I have been enjoying pan fried trout ever since I was a young girl thanks to growing up with a dad who enjoyed fishing. To me, the simple approach is best! This method is easy and will have dinner on the table in under 20 minutes!

trout fillets in a cast iron skillet and one on a plate with lemon wedges and green beans

Table of Contents
  1. The best Cooked Trout Recipe
  2. Cooked Trout ingredients
  3. How to Cook Trout
  4. How to clean trout
  5. Rainbow Trout Recipe tips
  6. How to store Fried Trout
  7. Pan Fried Trout FAQs
  8. What to serve with this Trout Recipe
  9. Fried Trout (How to Cook Trout) Recipe
  10. More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series

Whether you picked up some fresh trout from the store or you brought home your own catch, this simple pan fried trout is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy your fresh fish dinner that you can imagine. It’s made with basic staple ingredients so that the delicate, mild trout flavor can really come through and shine!

A collage of people holding rainbow trout that they caught while fishing.

If you love fresh fish for dinner, be sure to also try our Grilled Whole Fish and Oven Baked Rainbow Trout next!

The best Cooked Trout Recipe

So even though this is probably the most basic trout recipe you will ever find, pan fried trout is near and dear to my heart and truthfully my favorite way to eat rainbow trout.

It takes all of about 8-10 minutes to cook pan fried trout. The hardest part is cleaning the fish, which some stores will do for you if you aren't catching the trout yourself on the banks of a river or a lake.

Also, my fisherman husband tells me that I need to specify that this method of preparing trout works for any kind of trout, not just rainbow trout. Brown trout, brook trout, cutthroat trout all work just as well as rainbow trout for pan frying.

An image of a plate of pan fried rainbow trout served with lemon wedges and green beans.

Rainbow trout are almost always cooked and served with the skin on for added flavor.

Since it is a lean, white, flaky fish, with mild flesh that doesn't have the richness or oils of other fish like salmon, so it tastes less fishy than most fish. It's a great choice for this kind of pan fry in a little butter since the thin trout fillets cook quickly.

I have done a post on how to grill whole fish, and here is how I make oven baked rainbow trout. But this pan seared trout method is one of my favorites for the slightly crisp coating and how very simple it is.

Cooked Trout ingredients

  • Trout - You can use fresh-caught trout or whole trout you get from the store.
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil & butter
  • Lemon wedges
fried fish in a skillet and one cooked fillet on a white plate with green beans and lemon wedges

How to Cook Trout

  1. Pat the fish fillets dry with paper towels (more on how to clean fresh-caught trout below).
An image of three filleted rainbow trout.
  1. In a shallow pan, season a little flour with salt and pepper. Dredge the trout in the flour by pressing it down on both sides and shaking any excess flour off. This thin coating of seasoned flour protects the fish from burning in the pan and creates a wonderful texture without making the trout taste battered and fried.
An image of a butterflied rainbow trout being lightly coated in flour.
  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet or other nonstick pan over medium high heat and melt a little butter with olive oil in it. When the butter is melted, lay the trout fillets skin side down in the pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes, then carefully flip with a thin, wide spatula and cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes until golden brown, nearly opaque and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Just don't overcook the fish! You may need to work in batches to cook all your fish, but since it cooks so quickly this isn't typically a problem.
An image of flour-coated fish being fried in a cast iron skillet.
  1. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top of your pan fried trout.

How to clean trout

To clean a trout, hold the fish belly up and use a very sharp thin, flexible knife like a filet knife to slice the trout's belly from the throat down to the exit hole (you know what I'm talking about, it's just a little bit before the tail), being careful not to slice too deeply so as not to puncture the intestines.

Spread open the fish and pull out the guts and discard. Rinse the fish under a faucet, using the tip of the knife to scrape out any black stuff that remains behind (usually along the fish's spine at the bottom of the cavity).

After cleaning out the insides, cut off the head (just before the pectoral fin). Rinse the trout thoroughly, inside and out.

If you plan on eating the skin, you'll probably want to descale the fish by scraping from tail to the gills with your knife (but if you don't plan to eat the skin, there is no need to descale the fish, although personally, I like to have my fish scaled before cooking).

Then to butterfly the trout, start at the tail and slide the knife between the flesh of the fish and the bones that make up the fish's ribs.

Cut toward the backbone, separating the meat from the bones as you go, then flip the fish over and repeat on the other side.

