Why hello there, may I impress you with my fancy-looking Baked Salmon? Whether you need a fast, healthy dinner, a meal to wow the crowd, or a simple protein that you can enjoy tonight and eat leftover the next day, this is THE baked salmon recipe for you!
If you’ve been intimidated by cooking fish in the past, I totally get it!
I spent years avoiding buying salmon because I thought it would be too complicated to make, or that worse yet, I’d mess it up and ruin a beautiful piece of fish.
All of that changed after I discovered this easy baking method.
- This easy baked salmon takes less time to prep (five minutes) than I spent sleepily scrolling through Instagram this morning while brushing my teeth (much more than five minutes).
- It’s only five ingredients.
- You can make it with one hand, sip your wine with the other, and pet your dog/kids/loving-but-needy significant other at the same time.
- Best of all: baked salmon tastes INCREDIBLE.
Yes, it feels fancy. It looks fancy. It eats fancy.
Nothing about baking it is fancy.
Be impressed with yourself anyway!
This baked salmon was the very first salmon I learned to cook with confidence. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made it since.
It’s also become one of YOUR favorite recipes.
This baked salmon has dozens and dozens of glowing reviews and has been viewed millions of times.
Without further ado: what I (and many of you!) are convinced is the very best baked salmon recipe in the world!
Why Bake Salmon?
Rarely am I so rewarded for so little effort as when I make easy baked salmon. This method is dead simple, but so delicious and so good for you too.
I like to use a foil packet to keep the cooking foolproof.
- The foil locks in moisture and ensures that your beautiful piece of salmon turns out flakey, moist, and tender every single time. You don’t need to have ever cooked a piece of fish in your life to make this recipe with success.
- Foil acts as a flavor incubator. Whatever yummy ingredients you place with the fish in the foil infuse their way into every savory bite.
Don’t want to bake with foil? Make baked salmon in parchment paper instead!
- Follow all of the same recipe steps, but instead of misting the foil with nonstick spray, line the foil sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Lay the salmon on the parchment so that it does not touch the foil. Shape the foil packet around the parchment and bake as directed.
Health Benefits of Salmon
- Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and decrease risk factors for diseases.
- It’s a great source of protein, potassium, and selenium, a mineral that protects bone health, improves thyroid function, and reduces the risk of cancer.
- Salmon can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, aid in weight control, and protect brain health.*
Baked Salmon Seasoning Suggestions
While all you really need for a satisfying piece of baked salmon is salt, pepper, and olive oil, it’s easy to adapt to different herbs and ingredients.
You have plenty of options to keep it exciting and new.
- Baked Salmon with Lemon and Dill. Follow the recipe below, swapping sprigs of dill for the rosemary. You can also use parsley or green onion or both or whatever other herbs in your refrigerator are threatening to turn brown.
- Baked Salmon with Lemon and Butter. No fresh herbs? No problem. Leave them out, and brush the salmon with melted butter instead (I usually do half olive oil/half butter). I don’t recommend dried herbs, as they take away from the freshness of the fish.
- Garlic Butter Salmon. Is there anything on my dinner plate that these two ingredients don’t make better? I didn’t think so.
- Baked Salmon in Pesto. Omit the rosemary. Smother the top of the salmon with pesto and arrange the lemon on top prior to closing the foil packet around it. See this Pesto Salmon for a fillet version.
- Spicy Baked Salmon. Check out this Spicy Salmon, Blackened Salmon, and Buffalo Baked Salmon, all of which have a kick.
- Dry Rub. Use this baked salmon with this Salmon Seasoning or your favorite spice blend.
- Salmon Marinade. This marinade uses soy sauce for salt and umami, honey or pure maple syrup for sweetness, and Dijon mustard for balance and zip.
- Teriyaki Baked Salmon. Asian flavors are wonderful with baked salmon! Check out this Teriyaki Salmon and Soy Ginger Salmon for recipes.
- Baked Salmon with Lemon and Rosemary. The all-purpose version I am sharing with you today!
The Best Temperature for Baking Salmon
Here’s how I determined what temperature is best for baking salmon.
- Generally when I’m making individual pieces of salmon (about 6-ounce fillets), I turn my oven to 400 degrees F or 425 degrees F. It’s the temperature you’ll find used for this Whole30 Salmon and Balsamic Salmon. The smaller portions cook quickly and can stand a higher temperature.
