Garlic Butter Baked Salmon

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  • With simple ingredients like lemon, garlic and Dijon mustard, this EASY Garlic Butter Salmon can be on the table in less than 30 minutes for the perfect weeknight dinner solution.

    close up of salmon fillet in garlic butter sauce

    Baked Garlic Butter Salmon

    Salmon in the oven is one of the easiest ways to prepare it, however there are several factors to makes sure it is fork tender and not overcooked, which is the trouble with most home cooks and salmon dishes.

    And that is wrapping your salmon fillets in aluminum foil. Instead of roasting, it holds in the moisture and essentially steams the fish, keeping is moist and flavorful.

    baked salmon on a spatula

    From there, as mentioned before, is cooking time. Folks seem to be scared of undercooking, but then go the other direction. When in doubt, check the internal temperature with a digital thermometer. Remember salmon, as long as it is handled and stored properly, can actually be eaten raw so the range of temperatures can vary. See our chart below for degrees of doneness.

    If doing it visually, when the fibers start to separate and it flakes easily with a fork, it is on its way to being absolutely delicious. For most pieces of salmon, even the thickest of fillets, the longest I’ve ever cooked it is 15 minutes.

    Garlic Butter Sauce

    Who can deny a nice garlic butter sauce? Not me… I love butter. I love garlic. And I also love mustard and lemon.

    This sauce has a butter base spiked with lemon zest, lemon juice, fresh garlic and Dijon mustard. And of course, parsley, cause I like to add a little bit of green.

    how to make garlic butter sauce for salmon

    I highly recommend using fresh lemon juice and zest for this garlic butter salmon recipe- bottled stuff is good for some stuff, but fresh has so much more citrus flavor. Same with fresh garlic versus bottled garlic that tastes more sweet than garlicky.

    I used a coarse Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Omit salt if you are using a salted butter. And if using a fine salt, cut the volume in half.

    close up of melted garlic butter on baked salmon

    Farm Raised Vs Wild Caught

    Farm raised salmon is raised in a container and controlled environment while wild caught is caught out on the open sea.

    Some feel that sustainable, farm raised salmon is the more responsible approach to eating seafood since it isn’t depleting the natural population. Salmon consumption has increased significantly within the past two decades after the extreme health benefits were revealed.

    unwrapping salmon baked in aluminum foil

    Experts claim that the health benefits between farm raised and wild caught salmon are the same, however farm raised aren’t nearly as active, as they kept in smaller aquariums and don’t get as much daily exercise. Size, genetics and breeding practices vary from farm to farm.

    Farm raised salmon with be rosy-orange, while wild caught fresh salmon is a deeper pink or red. Some feel the flavor of wild caught is better and more flavorful. For those who don’t care for fish as much or are new to salmon, farm raised might be a good gradual step to eating fish.

    Wild caught tends to be a little more expensive and might look a little rougher. You can use either you prefer when making this garlic butter salmon.

    slice of salmon on a serving plate

    How to Make Baked Salmon

    The process is easy and can be done ahead of time all the way until you want to pop the salmon fillet in the oven.

    1. Preheat the oven and prepare a large piece of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet. I still like using a rimmed sheet in case any of the juices escape. Gather your ingredients.
    ingredients for garlic butter salmon
    1. In a small bowl, mash together the butter, garlic, parsley, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest. This works best using a fork or small potato masher.
    2. Slather, best you can, all over salmon. Don’t worry about it being even, after it melts it will evenly distribute.
    3. Wrap salmon tightly and bake for 15 minutes. The cooking time depends on the thickness of your salmon and also your desired degree of doneness.
    4. Remove salmon and pull back aluminum foil, just like other meats, allow it to rest for 5 minutes before digging in!
    slathering salmon in butter - step by step images of how to bake salmon in aluminum foil

    White Stuff in Salmon

    What is the white stuff that comes out of salmon? The white stuff is called albumin and is harmless. In fact, it is a protein that is also found in eggs (the whites) and milk. It separates from the other molecules when heat is added to the food. It has nothing to do with the baked salmon recipe you are using and everything to do with the actual piece of salmon.

    Every piece of salmon will have a different amount of the white stuff, but you can reduce how much comes out if it really bothers you. Simply cook your salmon less aggressively at a lower temperature for a longer amount of time.

    baked salmon in foil with fresh lemon slices

    Temperature of Salmon

    Salmon can technically be served raw, like in sushi or poke bowls, but you’d need to be really certain that is was properly handling and stored from catching to your kitchen. Sushi grade tuna is hard to come by.

    But even the salmon you buy at the store doesn’t need to be cooked into dry oblivion. I prefer mine to be cooked to 120°F, but fully cooked would be 145°. At 120°F the fibers are just starting to pull part and retain a good amount of moisture.

    If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you can eyeball it when fibers start to easily flake with a fork.

    What to Serve It With

    Salmon pairs with nearly anything from pasta to rice and certainly veggies. I’ve served it over my famous garlic linguine and also almond rice pilaf. Air fryer zucchini and hearts of palm cakes.

    And come on, bread is always a good option. Cheddar biscuits and the ultimate cheesy garlic bread are my favorites.

    Storage & Freezing Garlic Butter Salmon

    Garlic Butter Salmon is best enjoyed after being freshly prepared. It can be reheated in the microwave, but I recommend doing so within 2 days of cooking. Oven, microwave or even pan fried are all great ways to reheat.

    Most salmon, even “fresh” salmon has been previously frozen and should not be refrozen. Cooked salmon that is frozen tends to defrost dry and gummy. I highly recommend eating this one fresh.

    garlic butter baked salmon for pinterest

    More salmon recipes:

    Southern Salmon Croquettes
    close up of salmon Croquettes
    Salmon Croquettes are a southern classic! Full of salmon, peppers, onions and seasoning, this versatile dish is sure to be loved by all!
    Lemon Dill Salmon
    Salmon Fillet with fresh lemon and dill
    This Lemon Dill Salmon is easy, healthy, and delicious. Baked salmon full of fresh, citrusy flavor is ready in just 15 minutes!
    Easy Salmon Burgers
    easy salmon burgers
    Made with sockeye salmon and flavored with tangy lemon & dill, these EASY delicious Salmon Burgers are on the table in less than 30 minutes!
    close up of garlic butter baked salmon for pinterest

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    close up of garlic butter baked salmon in foil
    Print Recipe
    5 from 6 votes

    Garlic Butter Baked Salmon

    With simple ingredients like lemon, garlic and dijon mustard, this EASY Garlic Butter Salmon can be on the table in less than 30 minutes!
    Prep Time5 mins
    Cook Time20 mins
    Total Time25 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: baked salmon, baked salmon recipe, baked salmon recipes, garlic butter salmon
    Servings: 4
    Calories: 265kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola



    • Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a large piece of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet.
    • In a small bowl, mash together the butter, garlic, parsley, mustard, salt, pepper, lemon juice and zest.
    • Slather, best you can, all over salmon. Don’t worry about it being even, after it melts it will evenly distribute.
      slathering salmon with butter
    • Wrap salmon tightly and bake for 15-20 minutes. This depends greatly on the thickness of your salmon.
      salmon wrapped in foil
    • Remove salmon and pull back aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 3-4 minutes before serving.
    • If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!


    Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 92mg | Sodium: 357mg | Potassium: 571mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 400IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
    garlic butter salmon for pinterest
    image of jessica formicola

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