Salmon En Papillote

4.84 from 73 votes
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Delicious and easy salmon en papillote recipe ready in 30 minutes. Despite the relentless pace of our weekly routines, this straightforward method slides effortlessly into your weeknight culinary repertoire, offering a gourmet dining experience without the fuss.

Salmon en papillote served with asparagus and carrots.

For those evenings when you crave a seafood feast, let me introduce you to the en papillote technique, a sophisticated French term for “in parchment,” which creates a steamy cocoon for cooking. It combines vegetables, fragrant herbs, and a choice of protein—be it succulent fish or tender chicken—within a neatly folded parchment paper pouch.

This particular recipe brings salmon and a medley of vegetables to the table, promising a meal that’s as nutritious as it is rich in flavor. To elevate the experience further, I’ve incorporated a luscious basil compound butter, melting seamlessly into the dish during baking and infusing it with aromatics.

“Thanks for the recipe and the technique! I made it tonight, and it was delicious! So easy for a first-timer en papillote.”—Erin

Recipe ingredients

  • Compound Butter: To add richness and flavor to the salmon pouches, compound butter is made with unsalted butter, sliced basil, chopped parsley, and salt.
  • Salmon: Salmon is packed with health benefits like brain and heart health. I use rich Atlantic salmon, but other types of salmon work well. Use fillets 4 to 6 ounces in size, with the salmon skin removed.
  • Vegetables: A combination of thinly sliced red onions, shredded carrots, and asparagus spears are selected because they cook quickly in the oven.
  • Herbs and Seasoning: Sliced green onions, fresh garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper enhance the dish’s taste.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Make compound butter

Step 1: Make a simple herb compound butter with basil, parsley, lemon zest, and salt to melt on top of the ingredients. Cover it with plastic wrap and shape it into a log for easy slicing. Freeze it until it firms up for a slow melt in the oven.

Pro Tip: Adding one tablespoon of the softened compound butter on top of the salmon is okay if you’re short on time.

Step 2: Before assembling the salmon pouches, preheat the oven to 450°F (232ºC). This hot environment will quickly cook the fish and veggies.

Prepare the paper pouches

Step 3: To create the pouch, tear off two pieces of parchment paper about 18 x 15 inches in size or use large precut sheets. Fold it in half lengthwise, then cut a half-heart shape like you would in elementary school. Open it up and brush it with vegetable oil or drizzle with olive oil to create a nonstick surface.

Layer the salmon and vegetables

Step 4: Add the ingredients on one side of the folded heart. Start with the sliced onions, carrots, and asparagus spears to create a bed on which to place the salmon filet. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Add the compound butter

Salmon fillet with herb compound butter and asparagus.

Step 5: Add minced garlic, lemon zest, and a slice of the basil compound butter on top of the salmon. The butter will melt as the pouch steams during baking, creating a rich sauce. The smell of fresh herbs, citrus, and alliums creates an enticing aroma when the pouches are opened.

Seal the paper pouches

The process of sealing the parchment paper with salmon inside.
Two seal parchment paper pouches with salmon and compound butter inside.

Step 6: How you fold the edges is essential to ensure that the steam generated inside the pouch stays trapped. Fold the paper over and tightly crimp the edges. They should look like paper empanadas or potstickers.

Bake the salmon en papillote

Step 7: Place the pounces on a baking sheet pan. The pouch only takes 8 to 10 minutes to puff up with steam, and the paper turns brown from the heat. The salmon is ready when the flesh easily flakes off but is not dried out.

Add several more minutes for thick fillets or larger pieces. The herbs, butter, and juices from the fish season the bed of vegetables, making the whole meal delicious.

Ready to serve

Kitchen shears cutting open a paper pouch with a salmon fillet inside.
Two browned paper pouches on a cutting board after baking.

Step 8: This dish is impressive because you can serve the salmon en papillote and let guests open it up and enjoy the fragrant steam. Alternatively, I use kitchen shears to cut open the pouches. Serve with a fresh lemon wedge and squeeze the lemon juice right on top. You can even add extra compound butter if you have some.

