The simplest meals are often the most striking in flavor when cooked perfectly. A fillet of fish calls for a smoldering hot even sear that sustains just the right temperature to crisp and brown without burning. Try searing fish in a poorly designed pan, and you’ll suffer from temperature spikes and a poor peak temperature. However, switch to a precision engineered pan, and you’ll have crispy fried fish that never sticks every time. From skillets to copper-based pans and even stainless steel, we’ve got a selection of the very best pans to buy for searing fish coming up.
Contrary to popular belief, searing doesn’t lock in moisture. Extensive testing proves that the moisture level seared and unseared protein is identical. Searing leverages the Mailliard reaction to unlock roasty, toasty flavor and rich aroma while giving food an irresistible crust and a contrasting texture that’s inviting to the palate.
Coat the bottom of your pan with the thinnest layer of cooking oil possible. Crank up the heat to max on your stove or burner, and give your pan some time to heat up. As soon as it’s scorching hot but not yet smoldering, your pan is ready for searing. Place your fish into the pan carefully, and don’t touch it further. Thick fillets will need to be fried skin-side up first to prevent curling and to stop the excess moisture from seeping down and spoiling the crispiness of the skin. Salmon is always fried skin side down to give it the crisp outer layer and subtle roasted flavor that permeates the meat first.
Top 10 Best Pans For Searing Fish
- Hestan – CopperBond Collection – 100% Pure Copper Skillet
- All-Clad BD55112 D5 Brushed Stainless Steel 5-Ply Bonded Dishwasher Safe Fry Pan
- Paderno World Cuisine Carbon Steel Frying Pan
- Misen Stainless Steel Frying Pan
- Mauviel M’Steel Carbon Steel Fry Pan
- de Buyer – Mineral B Frying Pan
- BK Black Steel Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet
- Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet
- EOE Nonstick Frying Pan
- Backcountry Cast Iron Grill Pan
Every pan for searing fish listed works on all cooking surfaces, electric, gas, and induction, and is 12-inches or larger.
Note: Prices were accurate as of September 28th 2021 and may have changed.
- Gorgeous Copper & Stainless Steel Exterior
- Flush Rivets Like Professional Cookware
- Copper Core For Superior Cooking Performance
- Durable 5-Ply Construction
- Dense Ultra-Flat Stainless Steel Base
- Oven-Safe Up to 600°F
- Handcrafted In Italy
- High Price
The Hestan CopperBond Cookware range is easily one of the best searing pans money can buy. A copper core fused within 5-ply stainless steel grants some of the evenest heat distribution seen, and you can’t beat copper for heat responsiveness either. Each piece in the CopperBond range can safely handle heat up to 600°F, which makes the pan great for searing and browning off food under the broiler in the oven. The closest competitor is the All-Clad 5-Ply Bonded Saute Pan with a copper core, but it comes with a hefty price tag that’s over $200 more expensive.
There are so many reasons to pick this high-end 12.5 inch diameter skillet. From 20% more surface area for searing to flush rivets that prevent food build-up and among the best cool-touch handles seen, the Hestan Copperbond Skillet over-delivers. It’s a gorgeous handcrafted pan made in Italy with superior craftsmanship and searing performance. If you’re looking for a product that’s best in its class and an exceedingly good pan for searing fish, you can’t go wrong with Hestan.
- Made In Canonsburg, PA, USA
- Premier Quality Of Manufacturing
- Lightweight Despite 5 Ply Design
- 5 Ply Stainless Composition Throughout Entire Pan
- Mirror-Quality Finish On Brushed Stainless Steel
- Absolutely Flat Anti-Warp Base
- Effective Cool-Touch Handle
- No Matching Lid Offered, Universal Only
- High Price
The All-Clad 5-Ply Fry Pan is arguably the best stainless steel skillet available, offering professional performance at a pretty high price point. Only Heston’s ProBond stainless steel skillet comes close but it costs more. This fine made-in-the-USA pan is composed of 5-ply bonded construction layering aluminum and stainless steel to provide a flat cooking surface that heats evenly. Just like most leading carbon steel skillets, the All-Clad fry pan handles up to 600°F, which is ideal for reaching the right temperature for searing and oven broiling.
There’s everything you’d expect from a world-leading pan. The heat-resistant stainless steel handles are fitting with stainless steel rivets, and the heat resistance actually works. Your pan will always be manageable, and there is, of course, drip-free pouring, thanks to the flared rims. Purchasing an All-Clad 5-Ply Fry Pan rewards the owner with a truly excellent cooking surface that customers can’t stop raving about and a limited lifetime warranty backing all claims.
- Ultra-Thick Cooking Surface
- Near-Unbeatable Pre-Heating
- Fantastic Heat Retention
- Handle Fitted With Flat Rivets
- Not Safe For Dishwasher Cleaning
The weighty Paderno World Cuisine Carbon Steel Frying Pan is one of the best searing pans available. It reaches an intensely high temperature perfect for searing thanks to the 2.25 inch thickness. This massive pan has a diameter of 19 5/8th inches making it ideal for frying whole fish or multiple fillets at once. Even though the Paderno frying pan has a polished surface, it’s not designed like a regular pan. As a carbon steel pan, regular seasoning is necessary after cleaning.
