Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

Simple and summery, this pan-seared halibut with sweet cherry tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil comes together in 30 minutes.

Fresh Pacific halibut is a seasonal splurge. It needs very little to enhance its flavor—in fact, it’s almost a sin to fuss too much with it. I like to prepare it simply: pan-seared until golden and crisp with a quick sauté of sweet, garlicky cherry tomatoes on the side. Depending on how long you cook the tomatoes, they can be firm and fresh or soft and jammy. I usually aim for somewhere right in between, but they’re delicious either way.

What You’ll Need To Make Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

halibut ingredients

Pacific halibut is a firm, dense, and sweet white fish, available fresh from March into November. Avoid frozen halibut, as it tends to be dry. If you don’t have access to fresh halibut, another mild white fish like haddock, mahi mahi, sea bass, tilapia, or cod may be substituted.

Step-by-Step Instructions

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

cherry tomatoes and seasoning in bowl

Toss to combine and set aside.

tossed cherry tomatoes and seasoning

Season the halibut all over with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

seasoning halibut with salt and pepperHeat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. It’s important that the pan is good and hot. If the fish doesn’t sizzle when you place it in the oil, take it out and give he pan another minute or two to heat up.

Place the fish, presentation-side down, in the pan. (Be sure not to crowd the pan, or the fish will steam instead of sear.)

pan-searing halibut on first side

Cook, without touching, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and lower the heat to medium; continue cooking until the halibut is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked halibut to a plate or serving platter.

pan-searing halibut on second side

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the cherry tomato mixture.

cherry tomatoes in pan

Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices, a few minutes. saucy cherry tomatoes

Stir in basil, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

finishing cherry tomato sauce with basil

Serve the halibut filets with the cherry tomatoes spooned over top and alongside.

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Pan-Seared Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil

Simple and summery, this pan-seared halibut with sweet cherry tomatoes, garlic, and fresh basil comes together in 30 minutes.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes, halved (preferably mixed colors)
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut filets (or other mild white fish)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  2. Season the halibut all over with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Place the fish, presentation-side down, in the pan and cook, without touching, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Flip the fish and lower the heat to medium; continue cooking until the halibut is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the cooked halibut to a plate or serving platter.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the cherry tomato mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until the tomatoes start to break down and release their juices, a few minutes. Stir in basil, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  5. Serve the halibut filets with the cherry tomatoes spooned over top and alongside.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 263
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrates: 4 g
  • Sugar: 2 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Sodium: 631 mg
  • Cholesterol: 83 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Stop whatever you are doing. Run to the store. Buy the ingredients for this recipe. Make it for dinner tonight! You will be amazed at the wonderful dish you created! I made this for dinner guests last night. Seriously, they thought they were eating at a 5-star restaurant. It was FANTASTIC! I made the sauce in advance, so all I had to do was cook the fish right before we ate and pour the sauce on it. Instant happiness. And is very simple to make.

    • — Peg Reiter on August 30, 2021
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  • Absolutely delicious! If you’re like me and prefer plain, grilled halibut, try this as a change-up! I have made the tomato mixture, along with some added shallots, served over thin spaghetti with Parmesan cheese for a vegetarian dinner, too.

    • — Margaret on August 19, 2021
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  • The tomatoes are an amazing accompaniment to the fish. I had some bass fillets in the freezer and my cherry tomato plant is being super productive this year. I shared this recipe with my vegetarian daughter and she will try it with tofu. Thanks Jenn, another winner.

    • — Suzon on August 18, 2021
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  • I have so enjoyed this recipe. I have prepared it using cod, and I have also prepared the tomatoes, adding them to pasta and fresh basil pesto. Recommended!!

    • — Jane on August 7, 2021
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  • This was very good, especially with cherry tomatoes and basil right from the garden. I used nice thick cod, which has a more mild flavor. Cod is also not as firm as halibut, so the fillets sort of fell apart. I didn’t use a nonstick pan (ever the rebel!) and it did stick too much in my cast iron pan. The flavor was great though! I’ll definitely make it again using a nonstick pan and maybe even spring for the halibut (twice as expensive as cod) next time too.

