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Make this restaurant-quality Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce at home for any special occasion.

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

All week long, we’re going to share several recipes that we recently prepared for a dinner party with our good friends Sandi and David. This Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce was the delicious star of the show!

Anytime we invite friends over for dinner, we always try to prepare something special.  For us, it’s a pleasure to cook for the enjoyment of cooking and to feed a wonderful meal to our family and friends. But after dinner – more often than not – we get asked, “Is this recipe on your website?” Sometimes the answer is yes, but in the case of our dinner with Sandi and David, many of the recipes were brand new to us.


Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

So Jack and I decided to prepare our dinner menu again – starting with this amazing Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce – so we could share the recipes here on A Family Feast.

What do I look for when buying Halibut?

Halibut is a firm, white fish with a mild flavor – but it is a bit of a splurge, so this Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce recipe is really one to save for a special meal.

If possible, always buy your halibut at a fish market that sells fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Whole Foods is also another reputable option. (Unfortunately, in our experience, the average supermarket will not be selling super fresh halibut. )

Typically, one pound of fresh halibut will yield two very generous portions. Call ahead to the market, and ask the fish monger to tell you when they receive their fresh catch in the morning – that’s the time to shop! Ask for the thick end of the halibut filet, and to make it easier for yourself, also ask them to skin it for you.


Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

A few other tips for buying fresh seafood.

  • When you buy any type of fish, keeping it cold while you transport it is crucial, especially during warm weather months. We suggest bringing a cooler full of ice in the back of your car, then place the halibut (or any other kind of seafood) inside that to ensure it stays as cold as possible during the ride home.
  • Once home, keep your seafood super-chilled by placing it in a bowl of ice in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Always buy the freshest possible fish available. Fresh seafood should not have any smell except the briny smell of the ocean. Don’t be shy about asking to smell the fish you plan to buy. If it smells “fishy”, walk away.

How do you cook halibut?

We pan seared our halibut in both butter and extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. The butter will start to brown a bit – and that adds some great flavor to this dish! You’ll also add lemon slices to the pan, adding a bright citrusy flavor as well.

Once the halibut is cooked through, remove the filets from the pan. Then sauté chopped garlic for a few moments, add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan, then add lemon juice, capers and parsley, smooth out with butter – and your simple pan sauce is done.


Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

All in all, this elegant, flavorful, tender, moist, and flaky Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce takes less than thirty minutes to cook. And your guests will think that they are eating at a fine seafood restaurant!

Be sure to check back later this week for the recipes from the rest of our dinner party menu!

You may like these other seafood recipes:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 12 minutes
  • Total Time: 22 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: saute
  • Cuisine: American


*If your fish market did not skin the halibut, see the Notes section below for instructions on how to skin the filet.


1 pound fresh halibut, skinned* and cut into two equal portions

4 tablespoons butter, divided

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Few grinds black pepper

34 slices lemon (we used Meyer lemons but regular lemon will do)

2 teaspoon fresh garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup white wine such as Chardonnay

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoon capers drained

2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley chopped


Salt the top of the fish with just a small sprinkle of kosher or sea salt.

Place two tablespoons of butter and the olive oil in a medium to large skillet or sauté pan and heat over medium heat.

Swirl the butter and oil around and once it starts to slightly brown, add the fish top side down. Sprinkle the side facing up with the rest of the salt and the pepper. Cook for five minutes then using one or two long fish spatulas, gently flip over being careful not to splash hot fat.

Add the lemon slices to the pan as the fish cooks and cook the fish about 3-5 more minutes. Poke the fish to test for doneness or insert a small knife in the side of the center to see if the fish flakes. You want to stop the cooking just before it fully cooks so a little undercooked in the center is fine. It will continue to cook outside of the pan.

Using one or two fish turners, remove the fish filets to a platter along with the cooked lemon slices.

Pour off all but two tablespoons of the fat left in the pan. Best to pour it all into a bowl, let the burned bits sink to the bottom then skim off a few tablespoons of the fat at the top and place back into the pan.

