Buffalo Baked Salmon
Now I’m not saying that absolutely everything is better with Buffalo sauce—but almost everything might be. This spicy Buffalo Baked Salmon certainly agrees.
A tender side of salmon slathered with honey Buffalo sauce, baked to flaky perfection, then showered with an optional (unless you live at my house, in which case it is obligatory) shower of blue cheese or feta cheese, the easy baked salmon recipe takes the experience of your favorite Buffalo wings, then turns them into a feast-worthy, healthy dinner that’s full-on flavor.
This recipe uses my foolproof method of baking salmon in the oven in a foil packet.
The foil locks in moisture, which makes the fish tender and the recipe more forgiving.
Even if you’ve never cooked salmon (or fish in general) before in your life, you can nail it when you use this simple effective approach.
For a full overview of the foil-baking process, as well as my site’s top-rated salmon recipe, see this post for Baked Salmon in Foil, which contains a wide range of salmon cooking tips.
If you are looking to bake individual fillets of fish, this Fish en Papillote contains helpful tips as well.
Buffalo Sauce For Fast Flavor
Every time I serve a Buffalo sauce-inspired dish for dinner, whether it’s this no-brainer Healthy Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken or these creative Cauliflower Buffalo Wings (an “appetizer” that yes, we eat as the main event), I feel a little bit like I am cheating.
Cooking with Buffalo sauce is just so DANG EASY.
The flavor is built in; all I need to do is open the bottle and unleash it. The praises are heaped upon me, and I’m tempted to feel like they belong to someone else. (Since I made this Buffalo salmon with Frank’s hot sauce, maybe Frank gets the credit?)
In the name of easy, healthy dinners and all-around sanity, I vote that tonight we take the praise. Make this Buffalo salmon, then bask in the applause.
Buffalo Sauce – A Brief History
If you are a fellow Buffalo sauce enthusiast, you may have heard that the “Buffalo” in its name refers to a place. Buffalo sauce is credited to Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964.
The co-owner, Teressa Bellissimo, began serving her son leftover chicken wings coated in hot sauce. After his rave reviews, she decided to add them to the menu, and the people went crazy. They were addictively delicious to spice lovers and an easy meal that seemed to bring people together too.
A point of clarification: most Buffalo sauce recipes are made with a base of classic hot sauce (like Franks RedHot) not sauces that are labeled “Buffalo wing sauce.” Buffalo sauce takes hot sauce, then amps it up with melted butter and garlic.
I tested this salmon recipe with Frank’s RedHot Original (the classic one that looks red, not orange), though if you begin with one with the “Buffalo” flavor already added, that’s just fine too. Frank’s has expanded its product line, and a number of competitors offer their versions. Choose whichever one you and your family enjoy most.
How to Make Baked Buffalo Salmon
As written, this recipe is lightly spicy, but not overly so thanks to the addition of honey, which balances it out.
If you’d like the salmon even more spicy, add more hot sauce to taste. Spicy food lovers, be sure to check out my recipe for Spicy Baked Salmon too.
- Salmon. This recipe is written for a side of salmon, which weighs around 2 pounds. Feel free to scale the quantity up or down to meet your needs, adjusting the cooking time accordingly. I recommend trying to find wild caught salmon, which generally has less calories and more minerals. I leave the skin on for baked salmon recipes like this to help keep them from drying out but you can remove the skin if you prefer.
- Hot Sauce. Our flavor superstar! I used Frank’s RedHot for this recipe (see “Buffalo Sauce – A Brief History” above for more information). You could also use a Buffalo wing flavored sauce or make this a Tabasco Salmon. Just be aware that Tabasco does not have as much added flavor (like garlic powder) as Frank’s RedHot does. Also, the Tabasco bottles are pretty tiny and I perceive the spice level to be hotter, so you’d be experimenting with this swap.
- Butter. A core ingredient in any Buffalo sauce inspired recipe.
- Honey. The sweet element to complement our hot sauce. It tones the heat down a little and provides a nice balance.
- Spices. I loved the addition of garlic powder and cayenne pepper to amp things up. If you like less spice, you can omit the cayenne pepper.
- Cheese. While optional, a little crumbled blue cheese or feta is an addition you won’t regret. The cool, tangy flavor of blue cheese is an especially classic pairing with Buffalo sauce recipes.
- Let salmon come to room temperature. Then, place it on top of your aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
- Melt together the sauce ingredients.
