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Salt and Pepper Crusted Sea Bass

With a drizzle of garlicky lemon butter, this salt and pepper crusted sea bass brings simple flavors to your plate and pairs well with just about any side.

 


Close up of salt and pepper crusted sea bass.

{New photos, same recipe} 

If you’re trying to get your family to eat more fish, sea bass is the perfect gateway. The flavor is mild, the texture is meaty, and it pairs with just about anything—from Mediterranean spices to fruity salsas. But, in order to put focus on just how perfect sea bass can be on its own, I kept things clean and simple.

Hitting a fillet of fish with salt and pepper is common. But with this recipe, I used a generous amount of both in order to create a dreamy crust on top. As a result, you get a golden crisp exterior with a flaky and tender interior. You don’t need much else, but if you’re feeling extra, go ahead and whip up that garlic lemon butter I’ve provided in the recipe card. You can’t go wrong with a sparkling drizzle of garlicky lemony buttery goodness ;)

I like to serve my salt and pepper crusted sea bass with a veg, like oven-roasted broccoli, or over a wholesome bed of greens and grains like I did here. Depends on the season! But salt and pepper goes with pretty much anything, so your options are endless. What will you serve it with?

Hands holding up bowl of salad topped with sea bass.

Side shot of bowl of salad topped with sea bass.

If you try this recipe or create your own variation, let me know in the comments! I love connecting with you. Then snap a photo and tag me on the Insta @killing__thyme to be featured in our newsletter.

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5 from 5 votes

Salt and Pepper Crusted Sea Bass

With a drizzle of garlicky lemon butter, this salt and pepper crusted sea bass brings simple flavors to your plate and pairs well with just about any side.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Pescatarian, Pescetarian
Keyword easy, fish, Pescatarian, pescetarian, quick, sea bass, seafood
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

  • 2 6 oz fillets of sea bass, with or without skin
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper

Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce (Optional).

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed *See notes
  • Juice and zest of one lemon

Instructions

Sea bass.

  • Preheat the oven to 375º F.
  • Pat the fillets dry with paper towels and let the fillets come to room temperature, which should take about 10-15 minutes. This will help them cook evenly.
  • Season one side of each fillet generously with 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of cracked black pepper.
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized cast iron skillet or oven-safe saucepan over high heat for two minutes, or until the oil is shimmering
  • Carefully place the sea bass fillets into the skillet, seasoned side down. Sprinkle a little extra salt and pepper on the exposed tops.
  • Let the fillets sear over high heat for 2 minutes. Do not flip the fish; transfer the skillet into the oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until fish is opaque and the internal temperature is 145º F.
  • Plate the fish and drizzle each fillet with a tablespoon of the garlic lemon butter sauce (if you make it).

Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce (Optional).

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan over moderate heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves and lemon zest to the butter.
  • Bring the heat to low and simmer, infusing the butter with garlic, for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and stir well to incorporate. Continue to simmer on low for 2 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves with a slotted spoon.

Notes

Garlic: Peel your cloves of garlic and, with the flat side of a chopping knife, press down on the clove to just break it open. We want to infuse the butter with the essence of garlic, but we don't want any garlic in the butter when serving.

43 Comments

  • […] Salt & Pepper-Crusted Sea Bass from Killing Thyme. We all LOVE this dinner. We make it without the butter sauce and it tastes like something you’d eat at a fancy restaurant. It’s quick too, and my girls love it. We usually serve it with a salad or roasted vegetables. (You can find frozen sea bass at Costco sometimes. :)) […]

    Reply
  • Lauren
    March 11, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    I have made this multiple times now and each time it’s delicious. My girls love this too! It tastes like something you’d order from a nice restaurant, but it’s so simple to make at home. It feels like a special dinner, but only takes a few minutes to make :)

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      March 14, 2020 at 9:55 am

      Lauren! I’m so glad you and your fam have been enjoying this dish <3

      Reply
  • […] Salt & Pepper Crusted Sea Bass from Killing Thyme (without the butter sauce) with roasted brussel sprouts and Peanut Butter Banana […]

    Reply
  • Toni S
    November 26, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    5 stars
    Amazingly simple yet exquisite meal! Served atop steamed bok choy and Israeli couscous drizzled with the garlic butter sauce. Even my picky fish-hating husband loved it!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      November 27, 2019 at 2:20 pm

      I love this, Toni! Sounds like a perfect meal. So glad you were able to convert your husband onto some fish. It’s no easy feat. I, too, have a husband who was once a fish hater ;)

      Reply
  • kb
    October 11, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    Hope to make this tonight. Not sure how fast the reply time is — but my fish has the skin on it. Do I cook it skin side down (I’m guessing) or seasoning side down (like the recipe says)?

