How to cook salmon in the oven

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Roasted Salmon with Capers is elegant enough for dinner guests. But simple enough for a weekday meal. It takes less than 5 minutes from prep to oven.

It really doesn’t matter how many different ways I make salmon, the result is always the same: “That was really good – but next time can you make the one with the little capers?” Yes, next time I will make the salmon with the capers. I shouldn’t complain. It is the absolute easiest recipe in my kitchen. It takes about 3 minutes to put the whole thing in the oven.

My oldest child was raised on this recipe… for the longest time, it was literally the only fish she would eat. We are from the south so I grew up on my mom making salmon patties for dinner with mashed potatoes and black eyed peas. All three of my kids love them but were shocked to find out there was actual fish in there. (Something about grandma’s making food makes it taste better I think!) But once we got the blessing (and assurance) of my mother that this was the same fish she used (except her salmon comes from a can – don’t judge if you haven’t tried it! It is delicious!) my kids eventually moved to trying, then tolerating, then begging for salmon with capers.

Roasted Salmon with Capers is elegant enough for dinner guests. But simple enough for a weeknight dinner.

How to Cook Salmon in the Oven

To make things even easier, I have to confess something – I cover my sheet pan with foil and just toss it during clean up.  I feel the need to defend myself a little because of my wasteful admission.

Once upon a time, a mom (me!) roasted salmon on a sheet pan with no foil lining. The next day she used the same pan to bake some chicken fingers, which tasted like salmon. After soaking the pan and scrubbing harshly, the mom roasted potatoes on the sheet pan, which tasted like salmon.

After soaking in vinegar, which was the mom’s tried and true way of removing the stink from anything stinky in the kitchen, she scrubbed the pan again. Later that week, the mom made cookies as a special treat, which tasted like salmon. The mom was annoyed. The mom threw her stupid salmon pan in the trash can. The mom bought herself a new sheet pan and some foil. The end.

So in defense of sheet pans everywhere, line your pan with foil. Fish is delicious. But not on cookies. Just sayin’.

Salmon roasted in the oven with capers

To season this salmon recipe, it uses literally good salt, pepper if you like it, a little thyme, and a jar of capers. That’s it. The good salt is a big deal though. Spring for the kosher salt or better. Regular iodized salt tastes a little like chemicals to me and the fish seems to soak it up. Where kosher salt tastes… minerally… is that a word?? If you have never tried it, taste iodized salt and kosher salt side by side. You’ll never go back.

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You are going to bake the salmon at 425 degrees for around 20 minutes. But the time depends on how well-done you like your fish and how thick the filet is cut.

Roasted Salmon is so simple – We eat it LOTS!

Asparagus and Mushroom Saute. A rich and delicious side dish elegant enough for dinner guests and easy enough for weekday supper.

Asparagus and Mushroom Saute

I usually serve Roasted Salmon with Capers with Herbed Brown Rice and this Asparagus and Mushroom Saute. I like the earthy flavors with the salmon. Each taste seems to make the others better.

I generally purchase wild-caught Alaskan salmon as opposed to farm raised salmon. Follow this link if you are interested in the differences between wild caught and farmed fish.  If you have always just bought what was at the grocery store and need a guide for more carefully considering your seafood purchases, follow this link for a buying guide. It includes a list of questions to ask to make sure you are spending wisely and choosing the most nutritious options.

When I am out of capers, I can always find honey and mustard in my pantry and this Honey Mustard Salmon is a close second choice for our family. My kids like the honey… I like the mustard. So we’re all happy.

We also really dig salmon and shrimp together! We live by the coast so the shrimp is always fresh here. And they both cook so fast it makes for an awesome weeknight dinner on the grill! Try this new salmon and shrimp recipe and let me know what you think!

Roasted Salmon with Capers is elegant enough for dinner guests. But fast enough for a weeknight meal.

