Get ready to sit down and enjoy dinner in under 30 minutes with this rich, moist, and flaky oven baked salmon. If you are looking for a delicious main course for a busy weeknight, this is it. Baked salmon is a foolproof method for enjoying a no-fuss delicious dinner.
Salmon is one of my go-to dinner dishes for many reasons. Besides being so delicious, is insanely easy to make. For this dish, I am using butter, kosher salt, and herbs de Provence to complete the salmon.
You can also use oils and other seasonings which I will share with you later. If that isn't enough, I have some recipes for sauces for salmon that complement it also. Plus, there is only one baking dish to clean up.
Why This Recipe Is So Good
- It has a rich buttery flavor without tasting fishy. The tender texture and warm pink coloring make it an inviting dish.
- Salmon takes well to different seasonings, herbs, and sauces. You can serve it often without tiring of its delightful taste.
- A wide variety of salmon is easy to find, particularly at certain times of the year. Many are relatively affordable.
- Salmon has an impressive array of health benefits.
Salmon is an excellent source of protein, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and vitamins. Of note are B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Baking salmon in the oven gives you so many options for sauce for the salmon and a wide assortment of side dishes. If you would like an all-in-one dish, try this easy Instant Pot Salmon with asparagus.
- Salmon Fillets. Figure about 4 ounces per person. Fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or under cold running water.
- Butter or Virgin Olive Oil. Melted butter is a favorite. Also, clean, simple olive oil coats nicely. The higher smoke point of virgin versus extra virgin makes virgin olive oil the choice.
- Kosher Salt. Season to taste. I prefer kosher salt to table salt because of its ability to dissolve more slowly into the recipe, the crystals are larger reducing over-salting, and there are no additives, like iodine, to kosher salt.
- Herbes de Provence. A blend of fragrant herbs including rosemary, thyme, marjoram, savory, and fennel seeds.
Which Is The Best Salmon?
Looks are important! And the salmon color is one of those important traits. The very best salmon will have vibrant colors ranging from deep red to pink. The salmon you choose should look moist and have no bruised, brown, or torn spots.
You shouldn't be able to smell the salmon other than a hint of the saltwater it came from. It definitely should not smell fishy.
Fresh or frozen salmon can be equally as good if they are from a trusted source and all the other factors are comparable. I would rather have access to salmon all year-round than it's approximately 6 months of harvesting so I have to choose frozen or previously-frozen salmon. Salmon may be put on ice immediately as it is fished to maintain it's freshness. And if you don't live close to the source of fresh salmon, previously-frozen or frozen salmon may be your only option.
Types of Salmon
Here is a quick rundown of what you can expect from the different species of salmon. You can find out more by checking out types of salmon.
- Atlantic salmon: High-fat content. Firm, fatty texture. Pink or red-orange coloring. Primarily farm-raised.
- Chinook salmon (King salmon): Bold flavor. High-Fat Content. Rich and buttery taste.
- Sockeye salmon: Rich, intense flavor. Firm and leaner. Deep red color. Some varieties can be very expensive.
- Pink salmon: Mild flavor. Lower fat content. Small and lean. Pale pink color. Mostly processed and sold in cans or a pouch.
- Coho salmon: High-fat content. Firm and flaky fish. Orange coloring.
- Chum salmon: Mild flavor. Lower fat content. Firm and meaty. Often used for smoking or grilling. Prized for its roe.
How To Cook Salmon In The Oven
Salmon is so easy to bake in the oven. It requires few ingredients and even less preparation time. You can have this delicious tasting and healthy dinner on the table in about 30 minutes. You will love just how simple salmon is to bake!
- For 2 servings, use an 8-inch square glass baking dish with the bottom lightly brushed virgin olive oil.
- Place the prepared dish in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. I like to heat the baking dish and oil before adding the salmon.
- Keep the skin on your salmon. You don't have to eat it if you don't want to, but it holds the flaky salmon together better. Put the salmon in the dish, skin side down. Brush the top of the salmon with the oil.
- Season the salmon with kosher salt and Herbes de Provence.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until the center is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. (see tips below) For salmon that isn't very oily, this temp and cooking time keeps the salmon from drying out.
