How To Cook Frozen Salmon in the Oven
Cook23 minutes to 25 minutes
When we’re having salmon for dinner, I have to remember to pull the frozen fillets from the freezer that morning and tuck them into the fridge to thaw peacefully. But life is hectic and more of my mornings are harried than those occasional thoughtful ones, and I find myself at 6 p.m. on Wednesday staring at rock-hard fillets and a hungry family to feed.
Luckily, it is perfectly safe to cook salmon from a frozen state and, let me assuage any worries right now, it can taste as delicious as properly thawed and cooked salmon too. I’ve found the secret is to use the power of a hot oven, a little aluminum foil, and a flavorful sauce to get you from frozen to dinner in 30 minutes.
Is It Safe to Cook Frozen Salmon?
Absolutely. As long as the frozen salmon is cooked to a safe internal temperature, it is safe to eat. Of course, the real challenge is cooking frozen salmon so that it’s just as tender and flaky as thawed fillets. The key is to use a two-step cooking method in the oven — covering the salmon for the start of baking and then cooking it uncovered until it reaches temperature.
For Your Information
- This method works best for small salmon fillets in the 6-ounce range. Save larger sides of salmon for proper thawing and cooking.
- You’ll need an 8×8-inch baking dish and heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- The filets bake at 425°F for fifteen minutes covered, and eight to ten minutes uncovered. Salmon should reach a minimum internal temperature of 145°F for doneness.
Steam, Then Roast Frozen Salmon Fillets
I mentioned that we are using a two-step method for cooking frozen salmon. The initial fifteen minutes of covered cook time steams the salmon as moisture releases from the frozen fillets and is trapped by the foil. This helps tenderize the salmon.
After fifteen minutes, carefully remove the foil from the salmon and return it the hot oven. Now we’re roasting. Roasting drives off the excess moisture so we don’t end up with salmon that tastes like a sponge.
3 Steps for Perfect Salmon from Frozen Without Thawing
- Don’t rinse it. A few recipes suggest this step before cooking as a means for removing ice crystals. It’s great for frozen shrimp, but it leaves the salmon tasting waterlogged.
- Make a flavorful sauce. This is kind of a no-brainer, but it helps the salmon steam and protects it during its short roast. Here we’re jazzing up maple and mustard with garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Use heavy-duty foil for covering. It just ensures that all the steam is trapped and working magic on your fillets. Plus, you should really always buy heavy-duty anyway.
How to Serve Cooked-from-Frozen Salmon
Okay, truth-telling time: Your frozen salmon might not be as beautiful as a magazine spread. Some proteins will have been pushed out in the rapid thawing and cooking in the oven, and you may have some white spots from these along the edge of your salmon.
You can scrape these off or you can flake the salmon and serve it over the ramen noodles you cooked while the salmon roasted, or maybe that frozen rice you just sautéed instead. See? From frozen to dinner in 30 minutes. It’s a miracle!
Based on reader feedback that the cooking times were too short, we’ve retested the recipe and adjusted the times. The updated recipe, along with our tester’s notes, are below.
I’m convinced there’s no better choice for a quick-cooking weeknight meal than frozen seafood. I keep no fewer than three varieties in my freezer at all times, and while defrosting frozen fish doesn’t take long, I’m all about streamlining steps. That’s why this tutorial for cooking frozen salmon in the oven is so appealing.
In the two years since this recipe was first published, we’ve gotten feedback from readers about the recipe’s timing. After several retests of the recipe we’ve updated the recipe to give better guidance on how long to cook the fish and some key indicators to look for. We also found that wild salmon, such as sockeye, tends to be thinner and cook more quickly than farm-raised salmon, so take that into consideration when cooking.
In this updated recipe, cook the salmon covered for a longer time — 15 minutes, not 5 — until the salmon is thawed. At this point a knife should be able to glide through the fish, though you may feel some icy resistance. Uncover the dish and continue to cook until the fish flakes with a fork.
The original recipe called for just 5 to 8 minutes of uncovered baking. Eight minutes works for wild salmon, but farm-raised salmon need closer to ten minutes before it is done. — Patty Catalano, August 2019
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 23 minutes to 25 minutes
(6-ounce) frozen salmon fillets (do not thaw)
- 3 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons
- 2 cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon
red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon
Heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Place the frozen salmon fillets skin-side down in an 8x8-inch baking dish.
Combine the mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and salt in a small bowl. Place the mustard, maple syrup, garlic, red pepper flakes if using, and salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Brush the salmon with the mustard mixture. Brush or spoon all of the mustard mixture evenly over the salmon.
Cover the baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Roast for 15 minutes, until a knife can pierce the salmon completely with only slight, icy resistance.
Uncover and roast for another 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully remove the foil. Continue roasting until the salmon can be easily flaked with a fork or a probe thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the salmon registers 145°F, 8 to 10 minutes more. Wild salmon tends to cook faster than farm-rasied salmon, so begin checking salmon at 8 minutes. The flesh should appear moist, but not raw or translucent.
Rest and serve. Remove the salmon from the oven and let rest uncovered for 3 minutes. Serve with a hearty salad or quick pasta side.
Storage: Leftover salmon can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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