This succulent baked swordfish is ready to eat in less than 25 minutes. Swordfish cuts are seasoned, seared and baked, then topped with lemon basil butter for a quick and easy dinner!
Why You'll Love it:
I've always found swordfish a bit bland, so I knew I wanted to jazz it up and give it a crave-worthy flavor profile.
Mission accomplished. This baked swordfish recipe is succulent with caramelized edges and a zippy herbaceous butter on top! And it only takes 25 minutes to make it - yes, please!
Swordfish cuts - I bought fresh 1-inch thick swordfish select cuts. You can buy frozen swordfish steaks and thaw them first if you prefer. The thickness of your swordfish will determine the cooking time. Thicker cuts take longer to cook than thinner ones.
Olive oil - Adds flavor and encourages caramelization! Any neutral oil with a high-smoke point works fine, but I recommend olive oil.
Seasoning - You will need onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, kosher salt, and pepper. If you only have table salt, cut the amount in half.
Unsalted butter - For the lemon basil butter! Don't skip it - trust me on this one. Make sure your butter is soft so it's easy to mash.
Fresh basil - For an herbaceous kick! Cilantro would make a good swap if you don't have basil.
Garlic - Mince one clove of garlic. It should equal roughly one teaspoon of garlic.
Lemon juice - A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is not optional! It brightens up the butter and amplifies the flavor of the swordfish.
How to Bake Swordfish:
This baked swordfish is seared in a hot skillet, then baked until flaky and tender! Before you start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure it's oven-safe! A cast iron skillet should work too.
In a medium bowl, combine the unsalted butter, minced basil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and kosher salt.
Mash the butter with a fork to incorporate the basil, salt, garlic, and lemon.
Season the swordfish cuts. In a small bowl, combine all the spices and mix with your fingers. Evenly sprinkle the mixture over both cuts of swordfish.
Sear the swordfish steaks in the hot skillet. Carefully place the swordfish cuts, seasoned side down, into the skillet.
Let the swordfish caramelize in the hot skillet for 4 minutes. Resist the urge to move it around or fiddle with it.
Use a thin-set spatula to flip the swordfish over. The tops should be golden brown.
Place the skillet into the preheated oven and bake the swordfish until it's cooked through, about 11 to 12 minutes. The timing depends on the thickness of your swordfish.
Use an oven mitt to carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. The handle will be scalding hot! Do NOT grab it with your bare hands.
Transfer the swordfish to serving plates and top with lemon basil butter. I scooped two teaspoons onto each fillet.
How to Buy Good Swordfish:
- You can purchase fresh or frozen swordfish. If buying frozen, thaw the swordfish in the refrigerator a day before you plan to make it. Alternatively, you can thaw it in a large bowl of cold water. Never thaw frozen fish in hot water!
- The flesh varies in color, but it should range from white to a light pink color. The darker areas should be a reddish hue.
- Swordfish should smell like the sea. If it has a pungent, sour smell, it's best to toss it.
- The steaks should feel firm. If they feel slimy, they may not be good to eat.
- Make sure the skillet is hot before you add the swordfish. You should hear a sizzle when you add them to the pan.
- Make sure to use softened butter. If you forget to let it soften at room temperature, you can microwave it for a few seconds. Don't heat it too long or it will melt. Cold butter is hard to mix!
- Don't skip the compound butter. It truly makes this recipe! It adds a boost of citrusy herby flavor and it's so simple.
- Try not to overcook the swordfish. Overcooked swordfish tastes dry instead of tender and flaky. The swordfish is cooked when it flakes easily and the inside is opaque.
- Store leftover swordfish in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
- Reheat the swordfish in the oven or the microwave. The microwave is faster but results in a chewy texture if heated for too long.
- Microwave on a microwave-safe plate or wrap the swordfish in aluminum foil and bake in a 300 degree oven until hot throughout.
What temperature should swordfish be cooked to?
According to the USDA, swordfish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give you a well done piece of swordfish. If you prefer medium-well, bring the swordfish to 135 degrees instead.
How do you know when swordfish is done?
Swordfish is done when it flakes easily with a fork and the inside changes from translucent to opaque.
What to Serve with Swordfish:
This oven baked swordfish is versatile and goes well with most side dishes! Here's a few of my favorites:
- Roasted vegetables - Any combo works great! Try asparagus, broccoli, summer squash, carrots, butternut squash, etc.
- Potatoes - Mashed or roasted potatoes both work great!
- Quinoa - Try a side of brown rice and quinoa for a healthy, satisfying option.
- Rice - White or brown! Here's my favorite method to make perfectly cooked white rice every time. Couscous is also a good option!
Easy Dinner Recipes:
Baked Swordfish with Lemon Basil Butter
- 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet
For the swordfish:
- 2 1-inch thick swordfish select cuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
For the lemon basil butter:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh basil (about 4 large leaves)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- squeeze fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the skillet.
- In a medium bowl, combine the ingredients for the basil butter. Use a fork to mash the ingredients together.
- While the skillet heats up, season the swordfish. In a small bowl, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, dried basil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well with your hands or a spoon.
- Evenly sprinkle the seasoning on the top of each cut of swordfish.
- Once the nonstick skillet is hot, carefully place the swordfish steaks into the skillet, seasoned side down. Let them sear for 4 minutes. Don't disturb them so they can caramelize.
- Use a thin-set spatula to carefully flip the swordfish cuts over. Place the skillet into the preheated oven and bake until cooked all the way through, about 11 to 12 minutes.
- Use an oven mitt to carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Transfer the swordfish cuts to a plate and top each one with two teaspoons of lemon basil butter.