How to Cook Salmon in the Oven
Oven-roasted salmon is the ultimate weekday dinner: nutrient-packed, delicious and super easy to make. Below we've outlined everything you need to know to cook perfect baked salmon every time.
Oven-roasted salmon is pretty much the perfect dish. It’s super easy to prepare and make, requiring less oversight and with fewer opportunities for overcooking than other cooking methods. What’s more, it’s incredibly delicious and versatile. Below, we’ve compiled our top tips and tricks to cook perfect salmon in the oven.
Best Types of Salmon for Baking
Sockeye Salmon This Pacific Ocean salmon is a perfect baking fish. It’s particularly oily flesh holds up well in the continuous high heat of the oven, and it has a stronger taste than other varieties of salmon that roasting really works to bring out.
King Salmon Also known as chinook salmon, king salmon are larger than most other cuts of salmon and higher in fat, making them great for the oven. They’re cut crosswise, yielding two thick strips of fish joined at a meaty top, with more thickness and a broader surface area, all the better for getting crispy in the oven.
Atlantic Salmon This is one of the most affordable kinds of salmon, and it’s great for oven-baking, with a mild flavor but good amount of fat. Try to buy organic if you can, as farm-raised atlantic salmon can have antibiotics.
How to Prep Salmon for Baking
1. Get it to Room Temperature
Salmon still cold from the refrigerator tends to bake unevenly in the oven. Therefore it’s best to take out your salmon out of the refrigerator about 15-20 minutes before cooking, leaving it on your counter until it’s room-temperature to the touch.
2. Pat it Dry
When it comes to cooking salmon in the oven, you’ll want to make sure your salmon is as dry as possible. Salmon with a wet film or skin won’t crisp up the way it should in the oven, which yields that delicious crispy crust. So before anything, take a paper or dish towel and pat dry your salmon, getting as much excess moisture from the top as you can.
3. Oil it Up
Few things are as important when it comes to baking salmon as getting a good base coat of oil before popping it in the oven. This imbues the salmon with extra moisture and flavor and helps keep it from drying out while cooking. You’ll want to use an oil with a higher smoke point-- we like olive oil, and avocado oil or coconut oils are also good options.
Using a brush, you’ll want to brush all sides of your salmon, except for the bottom, with a thin coat of the oil. If you don’t have a brush, simply drizzle a small amount of oil onto the fish and rub it into the flesh with your hands.
3. Don’t Forget the Seasoning
Seasoning is integral in bringing out the natural flavors of the salmon. Always make sure to liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over your salmon before cooking. After that, feel free to use whichever seasonings you prefer. Try using cayenne pepper, garlic powder and onion powder for a bit more savory yet mild flavor.
Fresh seasonings are also delicious with oven-baked salmon. Try adding a slice of fresh lemon on top of each piece of fish before popping it in the oven for a burst of fresh flavor, or fresh herbs such as dill, mint or rosemary. With baking, you don’t even have to chop up the herbs. Just place a few sprigs on top of your fish, and serve them next to the salmon on your serving plate.
What Temperature Should I Cook Salmon in the Oven?
450°F is a generally failsafe temperature to cook most kinds of salmon in the oven. Any more or less and you risk overcooking this delicate fish.
How Long Should I Cook Salmon in the Oven?
Most cuts of salmon take about 12-15 minutes to cook perfectly 450°F, though this timing will go or down a bit depending on the thickness of your fish. The general rule of thumb is to cook your salmon in the oven for around 4-6 minutes per half inch of thickness. You’re aiming for an internal temperature of 135°F, so definitely keep that meat thermometer handy.
Easy Oven-Baked Salmon Recipe
This is one of our favorite easy baked salmon recipe. It’s super simple, comes together in less than an hour, and is packed with fresh flavors.
4 sprigs of basil
4 6 oz. salmon fillets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Finely chop the basil leaves.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse the salmon, pat dry and then place it skin side down on the sheet.
Mix the salt and pepper and rub it over the salmon, then sprinkle half the chopped basil on top.
Place in the oven and bake until salmon is cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes.
While the salmon cooks, grate the zest from the lemon into a small bowl, and then juice it into the bowl.
Add the oil and honey into the small bowl.
Remove the salmon from the oven and place it on a large serving plate. Drizzle with the lemon sauce and let rest 8-10 minutes to absorb the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining basil leaves and serve.