Spinach Stuffed Salmon

5 from 15 votes
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Stuffed salmon with creamy spinach filling, ready in 30 minutes! Simply cut a pocket into the fillet, add the cheesy herb mixture, then bake until tender and flaky.

If you like making salmon for dinner as much as I do, then you might be interested in trying these other recipes: blackened salmon, salmon en papillote, and grilled salmon.

Stuffed salmon on a white plate served with mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Salmon is a flaky fish packed with healthy nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids. It is delicious when seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-seared, grilled, or baked. However, have you ever tried stuffing the fillet? The thick pieces are ideal for slicing into, and adding a savory filling elevates the dish into a gourmet meal.

Fresh spinach, herbs, and lemon pair well with the hearty yet mild-flavored fish. Combining them with a smooth cream cheese mixture makes it easy to add to the center. First, bake the stuffed salmon fillets for gentle cooking. Then, broil for a few minutes to get a golden crust.

“Made this tonight and it’s absolutely a 5-star meal. And so easy to make, too! We’ll be having this again, serving it to guests. Thanks, Jessica. We’ve enjoyed every recipe we’ve tried from your website.”—Carol

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients to make spinach filling and salmon.
  • Salmon: There are various types of salmon to choose from. I recommend Atlantic, King, or Scottish for their rich and flaky texture. These varieties tend to be thicker, making them easier to fill and less delicate after cooking. Purchase a whole fillet or pre-portioned 6 to 8 ounces pieces.
  • Filling: A combination of cream cheese, parmesan, baby spinach, dill, lemon zest, minced garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Fat: Add melted butter to the salmon’s surface right before baking so the salt and pepper stick better and it yields a more flavorful crust from the milk solids. Olive oil is a good substitute.

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

Step 1: Baking the salmon on a greased foil-lined baking sheet pan makes cooking quick and easy. Start by preheating the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).

Make the filling

Bowl of creamy herb and spinach filling.

Step 2: The filling base is a brick-style cream cheese with a smooth, thick texture. Make sure it is below room temperature so it spreads easily. I like to add freshly chopped baby spinach, as it doesn’t have a mushy texture and muddy flavor like frozen.

Dill has delicate grassy citrus notes, which complement the fish. Lemon zest enhances the citrusy taste and provides aromatic oils as it bakes. Some pungent minced garlic enhances the savory flavor, as does the salty parmesan cheese. The mixture can be made several days before, which is excellent for meal prep.

Prepare the salmon

Person cutting a pocket into the side of a salmon fillet.

Step 3: Use a sharp knife, like a paring or chef’s, to cut a slit lengthwise down the center of the salmon. Start at the thickest part of the salmon and stop where it starts to get narrow and taper. Do not cut through to the other side. We want to keep the filling trapped inside.

Chef’s Tip: Purchase salmon with the skin removed or remove the salmon skin yourself. Leave it on if desired, and just slip a spatula underneath to release it before serving.

Stuff the fillets

Person using a spoon to place the spinach filling inside a salmon fillet.

Step 4: The spinach mixture makes about 1 cup of filling or ¼ cup per fillet. Push as much as possible into the pocket with a spoon or fingers. The salmon proteins tighten and shrink as they cook so that some filling will ooze from the side.

Chef’s Tip: You can seal the side closed with toothpicks to prevent the filling from leaking. I do this with stuffed chicken breast, and it works well.

Season the salmon

Person brushing melted butter over four salmon fillets on a foil-lined sheet pan.

Brush with butter.

Person sprinkling salt and pepper over the surface of several stuffed salmon fillets.

Add salt & pepper.

Step 5: Brush the surface with melted butter before baking this stuffed salmon with spinach. The milk solids will lightly brown in the oven, adding more flavor to the fish—season with salt and pepper.

Chef’s Tip: You can substitute butter for olive oil. It has a fruitier taste and will yield a crispier crust since there is no moisture in the fat.

Bake then broil

Creamy spinach filling oozing out of cooked salmon fillets.

Step 6: When making my classic baked salmon, I use a moderate heat of 375ºF (191ºC) to ensure efficient yet gentle cooking so the flesh doesn’t dry out. The goal is to cook the fish until it’s medium-rare, or 125ºF (52ºC). This takes about 12 to 14 minutes for an 8-ounce fillet.

Step 7: Switch the oven to broil on high and cook for 2 to 4 minutes. These last few minutes will get the salmon to medium doneness, with a golden crust, around 140ºF (60ºC). Alternatively, you can keep baking for a few more minutes if you don’t want a darker crust until it reaches medium.

