This Pan Fried Trout Recipe is one of my favorite ways to cook this beautiful fish. The fish comes out soft, flaky, and juicy with a light crust on the outside. You can taste the delicate fish, and it is so flavorful.

In the summer, my husband and I love to go fishing – for both freshwater fish and saltwater fish – and on our saltwater trips, while I always hope we will end up with lots of redfish so that I can make redfish on the half-shell, I am never disappointed if we catch speckled sea trout.

Cooking fish can be daunting, but trout is so easy to prepare, and with this easy recipe, your family will think you’re a professional – even if it’s your first time cooking trout.

A man in a blue shirt wearing a hat holding two speckled trout.

Pan-fried trout is a great recipe to whip up a delicious meal on a busy weeknight – you can prepare an easy side dish like sautéed squash or make pasta salad or cowboy caviar ahead of time and have a perfect dish on the dinner table in less than 20 minutes.

Pan-fried trout is such a delicious way to cook the delicate trout fillets without overwhelming the natural flavor of the fish. Even Melly likes to smell the fish!

A man holding two speckled trout up to a black dog to sniff them.

We caught these sea trout on a recent trip to St. Helena Island, South Carolina. It’s so beautiful there, and the fishing was great! Spotted sea trout have a minimum length of 14 inches in South Carolina, so we like to keep the 15-16 inch fish – when they are on the smaller size, they are going to be less “fishy” tasting. (A giant fish is going to be older and have lots of years of eating and living in the ocean. While fun to catch, we like to throw the huge sea trout back.)

🥘 Ingredients in Pan Fried Trout

This pan-fried trout recipe uses such simple ingredients and can be prepared in just a few minutes.

  • Trout Fillets – This recipe can be used to make just about any kind of trout. I have used rainbow trout fillets and brown trout from the river, and speckled sea trout from the ocean. Both are delicious – though I prefer the sea trout because the fillets are bigger.
  • All-Purpose Flour, Gluten-Free Flour, or Almond Flour
  • Butter or Olive Oil – I personally prefer to use butter because butter makes everything better. But if you can’t have butter or want to make this recipe dairy-free or Paleo, you can use olive oil or even ghee.
  • Kosher Salt, Black Pepper, & Garlic Powder (I also got a mix of all three at a conference, Livia’s Seasoning, that I use all the time, that makes it super easy to just shake into the flour and it is less to carry when we travel.)
  • Lemon Wedges

🍽 Equipment Needed

  • A Skillet
  • Shallow Bowl
  • Cutting Board and a Sharp Fillet Knife (We love our Bubba Fillet Knife) – If you don’t have a fillet knife, make sure to use a VERY sharp knife that is thin. I also recommend using a non-slip plastic cutting board that is easy to clean.
  • Fish Turner

🎣 How to Clean Freshly Caught Trout

First, properly fillet your fish. Once they are filleted, I like to set the fish fillets in a bowl of ice water while getting things ready. (I usually save the heads, carcasses, and skin to make stock – toss the guts, though – or I throw it in a crab trap if we are on vacation!)

I also find that it is easier to remove the skin from the fillets if you soak them in ice. If you didn’t catch the fish or they don’t have skin on them, you can skip this step.

When you have all of your ingredients & equipment out, and you are ready to remove the skin from your fillets, remove them from the water and pat them dry with paper towels. I have found that the cold water also helps to keep the fillet in one piece.

To remove the skin, begin by placing the fillet skin side down on an easy-to-clean cutting board – I use a non-slip plastic cutting board that can go in the dishwasher. 

I like to use a good fillet knife and, starting at the skinny end of the fillet, cut slowly, in between the flesh of the fish and the skin, as close to the skin as possible. Then, use your thumbnail to hold the skin down to the cutting board and glide your knife along the skin as close to the skin as possible. You should be able to use your thumbnail or index and middle finger to pull the skin tight without tearing it. If you have a flexible fillet knife, you should be able to do a clean sweep across.

Next, pat down the fillet and remove as many bones as you can. (You can use your fingers or fish bone tweezers.)

A collage of images showing how to remove the skin from trout fillets.

🥣 How to Cook Pan-Fried Trout

Begin heating a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Once it is warm, add the butter and let it melt.

In a small shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

A blue plate with a flour mixture for breading fish fillets on it.

Add the trout fillets and coat both sides in the flour mixture.

A collage of images showing how to make pan-fried trout fillets.

Rest the fillets on a clean plate while the butter melts, shaking off the excess flour.

Trout fillets coated in flour on a blue plates.

When the butter is hot and melted, lay the floured trout fillets in the pan to fry. They should sizzle. (Picture 1-2)

Cook for about 3-5 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the size of your fillets) or until the flour starts to lightly brown – you can check this by lifting the edge with a fish turner.

Once the first side is brown, flip the fillet. Repeat until the second side is lightly golden brown and the fillet is slightly firm. (Picture 3-4)

When cooked, the internal temperature should be 145°F.

A collage of images showing how to pan fry trout fillets in butter, steps 1-5.

