In honor of my favorite fish, this most-simple pan-fried butter snapper takes 2 ingredients to prepare and just 10 minutes to cook.

Pan Fried Butter Snapper topped with cilantro cream sauce and fresh cilantro leaves on a gray plate

Why Snapper?

I’ve recently unearthed a real love for snapper. A few months ago, I resolved to bring home a different piece of fresh fish each week. I’m ALWAYS game for a fun culinary adventure and making my way over to the fish counter felt like a thrill! I look forward to standing in front of the ice-filled chests, taking in all the fresh fish, making note of which are the most sustainable sources, and then inquiring with the fish counter clerk as to which is the most fresh.

Side note: if you’d like some help navigating the “best” and most sustainability-friendly fish choices according to YOUR location, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has us covered! They crafted a wonderfully thorough and regularly-updated “Seafood Watch” that does the thinking for you. Simply click HERE to open the page, choose your state, and review the document for your “best,” “good,” and “avoid” seafood choices.

In this weekly adventure, I’ve tasted and tested a LOT of fish! They all have their own unique signature, but snapper (turns out) has won my heart. It’s not too firm, not too flaky, is hardly ever “fishy,” and holds up incredibly well while cooked.

Pan Fried Butter Snapper topped with cilantro cream sauce and fresh cilantro leaves on a gray plate

Today’s pan-fried butter snapper recipe is an ode to my favorite fish! In honor of its natural awesomeness, we’re going to prepare it as simply as possible. Just a little sea salt and just a little butter. THAT’S IT! We don’t need the oven or a marinade. Just some fresh snapper, a hot skillet, and about 10 minutes.

As Is or Enhanced

Once the fish is done, you can enjoy it as-is (just with salt & butter), OR you can add a few drizzles of my most recent Cilantro Lime Cream Sauce! It is a wonderful addition to the fish. A quick garnish of fresh cilantro makes it a wow-worthy protein.

Pan Fried Butter Snapper topped with cilantro cream sauce and fresh cilantro leaves on a gray plate

What To Serve With Pan-Fried Butter Snapper

Pan-Fried Butter Snapper

5 — Votes 3 votes
By Cassy
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Pan-Fried Butter Snapper is made with 3 simple ingredients and comes together quickly! This is a delicious, easy dinner option that will be a hit!


  • 2 tablespoons butter from grass-fed cows like Kerrygolds or ghee
  • 1 pound fresh snapper filet skin on (or off, your call)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons Cilantro Lime Cream Sauce (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)
  • cracked black pepper to taste (optional)


  • Melt the butter or ghee in a cast-iron or other large skillet over medium/high heat. Liberally season the snapper with the sea salt. Once the butter is melted, lay the snapper non-skin-side face-down in the hot skillet. Cook on this side for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the snapper develops a slight golden brown color.
  • Carefully flip the fish over using a large spatula and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  • If desired, drizzle with the Cilantro Lime Cream Sauce and then garnish with the fresh cilantro and cracked black pepper. Enjoy!


Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.5g | Protein: 31.4g | Fat: 9.7g | Saturated Fat: 5.2g | Cholesterol: 76.3mg | Sodium: 490mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.2g

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 to 3 servings
Calories: 252
Keyword: easy, fast, fish, fried, gluten free, quick, seafood, seared

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About the Author

Cassy Joy Garcia, NC

Cassy Joy Garcia, a New York Times best-selling author, of Cook Once Dinner Fix, Cook Once Eat All Week, and Fed and Fit as well as the creative force behind the popular food blog Fed & Fit.

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  1. I cooked my snapper fillets for 3 minutes each side and it was chewy and dry. a shorter time might have been better

    1. We are so glad to hear that! Thank you for taking the time to share with us. -Team F&F

  2. , lay the snapper non-skin-side face-down in the hot skillet.
    just so much easier to follow less confusing and less words to read

  3. I followed the directions to the T except I used my all clad. The fish doubled in height in the pan and only cooked on the outside. I left it in the pan for another 5 minutes on low to cook the interior after cutting the piece in half. Maybe next time I’ll try making snapper nuggets….

    1. If you “score” the skin side before cooking,this should reduce the amount of shrinkage of the fillets.

  4. Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best! This snapper looks insanely delicious and easy to make! Skin on all the way 🙂

  5. I’ve never cooked snapper, but I’m trying it tonight on your recommendation! Do you mean skin side down when you say face top-side face down?

    1. GOOD question. I’ll update the post to clarify. I mean non-skin-side (top) face-down.