- HOWEVER, I tried making a large side of baked salmon in foil at 400 degrees F (a 2-pound piece like the one you see in these photos) and found that temperature a bit too aggressive.
- For my next round, I did baked salmon at 350 degrees F. It took longer than I’d hoped and didn’t come out *as* moist as I knew it could be.
- The final winner: 375 degrees F for a 2-pound side of salmon.
- The baking time will vary based upon the size and thickness of your salmon. For example, I like to try to buy wild-caught salmon, which in our store usually means sockeye or coho based on inventory. These varieties are thinner and thus cook more quickly.
- If you are using farm-raised salmon (often the case with the popular Atlantic salmon), your side will likely be thicker and need more time.
- For more information baked salmon cook times, see this Baked Salmon Temperature Guide.
How Long to Bake Salmon
- In general, a large (2-pound) side of salmon bakes at 375 degrees F in 15 to 20 minutes. This is the size of the salmon you see in these photos.
- Individual, 6-ounce portions bake in 12 to 14 minutes at 400 degrees F.
- The cooking time can be several minutes longer or shorter depending upon the thickness of your particular piece of salmon.
Tips for Perfectly Baked Salmon
The one major rule of baking salmon in foil is not to overcook the fish.
- Baking salmon in foil or parchment paper does give a little leeway because the foil locks in moisture, but you want to pull it out when it is almost but not quite done at the thickest part.
- A quick pop under the oven broiler will give you a nice, lightly crispy finish on the top of the fish and cook it through the rest of the way.
- If your salmon is almost but not quite cooked and you are worried about overdoing it, you can always remove it from the oven, cover it, then let it rest at room temperature for several minutes until it is done to your liking.
How to Know When Salmon is Done Baking
The question that scares so many newbies to fish cooking! Here are the best tips to tell when your salmon is done.
- You can check for doneness by taking a sharp knife and peeking into the thickest part of your baked salmon piece. If it is beginning to flake, but still has a little translucency in the middle, it is done, or once your salmon flakes easily with a fork, it’s done.
- Best option: Use an instant read thermometer like this one. The FDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- I find that salmon and other fish will continue to “cook” as they rest after being removed from the oven. I typically remove my salmon early (anywhere between 137 and 140 degrees F), cover the salmon with foil, then let it rest for about 5 minutes. The resting time allows the fish to come up to 145 degrees F.
Skin On or Skin Off?
You can make baked salmon with the skin on or off.
- Most of the time, I make baked salmon skin on, because that’s how it’s usually cut at the seafood counter. Leaving the skin on also has the benefit of locking in extra moisture (one more step between you and overcooking the fish).
- After the salmon is baked, the skin comes away easily. You can either remove it from individual pieces before you serve them or avoid eating it after it’s on your plate.
- If you’re planning to serve the salmon to company (or just don’t want to deal with the skin), ask the seafood counter to remove it for you prior to baking the salmon.
Ideas for Leftovers and Reheating
Cooked salmon can be eaten the next day!
- My favorite ways to enjoy leftover cooked salmon leftover are on top of a salad (I eat it cold or let it come to room temperature first), scrambled with eggs, or mixed into a simple pasta. You could also use it in this recipe for Salmon Pasta.
- Store cooked baked salmon in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- If you’d like to reheat the salmon, be slow and gentle so that the salmon doesn’t dry out. I recommend reheating individual portions, either in the microwave on low power, or in a skillet.
- To reheat in a skillet: Let the salmon come to room temperature. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium. Once it is hot, add the salmon and a splash of water, then immediately cover it. Let the salmon steam, just until it is heated through, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- To reheat in the microwave: Let the salmon come to room temperature. Gently warm on medium-low power, just until warmed through.
What to Serve with Baked Salmon in Foil
- Roasted Vegetables. It’s so easy to pop a pan of them in the oven right along with the salmon. Classic Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, and Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash are three favorites.
- Potatoes. Baked salmon with Oven Roasted Potatoes or Garlic Mashed Potatoes is super yummy.
- Asparagus. Salmon with asparagus is CLASSIC. Try this Roasted Asparagus or this creamy Asparagus Soup.
If you roast salmon and veggies together, note that having the extra pan in the oven can extend the baking time for both. I’d also recommend switching the pans’ positions halfway through.
If you are looking for an all-in-one baked salmon with vegetables, I also love this Garlic Salmon. The salmon turns out perfectly moist and tender.