Serve the stuffed salmon

Step 8: The flaky salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Soak up any excess grease on the bottom with a paper towel before serving. Serve the seafood while the filling is hot and gooey. I like to add lemon wedges on the side. The lemon juice adds a bright tartness to the hearty fish.

Flavor variations

This creamy spinach stuffed salmon recipe has a fantastic base that’s easy to switch up. Try these different ways to vary the filling.

  • Substituting Cream Cheese: Goat cheese or feta for a creamy, more intense flavor. Boursin is a Gournay cheese that has a similar texture and often comes already seasoned.
  • Dry-aged Cheese: Parmigiana Reggiano or pecorino romano add a fermented, salty taste.
  • Herbs: Parsley, chives, tarragon, or basil add a delicate herbaceous taste without overpowering the salmon.
  • Alliums: Dried garlic powder or onion powder add a concentrated earthy flavor, although don’t use more than ½ teaspoon total.
  • Vegetables: Add pre-cooked vegetables to the filling. Sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, or sundried tomatoes are a nice addition.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for salmon to be cooked?

Stuffed salmon requires a few additional minutes compared to baking without a filling. The cooler filling causes a slightly longer cooking time because it requires more time to heat the middle of the salmon. It takes about 12 to 14 minutes to get medium-rare doneness (125ºF/52ºC) or about 16 to 20 minutes for medium (140ºF).

Do you cover salmon when baking?

No! The salmon does not need to be covered. It will cause the fish to steam instead of bake, and the golden crust will not form in a moist heat environment.

Can you leave the salmon skin on?

Yes, you can leave the salmon skin on while baking. However, bake the skin side down and separate the skin from the flesh before serving for a prettier presentation.

Serving platter with three stuffed salmon fillets.

For a crispier salmon texture

Instead of baking the salmon in the oven, you can make pan seared salmon on the stovetop for an even crispier crust. Close the open ends with toothpicks for easier flipping and to keep the filling inside. Cooking the salmon in a hot skillet in oil over medium-high heat quickly browns and dries the surface for a deep golden-brown crust. The fat in the salmon renders, creating a crispy texture. It takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side using this method.

Spinach Stuffed Salmon

Delicious stuffed salmon recipe with creamy spinach filling, it's an easy gourmet meal ready in 30 minutes!
5 from 15 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup baby spinach, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4 salmon fillets, about 6 to 8 ounces, skin off
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil

Instructions 

  • Preheat the Oven – Set the oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
  • Make the Filling – In a medium bowl, combine softened cream cheese, parmesan cheese, spinach, dill, lemon zest, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Set aside, or cover and refrigerate if not stuffing salmon right away.
  • Cut the Pockets – On the side of the salmon fillet, cut a 3 to 4-inch long slit lengthwise to create a pocket. Make sure not to cut all the way through. Repeat with the remaining pieces.
  • Stuff the Fillets – Evenly spread the cheese mixture into the pocket of each fillet, about 3 to 4 tablespoons. If available, close the opening with toothpicks to secure the filling inside.
  • Season the Surface – Transfer the fillets to a lightly greased foil-lined sheet pan. Brush the surface with melted butter. In a small bowl, combine ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Evenly season the fillets.
  • Bake the Salmon – Bake until the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 125ºF (52ºC) on a meat thermometer, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven.
  • Broil to Finish – Change the oven setting to broil on high. Cook until the surface is light golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes.
  • Serve – If desired, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain the excess grease on the bottom. Serve immediately while hot.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Storing: Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 30-second intervals until hot. Alternatively, heat in the oven at 350ºF until hot.
  • For Pan-Seared Salmon – Heat a 12-inch stainless steel, cast iron, or nonstick pan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then turn the heat to medium-high. Add the salmon, presentation side down, and press it into the pan for about 10 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the surface is crispy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the edges are opaque and the center is slightly translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Using Frozen Spinach: Defrost and squeeze out the excess moisture. You will need ½ cup of chopped frozen spinach.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 421kcal (21%)Carbohydrates 4g (1%)Protein 39g (78%)Fat 27g (42%)Saturated Fat 11g (55%)Polyunsaturated Fat 5gMonounsaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 141mg (47%)Sodium 822mg (34%)Potassium 923mg (26%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 1005IU (20%)Vitamin C 2mg (2%)Calcium 167mg (17%)Iron 2mg (11%)

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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2 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Carol Dehne says

    Made this tonight and it’s absolutely a 5-star meal. And so easy to make, too! We’ll be having this again, serving it to guests. Thanks, Jessica. We’ve enjoyed every recipe we’ve tried from your website.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      THank you, Carol! So happy to hear that you enjoyed the stuffed salmon. What did you serve it with?