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How to Roast Salmon

How to Roast Salmon

How to Roast Salmon

Roasting is a great way to prepare Alaskan salmon. Wild-caught salmon is especially fabulous fish, and the simplest preparation is often ideal to allow its delicacy and subtle flavors to shine. 

Roast salmon makes a beautiful entree

Roasting allows salmon to become a beautiful burnished color, and a whole roasted fillet provides an elegant and impressive presentation. A perfectly roasted piece of wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon is as easy and tasty as it is beautiful.

Oven roasted salmon is extremely easy and fast

Roasting is one of the easiest ways to prepare a fillet of salmon, as this method doesn’t require much preparation or constant attention. Roasting is a breeze when preparing a large fillet of salmon. Simply preheat your oven to a moderately hot temperature (375° F or 190° C). Individual pieces of salmon can be roasted at a bit higher temperature of 400°F or 204° C. Roasting fillets in a baking pan or sheet pan is a fast and delicious way to cook a large number of fillets at once.

Roasting time will vary based upon the size and thickness of your salmon and the temperature of your oven.  Individual and fillet portions of wild-caught sockeye salmon cook quickly, usually taking 12-15 minutes in the oven,  while a whole, thick filet may take up to 20 minutes. 

Hints for preparing salmon for roasting

Rest salmon. Remove salmon from the refrigerator and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes to come to room temperature. 

Don’t rinse it if it is thawed. Water can break down the flesh of the salmon. Gently pat the salmon all over with a paper towel.

Keep it simple. When adding spices, herbs and other ingredients, remember, less is best. Don’t complicate the dish. Salmon has a subtle taste and a delicate, silky texture. For best results, season salmon just before roasting. Salted too soon and it will draw out too much moisture.

Bake salmon with the skin side down, as this will protect the fillet from the heat of the pan and help the salmon retain its juices and cook evenly.

How to check for degree of doneness

Cooking time will vary, as salmon fillets vary in thickness.  If you have a thermometer, aim for about 125 °F for medium rare and 140°F for cooked through. You can also keep in mind that cooking salmon for about 4-6 minutes per half inch of thickness (measuring at the thickest part of the filet) is a good guide.

You can check for doneness by using a sharp knife and looking inside the thickest part of the fillet. It should look opaque and the layers within the salmon should flake apart easily. 

Please, don’t overcook your salmon. It will dry out and not be as succulent. Most restaurants serve salmon medium rare, though some folks prefer it cooked a little longer.  Open your mind to salmon cooked to a lesser degree of doneness. Ideally, remove salmon from the oven a few minutes before it’s to your degree of doneness, as the residual heat within the flesh will continue to cook it while it rests.

When it’s time to serve the salmon, the skin will come off easily if you slide a spatula between the fillet and the skin.

If you're ready to roast a salmon, try my recipe: Salmon with Lemon, Garlic, Dill and Caper Butter Sauce.


Teri Robl, Guest Chef

Teri Robl, guest chef teaches us how to cook salmon and seafood