Why hello there, may I impress you with my fancy-looking Baked Salmon in Foil? 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 foil-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 in foil tastes INCREDIBLE.
It feels fancy. It looks fancy. It eats fancy.
Nothing about cooking 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 become the base of countless easy, delectable salmon recipes like Spicy Baked Salmon and Grilled Salmon in Foil, and it is still a meal I make often, both when I’m cooking for two (Ben and myself) or for a crowd.
It’s also become one of YOUR favorite recipes.
This baked salmon in foil has dozens and dozens of glowing reviews and has been viewed millions of times. Today, I’m dusting it off from the archives in the hopes that if you haven’t made this salmon yet, you’ll give it a try.
And if you have, I hope you’re reminded of how much you enjoyed it and will add it back to your menu soon.
Without further ado: what I (and many of you!) are convinced is the very best baked salmon recipe in the world!
Why Bake Salmon in Foil?
Rarely am I so rewarded for so little effort as when I make easy baked salmon recipes like this baked salmon in foil. It’s dead simple, but so delicious and so good for you too.
- 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? I have heard that some find it to be a health concern. You can still use this recipe by making 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 Baked 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 in Foil – So Many Ways to Love Thee
I’ve cooked baked salmon in foil dozens of different ways. While all you really need for a satisfying piece of baked salmon is salt, pepper, and olive oil, the foil method is easy to adapt to different herbs and ingredients. You have plenty of options to keep it exciting and new.
A few of my favorites include:
- Baked Salmon in Foil 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 in Foil 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 in Foil. 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.
- Baked Salmon with Lemon and Rosemary. The version I am sharing with you today!
How Long to Bake Salmon in Foil
- 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.
- The cooking time can be several minutes longer or shorter depending upon the thickness of your particular piece of salmon.
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, Soy Ginger 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 in foil 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.
Tips for Perfectly Baked Salmon
The one major rule of baking salmon in foil is not to overcook the fish.
- Baking salmon in foil 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 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 back up with foil, 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.
- 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. They key is that it is opaque and flakes easily. If it’s a translucent-looking pink, it’s likely not done. Again, testing with an instant read thermometer will remove any doubts.
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.
- 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 seared or fried salmon.
- 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 Healthy Shrimp Scampi!
- 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.
- You can freeze baked salmon. Remove it from the skin and freeze in an airtight container for up to two 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 a pasta, or use it to make this easy (and freezer friendly!) Salmon Patty recipe.
What to Serve with Baked Salmon in Foil
- 9999% of the time, I serve baked salmon with roasted veggies. It’s so easy to pop a pan of them in the oven right along with the salmon that making anything else feels feel unnecessarily fussy.
- Classic Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, and Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash are three favorites. Baked Salmon with potatoes and carrots is super yummy too.
- If you do roast the 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.
- Salmon is also excellent with rice. Try it with this Lemon Rice for something easy and elevated.
- Salmon with asparagus is CLASSIC. Try this Roasted Asparagus with Caramelized Onions or this creamy Asparagus Soup.
- If you are looking for an all-in-one salmon in foil with vegetables, I also love this Garlic Salmon. It’s not in foil, but the salmon still turns out perfectly moist and tender.
- For a cool side dish option, Baked Salmon in Foil is lovely alongside a veggie-loaded grain salad like this Italian Farro 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 in foil is so quick and easy to make, it’s the ideal candidate.
To weeknight fancy!
Baked Salmon in Foil
- 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.