My Easy Baked Salmon recipe is our family’s go-to recipe! Topped with a simple honey garlic butter and lemon, this easy salmon recipe is sure to become your new go-to as well!
This best Baked Salmon recipe is on our menu almost weekly, and my kids absolutely love it. They love Grilled Salmon Kabobs and Salmon Patties too, but this garlic butter salmon is their favorite preparation. Your family will love it too, because I’m going to show you how to bake salmon perfectly every time!
Salmon is an easy fish to cook. It’s delicate, but also holds up well to different cooking methods, from baking, to broiling, to frying to grilling. For this easy salmon recipe we are making baked salmon – it’s the most preferred in our household, and coincidentally, the easiest!
You do have to be careful not to overcook the salmon. Overcooking results in a dry and stringy flesh that’s just not as pleasant to eat. I bake salmon at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. There seem to be varying schools of thought on this, utilizing various cooking temperatures and times, but this method has always yielded a moist and tender salmon for me, that’s light pink in color and never overcooked.
Salmon is healthy and delicious, full of protein and omega-3s. While this flavor combo happens to be one of my favorites, you can use other simple options such as fresh lemon with parsley or dill or just salt and pepper.
Ingredients For Baked Salmon
Salmon Filet – I prefer to get one large filet. It just tends to be easiest to cook and has the best flavor. You could also purchase pre-portioned salmon filets.
Lemon – Zest your lemon first for the butter, then slice it and lay the slices on top of the salmon.
Honey Garlic Butter – You need 6 tablespoons of room temperature butter, which is ¾ of a stick of butter, some honey, 3 garlic cloves, and some minced parsley.
Kosher Salt – for seasoning the salmon (optional and to taste).
How To Make Easy Baked Salmon
Prep the fish. Start by laying out a salmon filet on a foil covered baking sheet. Season with salt if desired – not too much as it can quickly overpower the fish. You can also add more after cooking if needed.
Make the honey garlic butter. Mix up the honey garlic butter by combining softened butter, minced garlic, minced parsley, honey and lemon zest. Slather that all up and down the fish and top with lemon slices.
Make a “boat” with the foil. Bring up the sides of the foil to form a sort of “pan” that will keep the yummy butter and juices right in there with the fish. You can spoon the melted butter over the fish once it’s cooked if you like or serve it on the side for dipping.
Bake salmon at 400℉. It doesn’t take too long to bake salmon – just about 15 minutes at 400 degrees, depending on the size and thickness. If you have a meat thermometer, it will come in handy here. I prefer to take it out of the oven at about 130-135℉. It will continue to rise in temperature during a 5 minute rest.
What is the best temperature for baking salmon?
The best temperature for baking salmon is 400℉. The flesh cooks quickly so the higher temperature helps to retain the moisture inside to keep the salmon tender and juicy.
How do you know what salmon is done baking?
The ideal internal temperature for salmon to be about 135-145℉. Some people prefer their fish more medium (130-135℉), and some prefer their salmon to be well done (145-150℉). The USDA recommends to cook salmon and other types of fish to 145℉. It will be light pink in color and fork tender. Use a meat thermometer if you have one, stuck into the thickest part of the salmon.
Should you leave the skin on?
It’s really a matter of personal preference. I don’t like the texture of salmon skin, but my husband loves it. So I usually cook it with the skin on because it’s super easy to remove once baked. Plus the skin has a ton of nutrients, it’s just the texture that can be somewhat off-putting.
How To Choose the Best Kind of Salmon
There are generally two types of salmon available in my grocery store (and likely in yours, too) Wild Caught and Farm Raised. But what’s the difference?
Farm Raised Salmon:
Raised in aquatic farming types of operations, rather than in the wild.
Higher in fat, which gives it a milder flavor and makes it a little more forgiving if you overcook it a little.
Pale pink/orange in color.
Typically cheaper than other varieties of salmon.
Usually Atlantic Salmon.
Like the name says, this type of salmon is caught fisherman style out in the big ol’ ocean.
Has a deeper, more red/orange color and is leaner, as more fat is used in the wild to help regulate body temperature. This also results in a richer, more fishier flavor.
Because it’s usually provided by small business fisherman operations, the price tends to be higher.
Five types of wild salmon: King salmon, Sockeye, Coho, Pink, and Chum.
We prefer the milder, farm raised salmon, but both are delicious and will taste great when you’re baking salmon.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with foil.
Lay the salmon skin side down on the foil.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine softened butter, honey, garlic, lemon zest and minced parsley. Spread evenly over the top of the fish, then top with lemon slices.
Bring up the sides of the foil around the salmon. This will help keep the juices from spilling all over the pan. Covering the salmon completely is ideal, but not a must.
Bake in the preheated 400 degree oven for 15-18 minutes. (Cooking time will depend on size and thickness; it's done when the salmon is a light pink color and is tender and flaky; it should register 130-140 degrees F on a meat thermometer.)
Remove from the oven and let rest for several minutes before serving. Serve with extra lemon wedges, if desired.
Storage: Place leftovers in an airtight container within 2 hours of cooking. It will keep for 2-3 days.Reheating: Place salmon in a microwave safe dish and heat for 30 second intervals until fully heated through.Freezing: Fresh (uncooked – never frozen) salmon can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before cooking. Cooked salmon can be frozen for 4-6 months.Optimal Serving Temperature – 145 degrees F.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.