How to pan-fry mackerel fillets

How to pan-fry mackerel fillets

In our opinion, cooking mackerel fillets in a pan is one of the best ways to serve this delicious and healthy fish. Succulent, flavourful mackerel fillets with a beautifully crisp skin make a tasty, quick meal. Mackerel fillets are widely available, relatively inexpensive and very quick to cook, so make a great midweek fish dinner. Mackerel is particularly unpleasant when overcooked, leaving dry, almost chewy flesh, so always err on the side of caution when cooking the fish. Leaving the skin on not only provides a crispy treat, but helps hold the fillet together.

Take a look at our simple method for pan-frying mackerel fillets below to ensure beautifully cooked mackerel fillets time after time.

  • 2 mackerel fillets, skin on and pin-boned
  • olive oil, or rapeseed oil
  • salt
  • pepper


Season the mackerel fillets with salt and pepper
Heat a dash of olive or rapeseed oil in a nonstick frying pan
Once the pan is smoking hot, add the mackerel to the frying pan, skin-side down. Turn the heat down to medium-high. As the fillets curl up away from the heat, gently apply pressure to the fillet to ensure that the fish stays flat and all of the skin comes into contact with the pan
Cook for 2–4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Once the skin is crisp and golden, turn the fillet over and remove the pan from the heat. Leave the mackerel in the pan to cook through in the residual heat, then serve up immediately

Pan-fried mackerel: variations and recipe ideas

Nathan Outlaw cooks bacon in the pan before adding his large, butterflied mackerel fillets and cherry tomatoes, to help infuse the flesh with extra flavour, while Geoffrey Smeddle and Dominic Chapman keep it simple with a squeeze of citrus juice.

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