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This baked salmon recipe has been a staple for dinner in our home for years. Pan-caught salmon is the best way to get a crispy skin, but you’ll want to know how to cook salmon in the oven for those times when you want a hands-off option. Like baked cod, sea bass with white sauce, baked halibut and rainbow trout, it’s a quick and easy fish recipe that comes out tender and flaky, with plenty of flavor.
This simple baked salmon is a basic way to cook this fish and is ideal for beginners. Not only is it easy to bake salmon, but it’s made with simple ingredients and totally delicious. You also don’t need sauces.
Ingredients and substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for baked salmon recipes, what each does, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
Choosing salmon: Healthy baked salmon
recipes will work with almost any salmon you buy, but here are a few 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 salmon is also delicious. Atlantic salmon are always farmed, so I usually avoid it. Learn more about the different varieties in my pan salmon post.
- Skin vs. skinless: Salmon with skin is very important for pan-shaped salmon, but when you’re baking salmon, it doesn’t matter that much. I still find that getting salmon with skin leaves you with the best taste, so get it if you can, but without skin it’s fine too. If you get salmon with skin, remove the scales with a knife if they are present.
- Thickness: For baked salmon, the thickness of your salmon doesn’t really matter, just keep in mind that it will affect the cooking time. I try to buy salmon that is about an inch thick and even thick, so that it cooks evenly.
- Appearance: Look for firm, fresh fish that is a pink-orange hue, although the exact color will vary depending on the variety.
- Whole vs individual fillets: You can bake a whole or individual salmon fillet, but I think individual fillets are the best way to cook salmon in the oven, because they cook more evenly. You can also use this same baked salmon recipe for a large steak, but you’ll need to cook it in a pan and it will take longer.
Baked salmon seasonings:
- Olive oil ensures that the fish stays moist and tasty. You can also use avocado oil or even melted butter.
- Lemon juice: Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor or bottled for convenience.
- Garlic – crushed or chopped. Use fresh garlic cloves if you like crushed, or for chopped garlic, you can chop it fresh or use the jar type. If you don’t have garlic on hand, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Fresh herbs – I used fresh dill and fresh parsley for this baked salmon recipe, but thyme would also go great. Dried herbs are not recommended, but if you really want to use them in a pinch, use 1/3 of the amount of fresh.
- Sea salt and black pepper
- lemon slices – Optional, but adds a pleasant flavor and presentation.
to cook salmon in the
oven This section shows how to cook salmon in the oven, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For complete instructions, including quantities and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Mix the marinade. In a small bowl, stir olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs. We’re not actually going to marinate it for this baked salmon recipe, but just brush and bake it right away. (Alternatively, you can make my other salmon marinade recipe instead and marinate it.)
- Season the salmon. Place the fish on a baking dish (or on a bordered baking sheet), with space between the fillets. Dry the salmon with a paper towel. Brush with the olive oil mixture on both sides (you can also sprinkle it, but brushing covers the fish more evenly). Season with sea salt and black pepper, and top with lemon slices, if used.
- Bake the salmon. Cook the salmon in the oven until it is easily shelled with a fork. (For best results, see below for the ideal internal temperature.) If desired, sprinkle more fresh herbs on top to serve.
How long to bake salmon?
The cooking time of salmon will depend on the thickness of your salmon, but a good estimate is 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees F. This is the optimum salmon oven temperature because it is high enough to cook fish quickly without drying it, but low enough to prevent it from burning.
For the perfect baked salmon recipe,
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’s a temperature guide to know when it’s made to your liking:
Can you bake frozen salmon? Yes, you can
bake frozen salmon
! Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes, then uncover and cook for another 5-10 minutes. The total cooking time is 20-25 minutes.
- : Store leftovers from this easy baked salmon recipe in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Mix the olive oil mixture in advance and bake on the day of, or bake the salmon in the oven and then divide into individual containers to simply reheat it later.
- Reheating: Reheating salmon in the air fryer is my favorite method to prevent it from drying out (about 3 minutes at 325 degrees F), But you can also use the oven. Place the salmon in a baking dish tightly covered with aluminum foil and reheat in the oven to 325 degrees F, until hot. It is also delicious cold or at room temperature. It is not recommended to heat the fish in the microwave, but it can be done in a pinch.
- Froze: You can freeze baked salmon fillets by wrapping them in plastic wrap, then placing them in a freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What to serve with baked salmon
This easy baked salmon recipe pairs perfectly with simple side dishes, such as
- vegetables: try roasted asparagus (the most classic pairing), almond green beans (pictured above!), roasted Brussels sprouts, zucchini noodles, or roasted broccoli.
- Salads – Baked salmon works well with fresh salads, such as tomato cucumber and avocado salad, Caprese salad, or Mediterranean quinoa salad.
- or cauliflower rice
- Potatoes – For a more filling meal, add roasted potatoes to baked sweet potatoes to your baked salmon and vegetable garnish recipe. Or bake Instant Pot while cooking salmon in the oven.
Rice – White rice, brown rice,
More healthy salmon recipes
If you like this baked salmon recipe, you’ll love these other ways to prepare this fish: