Salmon is one of my favorite seafoods to work with. One, because it’s so versatile, and two, because it’s rich with Omega-3 fats and that makes for a healthy meal!
This lemon butter salmon may look like a sophisticated dish, but trust me: it’s easy peasy, lemon squeezy. I just put all the ingredients together, then I let the oven do all the heavy lifting while I kick back and relax.
No oven at home? Good news! You can also use a frying pan (See Tips & Variations section for details).
It is especially a lifesaver for the days when I have guests coming over and have to quickly put something together in a short amount of time. A juicy salmon filet with the creamiest lemon butter sauce leaves a smile on everyone’s face, too.
If you’re on a tight schedule and need to cook something easy and tastes amazing, then this is for you!
The ingredients in this lemon butter salmon are pretty straightforward. You will need:
- Salmon – Get a large, skinless salmon filet (about 2 to 3 lbs.). For more information, scroll to the section below on Can I Use Lemon With Skin?
- Lemons – Lemon juice is usually squeezed lightly over cooked fish to mask any undesired odors. In this recipe, the lemon slices bring a subtle citrus flavor to the salmon.
- Butter – Opt for unsalted butter. We will melt this into a sauce and then season with salt.
- Salt, black pepper, oregano – To season.
- Honey – We want to introduce a little sweetness to balance out the tartness of the lemon. Instead of honey, sweeteners like sugar or maple syrup also work great.
- Garlic – Lemon butter salmon will taste incomplete without the depth and umami of garlic.
- Parsley – For garnishing. (This is optional but does add a fancy touch!)
Can I Use Salmon With Skin?
This recipe uses skinless salmon filet. To be honest, though, cooking salmon with the skin on or off is a matter of personal preference. There are pros and cons to both.
Some people like cooking or baking salmon with the skin because you get a richer flavor and more of that Omega-3 goodness. The skin also gets crispy once it is cooked, and who doesn’t like crispy stuff, right? Some people even deep fry salmon skin on its own and call it salmon bacon! (Yes, it’s a real thing.)
- Pro Tip: If you are baking salmon with the skin on, then place the salmon skin-down on the pan.
So, why is it recommended to eat skinless salmon? The skin of the salmon catches toxins and filters them from getting into the fish. If you eat salmon with the skin on, there’s a risk of ingesting those pollutants that are in there. At the end of the day, it’s all up to you whether you want to use salmon with or without skin!
- Pro Tip: To remove salmon skin, lay it skin-down on a chopping board. Gently peel it away with a paring knife or a kitchen knife.
Why Did My Salmon Turn Out Dry?
If your salmon turns out dry or flaky after it’s out of the oven, there could be a few reasons why. Follow these tricks and you will get succulent filets of salmon every single time!
Overcooking the salmon
Did you leave the salmon to bake for a few minutes extra or at too high heat? This means the fish would have lost its moisture due to prolonged heat.
Use an instant-read thermometer to test the thickest part of the salmon, and once it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F, you can remove it from the oven.
Seasoning the salmon for too long
Did you season the salmon too early? Although we sprinkle salt over the raw fish, we do it just a few minutes short of putting it in the oven.
Letting salt sit for too long on raw fish will draw out moisture, resulting in dry salmon. Next time, season just 4 to 5 minutes before baking.
Not knowing which type of salmon you’ve bought
This is an interesting one to factor in when buying your salmon and preparing it. Farmed salmon contains twice as much fat content as wild salmon. This means wild salmon is more likely to lose moisture and become flaky after baking.
So, the next time you’re at the market, ask your local fishmonger what type of salmon you’re getting (farmed or wild) and then adapt your cooking time to suit the type (and size) of the filet.
Tips & Variations
If you don’t have an oven at home, pan-fry the salmon:
This recipe can also work without an oven. Put a frying pan on medium-high heat. The salmon filet should be able to fit into the pan – if not, slice it into half and cook them in two portions.
Once the pan is ready, drizzle just a little bit of olive oil (not too much as salmon is already oily) and place the salmon in skin-down. Then add melted butter, lemon slices, honey, and oregano to the pan. Cook the salmon for 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until fully cooked through.
Other ways to enjoy baked lemon butter salmon:
This dish tastes heavenly on its own. But if you have some extra time on your hands, pair this baked salmon with side dishes that will complement it! They will go well with:
- Oven-roasted vegetables
- Mashed or baked potatoes
- Asparagus Puff Pastry Bundles
- Corn on a cob
- Quinoa salad
- Garlic butter bread
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, here’s how cooked salmon should be kept and reheated.
To store in the fridge:
Leave the salmon to cool down to room temperature. Then, wrap it in a new tin foil or an airtight container and place it in the fridge. Eat it the next day, or keep it for up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, remove salmon from the fridge for 10 minutes or until it is at room temperature. Heat up the leftovers in the oven at 275°F for 15 minutes until warm
(the texture won’t be as great as freshly cooked salmon, as cold temperature causes it to lose its moisture).
To reuse in another dish:
One method of reusing cooked salmon is by turning it into a topping or a mix-in. Chop the salmon until it turns into salmon flakes (really small pieces). I’ve used salmon flakes as a poke bowl and salad toppings, stirred into seafood chowder, and added into mild curry. Told you they’re versatile!
Store salmon flakes in the fridge for up to 3 days. They can be reused at room temperature or heated up, depending on your preference.
Lemon Butter Salmon Recipe
- 4 lemons thinly sliced
- 1 large salmon filet skinless (about 2-3 lb.)
- salt + pepper
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Then rip off two larger sheets of tin foil and place one horizontally across and the other vertically across the center of the pan.
- Then lay lemon slices in an even layer ontop of the tin foil. Ensuring you cover as much area as the salmon will lay on (you may need an extra lemon to have enough coverage).
- Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper and place on top of lemon slices.
- In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, honey, garlic and oregano. Pour over salmon then fold up foil around the salmon. Bake until the salmon is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
- Take salmon out of the oven and open the tin foil.
- Switch the oven to broil, and broil Salmon for 2 minutes, before it gets too crispy. You are looking for a light charcoal.
- Garnish with parsley before serving for an extra fancy touch.