Culinary Arts

How to Cook Swordfish: Quick and Easy Pan-Roasted Swordfish Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Jun 7, 2019 • 2 min read

Once overfished, US-caught swordfish is now considered a sustainable seafood option.


What Is Swordfish?

Swordfish (Xiphias gladius) are migratory predators found in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific oceans. They’re characterized by the long, flat bills (the “sword” in swordfish) protruding from their snouts that they use to slash at prey and their tall dorsal fins.

Swordfish can weigh up to 1,000 pounds, but commercially caught swordfish average 50 to 200 pounds and are almost always sold as fillets or steaks. Thick, dense swordfish steaks are ideal for grilling and pan-roasting, but be careful not to overcook—their low fat content means swordfish easily turns dry.

4 Ways to Cook Swordfish

  1. Pan-Roast: Sear swordfish in a well seasoned cast-iron skillet or other oven-safe pan until brown on one side, then flip fish and transfer to a 400°F oven to finish cooking.
  2. Grill: Heat and oil the grates of a charcoal grill. Marinate swordfish briefly (10 to 15 minutes) or season with kosher salt and black pepper and rub with extra virgin olive oil. Grill swordfish until outside is browned but inside is still slightly pink, about 3 to 8 minutes per side.
  3. Pan-Sear: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear swordfish steaks until browned on each side and just cooked through (flesh should feel firm when pressed), about 3 to 8 minutes per side.
  4. Broil: Heat a broiler and lightly oil a broiling pan. Season swordfish with kosher salt and black pepper and broil until just done, about 6 minutes. (Do not flip.)

6 Ways to Season Swordfish

  1. Gordon Ramsay’s technique of encrusting tuna with sesame seeds protects the meat during the sear and adds a nutty flavor as the seeds toast. This technique works well with other fish that have little fat and no skin, such as swordfish.
  2. Encrust swordfish with lightly crushed black, white, or green peppercorns (or all three!). Wolfgang Puck uses this method for New York strip steaks.
  3. Make swordfish piccata by seasoning seared steaks with kosher salt and black pepper and serving with a lemon, butter, and caper pan sauce.
  4. Sauté swordfish and then gently flake cooked fish with a fork then toss with pasta, tomatoes, capers, olives, fresh lemon juice, and flat-leaf parsley.
  5. Marinate swordfish for 10 to 15 minutes in harissa or soy sauce, lemon peel, garlic cloves, herbs, and spices.
  6. Top seared swordfish steak with bread crumbs sautéed in butter or olive oil.

5 Sauces to Serve With Swordfish

The clean flavor of swordfish pairs well with a citrus or green salad dressed with vinaigrette that can also sauce the fish. Or try topping swordfish with:

  1. Gremolata
  2. Lemon butter sauce
  3. Compound butter
  4. White wine pan sauce
  5. Tomato avocado salsa

Quick and Easy Pan-Roasted Swordfish Recipe

Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
20 min
  • 1 swordfish fillet (about 6–7 ounces and 1-inch thick)
  • 1½ teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black peppercorns, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in a well seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season swordfish with salt and pepper.
  2. Sear on one side until browned, about 2–3 minutes. Flip fish and transfer swordfish to oven to finish cooking. Roast until the other side is browned and fish is just cooked through (feels firm when pressed), about 6–10 minutes.

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