Let me show you how to bake salmon that’s flakey, moist, and tender. Every. Time. This garlic and olive oil garnished fish takes 5 minutes of prep and can transform anyone into a fish lover. Here’s everything you need to know about oven baked salmon.
What Type of Salmon Should I Buy?
If you’re scoping out your fish options and feeling overwhelmed, I can relate! But I’ve researched and recipe tested enough to make things easy for you–the short: We only eat wild caught salmon and flip flop between king and sockeye.
Here are the facts so you can decide what’s best for you:
- Farmed vs. wild salmon – Opt for wild salmon whenever possible. Although it’s slightly more expensive, the lower level of contaminants and toxins from fish farms make it a healthier choice.
- Fresh vs. frozen salmon – We absolutely love frozen salmon. Interesting fact: frozen salmon is flash-frozen immediately after being caught, and is often fresher than fresh salmon!
- Salmon varieties – I recommend king salmon, sockeye salmon, or coho salmon. We switch between king and sockeye–they’re both higher in fat and flavor. Of all the varieties, sockeye has the strongest salmon flavor, while coho is light in taste and an excellent option for people who don’t love fish.
- Skin-on vs. skinless – Salmon skin is loaded with nutrients but has a slimy texture when it isn’t crispy (this is easiest to achieve with pan seared salmon and broiled salmon).
Baked Salmon Ingredients + Potential Swaps
Now that you’ve got your salmon, you’re pretty much set–just a few kitchen basics. Here’s what they are and some potential swaps:
- Olive oil helps keep salmon moist as it bakes. You can also (and we often do!) substitute melted butter here.
- Fresh garlic – Always opt for fresh when you can–its natural oils will infuse the salmon with loads more flavor. Garlic powder can be used in a pinch.
- Kosher salt measures differently than table salt. If using table salt, use 2/3’s.
- Lemon juice and sliced lemon infuse our fish with a bit of tangy zest. Feel free to use lime juice if that better suits your sides.
How To Bake Salmon
You’ll be shocked at how easily this baked salmon comes together–it’s a weeknight staple in our house for a reason!
Pat salmon dry, the allows the seasoning and oil to soak into the fish more easily.
Season. Cover it in garlic, then olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Top with lemon slices.
Foil + bake. Option to wrap your salmon in foil to retain its moisture–this eliminates the need for a salmon marinade. Then bake it in the preheated oven until it flakes easily and is cooked through.
How to Bake Frozen Salmon
It’s best to fully defrost frozen salmon before baking it, so the seasoning and oil can better absorb into the fish. You can do this in a few ways:
- Quick thaw the salmon by submerging it in lukewarm water for 1 hour.
- Slow thaw it in the fridge overnight–this usually takes about 10 hours. Be sure to place the salmon on a plate so the ice doesn’t make a mess in the fridge.
Tips for Perfectly Baked Salmon
Flavorful baked salmon with the perfect texture is easy to achieve if you follow these tips and tricks:
- Why should you wrap your salmon in foil? Although not necessary to cook the fish through, I strongly recommend covering your fish in foil–it’s a foolproof way to keep your salmon moist, even if you cook it slightly over. You can also place a sheet of parchment paper over the top of your salmon for similar results.
- What temperature should you bake salmon? You can cook salmon at 350, 375, or 400, whichever you prefer. We like to cook it at 400, as it allows the top to get crispy and add some texture. Cooking at a higher temp also cuts down on baking time, and prevents the salmon from drying out.
- How many minutes should you bake salmon for? This will depend on how thick your salmon filets are. I find cooking salmon slightly under and allowing it to come to temp while it rests is the best way to keep salmon moist. Check often by flaking the center of your filets–they should flake easily.
- How to know when salmon is done baking? The center of your salmon filets should flake easily with a fork and should be pink, no longer opaque.
- What are the white spots on the top of the salmon? May look funky but it’s actually just a protein called albumin, which releases when salmon is cooked at a high temperature. To reduce the potential of albumin, you can cook your filets at a lower temperature.
How to Store, Reheat, and Freeze
If you happen to have leftovers, here’s how to make the most out of them:
- Store leftover oven baked salmon in the fridge in an airtight container. Keep fresh herbs seperate, and sprinkle on top before reheating.
- Reheat salmon in the microwave with a damp paper towel placed on top.
- Leftover ideas? Serve your leftover salmon over a bed of greens for a delicious salmon salad. Or flake and mix it into a salmon frittata. You can also use it to make salmon patties.
More Ways To Love Salmon
- Crab Stuffed Salmon
- Parmesan Crusted Salmon
- Pistachio Crusted Salmon
- Salmon Piccata
- Sesame Crusted Salmon
Baked SalmonPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 pound salmon skin on or off based on preference
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Option to line a baking sheet for easy clean up–I like to fully wrap my salmon in foil to help keep it moist, if you'd like to do this, place an extra large sheet of foil on the baking sheet and set aside.
- Place salmon on baking sheet and pat completely dry with paper towels. Sprinkle garlic on top, then drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinle with salt and pepper. Place lemon sliced on top.
- Option, and strongly recommended to place aluminum foil over the top of the salmon–you can also lay a sheet of parchment paper on top. Bake in preheated oven until the salmon is cooked through and flakes easily, should be 12-15 minutes.
- Top with fresh herbs before serving, and enjoy.