The Best Way To Prevent Fish From Sticking To A Cast Iron Skillet

If you know the right tricks, cooking fish at home can become one of your easiest and most reliable weeknight meals. After all, it's a protein that cooks quickly and needs just a squeeze of lemon to be delicious.

Part of what makes fish so special is its delicate, flaky texture — but that quality also has its downsides. Many home cooks run into problems trying to cook fish because it's a relatively fragile protein, especially compared to heartier options like chicken thighs or a braised pork shoulder. If you don't use the right technique when searing, there's a good chance your filet will stick to the pan, causing it to flake and fall apart. As Bon Appétit notes, you may also end up with "limp skin" on your filet — something no one wants to find on their dinner plate.

But you shouldn't let the possibility of a not-so-perfect piece of fish deter you. Instead, follow a few simple guidelines to ensure you get impressively crispy-skinned filets every time.

How to prevent fish from sticking to the pan

There are several tricks that, when put together, drastically reduce the chances that your fish will stick to the pan. According to Martha Stewart magazine, you need to start by making sure your pan is hot enough before adding the fish.

"​​Heat your pan on medium-high heat, then add a small amount of oil or clarified butter. When the fat is shimmering, the pan is hot enough to add your protein. Your fish should sizzle when added to the pan," explains Kate McCue, one of the directors at the Institute of Culinary Education, to the publication.

Additionally, making sure the surface of your fish is as dry as possible is essential, reported Bon Appétit. Moisture is part of what causes fish to stick to the skillet in the first place, so patting it dry with paper towels prior to searing can do wonders.

However, there is one rule that remains most important of all: be patient. According to Bon Appétit, your fish is pretty much bound to stick to the pan directly after you put it in. But as the fish cooks and the skin browns, it actually releases itself from the pan. Don't move or attempt to flip the fish if there's still resistance — just wait for another 15 to 20 seconds and try again. It should flip easily, without any areas left sticking to the pan.