Baked Salmon Recipe: How To Cook Salmon Perfectly

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by Sil Pancho

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10.02.2021


Healthy Recipes

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This oven baked salmon recipe has become a dinner staple at our house for years. Pan searing salmon is the best way to get crispy skin, but you’ll want to know how to cook salmon in the oven too, for the most hands off approach that comes out tender and flaky.

This simple baked salmon is a basic way to cook this fish and great for beginners. Not only is baking salmon easy, but it’s made with simple ingredients — and totally delicious. It doesn’t need any sauces, either.

Why This Is The Best Baked Salmon Recipe

  • Bright and fresh flavors from lemon, olive oil, dill, and parsley
  • Tender, flaky salmon
  • Just 6 simple ingredients
  • Delicious way to get health benefits of salmon, including omega-3 fatty acids
  • Quick and easy dinner (just 5 minutes to prep, ready in 15!)
Easy baked salmon on a plate with green beans

How To Buy Salmon For Baking

Healthy baked salmon recipes will work with pretty much any salmon you buy, but here are some things to look for if you want the best baked salmon:

  • Salmon variety: King salmon, coho salmon, or pink salmon are the best varieties for baking, but sockeye is also delicious. Atlantic salmon is always farmed so I typically avoid it. Learn more about the different varieties in my pan seared salmon post.
  • Skin on vs. skinless: Salmon with skin is very important for pan seared salmon, but when you’re baking salmon, it doesn’t matter as much. I still find that getting skin-on salmon leaves you with the best flavor, so get that if you can, but skinless is just fine as well.
  • Descaled vs not: Stores and fish mongers often remove the scales for you, but if they don’t, use a knife to gently scrape them off.
  • Thickness: For baked salmon, the thickness of your salmon doesn’t really matter, just keep in mind that it will affect cook time. I try to buy salmon that is about an inch thick and uniform in thickness, so that it cooks evenly.
  • Appearance: Look for firm, fresh fish that’s a shade of pink-orange in color, though exact color will vary depending on the variety.
  • Whole vs individual fillets: You can bake a whole salmon fillet or individual ones, but this baked salmon recipe is based on individual fillets. You can use the same method for a large fillet as well, but will need to cook it on a sheet pan and it will take longer.
  • Fresh vs frozen: Most fish will be frozen immediately and then some stores will thaw at the store when they put it out. It’s really your preference, but you’ll want to thaw frozen fish before baking.
The best salmon for baking

Easy Baked Salmon Ingredients

This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for baked salmon recipes, what each one does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.

  • Salmon – I prefer wild-caught salmon, but you can use your favorite variety. (More details on the types of salmon above.)
  • Olive Oil – Or avocado oil. Alternatively, melted butter can be delicious here as well.
  • Lemon Juice – Use fresh or jarred lemon juice.
  • Garlic – Crushed or minced. Use fresh garlic cloves if you like them crushed, or for minced garlic, you can mince it fresh or use the jarred kind.
  • Herbs – I use fresh dill and fresh parsley, but thyme would also go nicely. Dried herbs are not recommended, but if you really want to use them in a pinch, use 1/3 the amount of fresh.
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper
  • Lemon slices – Optional, but adds a nice flavor and presentation.
Ingredients to make best baked salmon recipe

How To Bake Salmon In The Oven

This section shows how to make oven baked salmon, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique. For full instructions, see the recipe card below.

  • Mix marinade. In a small bowl, stir together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs. We’re not actually going to marinate the salmon, but just brush this on and bake right away.

TIP: If you have time, let the salmon fillets come to room temperature on the counter first. This will help them cook more evenly.

Olive oil herb mixture for best baked salmon
  • Season salmon. Place the fish in a baking dish (or on a baking sheet), with space between the fillets. Pat salmon dry with a paper towel. Brush with olive oil mixture on both sides (you can also just pour it on, but brushing coats the fish more evenly). Season with sea salt and black pepper, and top with the lemon slices, if using.

TIP: If your salmon has skin, be sure it ends up skin side down. You’ll brush the mixture on both sides, but bake with the skin against the baking dish.

Brushing olive oil mixture on salmon
  • Bake salmon. See below for internal temperatures and how to tell salmon is done.
Oven baked salmon in a baking dish

How Long To Bake Salmon At 400?

Salmon bake time will depend on the thickness of your salmon, but a good estimate is 10-15 minutes at 400 degrees F.

What Is The Best Baked Salmon Temp?

For baked salmon oven temperature, I recommend 400 degrees F, because this high temp cooks the fish quickly without drying it out. And for perfect salmon, you’ll want to check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon, rather than simply testing if the fish flakes with a fork. Here is a temperature guide to know when it’s done to your liking:

  • Medium rare – 125 degrees F (52 degrees C)
  • Medium – 130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
  • Well done – 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)

Can You Bake Frozen Salmon?

Yes, while many proteins are not safe to cook from frozen, you can bake frozen salmon!

They will take longer to cook, but use your instant read meat thermometer to determine when they are done. I recommend covering with foil and baking for 15 minutes, then uncover, and cook for another 5-10 minutes, checking internal temperature after 5 minutes (20 minutes total cooking time).

Baking dish with oven baked salmon

Storage Instructions

  • Store: Store any leftovers of this easy oven baked salmon recipe in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.
  • Meal prep: Mix the olive oil mixture ahead and bake the day-of, OR bake salmon in the oven and then portion into individual containers to simply reheat later.
  • Reheat: Reheat salmon in a hot skillet until warm, or for the best result, place in a baking dish covered tightly with foil and reheat in the oven at 300 degrees F. It’s also delicious chilled or at room temperature. Microwaving fish is not recommended, but can be done in a pinch.
  • Freeze: You can freeze baked salmon fillets by wrapping them in plastic wrap, then placing in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.
Oven baked salmon with green beans on plates

What To Serve With Baked Salmon

This easy baked salmon recipe goes perfectly with simple side dishes, especially veggies like:

More Healthy Salmon Recipes

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Ingredients

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Instructions

Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (204 degrees C).

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, dill, and parsley.

  3. Arrange salmon fillets in a stoneware baking dish, with space between them. Use paper towels to pat them dry.

  4. Brush the salmon fillets on both sides with the olive oil mixture. Season both sides with sea salt and black pepper. If desired place a thin lemon slice over each piece of salmon.

  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the salmon internal temperature reaches your desired doneness: 125 degrees F (52 degrees C) for medium rare, 130 degrees F (54 degrees C) for medium, or 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) for well done.

Recipe Notes

Serving size: 1 salmon fillet

Nutrition Facts

Amount per serving. Serving size in recipe notes above.

Calories 477

Fat 35.5g

Protein 34.2g

Total Carbs 0.9g

Net Carbs 0.8g

Fiber 0.1g

Sugar 0.2g

Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.

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© Copyright Maya Krampf for Wholesome Yum. Please DO NOT SCREENSHOT OR COPY/PASTE recipes to social media or websites. We’d LOVE for you to share a link with photo instead. 🙂

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