Best Baked Salmon
Dec 04, 2023
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This moist, flavorful, and flaky baked salmon is what weeknight dinners are all about! It’s seriously the easiest recipe to make – all you need are a few salmon fillets, plus a quick lemon butter sauce, and chopped herbs. Then, let the oven work it’s magic!
This is hands-down the salmon recipe that I make most often in my house. It’s completely foolproof, it takes less than 20 minutes to make, and it gives you the most succulent, and mouth-watering salmon. In other words, it’s just an easy, healthy dinner recipe that the whole family will love.
The great thing about a simple recipe like this is that it’s versatile enough to serve with a wide variety of side dishes. And by simply switching up the side dishes you can keep weeknight dinners interesting and tasty!
Baked Salmon ingredients
When it comes to baked salmon, don’t overthink it. All you really need are a simple lemon butter sauce and a sprinkle of herbs to make it super delicious.
- Salmon: You can make this with individual filets or one large piece (i.e. half of a salmon). It works great either way!
- Butter: A little butter keeps the salmon moist and adds that delicious buttery taste. You could also use ghee.
- Lemon Juice: A squeeze of fresh lemon adds a bright and zesty touch.
- Garlic: I’m using three garlic cloves, but feel free to add more or less.
- Herbs: You can use a variety of tender herbs, but I love a chopped parsley and dill combination. It complements the salmon perfectly.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How To Shop For Salmon
- Wild salmon is best. Similar to shrimp, it’s best to steer clear of farmed salmon. Why? It’s more likely to contain pollutants, antibiotics and various toxins from the fish farms. And aside from safety reasons, wild-caught salmon generally has more nutrients, a better texture, a brilliant hue, and better flavor (translation: a more delicious baked salmon!)
- The types of salmon to know. There are several varieties of salmon, but the ones I recommend are king, sockeye, and coho. Wild salmon does have seasons and each of these varieties are available at different times throughout the year. But no matter which you choose, just look for fillets that are bright pink and marbled.
- Fresh vs. frozen salmon. Unless you’re going to a fish market that has fresh catches of the day (which can be expensive), grab frozen salmon instead. Yes, it’s totally okay, and often better than the “fresh” salmon you’ll find sitting on ice, which isn’t always as fresh as it may seem. Frozen salmon is flash frozen on the ship right after it’s caught to preserve freshness!
How To Properly Thaw Frozen Salmon
- If you planned ahead of time, thaw it in the fridge. Ideally, you want to slowly thaw your salmon in the fridge overnight, or about 12 hours before cooking it. Just make sure to keep the fish in it’s wrapping and place it on a plate to catch any liquid.
- If you’re hours away from dinner, thaw it in cold water. Not to worry if thawing it overnight slipped your mind! You can thaw your salmon by submerging it in a big bowl of cold water. This should take about an hour or so, depending on its thickness. But be sure to swap for fresh water if it starts to become lukewarm.
The Best Temperature For Baked Salmon
You’ve probably come across a few common answers when it comes to time and temperature. And while they all work, I find that baking at a lower temperature of 375°F will keep the salmon extra moist and avoid overcooking. Because let’s be honest, it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re busy whipping up other dishes. So if you’re 1 to 2 minutes over your timer, your salmon will still be perfectly cooked. But, do keep in mind the size and thickness of your fillet:
- For a normal size salmon fillet: cook for 12 to 13 minutes.
- For a thicker salmon fillet: cook for 13 to 15 minutes.
- For a whole side of salmon: cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pro tip: You’ll know the salmon is done baking when it flakes apart easily with a fork. I don’t often use an instant read thermometer when baking salmon, but if you want to double check, the internal temperature should be 125 to 130°F for moist, perfectly cooked salmon.
How To Bake Salmon Perfectly
This amazingly moist and flakey salmon is done in just 15 minutes! It bakes super fast, so make sure to have your side dishes planned and ready to go! To get started, preheat your oven to 375°F and then follow along below.
- Let the salmon come to room temperature. Take your fillets out of the fridge and let them sit on the counter for about 15 minutes.
- Make the butter mix. In a small bowl, mix the melted butter and lemon juice. Then brush the butter mix over the fillets in a baking dish.
- It’s baking time. Sprinkle minced garlic, salt, pepper, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Ready to serve! For the finishing touch, sprinkle a bit of parsley and dill before serving.
Whether you like salmon skin or not, don’t remove it before baking. It will help protect the fillet from the pan’s heat, cook the salmon more evenly, and retain its delicious juices. Then once you’re ready to serve, you can easily slide the skin right off.
If you notice some white slimy substance on top of your baked salmon, don’t panic. It’s actually just a protein in the salmon called albumin that becomes solid when heated. The hotter salmon cooks, the more albumin will come out. So to prevent a thick white layer, cook your salmon at a gentle temperature.
Remember that salmon will continue to cook as it rests. So if you’re keeping a close eye on the time, taking it out right before it’s “done” is another way to prevent overcooking.
Tasty Ways To Serve Baked Salmon
Now that you have a beautiful fillet, it’s time to build the perfect meal. Here are few delicious options to keep your weekdays interesting.
- Round out a dinner plate. Add healthy carbs and greens to your plate! Carb ideas can include fluffy rice, mashed potatoes, or garlic herb roasted potatoes. And for veggies, sides such as green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, or sauteed spinach are always great.
- Layer it onto a salad. Layer your fillet on a bed of leafy greens and tons of fresh veggies. Alternatively, create a whole new salmon salad recipe by flaking it into a bowl with celery, red onion, and radishes.
- Add it to a macro bowl. There are many ways to go about this. But I personally love a Mediterranean bowl that includes lentils, leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded cabbage, and a side of tzatziki.
- For storing: If you’ve got a few salmon fillets leftover, they’ll keep for up to 3 days in the fridge in a sealed container.
- How to freeze: Make sure your salmon is completely cool before freezing. Then top it on parchment paper in a storage container to prevent it from sticking to the sides. Reheating salmon can be tricky since it’s already cooked. So the key here is to reheat it low and slow, either in the microwave or oven, to prevent it from drying out.
More Ways To Cook Salmon
This simple baked salmon is a go-to recipe for quick weeknight meals. But it doesn’t stop there! Here’s a few more ways to enjoy salmon.
- Salmon Patties: Turn leftover cooked salmon into salmon patties!
- Orange Glazed Salmon: A favorite weeknight dinner recipe.
- Salmon Avocado Salad: A light and fresh salad for summer.
- Cedar Plank Salmon: The perfect outdoor grilling recipe.
- Dijon Baked Salmon: So simple, yet so delicious.
I hope you enjoy this baked salmon! If you make it let me know how it turned out! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Best Baked Salmon
- Enamelware Casserole Pan One of my favorites for baked mains!
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice, plus more lemon slices for garnish
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped dill
- Brush the salmon. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and let the salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the melted butter and lemon juice (I use the juice from ¼ slice of lemon) in a small bowl. Then, place the salmon in the baking dish and brush the butter mix all over.
- Bake the salmon. Top the salmon with the minced garlic, salt, and pepper, and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Garnish and serve. Sprinkle the fresh parsley and dill on the salmon before serving.
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Recipe originally published January 2021, but updated to include new information for your benefit!