perfect for a dinner party or a special occasion.
Making this pan-seared red snapper is my first time making this main dish seafood meal., and while I’m pretty sure the clean ocean breeze would enhance the flavor of red snapper meals, I know for a fact these meals are delicious anywhere.
We also enjoyed snapper while attending a fish fry hosted by a few friends in New Orleans, where we had some amazing pan-seared snapper. After we got home, I discovered that I had not had my fill of snapper and wanted more. However, snapper isn’t always an easy fish to find at your local grocery store. Thankfully, I managed to find some frozen snapper online and jumped at the chance to enjoy my new favorite fish again. After my snapper arrived at my door, I knew immediately what I wanted to make with it.
This red snapper recipe with minimal seasoning uses a special French searing method that I also use while cooking white fish like hake and halibut. I serve it with a simple lemon caper sauce, and it’s so delicious you’ll want to use it for many other recipes. We love to have our pan-seared red snapper (or any grilled fish) with a green salad with bell pepper, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
What Is the Taste of Red Snapper Like?
Red snapper is a pretty big saltwater fresh fish fillet that you’ll find swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, Pacific Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the grilled red snapper recipes we enjoy in the U.S. comes from the Gulf of Mexico.
Red snapper tends to have a more potent “fish taste” than many other species since their diet consists mostly of shrimp and crabs, which means their meat will have much more flavor.
There are also different types of red snappers with tastes that are quite distinct. For example, red snappers from the Pacific tend to have a sweeter flavor, while those from the Atlantic tend to be a bit salty.
Generally, red snapper has a nutty, sweet flavor that’s a bit stronger than your average white fish. However, they season quite well and can add new dimensions to some of your favorite fish recipes.
What to Do if You Can’t Find Red Snapper
For this recipe, you can substitute any snapper or another white fish, such as rockfish and halibut.
Preparing Red Snapper Fillets
This recipe uses filets that are already cleaned and filleted.
To begin, pat the red snapper fish fillets dry.
Then dust them with some flour, adding a bit of black pepper and sea salt. If you wish to cut out gluten, you can use all-purpose gluten-free flour.
Pan-Searing Red Snapper
Begin by adding your olive oil and unsalted butter to a heavy skillet.
After your butter has melted, place your fish in the skillet. If you want to season your red snapper fish with garlic powder, fresh parsley, onion powder, or other seasoning for more flavor, you can do that.
Set your timer for four minutes, and refrain from touching the red snapper as it cooks.
Once the four minutes are up, using a thin metal spatula (like a fish spatula), test the snapper.
Once the fish separates easily from the pan, it’s ready for flipping. Flip your snapper and top them with a bit more butter.
Continue cooking your snapper for another 4 minutes, then take them out of the skillet.
Note that this grilled snapper fish recipe can be adapted to make a baked red snapper recipe or roasted red snapper in a baking dish. You can also adapt this recipe to grill red snapper. We love grilled red snapper and broiled red snapper. Any type of cooked fish on the grill would be delicious with this red snapper recipe. Baked fish is very healthy (we love fried fish, too!).
Prepare the Caper and Lemon Pan Sauce
Add your capers and a bit of lemon juice to a hot skillet, then stir with a wooden spoon for 2-3 minutes, scraping bits of fish at the bottom of the skillet. Then add a few fresh herbs, other seasoning that you desire, some minced garlic, or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Server your pan-seared snapper topped with your delicious lemon caper sauce. Some of my favorite sides are wild rice and mashed garlic cauliflower.
Pan-Seared Red Snapper Recipe
- 8 oz. red snapper two fillets or use any other white fish or snapper like yellow snapper
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
- 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour you can substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour if desired
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice or lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter divided
- A few pinches of fresh herbs of choice like chives, rosemary, or oregano.
- 1 Tbsp. capers
- Lemon slices optional
- Dry your red snapper filets (also on the skin side) using a paper towel. Dust each red snapper fillet with flour on both sides before shaking off any extra. Sprinkle both sides with black pepper and sea salt. Prepare a heavy skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil. Heat the skillet on medium-high until the butter melts but don't let it brown. Then reduce the heat to medium heat.
- Set the snapper fillets in the pan and sear for around 4 minutes. Do not touch the fish until it's time to flip them. Using a thin metal spatula, test your filets. If you are able to slide the spatula under them without any sticking, that means they are ready to flip. If the filets stick, then let them cook another 30 seconds before trying again. After you flip, divide the last 1 TB of butter over the fillets.
- Continue cooking your filets for another 30 to 4 minutes until they are done. They should be a golden brown color on both sides, and the meat should be opaque throughout once they are finished. Transfer your fillets to plates while leaving the extra butter in your skillet. Cover up your fish to keep them warm, or place them in an oven set at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reduce the heat under your skillet to medium. Then add your capers and fresh lemon juice and stir using your spoon. Add in about half your herbs and continue stirring. Finally, serve your fillets with the lemon caper pan sauce and your remaining herbs for garnish.
Watch this video to learn how to make pan-seared red snapper.