Pan-Seared Swordfish Steaks with Citrus and Leek Slaw (GF)

How to cook the best swordfish steaks.

Let’s face it: swordfish steaks can be kind of intimidating. They’re heavy and dense, and it can be difficult to tell when they’re overcooked. It’s also somewhat difficult to find simple swordfish steak recipes, particularly if you’ve never cooked swordfish before. Never fear, though. I too was a swordfish newbie just a few months ago, and it’s easier than you think. Swordfish is one of the most versatile types of fish to experiment with because of its mild flavor and excellent texture.  And the cooking method is so easy! I perused tons of swordfish steak recipes, tried out a bunch of my own ideas, and ultimately settled on this one as both the easiest and tastiest. So, let’s go!

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This swordfish steak recipe utilizes some salt, olive oil, and a cast iron grill pan over high heat to create a perfectly crispy skin and a tender center. However, you can get nearly identical results with a standard cast iron or even by throwing the swordfish steaks on a grill. However, in my tests, using a grill pan gave them the best crisp to tender ratio. The key is to sear the steaks quickly and over fairly high heat to rapidly brown the outside and seal in the juices.. Simple, right? 

Swordfish steaks plated with citrus slaw

How to make our zesty citrus and leek slaw

Now let’s talk about the slaw. This ended up being an “everything but the kitchen sink” sort of experiment that worked out really well. I originally planned on serving the swordfish steaks alongside some wilted spinach and white beans. However, I had some navel oranges (one of my favorite snacks), carrots, a bunch of fresh dill from the garden, and a leek hanging out in my crisper after a week of cooking potato leek soup. I wondered what would happen if I combined the citrus, carrot, dill, and leek and served that alongside the swordfish to balance out its oiliness. And oh-my-goodness, what a success!

Fresh dill from the garden.
White beans to be served alongside the swordfish steaks.

We cut the roots and tips off the leek, lightly oiled the outside, and then seared that in a grill pan just enough to blacken the outer layer of skin. Then, I cut them up and added the pieces to a big bowl of lightly smashed orange sections and shredded carrots. Then, add in a few herbs and spices and you have the perfect, fresh, zesty accompaniment for your swordfish steaks.

And there you have it! This is the simplest swordfish steak dinner that’s hearty, fresh, and super easy to bring together. Serve this on its own, with a fresh salad, or with my Brothy Beans or Shuggie’s Totally Southern Lima Beans.

Happy cooking and eating! <3

Swordfish steaks

Pan-Seared Swordfish Steaks with Citrus and Leek Slaw (GF)

A perfectly crisp and tender swordfish steak served alongside a zesty citrus slaw. It's the perfect balance of hearty and fresh. This will become one of your go-to swordfish steak recipes!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Healthy!, Seafood
Diet: Gluten Free
Keyword: swordfish steak, fall recipes, leeks, citrus, simple, fish, swordfish steak recipes, Gluten-free, fresh, healthy recipes, seafood
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 579kcal
Author: LM


  • cast iron grill pan or standard 10-12 inch cast iron skillet


For the swordfish steaks:

  • 2 8 oz. swordfish steaks 3/4 – 1 inch thick, from a sustainable seafood source
  • 2 tsp. sea salt course ground
  • 2 tsp. black pepper course ground
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • cooking spray

For the citrus and leek slaw:

  • 3 navel oranges
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 1 leek washed thoroughly with roots and tips removed
  • 3-4 tbsp. dill fresh, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
  • salt and pepper to taste


For the citrus slaw (do this step first!):

  • Section the navel oranges and place the sections into a large mixing bowl. Then, lightly smash them with a fork to release the juices, but be sure that they still have some structure and texture. Then, add shredded carrot and stir to combine.
  • Thoroughly wash the leek (leeks can be very dirty!), and remove the roots and the ends. Brush the surface of the leek lightly with olive oil.
  • Prepare a cast iron grill pan or standard skillet by coating it lightly with cooking spray. Then heat it over medium-high heat until the cooking spray just starts to foam. Add the leek (it should sizzle when it hits the pan), and cover the pan to prevent splashes. Cook the leek on one side for 1-2 minutes until you see noticeable browning or grill marks. Flip a quarter turn and cook in the same manner until that side is browned. Repeat with the remaining 2 sides of the leek until it is completely browned and crisp on the outside.
  • Remove the leek to a cutting board and roughly chop the leek into 1-2 inch pieces.
  • Add the leek to the bowl of orange sections and carrots, and then add additional slaw ingredients.
  • Stir to thoroughly combine, and set aside while you cook your swordfish steaks.

For the swordfish steaks:

  • Prepare your swordfish steaks by brushing them lightly on both sides with a bit of olive oil, sprinkling both sides with sea salt and cracked pepper in an even layer, and then rubbing the finely chopped garlic into both sides of the steaks.
  • Wipe out the skillet you used to cook the leeks, and respray with cooking spray to lightly coat the sides and the bottom. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil is foaming.
  • Once the skillet is heated, place the swordfish steaks in the center and sear them on one side for about 3-5 minutes or until deeply seared. Then, turn them to the other side and continue cooking for 4-6 minutes or until the center of the swordfish reads 120-125°F. Pro tip: treat swordfish like a fine steak and be sure not to overcook it. My recipe as written cooks the steak to somewhere between medium rare and medium, but depending on your tastes, you can cook for a minute less or a minute more while continuing to check the temperature.

To serve:

  • Place seared swordfish steaks on a plate and top with a helping of the citrus slaw. Serve alongside whole cooked grains such as quinoa or brown rice, or marinated and slow-cooked white beans. A side salad also works well with this dish.
  • Optional: Garnish plated dish with fresh dill and thyme.



Please note: the cooking times outlined above are based on swordfish steaks that were approximately one inch thick. Adjust cooking time to accommodate the size of your swordfish steaks. 
Note: When choosing swordfish, be sure that you buy it fresh and that it is responsibly and sustainably caught. Whole Foods Market does a great job at labeling their seafood products so that customers know where they come from and how they were sourced. Their prices also tend to be very reasonable for high-quality seafood. However, if you don’t have a Whole Foods Market in your area, talk to your local fishmonger or meat counter to learn this information.


Serving: 1person | Calories: 579kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 150mg | Sodium: 612mg | Potassium: 1606mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 3271IU | Vitamin C: 149mg | Calcium: 196mg | Iron: 4mg
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