Keep the heat at medium and add the garlic and cook one minute. Add the wine and cook to evaporate. Then add the lemon juice, capers and parsley. Cook for a minute then remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to make the sauce.

Put the fish back into the pan along with any liquid from the platter, bring heat back to medium and use a spoon to spoon the sauce over the top and cook for 30 seconds then remove to a platter and serve. (I know this seems like a lot of work but at about $23.00 per pound – more if you live away from the ocean – the extra time invested to get this special dish perfect is worth it.)

Serve each portion with a cooked lemon slice and some of the pan sauce.


*If the halibut is not already skinned, place the filet on a cutting board close to the edge where you are working. Use a sharp long knife and start the skin by cutting a little and separating the skin from the meat but still attached. Then hold that piece down tight against your board, skin down, while you run the knife between the skin and the fish holding the knife flat. Pull the skin as you move the knife slightly back and forth and the skin will come right off. Cut filet into two equal portions and discard the skin.

Keywords: halibut



Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce

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  • Mike Robinson wrote:

    Oh my gosh! I am an old man that had the kids coming over, a very nice fresh 2 lb. filet on sale for $13.99/lb. and was pressed into service to help out. Lots of work and I would add 10 minutes or so just to do the prep so that you have all the necessary ingredients pre-measured and ready to go. I had to double everything, of course and a 12″ frying pan was essential. Wow what a perfect moist, tender and scrumptious dish.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe Mike!

  • Pete Cannon, Cannon Fish Seattle wrote:

    I would caution re over cooked fish, esp with a recipe where you reheat. Even more so with frozen. Chefs never cook this type of fish past medium rare because it continues to cook when removed from the pan. The more rare the more taste so if you like your fish well-done then save your $ and buy tilapia or catfish. I sold halibut for 30 years and worked with chefs.

    • Jack wrote:

      I always appreciate hearing from seasoned veterans. Thank you Pete for your expert observations.

  • Hope Van Dyne wrote:

    I made this dish and it the best fish dish I ever had including 5 star restaurant
    Great direction

    • Martha wrote:

      Wow Hope! Thank you so much! We’re very glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Jenna Manheimer wrote:

    Good technique in this recipe! But if you are lucky to have fresh halibut, you don’t want to put capers – too strong! The rest is nice though with halibut right off the boat, even the lemon can take away from the subtly smooth, buttery flavor.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for your feedback Jenna – we agree that fresh off the boat halibut is fantastic, but feel our sauce is a nice, delicious complement.

  • Laurie wrote:

    Oh, Mama! I did a quick Google search for a halibut recipe and found yours. Cooking only a pound of fish and employing my ‘eyeballin’ it’ method of measurement, this turned out beautifully! So flavorful!! I was skeptical that I would be able to effectively skin the fish without losing meat and was, thankfully, proven wrong. I’ll be exploring other recipes on your site after this happy, and tasteful, discovery. Cheers.

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re glad you found us Laurie! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • Lisa B wrote:

    Excellent dish! Had all the ingredients pre-measured. Cooked on the grill and it came out delicious. Doubled the recipe and got rave reviews from our dinner guests. Thanks for sharing!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Lisa! Great to know this recipe works on the grill too!

  • Holly wrote:

    Do you think it’s possible to substitute chicken broth for the white wine?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Holly – Yes – you can use chicken broth instead.

  • Janice Shayne wrote:

    I appreciate the exacting instructions. I cooked the fish up to point before putting back in the pan for the last 30 seconds with the sauce over it. I prepared our flash-sauteed asparagus, flaked the rice and waited for our guest to finish their salad, and then finished the last step. I came out absolutely perfect! This is the first time I cooked halibut and it was not tough and overdone.
    It looked and tasted as if we were in a 5 star restaurant. Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Janice – sounds like a great dinner!

  • Marina wrote:

    Made it according to recipe. Family could not stop raving about it while eating. Will definitely make it again.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad the recipe was a hit Marina! Thanks for writing to us today!

  • Mike Kennedy wrote:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. It was truly restaurant quality and fairly simple. My wife was very impressed.. Thank you and keep them coming.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Mike! So glad the recipe was a hit!

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