How To Tell If Salmon Is Done
The visual doneness test mentioned in step 6 above, is one of the better ways to tell if the salmon is done. Your salmon will be done to perfection if it is opaque in the center and flakes easily when tested with a fork. If you start to see a whitish substance appear on parts of your salmon, that indicates that the salmon may be getting overdone.
The USDA recommends salmon internal temperature reach 145°F. Many professionals feel this temperature is too high. Some, for example, American's Test Kitchen in several of their recipes, recommend a salmon internal temp of 125°F. My personal preference is somewhere in between. If you are unsure, start with a lower internal temperature, check for opaqueness and flakiness, and then just try a small piece. Your eyes and your taste buds are two of the best indicators of doneness.
Remember that when using an instant-read thermometer to test the salmon's internal temperature, that you are testing the thickest part of the filet. This means that thinner parts and the ends are most likely at higher temperatures and potentially overdone. You can always put the salmon back in the over for more cooking time, but you can't do much about salmon that is overcooked.
How To Select Salmon
f you have read all the controversy about farm-raised salmon versus wild-caught salmon and wondered which is best, the answer is both! Like almost any farming operation, there are good and bad practices. Purchase salmon from a quality grocery store or fish market. Many stores have higher standards for their sourced fish than government regulations require.
A trusted source I turn to often is the The Seafood Watch Program at the Monterey Aquarium. They have a comprehensive list of recommended fish, that is updated regularly, either fresh or farmed that has less impact on our environment. I highly recommend using their sight when purchasing any type of fish. If you want to dive 🙂 even further into sustainable and healthy fishing practices NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a wonderful resource.
As you may suspect, the species of salmon you choose is also very important to your end result. This applies not only to the taste but also the accessibility and price. Thankfully, salmon is broadly accessible whether you are shopping for it in the grocery store or your local fish market. But while it is the most popular fish available, deciding which variety of salmon is the best may still be confusing.
Salmon Is Good for You
In general, fish is good for you, but salmon is exceptionally good for you. One 4 oz serving of salmon contains:
- 161 kcal Calories, 0 g Carbs, 23 g Protein, and 7 g of Fat.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of heart disease.
- The recommended daily allowance(RDA) of calcium, which according to the Mayo Clinic (Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource) is " important for strong teeth and bones. It's also needed for your heart, muscles, and nerves to function properly." Canned salmon is especially high in calcium because it includes the salmon bones.
- Almost 3 times the RDA of Vitamin B-12, which is essential for red blood cell formation, cell metabolism and nerve function. (Mayo Clinic)
- Rich amounts of Vitamin D that "helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral that's responsible for the normal development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. This vitamin also helps maintain proper blood levels of calcium and phosphorus." (Mayo Clinic)
- Selenium which can regulate the thyroid and boost the immune system.
- Fewer to no toxins compared to other fish as they have a short lifespan of 1 to 5 years which makes for less time for accumulation.
What To Serve With Salmon
Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to serve with salmon. These dishes pair nicely with the salmon and are just as easy to make.
Time to get started making my family-favorite baked salmon fillet recipe.
Oven Baked Salmon (Ready in Under 30 Minutes)
- 8 oz salmon filet
- 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil (approx.) or butter
- Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (approx.)
- Brush the bottom of an 8-inch square glass baking dish with the virgin olive oil. Place the prepared dish in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the baking dish from the oven. Place the salmon, skin side down, in the baking dish. Brush the top of the salmon with the oil. Season the salmon with the kosher salt and Herbes de Provence.
- Bake 20 minutes, or until the center is opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork. (see tips below)
- According to the USDA, the salmon's internal temperature should reach 145°F when tested in the thickest part with an instant-read thermometer. Many professionals feel this temperature is too high. Some, recommend an internal temp of 125°F. My personal preference is somewhere in between. If you are unsure, start with a lower internal temperature, check for opaqueness and flakiness, and then just try a small piece.
- Leftover salmon can be stored in and airtight container and refrigerated for up to 2 days.