Transfer the fillets to a plate to serve and enjoy! I don’t serve them with a sauce, but you can make one if you want  – the fish is so mild and delicious when served as is. I sometimes like to add a squeeze of lemon juice over the fish fillets.

Four pan fried trout fillets on a blue plate.

It should flake apart with a fork – no knife needed!

A fork holding a bite of pan fried trout over a blue plate with pasta salad on it.

🙋‍♀️ Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of trout can you cook with this recipe?

I have used this recipe to cook brown trout, rainbow trout, and sea trout. I recommend using this method for smaller trout as they will have a fresh, less fishy taste. Huge trout, like a giant lake trout, would be better cooked in a recipe that doesn’t highlight the fresh flavor of the fish as much – the bigger trout can be a little more fishy.

How long do fresh trout fillets last in the fridge?

Fresh fish fillets should be kept in the fridge for only 1-2 days before they are cooked, or they should be frozen.

Button linking to the Pinterest page for Southern Bytes.
A blue plate with pan fried fish fillets and tri-color pasta salad on it.

🧊 Can you Freeze Fresh Fish?

Yes! Whenever we catch a lot of fish in the summer, I love to vacuum seal and freeze the fresh fish fillets. Make sure to clean them well. I like to freeze them with their skin on to protect them from freezer burn. Do NOT freeze whole fish – make sure to remove their guts.

🫙 How to Store Leftover Trout

Leftover fried trout can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. I wouldn’t go much past that. 

🐟 How to Reheat Trout

I like to reheat the fish in the air fryer at 350°F for just a few minutes to get nice and crispy, but you can also use the oven or toaster oven – just put the fish on a piece of foil. If you put the fish in a pan to heat up, it will likely fall apart, so be careful if you go that route.

✏️ Helpful Tips

  • Make sure your pan is nice and hot before adding the fish – otherwise, the fillets will get soggy.
  • If the fillets absorb a lot of the butter after your first batch of fish, you can add another tablespoon of butter.
  • Make pasta salad or cowboy caviar ahead of time so that it only takes about 20 minutes to get dinner on the table!
A blue plate with pan fried fish fillets and pasta salad on it.

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A blue plate with pan fried fish fillets on it.

Pan-Fried Trout

5 from 1 vote
This Pan Fried Trout Recipe is one of my favorite ways to cook this beautiful fish. The fish comes out soft, flaky, and juicy with a light crust on the outside. You can taste the delicate fish, and it is so flavorful.
Author: Kari
Servings: 2 people
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Ingredients 
 

  • 2-4 small trout fillets about 1-1 ½ pounds of fish. This recipe can be used to make just about any kind of trout. I have used rainbow trout fillets and brown trout from the river, and speckled sea trout from the ocean. Both are delicious – though I prefer the sea trout because the fillets are bigger.
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour or almond flour
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • lemon wedges

Instructions 

  • Pat dry the fish with crumpled paper towels and remove as many bones as you can. (See above for filleting instructions.)
    2-4 small trout fillets
  • Begin heating a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Once it is warm, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. (You can add more butter as needed later if the fillets absorb it.)
    2-3 tablespoons butter
  • In a small shallow bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
    ½ cup all-purpose flour, ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Add the trout fillets and coat both sides in the flour mixture. Rest the fillets on a clean plate while the butter melts, shaking off the excess flour.
  • When the butter is hot and melted, lay the floured trout fillets in the pan to fry. They should sizzle.
  • Cook for about 3-5 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the size of your fillets) or until the flour starts to lightly brown – you can check this by lifting the edge with a fish turner.
  • Once the first side is brown, flip the fillet. Repeat until the second side is lightly golden brown and the fillet is slightly firm. Repeat for all of the fillets, adding more butter to the pan if needed.
  • When cooked, the internal temperature should be 145°F.
  • Transfer the fillets to a plate to serve and enjoy! I don’t serve them with a sauce, but you can make one if you want – the fish is so mild and delicious when served as is. I sometimes like to add a squeeze of lemon juice over the fish fillets and finish with a pinch of salt and pepper or a sprinkle of Livia's Seasoning.
    lemon wedges

Notes

To make this recipe for a larger amount of fish to feed more people, just double or triple everything. This is the perfect amount for dinner for two from two smaller trout.
The trout fillets that I used were 90-120 grams each in weight before cooking, and I used four of them. (For US measurements, a pound to a pound and a half of fish will work!)

Special Equipment Needeed

Nutrition

Serving: 2filletsCalories: 364kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 24gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 88mgSodium: 288mgPotassium: 404mgFiber: 1gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 408IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 3mg

Nutrition information is approximate and is automatically calculated, so should only be used as a guide.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern
Keyword: pan-fried sea trout, pan-fried trout, speckled sea trout recipe, trout recipe
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Hi, I'm Kari!

I am a newlywed, food blogger, health coach, and mama to a hot mess of a border collie. I love to put a new spin on old family recipes and I try to make as many meals as possible with an Instant Pot.

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