Pan Roasted Halibut with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

By Sally Cameron on January 29, 2012

Fish & Seafood

Pan-roast halibut filets in a hot non-stick skillet and finish them with a brief steaming in a little white wine. To finish the dish, make a lemon-parsley-caper vinaigrette to use as a sauce. You’ll have an easy and healthy dinner on the table in a matter of minutes. If you enjoy eating fish but think it’s hard, try this easy technique.

lemon caper halibut |

Pan Roasted Halibut with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

As it’s winter and the wild Alaskan halibut I love is still months away from being available, I’ve turned happily to cooking with local halibut. These pearly white filets are thinner and smaller than their wild Alaskan cousins, still delicious and definitely more affordable. This has become my “go-to” recipe for a fast fish dinner. I’ve probably made it five times in the past few weeks, for the two of us and dinner guests as well.

Fold Your Fish

Long, thin tapered fish filets can be tricky to work with. They can be too long to fit in a pan or fall apart when you turn them. They don’t present as impressively as a thicker filet. The solution? Fold them. This creates a thicker, more uniform piece of fish to work with.

With the smooth side (or top side) down, fold in the thin ends of the filet. After folding your filets, turn them over. Drizzle the top with a tiny bit of olive oil then season.

lemon caper halibut |

Season and Cook For a Fast Dinner

My favorite seasoning blend lately is Penzey’s Florida Seasoned Pepper. It’s a salt-free blend of Tellicherry black pepper, lemon peel, orange peel, garlic and onion. You can use salt, pepper and granulated garlic combination or a lemon pepper blend, whatever you prefer.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the filets seasoned side down. Don’t touch them for a few minutes, allowing a golden crust to form. Peak underneath to test.

lemon caper halibut |

Next, turn the filets over, add white wine to the pan and quickly clamp on a tight fitting lid. If you have them, glass lids work well so you can see what’s going on in the pan.

lemon caper halibut |

Turn the heat down a little. Depending on the thickness of your filets, your fish will steam to completion in just a few minutes. The halibut should be barely opaque in the center when done (145°). To keep the fish moist, don’t overcook it.

Lemon Caper Vinaigrette to Finish

To dress the halibut, make a light and flavorful vinaigrette with olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and capers. This is sort of like what we call Piccata in the U.S., but with no butter so it’s lighter. Spoon a tablespoon over the fish when you serve. For extra lemon flavor, add a small wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top. If you can’t find halibut, try another mild, white fish that has thin filets or do it with a thicker filet, like cod. and don’t fold it.

Other Helpful Links

  • Seafood recommendations from Seafood Watch and the Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • Need another sauce option? Try this pineapple mango salsa and skip the vinaigrette

Pan Roasted Halibut with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Thin filets of halibut make a fast and healthy dinner. Top with a bright and flavorful vinaigrette of lemon juice, parsley and capers to use as a sauce. You’ll have dinner on the table in minutes. A tip on cooking with wine: if you don’t drink wine but like to cook with it on occasion, buy the mini plastic bottles (airline size) that come in four packs at the grocery store. They work great for cooking when only a small amount is needed. You can also use water or broth instead of wine.
Course Seafood
Cuisine American
Keyword halibut, lemon, seafood
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra to drizzle on the fish to cook
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice Meyer if you can get them
  • 1/2 teaspoon  fine lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon capers rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon  Penzey’s Florida Pepper blend or salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. or a lemon pepper blend
  • 2 6 ounce thin halibut filets
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine water or vegetable broth


  • First make your vinaigrette. Whisk together olive oil, lemon, juice, lemon zest, capers and parsley. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. If using thin filets, fold the thin tail ends towards the center creating a more uniform piece of fish. Drizzle the top of the filet with a tiny bit of olive of and season.
  • Place the seasoned fish filets top (seasoned) side down in the hot pan and cook for a few minutes until a golden cruse starts to form. Turn the filets over, pour in the white wine and immediately place a tight fitting lid on top of the pan. Turn the heat down a bit and allow the filets to steam finish in the wine. It will only take a few minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. When done, fish should be barley opaque in the center.
  • To serve, drizzle with a little of the vinaigrette. You may to need it all. Use leftover for salad or to dress cooked vegetables.


Serving: 2g
  1. sara - January 30th, 2012

    Love this! Halibut is one of my favorite types of fish, this looks really delicious! 🙂

  2. Madonna - January 30th, 2012

    This fish dish is a perfect example of why your dishes set you apart from all other blogs. Your attention to prep and presentation is wonderful, and I have tried hard to emulate you. I love that I can cook this for just two or for company. Thank you again.

    I did not get a chance to comment on your mushroom/pasta sauce. Do you prefer this one to your roasted one?

  3. Sally - January 30th, 2012

    They are very different sauces Madonna. I really love them both! And thanks for the sweet compliments. You know how much work it is to post recipes.

  4. Russell at Chasing Delicious - January 30th, 2012

    Wow gorgeous dish. This is my kind of dinner. Yum!

  5. Simply Tia - January 30th, 2012

    Thank you for that idea about folding fish. I don’t have halibut on hand but I have some thin long tilapia and now I know exactly how to prepare it so that it looks thicker.

    Your photo is gorgeous. Your fish looks very flavorful and delicious. Will be saving this recipe!

  6. Bridget Stangland - March 12th, 2012

    This looks amazing! I love your website. Beautiful!

  7. Michelle K - April 4th, 2012

    This was tonight’s dinner withe some steamed broccoli and wild rice. We got a thick beautiful, fresh piece of Sea of Cortez halibut at Sprout’s (usually we don’t see them this nice there, so a great surprise for the price!) and your recipe was easy to follow and came out wonderful! True to the blog, it was fast and easy, great for weeknight cooking. We’ll be making this one again – yum! Thank you!

  8. M kissel - September 15th, 2014

    Made it tonight. Loved it, great with green beans. Yum!

  9. Pat Gaston - July 1st, 2015

    I just bought a nice piece of Sea of Cortez halibut but am dismayed a bit by the fact that it’s skin-on. The seafood/meat counter person at Sprouts did not have a clue as to how to remove the skin. Neither do I. I am fine with cooking it with the skin, but obviously, your idea of folding it (love that idea for another time) won’t work here. Given that, do you have recommendations for preparing it?

  10. Sally Cameron - July 1st, 2015

    Hi Pat. It’s hard to say since I cannot see the piece of fish. To skin the filet, use a thin, sharp flexible knife. If you have a filet knife, great. If not and you enjoy fish frequently as we do, I would get one. If you need a recommendation let me know. Place the fish skin side down on a cutting board. Place the sharp edge of the knife at one end. There might be a little edge you can hang on to. Hold that little edge down on the board with your fingers then with the other hand, push the blade, angling it down, the the filet to the end. You might have to wiggle the blade back and forth a bit. I hope this makes sense. Easier to show that to explain. Good idea for a quick video. Look at this link for salmon and you should get a better visual idea. If you can’t get it off, it will probably peel off after cooking. Let me know how it comes out for you.

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