How to Pan Sear Halibut

by Beth Rifkin

A versatile and easy-to-cook white fish, halibut combines a light, sweet flavor with a firm texture. The fish is also packed with nutritional benefits, including being high in protein yet low in calories, while also containing a healthy serving of potassium. The mild flavor of halibut allows it to be paired with a wide variety of herbs, spices, seasonings and sauces. There are many ways to prepare halibut; pan searing gives the fish a crispy outside yet without absorbing large amounts of oil.

Pat the halibut dry with paper towels before cooking it. Excess moisture can cause the fish to stick to the pan and cause steam, which can make it difficult for the fish to obtain a crispy outside. Season the fish to your liking.

Use a skillet that can withstand high heat, such as one that is made of cast iron, stainless steel or aluminum.

Warm your skillet by placing it over medium to high heat on the stove. Add your preferred type of fat. Choose a fat that can withstand high heat, such as grapeseed, safflower or canola oil.

Place the halibut into the pan, skin-side down if appropriate. Press lightly on the fish with a spatula to keep it flat in the pan while it is cooking.

Allow the fish to cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until a crust has formed on the bottom. Flip the halibut over, cook for 1 more minute and then remove it from heat.


  • Serve the halibut with a flavorful sauce or topping such as sautéed tomatoes or mango salsa.

Photo Credits

  • Jill Swirbul/Demand Media

About the Author

Based on the west coast, Beth Rifkin specializes in business, food, cooking, family, lifestyle and health issues. Her work has appeared in numerous on and offline publications. Beth earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.