Tips for Baked Salmon Perfection

Recipes » Mains » Cooking Salmon in the Oven: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Method for making delicious salmon in the oven in less than 25 minutes. Flaky, tender, and full of flavor, it goes well with a wide variety of side dishes.

Oven baked salmon fillet with asparagus and potatoes Salmon, potatoes, and asparagus baked in the oven with half a lemon.

This is the ultimate guide to baking salmon like a pro. With only a few common pantry items and 25 minutes, you can have delicious, perfectly baked salmon.

To that end, I've already provided a recipe for teriyaki salmon. However, I remembered that I had never shown you my go-to, fail-safe, delicious, incredibly easy, and oven-roasted salmon with garlic and lemon. When it comes to baking salmon fillets, this method consistently produces delicious results with few ingredients. Don't be scared of salmon ever again.

In addition, there is no need for a lengthy marinating period, and the process is remarkably simple. Easily marinate fillets by brushing or rubbing them with a marinade made from lemon and garlic. Then finish them off in this simple baked salmon recipe by baking them until they are flaky and delicious. This is a great base for a quick and healthy meal, served with your preferred vegetables and grain.

Oven baked salmon filet on a tray Baked salmon with fresh herbs.

List of Staples for a Salmon Bake

Only four ingredients (plus salt and pepper and, if you like, thyme) are needed to make this delicious salmon in the oven.

  • There are two ways to prepare salmon: with one large fillet or two medium. I also use skin-on, boneless salmon that has already been prepared.

Wild salmon, such as Sockeye, Chinook, Coho salmon, etc., has superior quality and flavor (and leaner fillets).
Farmed salmon, on the other hand, is milder in flavor and higher in fat. More minerals, including potassium and selenium, which are good for your heart, are found in wild salmon. The only drawback is the higher price.

  • Whenever I need oil, I use olive oil, but any flavorless oil will do. You could also use melted butter.
  • For maximum flavor, squeeze fresh lemon juice instead of using bottled lemon juice. For extra zip, sprinkle on some lemon zest.
  • To taste, adjust the amount of garlic. In a bind, dust with garlic powder.
  • Fresh herbs, such as thyme (optional), are a wonderful addition to this simple baked salmon recipe. The herb rosemary would be an excellent substitute.
  • Adding salt and black pepper to taste To get the most out of a dish, I prefer to use sea salt or kosher salt. I suggest substituting soy sauce for the salt in this oven-baked salmon recipe to increase the dish's umami flavor.
Ingredients for oven baked salmon

If you want to make this the best baked salmon recipe ever, it's essential to use the highest-quality salmon you can find.

  • Be wary of salmon that has a strong fishy odor, as this could indicate that it isn't freshly caught. Moreover, the meat should be firm and slightly springy to the touch. You should NOT eat it if it is mushy or leaves an indentation.
  • Check the eyes of a whole salmon to ensure they are bright and clear.
  • Check for a secure seal and undamaged packaging before purchasing frozen salmon. It's perfectly acceptable to buy frozen food instead of fresh, and in some cases the quality is even higher because the food has been frozen immediately after being harvested.
  • Furthermore, stay away from salmon fillets that have been processed with artificial ingredients.

The website of the Monterey Bay Aquarium has more information about the best and worst kinds of salmon to purchase.

Recipe for Baked Salmon

When you know how to do it, baking salmon is a breeze. Read on to discover the absolute best techniques for baking salmon.

First, let's get the salmon ready to eat.

Start by drying the salmon fillets thoroughly with paper towels. Put them on the counter for 15 minutes to warm to room temperature.

Don't bother rinsing that raw salmon. That's just asking for a bacterial outbreak in your kitchen and sink.

raw wild salmon on a baking sheet

Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).

Put the olive oil in a small bowl and add the lemon juice and minced garlic. Season the salmon with salt and pepper after brushing this mixture onto both sides (or rubbing it in with your hands). Put in the herbs (if using).