Instead of a metallic-finish non-stick surface, Paderno’s excellent frying pan loses its brushed sheen with use and develops a patina. From the weight to the thickness and outstanding searing performance, the performance could easily fool you into thinking you’re using cast iron. However, unlike heavy cast iron pans, this skillet is lightweight and manageable while displaying better non-stick capabilities. At the price and considering the size and durability, the Paderno World Cuisine Carbon Steel Frying Pan offers outstanding value for money.
- Enlarged Cooking Surface
- 5 Ply 18/10 Stainless Steel Construction
- Absolutely Flat Zero-Warp Base
- Comfortable Stay-Cool Handle
- Matching Lid Not Offered, Universal Only
The Misen Stainless Steel Frying Pan is a fantastic mid-range alternative to All-Clad’s leading stainless steel skillet that only prices slightly higher than most entry-level cookware. A three-layer aluminum core is encased in 18/10 stainless steel, granting a much thicker pan than other stainless steel while also browning better, boiling faster, and heating more evenly. It’s also a perfectly flat cooking surface that will never warp with 19% more cooking area on average.
While the searing performance is comparable to All-Clad’s similar 5-ply design, Misen’s skillet only sustains up to 500°F. One typically doesn’t need higher heat than 500°F for fish, but keep this limitation in mind if you use your boiler frequently. Regardless, there are a few skillets in Misen’s price range that can match its multi-layer construction, heat retention, and general quality of engineering. You can feel the quality in its weight, but the Misen Stainless Steel Frying Pan is still lightweight enough to be manageable. If you’re shopping for a good skillet on a budget, Misen exceeds expectations.
- Commercial-Grade Cookware
- Outstanding Heat Conductivity For Searing
- Made in France, French-Quality Manufacturing
- Limited Lifetime Warranty
- One Of The Heaviest Pans Reviewed
- No Matching Lid, Universal Only
The Mauviel M’Steel fry pan is a reliable commercial grade pan made in France from black steel and carbon steel. The combination grants remarkable heat conduction that’s perfect for searing. After cleaning off the protective beeswax, it needs reseasoning. After reheating and seasoning again, the pan is ready for use but we don’t advise using it for fish yet. Two to three more treatments guarantees a non-stick surface good enough for fish skin to turn crispy. While we find the 12.5 inch pan ideal, there’s also a larger 14-inch available.
From the moment you lay your hands on the Mauviel M’Steel its quality is apparent through the weight and sturdy manufacturing. In fact, the only downside to this reliable searing and saute pan from Mauviel is its weight. At a little under 6 pounds, that’s 2 pounds heavier than a good cast iron skillet. All Mauviel cookware is guaranteed for life against defects so if any warping or similar issue occur, a replacement will be waiting. It’s highly unlikely, as Mauviel’s quality is top class.
- 99% Pure Iron Composition
- Traditional Lyonnais Shaped Pan
- Manufactured For Lifetime use
- Hand Riveted Handle
- Very Heavy
The de Buyer Mineral B Frying Pan is made using 99% iron and 1% carbon to grant a superior searing surface that develops a fine finish without any synthetic coating used. de Buyer supplies their pan coated in beeswax to protect the steel against oxidation until you’ve cleaned and seasoned it. The great thing about this carbon steel pan is its premier quality and the range of different sizes available. If seasoned regularly, you may never need a replacement. While we suggest the accommodating 12.6-inch frying pan, de Buyer has you covered with great variety offering a full selection of pan sizes reaching a maximum of 14.2-inches.
Each de Buyer Mineral B Frying pan is handcrafted in France and comes oven safe up to 400°F. It’s just under 3mm thick and has hand-fitted rivets that age at the same rate as your pan while never loosening over time. Buying from de Buyer grants quality and thoughtful design elements that you can rely on. After all, the company has been manufacturing high quality cookware since 1830. Even though this is a large, heavy pan, the signature French curve handle grants excellent grip, unbeatable balance and the ideal degree of control for sauteing, stirring or flipping.
- Heat Responsive For Outstanding Searing
- Safe To Use Metal Utensils
- Oven-Safe Up to 600°F
- Unbeatable Durability
- Lightweight Design
- Matching Lid Available
- Skillet Requires Ongoing Reseasoning
The BK Black Steel Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet offers the high-heat benefits of a cast iron pan without risking damage to the delicate flesh of fish. Expect the same deep brown roasted sear without the chance of your fillet falling apart. Carbon steel pans heat up far faster than stainless steel or cast iron and are a core component of every professional chef’s arsenal. What lifts this skillet above the similar carbon steel pans is its ability to handle temperatures of 600° and the use of black steel instead of standard grey carbon steel. Black steel holds triple the density of the best aluminum, making it tough as nails, as well as triple the corrosion and stain resistance.
