Swordfish with Lemon Garlic Sauce

Pan-Roasting Makes this Recipe Easy & Foolproof

Make this foolproof swordfish recipe with lemon-garlic sauce when you need a fast, easy at-home dinner - or when you want to impress your favorite dinner guests but don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.

If you love garlicky shrimp scampi, you're going to be crazy about the addictive lemon-garlic sauce with butter, olive oil, and white wine featured in this recipe for swordfish steaks. 

Pan roasting, a favorite technique of many professional chefs, means your steaks will have a nice brown crust on the outside but remain moist and flavorful on the inside - no need to worry about them drying out from overcooking. 

I like to buy the thickest swordfish steak I can find - at least 1 inch thick, or more.  Take it out of your refrigerator half an hour before you want to start cooking, put it on a plate, and let it come to room temperature.  You'll pan roast it, which means searing briefly on each side to seal in the flavors, and then roasting it in a hot oven until it flakes while you start the lemon-garlic sauce.

Turn on your oven to 400° F.  Heat a skillet on your stovetop for a few minutes until it is quite hot.  Dry the swordfish steak thoroughly with a paper towel - this is the secret to getting a brown crust.  Sprinkle it with a little salt (not much, because fish is naturally salty) and pepper. 

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of canola or olive oil in the skillet for a minute or two until it begins to smoke, and then add the swordfish.  Brown the first side for 2-3 minutes, flip the steak over, and brown the other side for another 2-3 minutes.  Pop the skillet into a hot oven to finish cooking the fish - usually another 7-12 minutes, depending on the steak's thickness.   

While the fish roasts in the oven, melt the butter for the sauce in a small skillet over low heat, and cook the garlic and hot pepper flakes for about 2 minutes.  Set aside.

After the swordfish has been roasting for about 5 minutes, I use a small knife to test for doneness every minute or so.  Carefully poke the knife into the center of the steak and twist it a little to see the color - as soon as it looks opaque (ie, white) and is no longer translucent, it's done.  Using potholders, remove the fish from the oven and put it onto a serving platter.

Pour the wine into the hot fish skillet, and deglaze.  Stir in the garlic-hot pepper mixture and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, stir in the grated zest and lemon juice, and pour it over the fish.  Sprinkle with parsley, and it's ready to serve.

The thick swordfish steaks turn out perfect every time.

Substitute:  Tuna or halibut steaks instead of the swordfish.  Or use the lemon sauce on juicy jumbo shrimp - check out my Italian Shrimp in Garlic Sauce recipe.

Serve with:  Linguine, a green veggie such as asparagus or broccoli, and slices of crusty French bread to soak up any extra sauce.

Swordfish with Lemon & Garlic Sauce Recipe

Serves 4  | Total Prep & Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Difficulty:   Easy
8g protein  | 480 calories  | 18g carbohydrates  |  8g saturated fat  | 4g unsaturated fat


  • 1 1/2 pounds swordfish steak - at least 1 inch thick
  • Salt and pepper (kosher or sea salt works best)
  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil

For the Lemon-Garlic Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Grated zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley for garnish, snipped or cut into small pieces

Sear & Pan Roast the Swordfish

  1. Take your swordfish out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking.  Set your oven to 400° F.  Using paper towels, pat dry the swordfish.  Sprinkle it with a little salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in the skillet until it starts to smoke.  Add the swordfish and let it sear for 2-3 minutes, forming a brown crust.  Flip it over, and sear the other side for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Put it into the hot oven.  After 5 minutes, test with a knife every minute to see if it's opaque rather than translucent - once it looks white inside, it's done.  Remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the swordfish to a serving platter.

Make the Lemon-Garlic Sauce

  1. While the fish roasts in the oven, start the sauce.  Add the butter and olive oil to a small skill, and heat until the butter melts.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook over very low heat until the garlic begins to turn light brown. 
  2. After the fish finishes cooking and you've taken it out of the skillet, put the skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, add the white wine, and stir to deglaze - remember to use oven mitts when touching the hot pan!  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, cook for 3 minutes to reduce the volume of liquid.  Remove from the heat, and stir in the grated lemon zest and juice.  Pour the sauce over the swordfish, and garnish with parsley.