Baking the salmon on a bed of or topped with thin slices of lemon adds flavor while it cooks. Furthermore, this will aid in maintaining the salmon's moisture level while cooking.
The salt should be added right before baking to prevent the salmon from drying out.

Raw salmon topped with minced garlic and herbs on baking tray

Put the salmon in the oven, and proceed to step two

Put the salmon skin-side down in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the flesh is opaque pink and flaky. The time needed to cook your fillets will vary depending on their thickness.

When finished, the fillets can be broiled for an extra minute or two if desired.

Once the salmon has baked for the desired amount of time, take it out of the oven and serve it with your favorite sides.

Salmon Cooking Time Indicators

How long you put salmon fillets in the oven for depends on their thickness. If you want perfectly cooked salmon, you may have to rely on alternative techniques. I keep an eye out for these three indicators:

  • Check the temperature of the salmon with a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to make sure it reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) in the thickest part before serving.

Keep in mind that, like steak, salmon can be cooked to varying degrees of doneness. For medium-rare, I'd shoot for a temperature of about 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius), for medium, about 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius), and for medium to well done, about 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). It is recommended that temperatures be maintained around 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) for optimal flavor.

  • One of the quickest and easiest ways to tell if salmon has been properly baked is by looking at its color. Salmon's outer color transforms from a translucent dark pink to a more noticeable light pink after cooking. However, its central region retains a trace of translucence.
  • Last but not least, use your finger or a fork to prod the thickest part of the salmon fillet to see if it's done after baking. If it flakes easily and looks cooked through, it's done. To give it a little more time if it doesn't budge or is still translucent.
baked salmon topped with minced garlic and herbs on baking tray

Ideas for Accompanying Baked Salmon

This protein works well with a wide variety of side dishes, including:

  • Dishes of roasted vegetables to accompany main courses:
  • Spaghetti or noodle-based vegetable stir-fry
  • Granola, quinoa, vegetable pilaf, jasmine rice, etc. Cauliflower rice is an excellent substitute for those watching their carbohydrate intake.
  • Potatoes, in any form (mashed, roasted, baked, boiled, etc.), go wonderfully.
  • Serve these delicious salmon fillets with a simple side salad, like a garden or kale salad.

Salmon leftovers are great when served cold in a variety of salads, grain/pasta salads (like Greek pasta salad or quinoa salad), sandwiches, wraps, and other foods.


When cooking salmon, do you bake it covered or uncovered?

It's all a matter of personal taste. Because the foil seals in all the moisture, foil-wrapped salmon is incredibly juicy. Nonetheless, there are those who favor baked salmon with a slightly drier skin and top (but still tender and juicy on the inside).

Can frozen salmon be baked?

Without a doubt, you just need to increase the cooking time. It's best to wait an extra 10 minutes before putting it through its paces.
Another option is to let it thaw in the fridge overnight before baking.

Can I eat salmon once a day?

Theoretically, yes, it can be consumed daily without risk. If you eat salmon frequently, however, you should check to see that it was harvested in an ecologically sound manner and has minimal levels of contaminants. In terms of fat content and nutrient density, wild salmon is preferable.

Can salmon skin be consumed?

However, there are those who would rather not eat the skin of a salmon. I would keep the skin on the fillets until after baking even if you don't intend to eat it. The salmon will stay together better if you do this.
It's best to take it out of the fillet right before serving if you want to eat it. Then broil it briefly until crisp and enjoy.

In a 375 degree oven, how long does salmon need to cook?

Twelve to fifteen minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of the fillets. A whole salmon, on the other hand, will take 35 to 40 minutes. However, if you want to make sure the fish is cooked through, stick a thermometer into the thickest part.

Additional Sushi Recipes

A close up of potato and salmon saladA plate with crispy baked shrimp and a small bowl with chili sauceGrilled salmon with cake and baked sweet potato in a bowl

In case you decide to bake this salmon, I'd love to know what you think in the comments section. Please rate the recipe card below, and feel free to tag me in photos of your results on Instagram using the hashtag #Alphafoodie.

