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.

Get the Recipe:

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.


  • 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


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.


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.