Meatless Monday Challenge

5-Ingredient Lemon Butter Halibut

on May 13, 2024
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This quick and easy Lemon Butter Halibut is perfectly tender with gourmet flavor from just 5 simple ingredients. The garlic and lemon-infused butter brings out the natural flavors of the fish.
Ribbed pink plate with butter-basted halibut and two lemon wedges.

Need a quick and simple dinner with minimal ingredients but maximum flavor? This Lemon Butter Halibut is perfectly tender, with luxurious flavor from a butter baste infused with lemon and garlic.

Plus, this five-ingredient fish dinner recipe comes together quickly and uses a simple cooking technique that is great to learn and have in your back pocket for whenever you are craving any kind of white fish.

Overhead image of plated lemon butter halibut.

Halibut with Garlic Lemon Butter Ingredients

Here’s everything you need:

  • Halibut. I used frozen (thawed) pre-portioned skinless filets.
  • Garlic.
  • Butter. I like to use salted butter here, but both salted and unsalted butter works in this recipe.
  • Lemon.
  • Old Bay seasoning. None on hand? Check out this article on Every Old Bay Substitute.
Overhead view of ingredients for lemon butter halibut recipe including halibut, garlic, butter, lemon, and Old Bay seasoning.

Sustainable Seafood

I love halibut because it is so deliciously tender yet firm, with a little bit of flakiness. It has a very mild taste that takes on flavor readily.

Plus, there are accessible ways to source Halibut sustainably, which as an environmental scientist, is important to me!

U.S. wild-caught Pacific halibut is a sustainable seafood choice as it is local and native to the Pacific Ocean and responsibly harvested under strict regulation.

Green tip: Look for Marine Stewardship Council and Friend of the Sea labels on your fish to ensure they were harvested sustainably.

Lemon Butter Halibut Tips and Tricks

Fresh Garlic and Lemon Go a Long Way in this Recipe!

Prep your garlic by peeling and mincing it before you get started.

I highly recommend using a fresh lemon. Typically, large lemons contain about 3-4 tablespoons of juice. I use a citrus squeezer to get the most out of my lemons!

I cut the lemon in half, using half of the lemon to extract the juice and make the lemon butter. Then, I cut the other half into wedges to serve with my gourmet halibut dinner.

Minced garlic on a chopping board ready to infuse butter.
Set yourself up for success by first peeling and mincing your garlic.

How to Prep Your Halibut for Cooking

If you’re using frozen halibut, make sure it’s completely defrosted before you start. You can transfer the fish from the freezer to the refrigerator at least 12 hours before to easily thaw it.

If you need it to thaw more quickly, add the halibut to a storage bag and make sure it’s sealed tight. Then, submerge the frozen halibut in cold water for about 45 minutes until completely defrosted.

Halibut is often sold skinless, but if you need to remove the skin at home, check out this guide on how to remove skin from fish.

Before you start cooking, it’s best to dry your halibut in order to get the best texture.

Green tip: Paper products contribute to deforestation. Consider these bamboo paper towels! Bamboo naturally regenerates every few months, whereas trees cannot regrow once harvested.

Place your halibut filets in between two paper towels and press down lightly, so that the paper towels absorb excess moisture. This will help to avoid a mushy texture. This same pat-dry technique is used in making this Honey Sriracha Salmon as well.

Patting halibut dry with a paper towel to prep for pan frying.
Remove the skin from your halibut and slice into individual portions, if need be, then pat the fish dry with a paper towel.

How to Make Garlic Lemon Butter

Once your halibut is prepped, get going on your garlicky lemon butter. Add the butter and garlic to a pan over medium-high heat and add the lemon juice and Old Bay seasoning.

Green tip: Look for pure organic and palm oil-free butter if you can. Buying organic means you are supporting farms that do not use damaging pesticides and fertilizers, and palm oil production is a huge driver behind deforestation.

As the butter melts, stir occasionally to infuse the butter with the lemon, garlic, and seasoning.

Wait until the butter completely melts and the garlic is fragrant before lowering you halibut into the lemon butter.

Adding lemon juice to pan with butter, garlic, and Old Bay.
Add the garlic, butter, lemon juice, and Old Bay to the pan.
Lemon garlic butter hot in a pan.
Melt and infuse the butter over medium-high heat until the butter is hot and bubbling.

