Perfectly seared salmon with poblano and spinach cream sauce is a restaurant quality seafood entree that can be easily made at home in just one skillet.
Crispy seared salmon fillets, nestled in a bed of creamy poblano spinach sauce, is so deliciously decadent. But surprisingly, it’s not that decadent at all because the creamy sauce is made with milk, not heavy cream. And it’s a seriously easy recipe to make!
You’ll love how flavorful the sauce is with chopped poblanos, onions, fresh cilantro, and spinach. We’ve found that poblano peppers vary a lot; they can be sweet with very little heat or quite spicy. They’re so good roasted, too, especially in this poblano queso dip or this southwestern farro salad! You won’t have to roast the poblanos for this salmon recipe, though, the peppers are simply sauteéd with onions and garlic.
Serve the salmon and spinach sauce simply with crusty bread and dipping sauce, or with pasta, jasmine rice, or mashed potatoes. It has plenty of vegetables so you really don’t need a veggie side. Get ready for oohs and aahs because it’s a pretty amazing dinner!
About this salmon recipe
Select a good sized heavy skillet to prepare this salmon dish. Rinse the salmon fillets, pat them dry, and season liberally with salt and pepper, or a seasoning of your choice. Prep the onions, peppers, spinach, and cilantro, and measure out the milk and flour so that once you get started cooking, you can quickly move along. Cook time from start to finish is about thirty minutes.
Get the skillet good and hot! Add oil and sear the salmon, skin side up, until the surface is browned and crispy, about four minutes. The salmon should release from the pan fairly easily. If not, cook it an additional minute before flipping it. Brown the skin side and remove the salmon to a plate. Cooking time will depend on the thickness of your fillets. Let the salmon rest, lightly covered with foil, while you make the sauce.
Next, wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Sauté the veggies until they begin to soften, throw in a little garlic, and then add a couple tablespoons of flour. Stir it around a minute so it coats the vegetables and cooks a little bit. The flour will act as a thickener for the sauce.
Add the milk, bringing it to a simmer. It won’t take long, just a minute or so. Add handfuls of spinach and chopped fresh cilantro and cook, stirring, until the spinach wilts, and … it’s ready! Really, wasn’t that easy? Hope you have the table set because dinner’s on.
Spoon the creamy spinach into four shallow bowls or plates. Nestle a salmon fillet in each, and garnish with a wedge of lemon. A squeeze of lemon over the salmon really enhances the flavor, just a bit of acidity to offset the richness. So good!
What you need
- Salmon Fillets – You can leave the skin on!
- Oil and Butter – This combo for sautéing gives you all the flavor of butter but the addition of oil prevents it from burning.
- Poblano Peppers, Onions, Garlic – This trio is a flavor powerhouse! I’ve found that poblanos can range from mild to slightly spicy. If you’d prefer something without heat, try using sweet bell peppers.
- Spinach – Lot of it! We recommend fresh baby spinach, chopped. If you’re in a pinch, you can use frozen spinach but make sure to drain and press all the liquid out of it.
- Fresh Cilantro – We love the fresh flavor of cilantro, but if you have family members who think it tastes like soap, you can skip it.
- Milk & Flour – This sauce is milk based and the flour thickens it. Skim milk isn’t the best choice in this recipe as it has a higher tendency to curdle. Opt for 2% or whole milk if you can.
- Lemon Wedges – A squeeze of lemon juice while you’re eating it brightens up the flavor.
How to make this pan seared salmon your own
- Don’t care for poblanos? This recipe would be great with red or green bell peppers, too. Or leave the peppers out and use mushrooms instead.
- Paleo/Low Carb: Simply replace flour with an alternative thickener such as arrowroot or tapioca flour. You’ll need about 3-4 teaspoons.
- Looking for more of a Tuscan style with creamy spinach and tomatoes? Try Creamy Garlic Tuscan Salmon from Eat Well 101. It looks delicious!
- Like a little wine? Add a splash of dry white wine (about 1/3 cup) to the skillet after sautéing the onions, peppers, and garlic. Cook over medium high heat for a couple of minutes, until the wine is reduced by at least half. Enjoy a glass of wine with dinner!
Storage and Reheating Tips
This salmon recipe is best served immediately but leftover salmon isn’t bad either. Store, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 2 days. I don’t recommend freezing leftovers because the sauce is likely to separate when thawed.
Reheat for 30 to 60 seconds in the microwave until warmed through. Don’t overheat or the salmon will become tough and dry. Alternatively, cut the salmon into chunks and mix it into the sauce for more even heat distribution.
More salmon recipes
I’d have to say that salmon is my favorite seafood. It’s quite affordable and so versatile: it can be baked, roasted, grilled, sauteéd, or even air fried. Try:
- Parmesan and Almond Crusted Salmon
- Air Fryer Salmon (this is one of my favorite ways to prepare salmon!)
- Salmon with Tomatoes & Fennel — a sheet pan meal
- Slow Roasted Salmon with Lemon Pepper — you won’t believe how easy and good this baked salmon is!
- Grilled Salmon in Foil with Garlic Butter
- Soy Glazed Salmon Recipe
- Baked Salmon with Maple Mustard Glaze (5 ingredient recipe that’s one of my most popular recipes)
- Best Grilled Salmon Recipe and Marinade
- Salmon and Asparagus Sheet Pan Dinner with Potatoes — a one pan dinner.
- Salmon with Thai Curry Peanut Sauce from How Sweet Eats sounds really fabulous, too, if we could have peanuts in our house.
- Salmon and Vegetable Stir Fry from Busy Cooks is another great combo of salmon and veggies!
- 4 salmon fillets (4 oz. each)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or avocado oil (high smoke point)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 poblano chiles, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
- ½ large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 5 oz. spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- For salmon: Rinse and dry salmon fillets. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When pan is hot, add salmon skin side up. Sear for 4-5 minutes, flip, and sear 2-4 minutes or until salmon reaches internal temperature of 135°F. Turn off heat, remove from pan to a clean plate, and cover lightly with foil. Using paper towels, wipe pan clean.
- For sauce: Heat same skillet over medium heat; add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add poblanos, onions, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until softened.
- Add garlic, sauté, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add flour, stir and cook for one minute. Vegetables will be coated with flour.
- Slowly whisk in milk, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer; cook and stir for 1 minute, or until thickened.
- Add spinach and cilantro, stirring constantly until spinach is wilted.
- To serve, divide creamy spinach mixture onto 4 plates or shallow bowls, and nestle one salmon fillet in each serving. Serve immediately, garnished with a wedge of lemon.
- Substitute bell peppers or mushrooms, for the poblanos, if desired.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.