Seared Salmon with Cinnamon and Chile Powder

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This may be a simple recipe, but the flavors unite in an elegant and complex way. It's perfect for one because you can have it on the table in less than 10 minutes with almost no mess.Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)

Serves: 1


  • 1 salmon fillet with skin attached, sized to suit your appetite
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Canola oil, enough to barely slick the skillet
  • 1 dash sesame oil
In This Recipe


  1. Wash and completely pat dry the salmon fillet.
  2. In a small bowl mix chile powder, cinnamon, and the salt and pepper. Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of the salmon fillet. Heat canola oil and sesame oil in a non-stick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. Choose a skillet that is plenty big enough to avoid steaming the fish for the crispest possible skin.
  3. When the skillet is very hot, but not yet smoking, add the salmon, skin-side down. Cook it until the skin is very crisp, dark brown and releases easily from the skillet This should take 3 to 4 minutes. Do not be tempted to check or move the fish around in the skillet during this time. You will only succeed in making it stick to the skillet or worse ruin your beautifully crisp skin.
  4. You will notice that the fish gets lighter colored and more opaque. Do not let it cook more than about 1/4 of the way through at this point. You might be worried that the rest of the fish seems raw, but honestly this is a good thing. Once the skin has crisped flip the fish, and cook it an additional 2 (maybe 3) minutes more. Do not let it cook all the way through. The fish will continue to cook after it leaves the pan. Your goal is a succulent flesh graduating from a rare center outwards to a crispy crackly skin.
  5. Serve the fish warm or at room temperature with a slightly chilled Pinot Noir (yes, Pinot Noir... trust me). Dining alone is no excuse for a poor wine pairing.

More Great Recipes:
Sesame Oil|Salmon|Seafood|Cinnamon|Cast Iron|Valentine's Day|Entree

Reviews (16) Questions (3)

16 Reviews

Julie H. February 26, 2018
Really delicious. I'm a fish novice, so looked up some tips on salmon: brought it to room temperature 15 minutes before it hit the pan, heated pan over medium heat, and added oil once the pan was hot. Super simple and perfect as written. Thank you!
Laura April 16, 2017
what would you serve this with?
Suzanne B. April 17, 2017
I served this with Basmati rice. I think a roasted asparagus would also be wonderful.
okaykate February 23, 2017
This sounds amazing! What sort of chile powder have you all had such success with for this dish? I
Suzanne H. February 24, 2017
I used cayenne and the combination of the cinnamon and cayenne gave amazing flavor to the salmon. I would suggest that you adjust the amount of cayenne to your recipients tastes. I like spice, but my roommate is just beginning to acquire a taste for it.
melissa February 8, 2017
want to confirm the superiority of this recipe. i actually made a big batch of this rub and keep it in a cleaned spice jar so i can fix this up whenever i want!
Nanners June 12, 2016
I cooked this recipe on charcoal barbeque, absolutely fantastic!
Suzanne B. May 24, 2016
I was a bit skeptical about this--------cinnamon and chili? But I made the salmon this way and it was amazing. Sometimes you just have to trust that a combination will work and this definitely does.
Sam R. November 5, 2014
This recipe was golden!!! The cinnamon was perfect with the chili!! Will definitely make it again! Thanks
Summer O. November 8, 2013
I have made this 3x this month. And sometimes I substitute Chinese 5 spice for the cinnamon and sometimes I sub cayenne for the chili powder. Anyway you slice it it's a solid recipe. Really tasty, easy for a weeknight. I have found that it does require another minute or so for thicker steaks and that's cooking to rare. Anyhow, I'm glad to have this in my repertoire.
Lora November 3, 2013
I'm always afraid to cook salmon but this recipe was so easy and delicious. I made it on the fly one busy week night for my teen boys and they loved it.
cygnoir April 18, 2012
What a great recipe! Very simple and incredibly tasty. Thanks for sharing.
Tarragon January 6, 2012
I do, especially when it is crisp like this, but that is a matter of personal taste.
mcs3000 July 27, 2011
I received some huge salmon steaks in my CSA. Anxious to eat some of them, I made this recipe. Loved it - will make it again. Thanks, @SippitySup!
billiechristie March 1, 2010
I don't like salmon but my fiance does so I made this for him and he loved it!!! It was really easy, even for a non-salmon eater!
curlycake February 22, 2010
I followed the directions and this was delicious! The blackened spices on the fleshy side actually make a crust, like another crispy skin. We served it with some arugula w/ lemon & olive oil... perfect!