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 11, 2019 at 10:44 pm

      You can go skin side down to get a nice crisp :)

      Reply
  • Paul
    October 4, 2019 at 3:31 am

    5 stars
    Holy Mackerel….oops or should I say Holy Chilean Sea Bass! That was incredibly good, actually fantastic! Thanks for the recipe. I’m single and simple is always appreciated. I just never expected this to be so delicious. It was high end restaurant quality good!

    Reply
  • Lisa
    August 29, 2019 at 12:43 am

    5 stars
    Made this tonight w/broccoli & garlic parmesan mashed potatoes on the side and the fam loved it. Thank you so much for posting this recipe! Been trying to put more fish in our diet. My kids eat everything even if they’re not huge fans (I make them), but even my 13yo son who’s not crazy about fish loved this. Simple, relatively healthy, & delish. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 30, 2019 at 9:49 am

      Lisa! I’m so happy to hear this. My husband isn’t huge on fish either, but he loves this recipe. (I still make him eat fish, lol.) Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by with feedback :)

      Reply
  • Melanie
    June 1, 2019 at 8:42 am

    You said that the 2 TBSP of butter is a typo, but what is it supposed to be?

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      June 1, 2019 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Melanie— the only butter this recipe calls for is listed in the optional butter sauce. I’d previously listed it along with the fish ingredients by mistake, and that has now been removed. The recipe is good to go.

      Reply
  • Paul
    April 2, 2019 at 9:15 pm

    Hey,

    Giving this a go tonight and wondered about the 2 TBSP Butter for the fish…is that just a typo?

    Thanks and looking forward to some Sea Bass!

    Paul

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      April 3, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Hi Paul! It most certainly is a typo. Thank you for catching that! I hope you enjoyed the fish!

      Reply
  • Martin
    March 20, 2019 at 9:07 pm

    5 stars
    This is a super simple recipe for one of the cleanest tasting fish. I feel like this fish should be uncomplicated, and you just nailed it with this. We had a really good avocado cilantro salad that went perfectly as a side to it. Satisfaction guaranteed, we will be using your recipe again. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      March 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

      Martin! I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe. I’m with you 100%. Sea bass is so delicate and awesome—very little needs to be done to it. Your refreshing side really does sound perfect for this! I want to take that entire meal out to the patio on a warm summer evening.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop in with feedback :)

      Reply
  • Lisa J Wood
    October 13, 2018 at 10:07 am

    5 stars
    That was so simple and SO delicious! I had to share to my Pinterest page and with my family. :) The crust on the bottom was perfect! Thanks for sharing. :)

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 13, 2018 at 10:11 am

      I’m so glad you loved it, Linda! I appreciate you stopping by with feedback :)
      Have a great weekend!

      Reply
  • Sean
    August 20, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    Hey Dana! Love your approach to this awesome piece of fish. When fish is that good, you’re bang-on about letting it speak for itself. That being said, I also love the lemon sauce! It lets you control how much you’re using while really amplifying and balancing the flavours. Nice.

    Wonderful to see what you’re saying about sustainability. I know some people don’t want to hear it, but it NEEDS to be said. So many fisheries have collapsed, and we just can’t afford to wander blindly into this stuff any more. In addition to your recommendation, I strongly encourage everyone to find ecologically conscious fishmongers. Sadly, not every city will have one, but if you can find one they’re a total godsend. Because they’re so specific about their product, they’ll not only help you make good choices, but they can often share a LOT of really useful information that you don’t get from many of the grocery stores. But hey, I’m preaching to the choir here. :)

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm

      Thanks, Sean!
      And yeah. I mean, shit. Eating ethically and responsibly *sounds* like a lot of effort, but if you truly care about our planet and the wonderful critters and furries on it, you’ll take the 20 minutes to Google it and see how you can make a difference. The information is easily accessible these days. But I’m happy to keep pushing it with every fish post as a reminder. Haha.

      Reply
  • Colleen Milne
    August 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Gorgeous photo and the sea bass looks amazing. I need to get out of my fish rut and try some new ones. This would be great on the grill, I’m thinking.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 20, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks, Colleen!
      Fish ruts can definitely be tricky to get out of. I hope this helps and I hope you love it when you try it. Let me know :)

      Reply
  • Justine
    August 20, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Yay for an innovative cast iron fish recipe! I haven’t tried sea bass for a long time, but I’m going to pin this recipe for the next time I make a trip to my favourite little fish market. This is SUCH a gorgeous dish Dana — easy buy elegant, my favourite combination. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks, Justine! Cast iron for life! I hope you love this when you try it. It pairs wonderfully with a nice pinot grigio ;)

      Reply
  • Teresa
    August 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Sea Bass is truly delicious and you treat it wonderfully here. Puts me in mind of a tropical seaside dinner. Or, maybe I just need a vacation.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:11 pm

      Thanks, Teresa!

