Pan Fried Snapper is a delicious meal that's ready in 10 minutes! Made with a lemon butter caper sauce that will knock your socks off!
We use fresh red snapper fillets, butter, capers, lemon, and simple seasonings to create a special weeknight meal.
Why This Recipe Works
I'm excited to share with you this delicious pan fried snapper recipe for two. This quick and easy recipe is ready in 10 minutes and the flavor is truly amazing.
This recipe is special to me because it was given to me by my sister, Leesa. We were on a family group call when everyone was talking about what they made for supper. She said she made it with butter, capers, and lemon. It sounded so delicious that I told her I wanted to share it on my blog. She said yes! I made it, and my husband and I loved it!
Why You'll Love It
This pan fried snapper is packed with flavor thanks to the lemon butter caper sauce. The nutty browned butter pairs perfectly with the tangy lemon and briny capers, and it highlights the mild sweetness of the red snapper.
Make this delicious red snapper with an amazing lemon butter caper sauce tonight!
There are only 9 ingredients for this mouth-watering, pan fried snapper recipe!
red snapper fillets - I like the skin on for this recipe. The skin holds the fish together better after cooking and it crisps up so nicely from the butter.
butter - salted butter is recommended as it adds a flavor boost to the capers and lemon
capers - don't leave these out! They add a tangy, lemony flavor boost to the sauce!
lemon - you can substitute bottled lemon juice. You'll need 2-3 tablespoons of juice.
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and parsley flakes
How to Make It
Pan frying red snapper is a quick and easy way to enjoy delicious seafood!
(1) First, pat both sides of the fillets with a paper towel. This will help reduce splatter while cooking. Next, lightly sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
(2) Now, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble a bit, add the fillets, SKIN SIDE UP, and slow simmer for 3-4 minutes. Flip fish over and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Tip: When pan frying fish, use medium heat, not high heat. You don't want the fish to be sizzling too hot or the butter will burn.
(3) Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Now it's time to make the lemon caper butter sauce! Add the remaining butter, lemon juice, capers (drained), and parsley flakes.
(4) Slow simmer for about 30 seconds, then return the fish to the pan. Spoon the lemon butter caper sauce over the fish and heat just until hot - about 30 seconds. Transfer fish to a plate and serve with your favorite side dish.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no need to remove the skin before cooking the snapper. The skin is edible and actually crisps up nicely. However, if you want to remove the skin, it's easier to do after the fish is cooked.
Red snapper is a firm white fish that is delicate and mild in flavor.
Capers have a flavor akin to green olives, though they have a more pronounced lemony flavor. If you need a substitute, feel free to finely dice green olives or use pickled nasturtiums instead.
Fresh fish is best cooked the day it is purchased. However, it will keep for two days in the refrigerator as long as it's stored in an air-tight container or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. If it is wrapped in paper, then wrap it with plastic over the paper.
If you have leftovers, store them covered in the refrigerator and eat the very next day for best results. Store in airtight containers for best results. I prefer to use BPA-free glass containers with locking lids. Check out this 18-piece set of glass food storage containers with locking lids from Bayco, available now on Amazon.
When pan frying red snapper, it's best to use real, salted butter for the best flavor and consistency!
When pan frying fish, use medium heat, not high heat. You don't want the fish to be sizzling too hot or the butter will burn.
To get the most juice from a lemon, roll a whole lemon around on your countertop with the palm of your hand while using firm pressure. This will break up the inside membranes and make the lemon juicier and easier to squeeze.
What to serve with Snapper
This pan fried snapper goes well with a variety of sides. Lemon caper butter sauce is a natural pair for simple carbs like pasta or potatoes. My sister serves her red snapper with an orzo, spinach, and pine nut mixture, which sounds divine. See her picture below (thanks, Leesa, for sharing your photo!).
If you prefer grains, you can opt for seasoned wild rice, brown rice, or rice pilaf.
If you're looking to up your veggie intake, I also like to serve this fish with a mixture of cauliflower, broccoli, and baby carrots. Sautéed spinach or kale would also be yummy!
You can't go wrong with any of these side dish suggestions. All of them complement this pan fried snapper to a tee.
More delicious seafood inspiration
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Leesa's Red Snapper Fillets with Lemon Caper Sauce
- 2 red snapper fillets, skin on
- light sprinkling of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
- 4 tablespoons butter (divided)
- 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons capers (drained)
- light sprinkling of parsley flakes
- Pat fish fillets with paper towel. Lightly sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Exact measurements are not given as you only want to lightly sprinkle these seasonings on each side of the fish.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the fillets, SKIN SIDE UP, and slow simmer for 3-4 minutes. Flip fish over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Use medium heat, not high heat. You don't want the fish to be sizzling too hot or the butter will burn.
- Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining butter, juice of one lemon, capers, and parsley flakes. Slow simmer for about 30 seconds, then return the fish to the pan. Spoon the sauce over fish and heat just until hot - about 30 seconds. Transfer fish to a plate and serve with your favorite side dish.
What to Serve with SnapperFor a lower carb meal, serve with cooked cauliflower rice (after the fish has cooked, spoon pan sauce over the cauliflower rice), roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and carrot mixture (use the handy steam in bag version - fresh or frozen), or your favorite side.
Storing Fresh FishFresh fish is best cooked the day it is purchased. However, it will keep for two days in the refrigerator as long as it's stored in an air-tight container or wrapped tightly with plastic wrap. If it is wrapped in paper, then wrap with plastic over the paper.
Storing Leftover FishIf you have leftovers, store covered in the refrigerator and eat the very next day!
This recipe was originally published in 2020 and was updated in 2022.
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy to my readers. I'm not a nutritionist and I don't guarantee the accuracy of this data. The data may differ according to the brands I used versus the brands you use. To calculate the data yourself using your brands, try using an online nutrition calculator or app.