    • — Kate on July 28, 2021
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  • I love this recipe. It’s absolutely delicious. When halibut is out of season would this work with salmon?
    Thanks for your wonderful recipes.

    • — tanya abrams on July 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure (and so glad you like the recipes)! 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 27, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this with Orange Roughy and grape shaped tomatoes as substitutions
    and it was absolutely delicious!
    Thank you so much for this recipe.
    janie

    • — Janie Payne on July 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • So easy, delicious and healthy.

    • — Diana on July 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • Followed this recipe as indicated but it did not yield a sauce. Perhaps I needed more tomatoes and should have cooked them longer. I love halibut but I found this recipe to be a bit bland.

    • — Niki on July 20, 2021
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  • I used this recipe using cod filets from Costco. Served fish and tomato sauce over pasta along with a simple salad. It was delicious! I have already shared it with my sister and two daughters.

    • — Elizabeth Pentecost on July 19, 2021
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  • I love this recipe from the cookbook! What brand of nonstick pans do you like? Thank you!

    • — Alexis on July 19, 2021
    • Reply
    • Glad you like this! My favorite brand is All-Clad. They can be a bit pricy so if you’d like to spend a little less, Calphalon and Analon are also good.

      • — Jenn on July 19, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you so much! I can’t wait for your next book!

        • — Alexis on July 19, 2021
        • Reply
  • LOVE this simple, quick and very delicious halibut recipe!!
    I failed to add oil before fish and it stuck a bit, but did not hurt the overall effect once topped with the sautéed tomato mixture! Such a tasty dish, and perfect for the fresh halibut we just caught in Alaska!! Thanks again Jenn!

    • — Hope on July 19, 2021
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  • This was so simple yet delicious. A lovely summertime meal that is light and takes advantage of seasonal ingredients! Thank you for another winning recipe!

    • — AnitaR on July 19, 2021
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  • This recipe is not only easy to make, flavourful and delicious, it’s beautiful to look at too.
    I made it with fresh cod and it was amazing. To be honest, I didn’t think that I’d like fish and tomatoes together, but knowing it was one of Jenn’s recipes, gave it a try and I’m very happy I did! You’re the best Jenn! Thanks for another fabulous recipe.

    • — Barb V on July 19, 2021
    • Reply
  • Simple and delicious. The tomato mix is surprisingly tasty. Served with Jenn’s couscous and a fennel-cucumber salad. Perfect Sunday dinner for a summer evening. As another reviewer noted, halibut here in Victoria is plentiful and that’s what I used but I’m sure it would be good with almost any fish.

    • — Jim on July 18, 2021
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  • Love it! Used frozen cod and it was delicious. I can only imagine what it would taste like if it were fresh halibut. Easy, fast and healthy – what more could you ask for?

    • — Lulu on July 18, 2021
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  • This was a v. successful dinner for two. Rather than frozen supermarket catch of the day I had some fresh brown trout which gave me two small steak cuts to pan sear. My sides were a Knorr Rice “Select” and green beans. … I am a late -to-the -kitchen “cooker” (84) in new care-giver mode and enjoy your recipes.

    • — Chris Thurlby on July 17, 2021
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  • This is a winner! Easy to prepare and very tasty! I used halibut, but easily see myself using cod and/or haddock—which are both very plentiful here in SE Massachusetts. Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Alex S. on July 17, 2021
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  • I made this tonight using a thick piece of fresh cod, basil from my garden and local tomatoes. This recipe is quick, simple, tasty and looks beautiful on the platter. I served it with Lemon Israeli Couscous, a lettuce salad and a green bean salad.

    • — Carol F. on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is one of my favorite recipes from the cookbook and I make it often. It works equally well with salmon!

    • — Debbie on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • The sauce was outstanding. Love halibut and this recipe made it much more fulfilling. You’re the best, Jenn.

    • — Kathy Bedard on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Amazing! Simple, clean and yammy. My little kids enjoyed it too.

    • — Veronica on July 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • This is delicious and very simple to make. When the email with this recipe came this morning, I had been planning halibut for dinner anyway so I tried it. We all, including my grandson who is staying with us, really enjoyed it. Halibut is plentiful here in Victoria at this time of year so this will definitely be made again. Thank you.

    • — Cindy on July 16, 2021
    • Reply

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