Use kitchen shears to cut through the base of the ribs along the backbone and then lift out the backbone and rib cage.

With the spine removed, then trout is butterflied and will flatten easily into beautiful fillets that are easy to pan fry! If you want more detail or step-by-step photos, I found this article on how to butterfly a fish helpful.

Rainbow Trout Recipe tips

  1. Pat Dry: Ensure the trout is patted dry with paper towels before seasoning and frying. This helps achieve a crispy skin.
  2. High Heat: Heat the pan over medium-high heat with a high smoke point oil like canola or grapeseed oil or a combination of olive oil and butter, which is what I did here. This allows the trout to sear quickly and develop a crispy skin.
  3. Seasoning: Season the trout with salt, pepper, and any desired herbs or spices before placing it in the pan. Lemon zest or fresh herbs like parsley or dill can enhance the flavor.
  4. Skin-Side Down First: Place the trout skin-side down in the hot pan. Let it cook for the majority of the time on this side to ensure a crispy skin.
  5. Don't Overcook: Rainbow trout cooks quickly, so watch it closely. It's done when the flesh is opaque and easily flakes with a fork. Overcooking can dry it out.

How to store Fried Trout

Keep any leftover fried trout in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in the air fryer, oven, or microwave before serving.

Pan Fried Trout FAQs

Can you eat trout skin?

Yes, trout skin is edible and can be eaten. When properly cooked, it can be crispy and flavorful, adding texture to the dish.

What does rainbow trout meat taste like?

Rainbow trout has a mild, delicate flavor. Its flesh is tender and flaky, with a subtle sweetness that is often described as clean and fresh, without an overpowering fishy flavor.

Does trout have a lot of bones?

Trout typically have fine bones that run along their flesh. While they're not as large as some fish bones, they can still be present. When filleting trout, you may encounter these fine bones, but with careful handling, they can be removed. Eating trout often involves being cautious about these smaller bones.

Is trout very fishy?

No, I don’t think of trout as a very fishy tasting fish. It’s actually fairly mild which is why it’s popular with a lot of folks, even when they don’t like other types of fish.

An image of pan fried rainbow trout with crispy skin.

What to serve with this Trout Recipe

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought with a comment and rating below. You can also take a picture and tag me on Instagram @houseofnasheats or share it on the Pinterest pin so I can see.

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Fried Trout (How to Cook Trout)

4.83 from 28 votes
Amy Nash
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
The Rocky Mountains are known as a prime fishing destination, and as such, rainbow trout is often on the menu in Colorado, whether that's at a restaurant, in homes, or at campsites.  This easy, classic Pan Fried Trout recipe makes a delicious, quick dinner of store-bought or fresh caught rainbow trout by lightly dredging it in seasoned flour then quickly searing it in a hot skillet with a little butter. 


  • 4 butterflied trout, beheaded, scaled, and pinbones removed
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  • Pat the filleted fish dry with paper towels. In a shallow pan, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the trout in the flour by pressing it down on both sides and shaking off the excess flour.  
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet or other nonstick pan over medium high heat and melt the butter in it. Add the olive oil, then when hot, lay the trout fillets skin side down in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes. Carefully flip with a thin, wide spatula and cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes until golden brown, nearly opaque and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Don't overcook the fish! 
  • Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the top of the pan fried trout.


Depending on the size of the trout, you may want 1 whole trout person, or less if they are particularly large.


Calories: 644kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 71g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 212mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 1239mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 369IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 150mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe? Show me on Instagram!Mention @HouseOfNashEats or tag #houseofnasheats!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Amy

I enjoy exploring the world through food, culture, and travel and sharing the adventure with mostly from-scratch, family friendly recipes that I think of as modern comfort cooking.

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Reader questions and reviews

  1. Sorry to rain on your parade, but Rainbow trout are actually salmon. They belong to the same family and are very close relatives. The reason that they have white, mild meat is that these are hatchery fish (I can tell by your photo). Rainbow trout meat is orange to red. These are not wild Rainbows, sorry. So where did hubby go fishing? LOL

    1. Oh my husband definitely didn't catch these. We don't live in an area with a lot of trout so unless we are on vacation I have to purchase them from the store.

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe for the dad who does not cook much. Quick and easy while kids and spouse finished. I used store bought fillets and had rice and veggies on the side. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    This is the BEST way to cook trout! It’s delicious! Using a cast iron skillet sends it to the next level.