Oven baked salmon fillet with asparagus and potatoes
  • Salmon fillets should be dried with paper towels. Then, set them out on the counter for 15 minutes to come to room temperature. The raw salmon does not require rinsing. Spreading germs all over your kitchen and sink is not worth the risk.
  • Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 degrees Celsius).
  • Combine the lemon juice, minced garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl. It's best to use your hands to work this mixture into the salmon, but you can also use a brush. Incorporate the herbs (if using). Baking the salmon with a bed of or on top of thin slices of lemon adds flavor. Furthermore, this will aid in maintaining the salmon's moisture level while cooking. Remember to wait until right before baking to sprinkle on the salt, or else the salmon will become dry.
  • In a preheated oven at 400 degrees, cook the salmon skin-side down for 12-15 minutes, or until the fish reaches an opaque pink color and flakes easily. Depending on the thickness of your fillets, the cooking time will vary. For an extra minute or two of crispiness, finish the fillets under the broiler.
  • Take the baked salmon out of the oven and serve with your favorite sides.
  • You can leave the fillets to marinate (without the salt) for up to 12 hours if you want the fillets to be extra flavorful, but it isn't required. Then, before baking, let it sit out for 15-20 minutes to reach room temperature. Once it has cooled, place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days. The leftovers are good both cold and reheated. In order to freeze the fillets, they should be laid out on a tray and put in the freezer until they are completely solid. Then, pack the baked salmon fillets into a Ziploc bag or an airtight container for long-term storage (up to three months). The next day, after it has thawed in the fridge, you can eat it again. Warm up: Reheat the salmon fillets in a skillet to prevent them from becoming overcooked and dry. Put a bit of water in the pan, place it over low heat, and cover it. The steam from the lid will help keep the salmon moist while cooking. It should take no longer than 5-10 minutes.
  • The amount of time required to bake salmon varies from recipe to recipe and from oven to oven, depending on the thickness of the fillets and how hot your oven gets. You'll need to add about three to five minutes to the cooking time if you're using a full salmon fillet (half a salmon).
  • Choose fillets that still have their skin on them; this will help them stay together in the pan and ensure that they cook evenly. Should you decide you no longer want it, removing it is simple.
  • It's best to use fillets of roughly the same size, so they all cook at the same rate.
  • Pat the skin side with a paper towel before seasoning for crispier skin. Fillets can be baked, and then the skin can be removed and broiled or pan-fried until crispy.
  • Always check salmon fillets for bones before cooking them, even if the package says they are boneless. The easiest way, in my experience, is to lay the salmon skin-side down over a bowl. This will make it much simpler to locate any remaining pin bones. You could also use your fingers to run along the fillets and check for lumps. Tweezers are then used to get rid of them.
  • If you want perfectly cooked salmon every time, let it rest at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before putting it in the oven.
  • Take care not to overcook the salmon, as the residual heat will continue to cook it even after you take it out of the oven. Therefore, take it out of the oven when it's 5 degrees Fahrenheit below your target temperature. When done, remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Enhancements and Modifications:
  • Use smoked paprika as a direct marinade addition for a touch of smokey flavor and vibrant hue.
  • Instead of thyme, use dried Italian seasoning.
  • Honey: Garlic, lemon, and honey is a winning flavor combination. Some brown sugar on top would work, too. Make sure you don't overdo it with the
  • Substitute pesto for the thyme and spread it on the fillets; garnish with lemon slices if desired. Serve the salmon fillets with a dollop of the sauce on the side.
Tips, serving suggestions, and answers to frequently asked questions can all be found in the aforementioned blog post.  
Calories: 390 kcal | Carbohydrates: 2 g | Protein: 45 g | Fat: 21 g | Trans Fats: 3 g | Saturated Fat: 7 g | Polyunsaturated Fats: 10 g | Cholesterol: 125 mg | Sodium: 682 mg | Potassium: 1132 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugar: 1 g | Vitamin A: 94 IU | Vitamin C: 5 mg | Calcium: 38 mg | Iron: 2 mg
Tag #alphafoodie or mention @Alphafoodie to be featured.

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