Baked salmon seasoned with garlic, roasted lemons, and fresh herbs. A healthy family dinner ready in a snap. Cooking in the oven at a moderate temperature and then broiling at the end ensures moist and flaky fish.
An easy, healthy seafood dinner is just minutes away! When I’m looking for a nutritious entree, baked salmon is one of my top choices. Fish has protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so I try to incorporate it into my weeknight meal rotation at least once a week.
Baking fish in a consistent heated environment ensures that the flesh doesn’t dry out. To make preparation a breeze, I keep the fillet whole, with the skin on. The salmon cooks on a tray with melted butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and slices of lemon. It’s a stunning one-pan dish perfect for sharing.
How to Prepare Baked Salmon
- Purchase a salmon fillet with or without the skin on. If intact, I find it easier to remove the skin once fully cooked.
- Remove any remaining tiny bones, then clean and dry the surface.
- Line a sheet pan with foil and then lightly grease with oil.
- Brush melted butter over the surface (olive oil or ghee can also be used).
- Season the salmon with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
- Arrange lemon slices around the fillet. These will roast and become super juicy and less tart in flavor. They make a great sauce to squeeze on top when serving.
You can also prepare the salmon into individual servings by cutting into equal-sized portions. The baking time may be a few minutes shorter as there are more exposed edges that will cook faster.
What Oven Temperature Do I Use to Bake Salmon?
Bake the salmon at 375ºF (191ºC) for the first 10 to 12 minutes, until it reaches 125ºF (52ºC). Using a moderate temperature will ensure that the salmon stays moist. To add some extra browning and flavor to the surface, broil the salmon for 3 to 4 minutes. Make sure that the garlic does not entirely burn. Keep a close eye on the fish after the first 2 minutes of broiling.
How Long Does it Take to Bake Salmon?
The cook time depends on the thickness. The tail end cooks faster than the thicker body portion of the fillet. It takes about 5 minutes of cook time for every half-inch thickness of salmon. For example, for a 1-inch thick fillet, you’ll need at least 10 minutes of cooking, more or less time depending on the temperature of the oven.
To test for doneness I like to use a fork to gently separate a few layers of flesh in the thickest part of the fish. The salmon should be opaque unless you like it medium rare, and be easy to flake with a fork. Another way is to use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness in the thickest part of the salmon. If you like a slightly rare center, shoot for 125ºF (52ºC). For medium target 140º (60ºC), above 145ºF (63ºC) the fish will taste dry.
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Bake the Salmon Low Then High
Salmon cooks very quickly since it’s flesh is high in moisture and fat. Within minutes, the texture can go from a firm and silky to tough and dry. To prevent this, the fish is first cooked at a gentle moderate temperature to just about medium-rare. Then the last few minutes the salmon is exposed to the top heating element of the broiler to lightly brown the surface. This step can be skipped if you prefer a more rare texture.
- 1 1/2 pound salmon fillet, (681g)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, (30g) melted
- 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, (10g)
- 8 lemon wedges
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- 1 teaspoon chopped dill
- Set oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly grease with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
- Place salmon on the sheet, skin side down (if still intact).
- Brush half of the melted butter over the salmon fillet. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Drizzle the rest of the butter over the salmon.
- Sprinkle the minced garlic evenly over the salmon. Place lemon wedges around the sides of the salmon.
- Bake salmon until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 125º (52ºC), about 12 minutes.
- Change the oven setting to broil on high. Broil the salmon until the surface is a light golden color and garlic just begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Carefully remove the skin from the salmon and transfer fish to a serving platter.
- Garnish with parsley and dill, serve with roasted lemon wedges.
- MAKE IT WHOLE30: Ghee or extra-virgin olive oil can be substituted for butter. Substitute kosher salt for sea salt.
- Larger salmon fillets can be used, adjust cooking time until the 125ºF internal temperature is reached.
- Salmon can be cut into individual sized pieces and baked according to recipe directions.
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