  • 1 whole filet of wild caught Salmon
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 jar capers a jar of capers is 3.5 oz
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place your oven rack at the top third of the oven. Line your baking sheet with foil. Lay your filet of salmon on the baking sheet. If your salmon still has the skin, lay it skin side down.
  2. Brush salmon filet with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. Drain capers and place them on top of the filet of salmon, some will roll off but stack them on top as well as you can. Loosely cover with a second piece of foil and place in the oven.
  3. Roast salmon for 12-16 minutes (dependent on how well-done you like your salmon). Remove the top layer of foil from the salmon and continue roasting for 4-5 minutes so the edges get crispy. (That's my favorite part!)
  4. Slice the salmon across to serve.
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Salmon Nutrition

Salmon is prized for its health benefits and while farmed salmon is good, wild Coho, Sockeye or Atlantic salmon is even better.  The highlight reel of salmon’s nutritional benefits include:

Omega-3 fatty acids (decreasing blood pressure, lowering inflammation, reducing cancer risk).

Selenium (good for your bone health and reducing thyroid disease).

Potassium (reduces blood pressure and your risk for stroke).

B Vitamins and folic acid (All B Vitamins work together providing optimal functioning of the brain and nervous system).

See this article for even more health benefits.

 spooning pesto on salmon for salmon pesto recipe

Recipe Pairing Ideas


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  • 12 oz salmon fillet cut into two pieces
  • 2 tablespoon melted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper optional
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3 dashes ground black pepper
  • Lemon wedges
  1. Combine the melted butter, garlic, parsley, salt, cayenne pepper (if using), lemon juice and black pepper together. Stir to combine well.
  2. Arrange the salmon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spoon the garlic herb mixture onto the salmon, coat well on the top and sides of the salmon.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes. Dish out and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Garlic Herb Roasted Salmon Recipe Calories 224 Calories from Fat 132 Total Carbohydrates 1.3g 0%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

More Low-Carb Ideas for Cooking with Pesto:

Easy Baked Pesto Chicken ~ Kalyn’s KitchenRoasted Red Peppers with Pesto and Goat Cheese ~ Aggie’s KitchenTwice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Pesto and Parmesan ~ Kalyn’s KitchenPesto Zucchini Lasagna Rolls ~ All Day I Dream About FoodLow-Carb Baked Chicken Stuffed with Pesto and Cheese ~ Kalyn’s Kitchen

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  • 2 salmon filets, about 6 oz. each
  • fish rub of your choice; see note (this is optional but recommended)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil (to grease foil)
  • about 4 tsp. basil pesto (can use pesto from a jar here with good results, although obviously homemade pesto is even better)
  • 2 or 3 medium tomatoes, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. (I used my Oster toaster oven.)
  2. Place a baking sheet in oven to heat while you prep the salmon.
  3. Tear two pieces of foil, big enough to wrap salmon with some overlapping.
  4. Place foil pieces one on top of the other.
  5. Put about 2 tsp. olive oil in center of top piece of foil and lay salmon on top of oil.
  6. Season salmon with Szeged Fish Rub or other seasonings of your choice.
  7. Spread each piece of salmon with about 2 tsp. basil pesto.
  8. Arrange sliced tomatoes over pesto so they cover the top of the salmon.
  9. Wrap salmon securely in foil, doubling over the seam and ends several times.
  10. Place salmon packet on heated baking sheet and cook 15 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven after 15 minutes and let sit 2-3 minutes.
  12. Then open carefully and serve immediately, while salmon and tomatoes are hot.

All images and text ©Kalyn Denny for Kalyn's Kitchen.

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes is a wonderful meal for low-carb eating plans, including any phase of the South Beach Diet. Tomatoes do have some carbs, but there’s not a lot of tomato in this recipe.

Find More Recipes Like This One:Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Nutritional Information?If you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you. Or if you’re a member of Yummly, you can use the Yum button on my site to save the recipe and see the nutritional information there.

Foil-Baked Salmon with Basil Pesto and Tomatoes from

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