This delightful main course, crafted with a mere five ingredients, encapsulates the magic of minimalist cooking. The tender, flaky texture of salmon combined with the rich melding of butter, aromatic garlic, zesty lemon, and fragrant dill promises a taste sensation that is both refined and comforting. Whether you’re seeking a quick weeknight meal that dazzles without the fuss or aiming to impress guests with a dish that whispers sophistication, this easy baked salmon is your ticket. Each bite invites a culinary journey that celebrates the purity of its ingredients, compelling even the most hesitant of chefs to don their aprons and delve into the creation of this masterpiece.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Quick and Easy: Ready in just 15-20 minutes, this recipe is perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings.
  • Minimal Ingredients: With only 5 ingredients, it’s straightforward and hassle-free, ideal for both beginner cooks and seasoned chefs.
  • Flavorful and Aromatic: The combination of melted butter, fresh lemon, garlic, and dill creates a deliciously rich and aromatic dish.
  • Healthy Choice: Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and protein, making this a nutritious option for a balanced meal.
A serving of baked salmon with lemon slices on top on a small dinner plate.

Baked Salmon Recipe Ingredients & Substitutions

Discover the key components of this recipe and their culinary roles, along with substitutions to ensure you can adapt the recipe to suit your pantry and preferences.

An overhead view of the raw ingredients needed to make baked salmon.
  • Salmon: The star of the show, salmon provides a tender, flaky texture and is rich in natural oils and omega-3 fatty acids. Its mild flavor serves as a perfect canvas for the accompanying ingredients.
  • Salted Butter: While salted butter brings its own seasoning, unsalted butter can be used in a pinch, with a slight adjustment to taste with added salt. For a dairy-free alternative, olive oil can be used.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice introduces a zesty tang. If needed, you can substitute with store-bought lemon juice.
  • Garlic: Offers a pungent and aromatic element. Garlic powder or minced garlic from a jar can be used if fresh cloves aren’t available. Adjust the quantity based on the intensity of the substitute.
  • Fresh Dill: In situations where fresh dill is unavailable, dried dill can be used (a third of the fresh amount). Alternatively, fresh parsley or tarragon can serve as substitutes, though they’ll steer the dish in slightly different flavor directions.

Using substitutions may affect final taste and texture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen salmon?

Yes, but make sure to thaw it thoroughly before baking to ensure even cooking.

Should I remove the skin?

It is entirely up to you! Baking salmon with the skin on can add extra flavor and moisture. Plus, the skin easily separates from the flesh once cooked. However, if you prefer a leaner bite, feel free to use skin-off fillets.

How do I know when salmon is done?

Salmon needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It should flake easily with a fork and have a slightly translucent center.

Visual Guide to Making Baked Salmon

A collage of four images showing the process of how to make baked salmon from start to finish.

Salmon Types & Sources

The most common types of salmon include:

  • Atlantic salmon, primarily farm-raised and the only salmon native to the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Chinook (or King) salmon, from the Pacific, prized for its high-fat content and buttery texture.
  • Sockeye (or Red) salmon, known for its vibrant red color and robust flavor.
  • Coho (or Silver) salmon, a milder and often more affordable option
  • Pink salmon, the most abundant and often used for canning
  • Chum (or Dog) salmon, which is less fatty and often smoked or dried.

Beyond species, there’s the distinction between farm-raised and wild-caught salmon.

  • Farm-raised salmon are cultivated in net pens in the ocean, controlled environments where their diet and growth are closely monitored, often leading to a fattier fish. They sometimes receive criticism for environmental concerns and potential antibiotic use.
  • In contrast, wild-caught salmon are harvested from their natural habitats, feeding on a diverse diet which can give them a stronger flavor and leaner flesh. They are often lauded for their natural lifestyle, but they also come with a higher price tag due to the sustainable fishing methods used to catch them.

What to Serve with Baked Salmon

When it comes to presenting your baked salmon, there are numerous ways to enhance this dish’s natural appeal and complement its flavors:

  • Choose the Right Sides:
  • Add a Sauce:
    • While the salmon is flavorful on its own, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice can elevate the dish. For a creamier accompaniment, a dollop of garlic aioli or a light yogurt-based sauce can be delightful.
  • Garnish for Freshness and Color:
    • Sprinkle chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or additional dill over the salmon before serving. Lemon slices or zest can add a bright, citrusy note, while a sprinkle of freshly cracked black pepper or a few capers can introduce a bit more complexity to the dish.


  • Overcooked or Dry Salmon: recommended cooking time as a starting point and check for doneness. Remember, the salmon will continue to cook slightly even after being removed from the oven. Next time, consider reducing the oven temperature or the cooking duration.
  • Salmon Sticking to the Foil: To prevent sticking, ensure that the aluminum foil is lightly greased or consider using parchment paper beneath the salmon before wrapping it in foil. You can also invest in non-stick foil for future recipes.
  • Salmon Appears Undercooked in the Middle: Thicker cuts of salmon might need a bit more time in the oven. However, remember that slightly pink in the center is okay and often desired for salmon. If you prefer a well-done piece of fish, allow for additional cooking time, but monitor closely to avoid over-drying.
  • Butter Mixture Separates or Curdles: Ensure that the lemon juice and melted butter are whisked together thoroughly before adding the other ingredients. The emulsion should be smooth. If separation occurs, whisk again vigorously before applying to the salmon.

Tips From the Chef

  • Always pat your salmon dry before baking to get a perfect finish.
  • Let your salmon sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before baking. It ensures even cooking.
  • If using skin-on salmon, place it skin-side down on the foil.
Close up overhead view of a baked salmon filet.

Freezing, Storage & Reheating Instructions

Store your baked salmon in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, reheat in the oven at 275°F until warmed through.

To freeze for longer term storage, ensure that your baked salmon has cooled completely. This prevents the formation of ice crystals which can affect the texture of the fish. Cut into portions if desired and use plastic wrap or aluminum foil to wrap each salmon portion tightly, ensuring there are no air gaps to prevent freezer burn and preserve the flavor. For an added layer of protection, place the wrapped salmon portions into resealable freezer bags. Press out as much air as possible before sealing.

Thaw salmon in the refrigerator at least 8 hours before you plan to eat it, allowing it to thaw slowly and evenly. This method retains the best texture and flavor.

Favorite Sides to Serve with Salmon

Watch the video below where Caytlin will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.