Flavor variations

The salmon en papillote recipe is so fun and easy to prepare that you’ll want to try different flavors! Try these tasty options:

  • Fish: Instead of salmon, try snapper, tilapia, mahi-mahi, or halibut. A 4 to 6-ounce fillet works well.
  • Vegetables: Select vegetables that cook relatively fast. Green beans, thinly sliced zucchini, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, fennel, leeks, or shallots. No root vegetables like potatoes or sweet potatoes unless you slice them very thin. Try adding zoodles!
  • Citrus: Add lemon slices to the pouch for a stronger flavor. Orange zest and slices work well too.
  • Herbs: Add sliced chives, fresh dill, tarragon, thyme, or rosemary.
  • Compound Butter: Add different fresh herbs to the mixture. Make it spicy with cayenne or chipotle. Add sweet or smoked paprika for earthiness and color.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

How long do you cook salmon en papillote?

A 6-ounce skinless salmon fillet takes about 8 to 10 minutes when baked at 450 degrees. Larger pieces, around 8 ounces, require a few additional minutes. The fish is ready when it’s flakey in the center. Add more time if it’s not entirely done cooking.

Can I bake the salmon in foil?

Yes, you can create an aluminum foil pouch instead of a parchment packet. It’s harder to see the steam puff up and paper brown. But you can carefully open the pouch and add more baking time to cook the fish fully.

The melted compound butter seasons the fish and vegetables.

How does the en papillote method work?

With this method, you must seal the protein, vegetables, and seasonings in the paper pouch. The key is baking at high oven temperatures or 450 degrees. Moisture is released from the salmon and vegetables as they cook, and the liquid turns to steam at constant high temperatures above 212 degrees. The trapped steam quickly cooks the ingredients. When the paper puffs up and expands, that means steam has built up and has cooked the food inside.

Salmon En Papillote with Vegetables

I always recommend making salmon en papillote because it's a delicious and healthy way to cook fish. Plus, the presentation of opening the parchment parcels at the table always impresses dinner guests!
4.84 from 73 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 2
Course Entree
Cuisine French

Ingredients 
 

Basil Compound Butter

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons sliced basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Salmon and Vegetables

  • 2 pieces parchment paper, 18 by 15 inches
  • vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 cup sliced red onions, ⅛" thick
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed to 6", about 18 spears
  • 2 salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, skin removed
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons sliced green onions
  • kosher salt, for seasoning
  • black pepper, to seasoning
  • 2 lemon wedges

Instructions 

  • Make the Compound Butter – In a small bowl, combine softened butter, basil, parsley, lemon zest, basil, and salt. Transfer to plastic wrap and twist tightly to create a small butter log. Place it in the freezer while continuing with the other steps. When ready to use, slice into 4 portions.
  • Heat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the center position. Preheat oven to 450°F (232ºC).
  • Prepare the Paper Pouches – Cut two 18 x 15-inch pieces of parchment paper. Fold the long side in half and cut it into half of a heart shape. The parchment paper should be large enough to contain one portion of fish and vegetables folded in half. Open up the paper, and brush the inside with vegetable oil.
  • Assemble the Salmon and Vegetables – Evenly portion the sliced onion, carrots, and asparagus spears on half of each piece of oiled parchment paper. Place one piece of salmon on top of the bed of vegetables. Generously season with salt and pepper.
  • Add Seasonings and Compound Butter – Top each portion of fish with sliced garlic, ½ teaspoon of lemon zest, and 1 teaspoon sliced green onions. Add 1 slice of compound butter on top.
  • Seal the Paper Pouches – Fold the other half of the parchment paper over the fish and vegetables. Starting at one corner, tightly crimp the edges to seal it tightly.
  • Bake – Place the pouches on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The parchment paper should puff up and brown slightly.
  • To Serve – Remove from the oven and serve immediately. Transfer to a plate. Carefully cut open and serve with lemon wedges and any remaining compound butter.

