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How to Bake Salmon Fillets

Salmon is popular for a reason, and not just because it’s delicious. This fish is highly nutritious, since it’s a great source of protein and other nutrients essential for several body processes. But is it really hard to cook? Some home cooks are intimidated about cooking salmon at home. So use these smart tips to learn how to bake salmon.

You just have to choose the method that works best for you. Baked salmon is one of the fastest and easiest ones to prepare. It can be as simple as: just season it, put it in the oven, and bake. Yes, really!

How to bake salmon- salmon filets with butter and spices in white baking dish on wooden table

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Salmon is a popular choice for family meals, and for good reason! The FDA reports that salmon is one of their “best choice” fishes for being low in mercury. Fish provides nutrients to support kids’ brain development as they’re growing.

The Omega-3 fats and iron in salmon are good for adults as well. The FDA recommends 2-3 servings of heart-healthy fish (from the low mercury list) each week for adults and gives guidelines for size portions for kids of all ages.

Raw salmon fillet on wooden cutting board with cherry tomatoes and lemon

Where to buy salmon fillets

Thankfully, salmon can be found everywhere from your local grocery store’s seafood section to warehouse stores. You can even get salmon delivered directly to your home. Besides saving you time, you know you’ll get high-quality salmon with a guarantee of freshness.

How to tell if baked salmon is done

Salmon can be tricky to prepare, especially for those who are just learning how to cook. Cooking time varies, as different cuts of salmon may have different levels of thickness. The best thing to do is observe the color and texture of the fish as it cooks. 

From translucent red, it should turn opaque light pink. After around 6-8 minutes of baking, gently prick the top section of the fillet with a fork. If it flakes, then it’s finished cooking. Once you realize that it’s done, immediately take it out of the oven. You wouldn’t want to end up with dry, overcooked salmon fillets! 

hands using knife to remove skin from salmon fillet before baking

What temperature should salmon be cooked to

In general, salmon fillets cook at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes. Internal temperature, meanwhile, should be between 120°F to 145°F. So how do you check the internal temperature of your salmon fillets? To do this, insert a digital thermometer at the thickest part of the fish. 

No need to flip them in the oven. Keep in mind that the internal temperature continues to rise even after turning the heat off. If you don’t keep an eye on it, you’ll have overcooked fish. Make sure that the middle part flakes, yet is still translucent.

What you need to bake salmon

These supplies are so helpful when you prepare salmon fillets regularly for family meals:

baked salmon fillets with parsley and asparagus on white plate

Cooking frozen salmon

Yes, it’s possible to cook salmon even without thawing it. It’s the most convenient way to prepare a hearty salmon meal when preoccupied with work and household matters. Cook salmon straight from the freezer, and you’ll still have an amazingly tender and moist fish. To get the best results, work with fillets or smaller cuts.

Frozen salmon fillets take longer to bake than thawed. So if you want to cook it straight from the freezer, cover them tightly before placing them in the oven. Baking time also depends on how thick the fillets are and the type of salmon you are working with. 

Just remember to check the internal temperature. You’re looking for that 120-145 degree range in the thickest part of the fillet.

salmon fillets with lemon slices in baking dish

There are many ways to cook salmon (frozen or not), but baking remains the easiest, most popular method for many. 

5 easy ways to bake salmon

1. Bake salmon uncovered

Want to cook this fish in the healthiest, most convenient way possible? Cook it how I prepared this tilapia recipe. Thaw the salmon and bake it uncovered. Arrange the fish on the baking sheet and then top with seasoning. Bake it for 15 minutes and it’s done. 

2. Bake fillets in foil

Enclosing salmon in foil creates a steam environment that helps infuse whatever spices and seasonings you’re using. Just add seasoning along with olive oil or lemon juice, fold into a packet, and bake.

3. Bake with the skin on

When you leave the skin on salmon, it locks in extra moisture and serves as a safety layer between the pan and delicate fish flesh. So what if you don’t want to eat it? The skin also peels off quickly once the fish is baked. 

4. Bake salmon with a glaze

Using a thick glaze on the salmon before baking creates tender, seasoned fillets with a sauce for serving. Be sure to line your baking dish, because the sticky sauce will be hard to clean up.

5. Bake with lemon

Lemon is a popular ingredient in baked salmon recipes since it complements the fish’s natural, strong flavors. In some recipes, all it takes is lemon, oil and some spices. 

cooked salmon fillet with spices and broccoli on white plate

Salmon is so good for you!

Now you know, baking salmon is actually one of the easiest and healthiest dishes to prepare. Even during busy weeknights, salmon cooks up quickly and is a healthy protein for the whole family.

Don’t have time to preheat the oven? Quickly cook salmon in a saute pan with this easy balsamic salmon recipe.

Do you have leftovers? Use leftover cooked salmon for this easy salmon pasta recipe.

Sometimes, kids don’t like the smell of salmon, saying it’s “too fishy.” Try this salmon patties recipe that mixes cooked salmon with potatoes as a way to introduce them to salmon. Then try these 10 salmon recipes kids will eat.