- Rice. Salmon with rice is excellent. Try it with this Lemon Rice for something citrusy and elevated, or Instant Pot Brown Rice for something easy.
- Salads. For a cool side dish option, baked is lovely alongside a veggie-loaded grain salad like this Italian Farro Salad, Israeli Couscous Salad, or a hearty green salad like this BLT Chopped Salad.
Even though baked salmon feels like something you should save for a special night in, I am begging you to give it a chance on your everyday/my-life-is-crazy/someone-feed-me hectic weeknights.
These nights deserve balanced, healthy, wonderful-tasting meals just as much as the slower-paced weekend evenings, perhaps even more so.
Since baked salmon is so quick and easy to make, it’s the ideal candidate.
To weeknight fancy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Salmon skin is safe to eat and contains many of the same nutritional benefits of the fish. However, some salmon preparations lend themselves better to eating the skin than others. When salmon is baked (like in this recipe), the skin is soft and rubbery (a.k.a. not appealing to eat). If you’d like to eat salmon skin, I recommend a different preparation, such as Pan Seared Salmon or fried salmon.
Depending upon your cut of salmon, the fish will likely be pink when it is done and some varieties like coho are naturally a very deep, almost ruby pink. The key to knowing salmon is done is that it is opaque and flakes easily. If it’s a translucent-looking pink, it’s likely not done. Testing with an instant read thermometer will remove any doubts. Remove the salmon at 135 degrees F to 140 degrees F for medium rare/medium and let rest.
You can freeze baked salmon, but it will affect the texture and the salmon will likely taste more”fishy.” To freeze, remove the salmon from the skin and freeze in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. From here, you can use it in any recipe that calls for canned salmon, toss it into Salmon Salad, or use it to make Salmon Patties or their Southern cousin, Salmon Croquettes.
If baking individual salmon fillet portions, a higher temperature of 400 to 425 degrees F is best. For a larger side of salmon, 375 degrees F is the best temperature.
- 2 pound side of salmon boneless (skin on or off, depending upon your preference), wild caught if possible
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary or fresh herbs of your choice; do not use dried herbs
- 2 small lemons divided, plus extra for serving as desired
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
- Additional chopped fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, parsley, dill, or green onion (optional)
- Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with a large piece of aluminum foil.
- Lightly coat the foil with baking spay, then arrange 2 sprigs of the rosemary down the middle. Cut one of the lemons into thin slices and arrange half the slices down the middle with the rosemary. Place the salmon on top.
- Drizzle the salmon with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Rub to coat, then scatter the garlic cloves over the top. Lay the remaining rosemary and lemon slices on top of the salmon. Juice the second lemon, then pour the juice over the top.
- Fold the sides of the aluminum foil up and over the top of the salmon until it is completely enclosed. If your piece of foil is not large enough, place a second piece on top and fold the edges under so that it forms a sealed packet. Leave a little room inside the foil for air to circulate.
- Bake the salmon for 15-20 minutes, until the salmon is almost completely cooked through at the thickest part. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your salmon. If your side is thinner (around 1-inch thick) check several minutes early to ensure your salmon does not overcook. If your piece is very thick (1 1/2 inches or more), it may need longer.
- Remove the salmon from the oven and carefully open the foil so that the top of the fish is completely uncovered (be careful of hot steam). Change the oven setting to broil, then return the fish to the oven and broil for 3 minutes, until the top of the salmon and the garlic are slightly golden and the fish is cooked through. Watch the salmon closely as it broils to make sure it doesn’t overcook and the garlic does not burn. Remove the salmon from the oven. If it still appears a bit underdone, you can wrap the foil back over the top and let it rest for a few minutes. Do not let it sit too long—salmon can progress from “not done” to “over done” very quickly. As soon as it flakes easily with a fork, it’s ready.
- To serve, cut the salmon into portions. Sprinkle with additional fresh herbs or top with an extra squeeze of lemon as desired.
- This recipe is best enjoyed the day that it is made as salmon can dry out when reheated. For reheating suggestions, see blog post above.
- That said, there are still many yummy ways to use leftover salmon! Try serving it room temperature over a salad the next day, mixing it with pasta, or flaking and scrambling it with eggs.
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*Health benefits of salmon mentioned in this article were sourced from Healthline and are meant to be for general information, not any kind of specific medical advice. For specific dietary needs, I always recommend contacting your doctor or seeking professional advice.