Firecracker Salmon is a ridiculously easy, savory-sweet and spicy explosion made with pantry friendly ingredients in 25 minutes!
Firecracker Salmon is a one skillet winner for your dinner rotation that will have everyone licking their plates! It’s made of succulent, buttery tender salmon encased in a seasoned crust bathed in a spicy, savory-sweet firecracker sauce pumped with Asian sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, honey, toasted sesame oil and Asian chili sauce with the option to top it all off with refreshing Peach Salsa. And don’t let the word “firecracker” scare you – YOU control the heat by controlling the Asian chili sauce. The pan seared salmon caramelizes while soaking up the tantalizing sauce for a restaurant worthy dinner in minutes and there is ZERO chopping if you forgo the Peach Salsa! Serve your Firecracker Salmon with coconut rice and sesame ginger bok choy and give into your desires to lick the plate.
Buttery tender salmon is always a winning way to break up the monotony of chicken! Head here to see all my quick and easy salmon recipes! If you’re looking for more salmon recipes, be sure to check out: honey glazed salmon, Tuscan salmon, sheet pan garlic butter salmon, blackened salmon in creamy Cajun sauce, and Asian BBQ salmon.
HOW TO MAKE pan seared firecracker salmon VIDEo
Ingredients For firecracker pan seared salmon
This Firecracker Salmon delivers sticky, sweet, spicy, tangy, restaurant flavor with minimal effort! I love that the sauce uses just six basic ingredients and requires no chopping. Win! I’ve given exact measurements in the recipe card at the end of this post, but here’s an overview of the ingredients you’ll need to make the pan seared salmon recipe:
For the Salmon:
For the Firecracker Sauce:
Peach Salsa (Optional)
The Peach Salsa is completely optional but its fresh sweetness is a divine balance to the sweet and spicy salmon. If using, you will need:
Pan Seared Salmon faqs
To make the best Firecracker Salmon, start by selecting the best salmon available. Look for salmon that is bright pink in color, smells fresh but not fishy, and, if possible, is wild caught. I prefer wild caught salmon (king, coho and sockeye) because it has a richer flavor, but if you want milder flavor, then farm-raised Atlantic salmon might be the way to go. Atlantic salmon can cook up watery or mushy due to the artificial diet but I have had success with farm raised salmon from Costco (fresh and frozen), they seem to have higher quality suppliers.
You can use either five 6 oz. salmon filets OR one 2 ½ pound salmon filet sliced into 2–3-inch pieces. The exact weight is not a deal breaker.
Purchase salmon at the seafood counter of your local market or grocery store to ensure the freshest salmon. Costco also has a good selection of fresh and frozen salmon.
If your store doesn’t carry fresh wild-caught salmon but carries FROZEN wild caught salmon (like Costco) – that is great! Frozen fish is packaged at peak freshness in individual fillets so you can use just what you need, whenever you need. Wild caught salmon is always better than farmed salmon – fresh OR frozen.
To thaw, either transfer the packaged fillets (or place in a sealable bag) from the freezer to the refrigerator to sit overnight (it can 12 to 24 hours to thaw) or let the salmon (packaged) rest in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes, then change the water and repeat until thawed.
You will want to remove the skin so the entire surface of the salmon can be seared and caramelize in the luscious firecracker sauce. If you keep the skin on, it will become soggy.
The FDA advises salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, HOWEVER, if you cook your salmon to this temperature, it will be overdone because the temperature will continue to rise after pan searing and sitting in the sauce.
Instead, America’s Test kitchen suggests cooking your salmon to about 125 degrees F (52 degrees C) to avoid dry, overcooked salmon. I usually cook my salmon to just 130 degrees F and the results are always perfect after a 5-minute rest.
It is critical to not overcook your salmon or it won’t be as juicy. The most accurate way to test your salmon is with a meat thermometer. As salmon cooks, it changes from bright pink (raw) to opaque pink. The outside of the salmon should be completely opaque but the center should still be a bit translucent, but not raw. Cooked salmon will also easily flake with a fork along the muscle fibers.
No, you should NOT rinse your fish before cooking. The USDA cautions: “do not rinse raw fish, seafood, meat, and poultry. Bacteria in these raw juices can splash and spread to other foods and surfaces. Cooking foods thoroughly will kill harmful bacteria.”
Absolutely! In fact, the skin contains more of the same minerals and nutrients contained in salmon, so it is highly nutritious. I usually remove the skin or purchase salmon without the skin if I am going to be cooking it in a sauce like in this recipe.
