Easy baked salmon flavored with lemon, butter, fresh garlic, and honey, and baked in the oven for maximum flavor and minimal cleanup. Super easy to make, have this absolutely delicious salmon recipe on the table in 20 minutes or less!
If this is your first time cooking fish, salmon is the best place to start. Naturally flavorful and fantastic for you, salmon cooks quickly, guaranteeing the gift of easy weeknight dinners whenever you’re in need of a helping hand.
So, today we’re making easy baked salmon.
I love this easy recipe (and I’m pretty sure you will too!) because it is always delicious, simple to make, and easy to modify.
The ingredient list is short. Here’s what you’ll need,
- garlic cloves
- Italian seasoning
- red chili flakes (optional)
- salt & black pepper
- fresh herbs
Marinating is not required or necessary – always convenient if, like me, you tend to forget that step until it’s too late.
How Long to Bake Salmon?
Cooking time will vary according to the thickness of your salmon, oven temperature, and oven used.
In general, however, salmon will need to bake for 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch of thickness when placed in a 400-degree oven. Most fillets are approximately 1-inch thick, so you’ll want to cook them for 8-12 minutes (adding approximately 4-6 minutes per additional 1/2-inch thickness).
Also consider if you’re baking a whole side fillet or smaller, pre-cut, portions. Smaller individual salmon fillets will cook faster than a whole side fillet.
If you are using a convection oven, remember that foods generally cook faster. You may need to reduce the total cook time by as much as 30 percent.
How to Tell When Salmon Is Done
The most obvious way to tell if salmon is finished cooking is by looking at the salmon flesh. It’s done when it flakes easily and it’s opaque in the center.
As with all meat, I always recommend using an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon. Remove from the oven at,
- 135 degrees F if you’re using wild salmon as wild salmon is leaner than farmed salmon and is more prone to drying out or if you prefer a somewhat more “rare” salmon (it won’t really be rare, but this guarantees that it won’t be overcooked)
- 140-145 degrees F if you prefer firmer salmon
Note that the USDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Fortunately, salmon continues to cook even when removed from the oven, making up those last few degrees.
How to Bake Salmon
- Bring salmon to room temperature and pat dry with paper towels.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients for the lemon butter honey sauce.
- Line a large sheet pan or baking dish with foil (or parchment paper) and layer with lemon slices. Place the salmon on top of the lemon slices, skin-side-down.
- Pour the lemon butter sauce over the salmon.
- Bake for approximately 8-12 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh thyme or chopped parsley.
How to Serve
Serve this heart-healthy salmon recipe with all your favorite side dishes. Favorites include these easy air fryer Brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus, and basmati rice with fresh herbs and caramelized onions.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- For best results, always thaw frozen fish before cooking. While you can cook your fish from frozen, it will not cook evenly, with some parts overcooked and dry and other parts undercooked or still frozen.
- Keep the skin on and bake skin-side-down for locked-in moisture. Easily remove the skin by sliding a spatula between the flesh and the skin.
- The skin is completely edible and especially delicious when cooked until crispy. If you love crispy skin, return the baking sheet with the skin still on the tray back to the oven and bake until the desired crispiness is reached. You may also broil the skin for 1-2 minutes, just keep an eye on it as it will burn quickly!
Try these other delicious salmon recipes,
Did you try making this easy baked salmon recipe?
Tell me about it in the comments below! I always love to hear your thoughts.
BEST Baked Salmon with Lemon Butter
- 2½ pound side of salmon (with or without skin)
- 4 tbsp butter (melted)
- 3 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice from ½ a lemon)
- 5 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp red chili flakes
- ½ tsp salt (plus more to taste)
- black pepper (to taste)
- 1-2 lemons (washed and thinly sliced)
- fresh thyme (or fresh parsley, to garnish)
- Time allowing, remove the salmon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking and allow it to come to room temperature. Pat dry with paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
- In a small bowl whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce - the melted butter, minced garlic, fresh lemon juice, Italian seasoning, red chili flakes, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.
- Line a large baking sheet/rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place the lemon slices on top of the foil in a single, non-overlapping layer. Place the salmon, skin-side-down, directly on top of the lemon slices.
- Pour the butter/garlic/honey sauce over the salmon and use a spoon or pastry brush to spread evenly so that the entire surface of the salmon is covered.
- Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the salmon registers 140-145°F as measured by a digital meat thermometer.
- Garnish with fresh thyme or chopped parsley and serve immediately with the baked lemon slices.
- Whenever possible, try to purchase wild salmon vs. farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is higher in fat, including saturated fat, and is higher in calories (1, 2).
- Given the higher fat content of farmed vs. wild salmon, adjust your expectations when it comes to the overall taste and texture of your fish after cooking. For example, farmed salmon will be significantly more oily and somewhat less prone to drying out.
- Swap the whole side of salmon for 4-5 equal portioned salmon filets.
- Make dairy-free by swapping the butter for olive oil or avocado oil.
- The honey and red chili flakes are optional (but delicious!) additions. Feel free to skip them.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.)