If you want "easy, fancy," it doesn't get much better than roasted salmon fillets. It can be a mid-week date night, an al fresco meal with friends, or dinner with the in-laws, and salmon will rise to the occasion.
Today, we're showing you the easiest, simplest way to cook salmon in the oven. It's the kind of recipe to keep in your back pocket — though it's hardly a recipe at all. Make it once and you'll never wonder what to do with salmon again.
The key to good salmon is not overthinking it. Today, all we're doing is rubbing the fillets with a little oil and sprinkling them with salt and pepper before popping them in the oven. Even thick fillets of salmon will cook very quickly so don't wander too far from the oven. Aim for 4 to 6 minutes per half-inch of thickness. Since most fillets are about one inch thick in the thickest part, start checking around 8 minutes. When the fish starts to flake easily with a fork and the flesh looks opaque, it's time for dinner!
As with any fish, buy the best salmon you can find and afford. For more information about best practices for buying salmon, take a look here:
→ Salmon Fact Sheet from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
Salmon is terrific with just a sprinkle of fresh herbs and a wedge of lemon squeezed over top as you walk to the table. If you're in the mood for something with a little more pizzazz, try serving it with some pesto or a dollop of Italian gremolata.
What's your favorite way to serve salmon?
More Ways to Make Salmon for Dinner
Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack placed in the middle. Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with foil. Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel.
How To Cook Salmon in the Oven
What You Need
1 to 3 pounds skin-on salmon fillets (8 ounces per person)
Lemon wedges, to serve
Roasting pan or baking sheet
Preheat the oven to 425°F: Heat the oven to 425°F with a rack placed in the middle. Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with foil.
Pat the salmon dry: Pat the salmon dry with a paper towel.
Rub the salmon with oil, salt, and pepper: Drizzle some oil over the top of each salmon — just enough to coat the salmon — and rub it over the salmon with your fingers or a pastry brush. Sprinkle the salmon generously with salt and pepper.
Place the salmon in the roasting pan: Place the salmon in the roasting pan, skin-side down. Transfer to the oven.
Roast for 4 to 6 minutes per half-inch thickness of salmon: Roasting time depends on the thickness of your salmon, as determined by the thickest part of the salmon fillet. For every half-inch of salmon, roast 4 to 6 minutes — 4 minutes will give you salmon that is still a touch rare, 6 minutes will thoroughly cook it.
Salmon is done when easily flaked: You can also check the doneness of your salmon with a fork. When the salmon flakes easily with a fork, it's ready. If you like, you can use an instant read thermometer to check the fish for doneness. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, which should be measured at the thickest part of the fillet.
Serve immediately: Enjoy your salmon immediately. Leftovers will keep refrigerated for about 5 days, and can be gently reheated in the microwave or used cold.
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(Image credits: Leela Cyd)