Like everything, salmon is great in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fatty fish like salmon every week. It should not be eaten every day, however, due to concerns about the trace amounts of mercury in seafood.
Salmon is a low-calorie protein source that is rich in heart-healthy omega-3s, and low in saturated fat. It is also an excellent source of several B vitamins, antioxidants and potassium. Studies show that salmon can help lower inflammation, which may reduce the risk factors for several diseases. A growing number of studies also suggest that including salmon in your diet might improve brain function and even reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and the risk of age-related memory problems.
COOKED salmon is safe to eat during pregnancy but pregnant women should not eat raw salmon, including sushi. They should also take care when handling raw salmon because raw fish could contain parasites or harmful bacteria.
How to Make Firecracker Salmon
You are going to LOVE how easily this pan seared Firecracker Salmon comes together! Here’s a brief overview of how to make it (see full recipe in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
- Step 1: Make the peach salsa. If using, combine all of the peach salsa ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Make the firecracker sauce. Whisk together all of the firecracker sauce ingredients in a medium bowl; set aside.
- Step 2: Prep the salmon. Whisk all of the flour and salmon seasonings together in a large shallow dish (like a pie plate). Pat the salmon dry, then dredge each piece in the mixture, pressing lightly to adhere. This creates a crust to carry flavor and to insulate the juicy fish.
- Step 3: Sear the salmon. Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of a neutral oil (such as canola) in a large heavy bottom skillet and sear both sides for about 2-3 minutes each, until a golden crust forms.
- Step 4: Add the sauce. Pour the Firecracker Sauce over top. Bring to a simmer until the salmon is cooked to your liking (I recommend 130 degrees F on an instant read thermometer), about 2-3 minutes. Note: cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon.
- Step 5: Serve. Remove from heat and spoon the sauce over the salmon. Serve with Peach Salsa or garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Delicious served with rice!
Tips for MAking the Best pan seared salmon
This Firecracker Salmon recipe is quick and easy to make! Here are just a few tips to make it the best:
what to serve with Pan seared salmon
This Firecracker Salmon recipe is super flavorful so it pairs well with a neutral side such as rice and stir fried or roasted veggies. Here are some tasty options:
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- 5 6 oz. skinless salmon fillets
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder, ground ginger, paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil (like canola or vegetable)
PEACH SALSA (optional)
- 2 large ripe (but not soft) yellow peaches, peeled and chopped
- 1 Roma tomato, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- If using, prepare Peach Salsa by combing all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, set aside.
- Whisk all of the Firecracker Sauce ingredients together in a separate medium bowl, set aside.
- Whisk all of the flour and salmon seasonings together in a large shallow dish (like a pie plate). Pat the salmon dry, then dredge each piece in the mixture, pressing lightly to adhere. Transfer to plate.
- Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of neutral oil in a large cast iron skillet (may also use nonstick) over medium-high heat. Add the salmon and sear the first side until deeply golden, about 3 minutes. Flip over and sear the other side for 2 minutes.
- Pour the Firecracker Sauce over top. Bring to a simmer until the salmon is cooked to your liking (I recommend 130 degrees F on an instant read thermometer), about 2-3 minutes. Note: cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of salmon.
- Remove from heat and spoon the sauce over the salmon. Serve with Peach Salsa or garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Delicious served with rice.
- Total prep time does not include peach salsa.
- Asian sweet chili sauce: This sauce is made with red chilies, onion, garlic, brown sugar, and fish sauce for a dynamic sweet heat all packaged for you! This popular condiment should be easy to find in the Asian section of your grocery store. It is sometimes labeled “Thai Sweet Chili Sauce.” Please do not confuse it with Asian Chili sauce/paste without the “sweet” – or dish will be inedible!
- Meal Prep: The Firecracker Sauce can be whisked together a couple days in advance. The salmon can be dredged in the flour/seasonings and stored in a single layer in the refrigerator until ready to cook. You can also cook the salmon and reheat leftovers throughout the week for quick lunches and dinners.
- Storage: Store leftover salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days.
- To freeze: Place the filets with the sauce in a freezer safe container in a single layer. If using a freezer bag, squeeze out excess air to prevent freezer burn, label, and freeze. You can also freeze individual salmon filets with sauce. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the night before using.
- To reheat: Gently reheat in a skillet, covered, for about 5 minutes or in the microwave at 30-second intervals. For the oven, rewarm for about 10 minutes at 275 degrees F, until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 125°F to 130°F.
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