Pan Seared Swordfish with Olive Tapenade is a dinner you won’t soon forget! Cooked in one pan with asparagus and topped with a vibrant olive tapenade, the golden encrusted fish has restaurant-worthy flavors and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Pan seared swordfish steak topped with olive tapenade and a side of asparagus on a plate.

Light and healthy meals featuring fresh fish and vegetables are always welcome for weeknight dinners. You can save plenty of time by roasting or searing the fish in the same pan as the vegetables! Just take my Mediterranean Salmon, Tuscan Salmon Skillet, or this Seared Swordfish with Olive Tapenade for example. All three are nutrition-packed, family-friendly meals that take minutes to prepare!

This pan fried swordfish recipe is special in my eyes because it takes restaurant-worthy flavors and ingredients and transforms them into a quick and easy family dinner. Asparagus is cooked in the same pan as the swordfish steaks and within 15 minutes, they’re ready to be topped with a vibrant olive tapenade. It’s a buttery, bright, and healthy meal that takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish!

I also think this is a great meal for a date night or weekend dinner with friends. It’s easy to make yet elegant and fancy.

The summer months are here and what better way to enjoy patio dinners with friends than with delicious seasonal food that supports you in your journey to good health!

Ingredients for pan seared swordfish recipe on a wooden cutting board. Fresh asparagus, lemon wedges and seasoning.

Marlin vs. swordfish

Marlin and swordfish are often confused because both are from the billfish family, meaning each one has a long “sword” coming from its nose and a dorsal fin. However, once you get up close, the differences are as plain as day: 

  • Swordfish have rounder, smaller bodies compared to marlin. The average swordfish is about 9 feet long and 1400 pounds.
  • Marlin is fattier than swordfish but milder in flavor.
  • Swordfish flesh is light pink or white and marlin flesh is pink (just like tuna).

Ingredient notes

  • Swordfish – Swordfish is a firm, meaty, and tender white fish with a subtle sweet flavor. Marinating the fish beforehand, pan searing or grilling the filets, or serving it with a flavorful and bright olive tapenade will always give swordfish a flavor boost. When you’re out shopping, look for swordfish steaks or filets that are about 1-inch thick.
  • Asparagus – Fresh asparagus is best during spring and summer, but peaks in April. The spears cook alongside the swordfish in the skillet and pair perfectly with the fresh, buttery fish!
  • Olive tapenade – This French spread is easy to make using chopped capers, olives (green, black, or both), and parsley. Feel free to play with the flavors and stir in a spritz of lemon juice or a pinch of red pepper flakes.

How to make pan seared swordfish

The pan fried swordfish is cooked alongside and served with asparagus. The process is simple and cleanup is easy! Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Dry the swordfish with paper towels. Season both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Step 2: Wash the asparagus and trim the woody ends. Season with oil, salt, pepper, and oregano.

Step 3: Melt the butter into a skillet over medium-high heat and add the swordfish and asparagus. Sear the swordfish steaks until both sides are browned and cooked through. The asparagus should be fork tender but not too soft.

Two pan fried swordfish steaks on a plate with a side of asparagus. A towel, some lemon wedges and seasoning are also on the table.
pan seared swordfish steaks on a plate with a side of asparagus. Fresh lemon wedges on the table.

How to make olive tapenade

This briny and tangy spread is the perfect topping for seared swordfish. It’s easy to make in a few simple steps:

Step 1: Chop the capers, olives, and parsley.

Step 2: Stir the three together in a small bowl and season with black pepper and/or red pepper flakes.

Step 3: Spoon the olive tapenade over the seared swordfish steaks and asparagus and enjoy!

Serving suggestions

This healthy meal calls for light, flavor-packed side dishes. I recommend serving the fish and asparagus next to stuffed peppers soup, green salad, or stuffed zucchini boats

Are you making this for your weekly meal prep? Pack the swordfish, asparagus, and olive tapenade over seasoned cauliflower rice for more substance, just like in this Easy Keto Steak Meal Prep Bowl

swordfish steak with grill marks, topped with olives and a side of asparagus.
two swordfish steaks topped with olive tapenade and a side of asparagus. Some seasoning in a small bowl and fresh lemon wedges.

Frequently asked questions

Is swordfish good for you?

Swordfish is an excellent source of vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, and the immunity-boosting, heart-healthy selenium. Swordfish is a large fish, which means it can have high levels of mercury. Avoid eating it if you’re pregnant or, if you’re worried about the risk of mercury, limit your swordfish intake to 1 or 2 meals per week.

How do you know when swordfish is done cooking?

This will depend on the thickness of your steaks. 1-inch swordfish steaks only need to cook for about 4 to 6 minutes per side and you’ll know they’re done when they easily flake with a fork but retain their firmness. If you’re still unsure, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature (135ºF for medium and 145ºF for well done).

Can you grill the swordfish instead?

Swordfish holds up really well on the grill because it’s so thick and firm. Treat it as you would a rare steak; sear one side over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, and the other side for only 3 or 4 minutes.

Can you make this with another type of fish?

You can substitute pan seared salmon, cod, or tilapia for swordfish. A lighter fish won’t take as long to cook.

How long does pan fried swordfish last?

Any leftover seared swordfish will last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Wrap the leftovers in aluminum foil and store them in an airtight container.

pan friend swordfish on a plate with a bite taken off, you can see the texture of the fish.

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pan fried swordfish

Pan Seared Swordfish with Olive Tapenade

by Silvia Dunnirvine
Pan Seared Swordfish with Olive Tapenade is a dinner you won’t soon forget! Cooked in one pan with asparagus and topped with a vibrant olive tapenade, the golden encrusted fish has restaurant-worthy flavors and takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 12 minutes
Total: 27 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


  • 1 1/4 lb swordfish
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Olive Tapenade

  • 2 tbsp capers chopped
  • 3 tbsp olives (green, black or both) chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley finely chopped
  • fresh lemon


  • Rinse and pat dry swordfish with paper towel. Season with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides.
  • Wash asparagus in cold running water, then trim the bottoms. Season with 1 tsp oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Cook alongside the swordfish.
  • Melt butter in cast iron griddle over medium-high heat. Add swordfish and asparagus, cook in batches if you need to but a medium size griddle should fit everything. Sear swordfish steaks until browned on each side and just cooked through, about 4-6 minutes on each side or until internal temperature registers 135F degrees for medium or 145F degrees for well done.
  • Meanwhile add chopped capers and olives, parsley and remaining olive oil to a small bowl and mix to combine. Salt is not needed but you may add black pepper and/ or a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Serve pan seared swordfish topped with olive tapenade and a side of asparagus.


Calories: 795kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 61g | Fat: 57g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 36g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 188mg | Sodium: 1811mg | Potassium: 1671mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2283IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 94mg | Iron: 7mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Keyword: Olive Tapenade, Pan Fried Swordfish, Pan Seared Swordfish
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Like this? Leave a comment below!
pan seared swordfish topped with olive tapenade fresh lemon and a side of asparagus

Hi! I’m Silvia.

My goal is to make cooking simple and enjoyable.

Garden in the Kitchen is full of easy and balanced recipes for busy families. Classics get a healthier twist with additions of veggies or alternative ingredients.

I hope my recipes will inspire you to cook more home meals and above all have fun in the kitchen!

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