Pan-Fried Trout Recipe – How To Clean Trout

 This pan-fried trout recipe has to be the easiest and quickest way to cook a trout.  This is my husband’s recipe for freshly-caught Rainbow Trout.  Very easy and a very simple recipe – but very good!   My husband went on a fishing trip with his sons over Father’s Day weekend and caught these beautiful Rainbow Trout.  I always leave the cooking to him and his boys when he brings home fresh-caught trout.


Fresh-caught trout often taste best when lightly fried in butter.  Rainbow trout are traditionally cooked and served with the skin on for added flavor.


Pan-Fried Trout



Pan-Fried Trout Recipe:
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Pan-Fried Trout Recipe
Servings: 2 servings
  • 1 or 2 whole (1-pound) Trout, cleaned (head can be on or off), gills removed
  • 2 ounces butter*
  • 1 plate of all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper (to season the flour)
  1. My husband cleaned the trout just after he caught them by gutting them, cutting off the gills, and most importantly, scraping off the blood line off the backbone.  I also want the head cut off!


  3. How To Clean Fresh-Caught Trout:

  4. Cleaned TroutFirst you need to cut the head off just before the Pectoral fin (this fin can be nipped off or left on).  This is an optional step, as some people want the head left on when cooking.

  5. Hold fish with belly facing up.  Using your fillet knife, cut from the anal hole forward towards where the head was or still is.

  6. After pulling out the entrails, take an old tooth brush and clean the blood vein that runs along the spine.  If that is not cleaned out it, will effect the taste.  Rinse the trout thoroughly (inside and out) and prepare to cook as you wish.

  7. NOTE:  If you like to eat the fish skin, make sure you remove all the fish scales before cooking.  With the trout held firmly by the tail, scrape very firmly from the tail to the gills several times on both sides with a sharp knife.  I, personally, like to have my trout scaled before cooking.


  9. How To Cook Fresh-Caught Trout:

  10. When ready to cook, rinse the cleaned fish under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.  Drying will prevent the fish from steaming when you cook it.  Cut a few diagonal slashes along each side of the fish.  Roll the cleaned trout in flour seasoned with salt and pepper until covered.

    Flouring the Trout
  11. Heat the butter in a frying pan until bubbling and then fry the trout for about 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

  12. To test for doneness when cooking the trout, insert a fork at the thickest point of the fish.  Perfectly cooked fish is nearly opaque, should be very moist, and will flake easily with a fork.  Fish that looks slightly dry is overcooked.  Undercooked fish will look translucent and raw.  If you have a digital meat thermometer, the internal temperature in the center of the fillet should reach 140 degrees F.

    Pan Fried Trout
  13. Serve with a slice of lemon for a slightly fresher, livelier taste.

  14. Makes 2 servings.

Recipe Notes

* As they say, "everything tastes better with butter!"


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Comments from Readers:


Hi! Thank you for your Pan-Fried Trout recipe/guidance.  I normally fillet some sea bass but the market had ran out so I ended up with trout and your recipe.  That was awesome!  Thanks from the UK. – Regards Simon Wheeler (Leicester) (2/28/16)


Used your Pan Fried Whole Rainbow Trout recipe last night and my husband said “Who could ask for anything better?”… and he is very picky about his food. – Ellen Giles Wheeler (6/21/15)


I tried your easy trout recipe, which also covered scaling and the preparation instructions. Voila – a hit!  My dad and I so enjoyed the meal – using butter for frying adds a different – better tastes.  We awoke to fond memories of a meal well-enjoyed meal. – Sheryl (3/13/11)



Camping    Pacific Northwest    Summer    Trout   

Comments and Reviews

21 Responses to “Pan-Fried Trout Recipe – How To Clean Trout”

  1. Neicie

    Hi looked for a site for cooking trout; living in Arizona seafood is always a gamble. Bought a half trout (3 lbs or so) and bunged up trying to fillet. I’ll try scaling the remainder cleaning as you’ve shown … and hope for the best


    • Linda Stradley

      My husband goes trout fishing several times during each year. This is how we like to cook our trout.

      • Can I cook trout with the scales on

        What’s the best way to cook trout and at what temperature in an oven

  2. Christina

    Has anyone tried this without the skin and how did it taste when compared to leaving skin on?

    • Evelyn

      Christina. I just had it without the skin and is delicious. I personally cook it pan fried salt and pepper as seasoning.

    • Scott Kramer

      You would be wasteful and unknowledgeable if you cooked trout w/o the skin. It is incredibly delicious. Also, you would miss a great deal of the omega-fish oils that are encased within the skin and under layer.

  3. Permafrost

    HELP! The bones! Last time I made fresh-caught trout, it was just like this, ad delicious, but the hundreds of tiny sharp bones made for treacherous eating. The kids couldn’t handle it. How and when do you remove the bones?

    • Claus

      Do not overcook the fish as this will loosen the bones. When served, peel off the skin and look for the “seam” in the fish along the midline. With a fork, gently part the meat from the “seam” to the edges and parallel to the bones. After one side has been picked off, flip the fish around and do the other side the same way. Don’t try to eat fish like a steak!

    • Scott Kramer

      You would be unknowledgeable and at a loss if you removed the trout skin. It is delicious and you would be missing most of the omega-fish fish oil contained within.

  4. Joe Long

    I would recommend adding garlic salt to the flour instead of salt and peper – it makes it takes twice as better.

  5. Jen Bailey

    Took a look to refresh my memory on cooking whole trout, beautifully simple, and I like butter rather than oil 🙂 I leave skin and heads on (the cheeks are the filet mignon of the fish, small as they are, delicious!), and love eating the crispy tail and fins since my childhood. Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Robert

    If you don’t know that then I’m not sure I should believe that you have even cooked a trout before.

    • Whats Cooking America

      We have a family full of avid fishermen and we have always referred to trout having scales on their skin.

      • Debbie

        Trout do have scales. They are not as large as say a salmon’s scales. But they do have scales. Look it up on line.

    • Andy

      Small trout do not have scales (or a few very small ones) but large trout do… not to the extent that many other fish do. They definitely have scales though and best to scrape them off before cooking

  7. Anthony

    This was absolutely delicious! Thank you Christina!

  8. Randy

    If the trout are small enough to pan fry, there is no need to remove scales. After removing the trout from the pan try sauteing some lemon slices in the pan and pour over the cooked trout. Mmmmm!

  9. Chrissy Godin

    To clean the slime off the trout, I sprinkle the skin with salt and rub it off then rinse in cold water. It will taste so much better.

  10. PJ O'Malley

    ” If that is not cleaned out it, will effect the taste.” A better word is affect.
    Great recipe!

    • Nancy

      Thank you for the correction!

  11. Mátyás

    Do not cut the head off! Get rid of the scales and the insides, leave everything else untouched. The tail and fins can stay as well. You can get rid of everything after the cooking is done and this way you’ll preserve many precious flavors. Fill the inside of the fish with lemon slices, garlic and some herbs like rosemart and thyme. Put some of these on the outside too. When the fish is half done put lemon juice and a piece of butter in the oil for sauce.


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