In this baked salmon recipe, salmon fillets are seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and thyme, then baked in the oven.
They only need 15 minutes in a 425°F oven, and they emerge perfectly cooked, moist, and tender!
The only secret to perfectly baked salmon is to avoid drying it out. If you don't overcook it, you'll emerge from the kitchen with a delectable, tender fish that everyone will love.
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this recipe. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Salmon fillets: I use skin-on salmon. The skin is the best part! It also helps protect the fish from drying out.
- Olive oil: I use it to coat the fish before baking it.
- To season: Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and dried thyme.
- Optional ingredients: I sometimes add lemon slices and bake them with the fish. I sometimes also top the finished dish with chopped parsley for a pretty garnish.
- Coat the salmon in melted butter or ghee instead of olive oil. I especially love using butter! It's delicious.
- You can vary the spices you use. In addition to garlic and thyme, I sometimes add a generous pinch of onion powder and paprika. Ground cumin is another tasty option that I've tried and liked.
Baked Salmon Instructions
This is such an easy recipe. The oven does all the work! The detailed instructions are included in the recipe card below. Here are the basic steps:
You start by coating the salmon fillets with olive oil on all sides. I use a pastry brush, but you can use your hands.
Sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper, and spices.
Place the fish pieces on a rimmed baking dish. If using, place lemon slices around them.
Bake the salmon until it's cooked through. Its internal temperature should reach 145°F, and you should only keep it in the oven until it reaches this temperature. You don't want to overcook it.
Garnish with parsley and serve.
- There's no need to cover the salmon in foil. You should leave it uncovered. If you use foil, the salmon will steam instead of baking.
- I prefer garlic powder to fresh minced garlic in this recipe; it coats the fish more uniformly.
- According to the USDA, fish should be cooked medium (145°F). The best way to ensure the fish is done is using an instant-read thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, you can check with a fork. The center of each fillet should be opaque and flaky. If it's still translucent and resists being flaked with a fork, it's not done yet. Here's a photo that illustrates how the salmon should look on the inside when it's done:
For even cooking, it's best to cut a big chunk into individual, 6-ounce portions. It IS possible to bake a large piece, but then you risk the edges becoming overcooked while the middle is still raw.
You should bake 6-ounce salmon fillets in a 425°F oven for around 15 minutes. When salmon is done, its flesh turns from translucent to opaque, and you can flake it easily with a fork.
The best way to ensure the fish is done is to use a thermometer. If your fillets are significantly larger than 6 ounces, they will need more time in the oven, especially if they're thick.
This is a matter of personal preference. You can use either. I love salmon skin. It's fatty and delicious. So, I use skin-on salmon.
Yes. Simply increase the cooking time to about 20 minutes for 6-ounce fillets. In fact, baking fish from frozen often helps avoid drying them out.
However, you should only do this with smaller, 6-ounce fillets. Bigger fillets could be undercooked in the middle if you cook them frozen.
When cooking from frozen, it's especially important to check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer or use a fork to ensure the center is opaque and flaky.
There are so many sides to choose from - this is a versatile main dish. But since I cook the salmon in a 425°F oven, I like to serve it with a side dish I can cook in the same oven. So, I often serve it with one of the following:
I don't usually serve this salmon with a sauce. Unlike poached salmon, which has a mild flavor and can benefit from adding sauce, baked salmon is flavorful on its own, especially when cooked with the skin on and not overcooked.
However, when I make steamed asparagus, microwave asparagus, or roasted asparagus to go with this dish, I make hollandaise sauce to drizzle on both.
You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to three days. I don't like reheating them - they end up too dry. So I flake them and use them cold as a salad topping the next day:
If you prefer to reheat the leftovers, do so very gently. Cover the fish and reheat it in the microwave at 50% power, turning often, until heated through.
More Salmon Recipes
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Baked Salmon Recipe
- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets skin-on or skinless, about 1 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or ½ teaspoon of any other salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 lemon sliced and seeded
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped, for garnish
- Preheat your oven to 425°F. Position a rack in the middle of the oven.
- Run your finger across the salmon fillets to check for bones. If your fish have bones in them, remove the bones with fish bone tweezers.
- Using a pastry brush or clean hands, coat the salmon fillets with olive oil. Sprinkle them on both sides with kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and thyme.
- Arrange the salmon fillets on the baking dish, skin side down. You can line the baking dish with nonstick foil to minimize the risk of sticking. If using, arrange the lemon slices around the fish. Lightly brush the lemon slices with olive oil.
- Bake the salmon, uncovered, until it's opaque and cooked through and its internal temperature reaches 145°F. This should take around 15 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve.
- The USDA says that you should cook fish to medium (145°F). If you don't have a thermometer, you can check with a fork. The center of each fillet should be opaque and flaky. If it's still translucent and resists being flaked with a fork, it's not done yet.
- To cook frozen salmon, increase the baking time to about 20 minutes for 6-ounce fillets. Baking fish from frozen often helps avoid drying them out. However, you should only do this with smaller, 6-ounce fillets. Bigger fillets could be undercooked in the middle if you cook them frozen. When cooking from frozen, it's especially important to check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer or use a fork to ensure the center is opaque and flaky.
- You can keep the leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. I don't like reheating them - they end up too dry. So I flake them and use them cold as a salad topping the next day. If you prefer to reheat the leftovers, do so very gently. Cover the fish and reheat it in the microwave at 50% power, turning often, until heated through.