Excellent heat retention suited to prolonged low heat cooking and the ability to withstand extremely high temperatures of up to 600°F make this USA-manufactured skillet a versatile choice. Each outstanding skillet comes pre-seasoned, and you’ll need to reseason the pan with vegetable oil after each use after cleaning. You’ll find that this carbon steel skillet is far lighter than most multi-ply stainless steel pans, weighing a fraction of cast iron. BK is famous for developing the first enameled carbon steel dutch oven for royalty, sustaining a proud history of the finest quality manufacturing since 1951. All the hallmarks of quality cast cookware from their range are present, but the BK Black Steel Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet works far better for searing fish, and it’s less cumbersome.
- Made in the USA
- 12 Gauge Carbon Steel Construction
- Arrives Pre-Seasoned
- Reliable Heat Retention
- High Temperature Heating Threshold
- Extended Handle With Handle Covers Available
- Unbeatable Affordability
- Moderately Rough Cooking Surface
The Lodge Carbon Steel Skillet is made in the USA and exhibits both fantastic searing and build quality. It arrives as our third choice showcasing nearly identical quality and performance to that of BK’s Black Steel Seasoned Carbon Steel Skillet. Some will even argue that Lodge makes the better pan despite being a slightly newer manufacturer. Nonetheless, Lodge has been making all-American fine cookware since 1986, and this superb skillet over delivers. Each skillet is made from 12 gauge carbon steel, and has steady heat retention and a high maximum temperature without hotspots that’s ideal for searing. Whether at a low temperature or a searing high, this Lodge skillet sustains heat evenly.
Lodge has opted for soybean oil as its seasoning, delivering their skillets ready-to-use. Just like any carbon steel cooking surface, this pan needs thorough cleaning and reseasoning after each use. It’s a heavy pan weighing even more than its closest competition. Lodge claims that the firmly riveted handle and pan can last a lifetime if well-maintained and if initial impressions and customer testimonials are anything to go by, they may well be right. An extra-long handle is a great touch and the overall cooking performance once the pan has been used a few times is great. Don’t start searing fish from the moment it arrives. The cooking surface is rougher than expected. However, after two or three uses a patina develops and then it’s good to go for fish and other delicate protein.
- Fast Heating With Reliable Heat Retention
- No Harmful Toxins Leached Into Food
- Durable Non-Stick Coating
- Lower Maximum Temperature – Safe Up To 500°F
Non-stick cookware typically isn’t recommended for high-heat searing, but if you have to have the security of a reliable coating when frying fish, you can’t go wrong with the affordable EOE Nonstick Frying Pan. EOE utilizes aluminum construction with an anti-warp base. EOE’s five-layer non-stick coating is reputed to be up to five times harder than competing surfaces. Manufacturer specifications also state that it lasts up to ten times longer and heats up four times faster.
There’s no harmful substances like PFAS, FOA, GenX, APEO, lead, or cadmium, and the skillet sustains temperatures of up to 500°F. The non-stick coating and even heat retention makes this frying pan so good that you don’t need oil to cook eggs on the absolutely flat base. Whether searing or finishing off a dish in the oven, the EOE non-stick skillet offers impressive quality that’s clear from the get-go. Even more surprising is the low price, placing roughly $20 less than similar non-stick pans that can’t compare to the durability or performance.
- Square Pan With Recesses For Defined Grill Marks
- Smooth Surface Despite Being Cast Iron
- Excellent Preseasoning With Micro-Globules
- Restaurant Quality Construction
- Heavy Compared To Non-Cast Iron Pans
Grill marks imbue meat, fish and vegetables with appetizing character, and the Backcountry Cast Iron Grill Pan is the perfect pan to get those blackened lines perfectly seared. The Backcountry Cast Iron Grill Pan is without a doubt one of the best performance low-priced pans available. Refrain from cooking delicate fish, but for firm fillets and whole fish, Backcountry’s pre-seasoned grill pan is outstanding. It’s restaurant quality cast iron with deep ribbing that lets fat drain away easily while creating the perfect sear.
Backcountry incorporates a surface made from iron micro-globules that make your seasoning stick better than competing standard cast iron. It’s heavier than most other pans, even competing cast iron. While this is an excellent quality characteristic, you’ll need two hands to maneuver this pan. We advise that you use the Backcountry Cast Iron Grill Pan a few times while reseasoning after each use before trying it on fish. The surface needs time to develop the patina necessary to handle something as delicate as fish skin without sticking. Once “broken in,” Backcountry’s pan is fantastic for searing just about anything.
Budget alone can’t pick you the best pan. Some chefs prefer a carbon steel skillet while others swear by stainless steel. Although not the first option for most, non-stick pans remain a viable possibility for those who haven’t yet had the time to pick up significant cooking skills. You’ll never get the exact same golden roasted sear but the no-fail design may save a few fillets from falling apart or burning. We find that it’s best when every household is equipped with a good seasoned skillet and an absolutely flat stainless steel pan. Use the stainless steel for delicate fish (or cheat using a non-stick and accept the lesser sear) and the seasoned skillet for everything else.