- Coat the salmon with about two-thirds of the sauce.
- Wrap the foil around the salmon to create the packet. Bake the salmon for 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees F, until it’s almost cooked through.
- Carefully uncover the salmon, brush the remaining sauce over the top, and broil for about 3 minutes. Watch it carefully!
- When done, top your salmon with cheese. Cut into portions, then DIG IN!
What to Serve with Buffalo Salmon
- Salad. Pair buffalo salmon with this healthy and cooling Creamy Cucumber Salad. This Anytime Arugula Salad would also be tasty.
- Vegetables. Sautéed Brussels Sprouts would be delicious with this salmon.
- Rice. Try serving the salmon on a bed of white, brown, or cauliflower rice. Quinoa would also work well.
Salmon Storage Tips
This recipe is best enjoyed the day that it is made, as salmon can dry out when reheated. However, if you end up with leftovers, here are a few tips:
- To Store. Store leftover salmon in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm individual portions in a skillet on the stove over low heat. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave on low power, though I prefer the stovetop. TIP: Let the salmon come to room temperature before reheating.
- To Freeze. Remove any skin, and freeze the salmon an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 2 months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
- The leftovers will work great in any recipes that call for canned salmon. You can also toss it into a pasta, rice, or make this easy Salmon Patty Recipe.
- If you have at least 6 ounces or so of leftover salmon, you could also try making a Buffalo salmon dip. Break up any large pieces of salmon with a fork, then mix it with 4 oz softened cream cheese and 1/4 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella would be tasty). Add the mixture to a small, lightly greased baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Serve warm with chips or crackers.
More Salmon Recipes and Resources
- How to Cook Salmon <– the BEST salmon resource
- Teriyaki Salmon
- Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Grilled Salmon in Foil
More Ways to Use Buffalo Sauce
Because, as Ben would say, Buffalo sauce goes on everything:
- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs
- Buffalo Chicken Taquitos
- There’s a STELLAR Buffalo Burger in my upcoming cookbook (SO GOOD!)
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Liquid Ingredient Measuring Cups. These are microwave-safe, so you can use for melting the butter and mixing.
- Rimmed Baking Sheets. My go-to for this baked salmon recipe.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The absolute best way to know when your salmon is done.
Serve this Buffalo baked salmon, and the praises will fly, no wings required! (So sorry; I couldn’t resist that one).
As always, if you try this Buffalo salmon or any of my other healthy salmon recipes, I’d love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below to let me know how it came out.
Buffalo Baked Salmon
- 2 pound (or similar) side of salmon - (skin off or on; I prefer skin on), wild caught if possible
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons classic hot sauce - such as Frank’s RedHot (you also could use Buffalo wing flavored sauce)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter - do not use oil, as it will separate in the sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper - optional for extra heat
- 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta cheese - optional for serving
- Chopped fresh chives - cilantro, or parsley, optional for serving
- 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 rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold your piece of salmon with a large piece of aluminum foil. If you prefer the salmon not to touch the foil, lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the foil sheet.
- Lightly coat the foil with baking spay. Place the salmon on top. Sprinkle with the kosher salt.
- In a small, microwave-safe bowl, place the hot sauce, butter, honey, garlic powder, and cayenne. Microwave, just until the butter melts (start with 30 seconds and go from there—I recommend covering the bowl, as the sauce is prone to splattering). Alternatively, you can heat the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until smooth and combined. Brush about two-thirds of the sauce liberally over the salmon, reserving the remaining sauce.
- 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). Brush the remaining sauce over the top. Change the oven setting to broil, then return the fish to the oven and broil for 3 minutes, until the top of the salmon is slightly golden and the fish is cooked through completely. Watch the salmon closely as it broils to make sure it doesn’t overcook.
- 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 good to go. The salmon should register 145 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.
- Sprinkle the salmon with cheese and chives. To serve, cut the salmon into portions. Season with additional salt to taste. Enjoy!
- This recipe is best enjoyed the day that it is made, as salmon can dry out when reheated.
- TO STORE: Store leftover salmon in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm individual portions in a skillet on the stove over low heat. You can also reheat this dish in the microwave on low power. Let the salmon come to room temperature before reheating.
- TO FREEZE: Remove any skin, and freeze the salmon an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to two months. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating. The leftovers will work great in any recipes that call for canned salmon. You can also toss it into a pasta, rice, or make this easy Salmon Patty Recipe.
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