Notes

  • Butter: The compound butter can be refrigerated and made 5 days in advance. 
  • Meal Prep: The pouches can be assembled 1 day in advance.
  • Foil: If you don’t have parchment paper, you can make pouches with foil.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 2
Calories 363kcal (18%)Carbohydrates 20g (7%)Protein 39g (78%)Fat 15g (23%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat 0.04gCholesterol 116mg (39%)Sodium 313mg (13%)Potassium 589mg (17%)Fiber 6g (24%)Sugar 9g (10%)Vitamin A 12200IU (244%)Vitamin C 24.8mg (30%)Calcium 70mg (7%)Iron 3.1mg (17%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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32 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Ken says

    Is parchment mandatory to work or can a flat braiser or cast iron skillet with lid work? I’d think it’d be ok if I preheated the pan.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      You can make the salmon in the braiser or cast iron skillet. If needed, you can add some additional moisture to the pan after checking if the pan begins to get dry but the salmon is not done cooking.

  2. Karen Fenichel says

    I made this with sugar snap peas and shallots and very thinnly sliced carrots. It was excellent. Would definitely recommend.

  3. Lynn says

    This was really excellent. Thinner salmon filet was perfect at 10 minutes. Had greens, onion, and carrots under and used olive oil instead of butter and still super. Gonna be weekly dinner!!

  4. Karen Teeling says

    This great, BUT . . . I make meals for my mother that she can reheat in the microwave or bake in the oven later in the week or month. Can I put the papillotes together, freeze and let her bake later? If so any suggestions for when it is baked, thaw first, bake frozen and extend the time??? Thanks in advance

  5. susyqstyles says

    I made this dish last night; however, I used grouper instead. It was SO delish! Also, I wasn’t able to make the herb butter prior, but added before baking. Turned out amazing, fresh, and light! Will be making again for sure!

  6. Kay Wakeham says

    I love this meal. It is so satisfying and easy to make as well as to clean up after. I was so excited to actually find Alaskan King Salmon at my grocery store today. It is my favorite. I can’t wait to taste it in this recipe. Thanks Jessica for always delivering a winning meal!

  7. Adele Wyatt says

    Prepared this recipe today. Was unsure how to crimp parchment paper. Any suggestions?
    Mine required cooking for 20 mins.
    We did truly enjoyed the dish.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Adele- I make pleats and then twist the end and fold it under. Cooking times will vary with the size of the salmon, I’ve definitely cooked larger or thicker pieces that needed more time. Thanks for making the recipe!

  8. Kay Wakeham says

    This is an incredible recipe. I made it last night and it was the best salmon I have ever had. I used shallots instead of onions. What an easy way to prepare a meal.

  9. Donna says

    Hi! Since your butter recipe makes 4 Tbls of butter and your instructions say to use 1 Tbls per packet. Will I have 2 Tbls of the butter mixture left over? Thank you for your reply ????

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Donna- Great question! Yes, you will have extra 2 tablespoons to use. You can add more to the fish after cooking, or keep in frozen to add later to any dish you would like 🙂

  10. Sharron says

    So good! Will absolutely make this again. I had three to cook for and one of the salmon fillets was probably 10 oz. I cooked for 15 minutes and it came out great! These were thick slices.

  11. Maria Sonntag says

    So amazing! My in-laws love salmon and they were quite impressed! I used regular green beans instead of asparagus, because it is past the season. I could not find haricot vert or I would have used those. I briefly sauteed the green beans, onion and red bell pepper in white wine and a little chicken stock, so it would all cook evenly with the salmon in 10 minutes.
    My folding skills are not that good, so only one of the four packages really looked like yours (I need to practice), but other than that it was great, thanks for this recipe!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I’m so happy that your family enjoyed the recipe Maria! The substitution of green beans instead of asparagus sounds divine. Don’t worry about the folding, I know you’ll nail it next time 🙂

  12. Erin says

    Thanks for the recipe and the technique! I made it tonight, and it was delicious! So easy for a first-timer en papillote 🙂

  13. Anthony says

    I prepared the dish according to your recipe and it was superb. It was so delicious that my finicky gf ate her whole portion and that’s a testimony you can trust. We look forward to having it again, soon. BTW, I didn’t use skinless salmon and cooked it a few minutes longer.

  14. Sharon @ savormania says

    Cooking salmon en papillote is one of my favorite methods. It renders the fish so juicy and savory! Your photos are amazing, I’m saving your recipe for the next time I cook salmon!