How to Cook Halibut in Lemon Butter

Once the infused butter is hot and bubbling, slowly lower in the prepped halibut with your heat source still on medium-high. Sear the halibut in the butter for about 4-5 minutes on each side.

While the halibut is cooking, use a spoon to baste the fish in the garlic butter. Simply scoop out some of the lemon butter with a spoon and pour it over the top of the halibut filets.

The fish should reach an internal temperature of 130°F. You can also tell when the fish is cooked because it will transform from translucent to opaque.

Be careful not to overcook the halibut, as it tends to become a little bit rubbery. You may notice the butter starting to brown, and that’s more than okay (encouraged, even, for more flavor!).

Dropping halibut into pan with hot garlic lemon butter.
Carefully lower the halibut into the hot butter.
Basting halibut with lemon butter as it cooks in a pan.
As the halibut is cooking, baste it with the lemon butter.
Close up of garlicky halibut in a pan with hot butter and lemon.
The halibut should reach an internal temperature of 130°F with just 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serving Lemon Butter Basted Halibut

I like to serve the pan-seared halibut with some lemon wedges and drizzle the extra lemon butter from the pan on top. Here are some of my favorite side dishes for this delicious halibut recipe:

Spooning extra butter sauce over pan-seared halibut.
Serve your lemon butter halibut with extra infused butter from the pan.

How to Properly Store and Reheat Butter Basted Halibut

Once cooked, your Buttery Lemon Halibut will last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.

To reheat cooked halibut, thaw in the refrigerator overnight if frozen, and bake it at 275°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 130°F.

Alternatively, you can throw it back in a pan with a little bit of oil or butter, cover, and cook over medium heat for 5-8 minutes until internal temp reaches 130°F.

Green tip: Did you know that of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes? It’s always best to avoid food waste as much as you can!

Want to sharpen your kitchen skills?

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Why This is My Go-To Halibut Recipe

  • It’s super quick. I generously labeled this a 20-minute meal, but once you practice a couple of times I’m confident you can crank this out in 15 minutes!
  • It’s simple. 5 ingredients is all you need to get great flavor out of your fish. No need to overcomplicate an already good thing!
  • This recipe brings out the natural flavors of the halibut. The lemon, butter, garlic, and Old Bay work together harmoniously to celebrate the subtly sweet and mild flavors of halibut.

If you’re loving this Lemon Butter Halibut and want more buttery fish recipes, check out this Seared Scallop Risotto and Pesto Butter Salmon!

Ribbed pink plate with butter-basted halibut and two lemon wedges.

5-Ingredient Lemon Butter Halibut

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Marley Goldin
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This quick and easy Lemon Butter Halibut is perfectly tender with gourmet flavor from just 5 simple ingredients. The garlic and lemon-infused butter brings out the natural flavors of the fish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 servings



  • 8 -10 ounces hailbut
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 large lemon
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
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  • Peel and mince your garlic and if need be, slice your halibut into individual portions (about 4-5 ounces each). Remove the skin if necessary and use a paper towel to pat dry both sides of the halibut.
  • Add the butter, garlic, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning to a pan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally, until butter is completely melted and bubbling.
  • Slowly lower in your halibut filets. While the halibut is cooking, use a spoon to baste the fish in the lemon butter. Sear for 4-5 minutes on each side, basting every 30 seconds or so, until the halibut is thoroughly cooked. You'll know it's ready when it turns from translucent to opaque and the internal temperature of the fish is 130°F.
  • Serve hot with extra lemon butter from the pan on top and enjoy!

Pro Tips

  • You may notice the butter browning slightly as you cook your halibut and that’s perfectly okay. Browned butter has A LOT of flavor. Just make sure the garlic isn’t burning. If it is, quickly turn down your heat. 
  • I highly recommend using a fresh lemon. Use half of the lemon to extract your juice and the other half to slice into wedges for serving (or save it for later!). 
  • Want more simple recipes like this? Check out this list of fish recipes with 5 ingredients or less

Share This Recipe

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword 30 Minutes or Less, 5 Ingredients or Less, Fish Dinner, Halibut, Lemon Butter Halibut, Pescatarian
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