How To Cook Salmon in the Oven

Recipe: Baked Salmon with Herbs & Lemon


Salmon is actually among the most versatile proteins to work with in the kitchen. It is delicious and universally loved, quite good for you, and really simple to prepare. Salmon still retains its fancy and festive reputation, though it’s a lot more readily available nowadays and may be purchased at a good price point from most grocery stores. My preferred way to cook salmon is actually in the oven, very low and slow, with a pan of water for moist heat. Keep reading for this utterly simple, foolproof way to produce luscious, flavorful, and moist salmon fillets.

You will find 3 factors that are important in this method: low oven, moist heat, and herbs that are fresh. The low oven prevents the salmon proteins from seizing up, keeping it silky and tender. It can also help in reducing an overly fishy taste which can be off putting to some. The moist heat is readily achieved by placing a pan of water in the oven. This will help to to keep the salmon juicy and tender; it’ll still flake, but in lovely, silky folds.

The fresh herb layer adds flavor, complementing the taste of the salmon without overpowering it, as well as protecting the fish from harsh heat. It also means you do not have to create a sauce, since the herb layer provides a lot of texture and flavor. The herbs are actually up to you, but I love to use dill, basil, and parsley – tarragon is also good. Using lemon zest is actually a good way to add lemon flavor to the salmon without using lemon juice, that will also cook the fish (think ceviche), with the vast majority of it just running off anyway. The lemon zest stays put and adds a necessary brightness to the rich salmon.

Lastly, I have to pay homage to chef Suzanne Goin, whose recipe for Salmon Salad that is Wild in her book Sunday Suppers at Lucques introduced me to the low-and-slow, herb crusted method for baking salmon. Goin uses slightly different herbs, and ends up creating an incredible salmon salad with beets, potatoes, eggs, dandelion greens, and a mustard sauce. This’s all dandy and fine, but I’ve discovered that simply serving the salmon with its herb crust is actually plenty good enough for those evenings when you do not have the time to fuss.


Twelve ounces salmon fillet, skin on (or six ounces per person)

one small shallot, finely chopped (aproximatelly One heaped tablespoon)

Two tablespoons chopped parsley

Two tablespoons chopped basil (or another herb of your choice)

one teaspoon dried dill (or One tablespoon fresh)

Finely grated zest of a lemon (one loosely packed tablespoon)

One tablespoon of olive oil or even enough to moisten the herbs

A generous pinch of flaky sea salt


A shallow baking tray

A rack (doesn’t have to fit into the tray)

A chef’s knife and cutting board

A spatula


A half hour before you start: Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and allow it to sit on the counter to come to room temperature. Place a pan 1/2 full of water (I use an eight ” round cake tin) in the oven on the lower rack and preheat to 250F.

Prep the herb paste: Finely chop other herbs, basil, parsley, and the shallot . Zest the lemon (I find a Microplane is actually probably the best way to go.) Mix the shallot, herbs, and lemon zest in a bowl, and moisten with the olive oil to develop a rough paste.

Prepare the baking tray: Lightly oil the rack and put it over the paper tray. Place the salmon fillet skin side down on the rack.

Coat the salmon with the herbs: Pat the herbs on top of the salmon, forming a thick layer. I have not had much luck coating the sides (the herbs often fall off), but you are able to definitely give it a try.

Bake the salmon twenty five to thirty minutes: Place the salmon in the oven on the middle rack and close the door immediately. Bake for twenty five to thirty minutes. A thicker fillet will generally have to have a bit longer time. Check for doneness at twenty minutes: Remove the tray of salmon from the oven and close the oven door. (Since the oven is actually at such a low heat, you need to keep the door closed almost as possible.) Place a knife tip in probably the thickest part of the salmon and gently pry it open. If the salmon separates into flakes, it is done. If not, return it to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Garnish and serve: When the salmon is actually done, transfer it to a cutting board and then cut into 2 pieces. In order to remove the skin () that is optional work the edge of the spatula between the flesh as well as the skin. By gently wiggling, you must be in a position to lift up the fillet clear of the skin. Sprinkle each fillet with the salt and serve.


A word on salt: This’s one of those times just where you would like to make use of several of that fancy finishing salt. I specifically recommend a large flaked salt, such as Maldon. The reason behind this’s that the salt, that is sprinkled on the herb mixture just after baking, is going to retain it is texture and shape. So when you bite into the salmon, you will get a hint of crunchiness and a burst of saltiness. It is a simple stage with a huge payoff in flavor and texture.

The herb layer is not prescriptive. Use whatever you’ve on hand, though parsley is nearly always a great base herb. I did not have fresh dill on hand, so I used aproximatelly 1/3 of the amount dried. The herbs do not have to be finely minced. A rough chop is actually fine.

The salmon is actually delicious served just from the oven, or perhaps at room temperature. Leftovers make a delicious salmon salad when mixed with a tiny amount of mayo or perhaps thick yogurt. No additional seasoning is actually necessary, as the fish is currently deeply flavored.

How To Cook Salmon in the Oven

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