Our Favorite Baked Salmon Recipe - juicy, flaky, and super delicious. This salmon recipe is made with a simple sweet and savory spice rub and is baked to perfection! No marinating, no special ingredients, just a healthy, easy salmon recipe ready in less than 30 minutes.
If you think fish needs to be reserved for eating out, think again! This recipe for Sweet and Spicy Salmon comes together effortlessly and when served with a side of roasted broccoli and baked sweet potatoes, it makes an easy, healthy family meal.
Salmon fillets are an easy and healthy option for dinner ANY night of the week. They bake up quickly, the prep is minimal, and thanks to an easy spice rub, this recipe for Baked Salmon is filled with incredible flavor.
I use a simple combination of savory spices with brown sugar and lime zest that gives this Salmon a sweet and savory glaze. As the salmon bakes, the brown sugar caramelizes slightly on the outside of the fish and also melts into the salmon, giving the flesh of the meat hits of sweetness. The paprika, garlic, and cayenne wake up your palate and balance out the sweetness of the brown sugar. And the lime zest should not be overlooked. It adds a burst of freshness to the dish. Finished with lime juice after baking, the salmon is perfectly balanced out with just the right amount of acid.
The flavor is so intense and delicious, that even people who are a bit skeptical of fish seem to enjoy this recipe for Baked Salmon--my picky kids included.
Even on the busiest of nights, this Baked Salmon can be thrown together nearly effortlessly. But keep in mind the flavor is so good, this dish is even worthy of company.
The RIGHT Salmon Fillet
Before you prepare your salmon, you may be wondering if you need to purchase salmon with the skin on or skin off. Should you purchase whole salmon or salmon fillets? Is wild or farm-fresh salmon best?
The answer may surprise you--this recipe is completely flexible.
The recipe is for individual 6-ounce fillets, but if you find a beautiful whole fillet, simply cut into 6-ounce portions. I prefer preparing individual fillets for two reasons. First of all, the salmon flakes after baking--which is exactly what it SHOULD do, but it does make it harder to cut into pretty portions. Also, by seasoning individual fillets, you have more surface area to pack in the flavor.
As for skin on or skin off, again the choice is yours. I purchase skin-on fillets typically. The skin helps to seal in the moisture in the salmon. While edible to eat, I prefer slicing off the skin before serving or eating around the skin once served. If you do not want skin on your salmon, simply ask your fishmonger to remove the skin when you purchase the salmon and prepare the recipe as directed.
When it comes to farmed or wild salmon, that is a personal choice. You can read more about the difference between the health benefits of the wild versus farmed salmon, but bottom line, this recipe works for either or.
How to Bake Salmon
The process for making this baked salmon is only 4 steps.
- Mix together the Spice Rub.
- Pat the salmon fillets down with a paper towel before rubbing with the spice rub. This will help the rub adhere to the salmon.
- Rub the salmon with the spice rub.
- Bake the salmon.
And the salmon cooks up in under 20 minutes--meaning you are sitting down to a healthy, easy Salmon dinner in less than 30 minutes with minimal dishes. WINNING!
How to Tell Salmon is Done Cooking
Salmon is perfect served at 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It is flaky, moist, and tender at this temperature.
Because ovens vary and the thickness of salmon fillets can vary, the BEST way to tell that Salmon is done is to use a digital thermometer. When the salmon reaches 140 degrees, remove from the oven and then tent with foil. The carryover heat will raise the temperature to 145 degrees in about 5 minutes.
What to Serve Salmon With
This Sweet and Spicy Glazed Salmon is delicious served on its own. However, sometimes I like to dress it up and top with Pineapple Salsa. The fresh fruit contrasts with the spicy rub and it is delicious!
In keeping with the theme of easy, gluten-free, and dairy-free, just like this recipe for Salmon, my favorite side dishes to accompany baked salmon are Instant Pot Cilantro Lime Rice as the lime pairs with the lime zest in the spice rub on the salmon, or Instant Pot Baked Sweet Potatoes as the sweet, mild flavor of the sweet potatoes is a great pair to the spicy rub. And then to balance out dinner with vegetables, I add a side of Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Asparagus, or a Spinach Avocado Salad.
Bottom Line: Make this EASY Baked Salmon the next time you need something healthy on the table and don't have a lot of time. The flavors are impressive and the lack of prep work is even better!
Sweet and Savory Baked Salmon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 1 lime zested & juiced
- 4 salmon fillets skin-on (about 6 ounces each)
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil, and lightly brush the foil with oil.
- In a shallow bowl, mix together brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, salt, garlic, cayenne pepper, and lime zest together.
- Pat dry the salmon fillets and then pat seasoning mixture onto the flesh side of each piece of salmon. Place the salmon, skin side down, on baking sheet.
- Insert a thermometer into the end of the thickest part of one of the salmon fillets, ensuring that the probe is not angled downward nor touching the pan. Place the pan in the oven and cook until the salmon reaches 140°F, about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.
- Once the salmon reaches 140 degrees, remove the pan from the oven, loosely cover with foil, and allow to rest until the temperature increases to 145°F. Drizzle with fresh lime juice and then serve immediately.
- The recipe is for individual 6 ounce fillets, but purchase a whole fillet, simply cut into 5-6 ounce portions.
- You can use skin on or skinless Salmon fillets. Skin-on fillets helps to seal in the moisture in the salmon. While edible to eat, I prefer slicing off the skin before serving or eating around the skin once served. If you do not want skin on your salmon, simply ask your fish monger to remove the skin when you purchase the salmon and prepare the recipe as directed.
- Store leftover Salmon in the fridge for up to 3 days.