      The first time I made sea bass I’d jazzed it up with a lime, soy and honey sauce and, though it was delicious, the delicate flavor of the fish itself had me wanting to let it shine on its own. I knew I had to try something super duper simple.

      And ha, don’t we *all* need a vacation. I’m with you, sister. Enjoy your weekend!

      Reply
    • Phil
      August 7, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Hey, that looks amazing! I just got done with the 6th layer of seasoning on my cast iron and I am going to try to make this for my mom and grandma tomorrow night. Any new advice since you’ve written this recipe? I am going to try to pair this with a refreshing cherry tomato salsa, sauted lemon parsley button mushrooms, and a very small bed of long grain & wild rice for the filet to rest on. And definately will not leave out that lemon garlic butter sauce. I hope I am successful, not the most experienced cook here.

      I just hope I get the sea bass right and not burnt.

      Reply
      • Killing Thyme
        August 7, 2019 at 5:11 pm

        Hi Phil! Your plan sounds absolutely delicious! No new advice, this recipe is pretty simple which is why it’s so great. Let me know how it turns out – sounds like an amazing dinner :)

        Reply
  • Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land
    August 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    So gorgeous! Love how you styled it. And yes to garlicky butter on top!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks so much, Lyndsay! That’s a huge compliment coming from such a magical cake decorator. Seriously.

      And heck yeah. Garlicky butter all day erryday.

      Reply
  • julia
    August 19, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    In our house, we love sea bass. Well everyone except for my 14 year old daughter who refuses to eat any fish except for fresh tuna and shrimp. Picky! This recipe sounds delicious and I am keeping it in mind for the next time we make it . I am kind of boring, as we usually just barbecue it whole. Beautiful pictures as well!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Thanks, Julia!

      Haha, I was that 14 year old once upon a time. I was all about beer-battered fish, shrimp and breaded scallops over-dunked in tartar sauce. (Still love that, but have grown up. Haha.)

      I really hope you love this. It’s simple, but with a fish like sea bass, I think simple is good. With salmon, I tend to go bonkers.

      Reply
  • Alanna @ One Tough Cookie
    August 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    This is so beautifully styled and shot! It’s not easy to make white fish look sexy, but you’ve definitely succeeded here. I love how quick and easy the recipe is, too, and how you really let the bass shine. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks so much, Alanna! That means a ton coming from you. I’ve always found your blog and photos to be awe-inspiring. So shucks. I’m humbled!

      Reply
  • Mardi (eat. live. travel. write.)
    August 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I am not a huge fish eater but am learning to like white fish. This looks right up my alley! Bookmarked!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      I’m glad this appeals to you, Mardi! I’m always trying to convince my non-fish eating friends and fam to give certain recipes a whirl, but some people just can’t handle fish. And then I’m just left here to feel sad for them. Haha.

      Sea bass is definitely light in flavor, so it’s a great one to start with when you’re just dippin’ your toes into eating fish.

      Reply
  • Kimberley | HealthyLifeRedesign
    August 19, 2016 at 12:51 pm

    Dana, this looks amazing! I’ve never cooked sea bass at home but this recipe definitely encourages me to give it a try! I need to shift away from my typical salmon recipes and try something a bit more adventurous ;) Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 10:00 pm

      Thanks so much, Kim!
      This method of cooking sea bass is so easy and totally the way to go. I hear you on the salmon bit. I love salmon and love to get creative with it, but after a while it seems dull and I need to chill out with it.

      I hope you give this a whirl, and I hope you love it!

      Reply
  • Nicoletta @sugarlovespices
    August 19, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    We’re on the same wave length, Dana, we made a whole branzino on the BBQ yesterday, and I guess branzino is sea bass in english? Loved it! And love the look of yours! Awesome recipe and beautiful pictures!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      August 19, 2016 at 9:57 pm

      Your branzino dinner sounds fantastic! Love me some fish on the barbie.
      Thanks so much! <3

      Reply
  • Krysten
    July 30, 2016 at 1:49 am

    This looks really fantastic!
    I cannot wait to try it!
    I am so sick of hum drum fish recipes :(

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      July 30, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, Krysten! I hear you. I want to work on a compilation of fish recipes to prove that fish doesn’t have to be boring—not does it always have to be spiced with dry herbs with a squirt of lemon juice. Haha. Fish is delish—it just doesn’t get enough attention.

      Reply

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