Baked Salmon with Grapefruit Salad

Salmon Salad with grapefruit and avocado
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Moist, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth salmon perfection? This is the baked salmon recipe you’ve been waiting for.  

Best Baked Salmon in the World

This is our meet-the-inlaws/impress-the-boss/feed-finicky-kids meal to end all protein-packed meals. Get that oven preheating—dinner awaits. Through some trial and error, we’ve figured out that sweet spot for a baked salmon fillet. And the best part? A quick 15 minutes and it’s done. Oh, and there’s basically no clean-up involved. Ohh, and not only is it a super easy easy baked salmon recipe, it’s also really, really delicious. See, what did we tell you? It really is the best baked salmon in the world! 

How to Bake Salmon in the Oven

How to bake salmon? We’re glad you asked. Cooking salmon at high temperatures can cause the internal proteins to coil up and oils to secrete, often resulting in dry, fishy-tasting fish. Baking at too low of a heat doesn’t cook it through enough for us to feel good about serving it to our kids. Plus, who’s got the patience to wait 45 minutes for simple baked salmon? For us, the best way to bake salmon splits the difference between the two—we cook it low enough for the salmon to hold its moisture and oils, yet hot enough to reach a safe internal temperature in a short enough period of time that baked salmon can be on the menu even on a busy weeknight. Our oven baked salmon recipe is done when the salmon just starts to flake with a fork and it looks opaque—just enough time to get the table set and salad made.

What’s the Perfect Temperature to Bake Salmon?

A quick Google search will tell you to bake salmon in the oven for anywhere from 200°F to all the way up to a full broil. Helpful, right? Well, the search stops here. The perfect temperature to bake salmon is 350°F.  At that Goldilocks temp, your beautiful fillet of salmon will be cooked through, but still moist and firm. Setting the oven to 350°F also ensures that you won’t have to wait 45 minutes for it to be done. A simple 15-minute salmon bake time, and dinner is served. 

Best Baked Salmon Recipe

What makes ours the best baked salmon recipe in the world? We’ve got a few things going for us.

  • First, buy the best fish you can. And see our salmon buying guide below for helpful buying tips.
  • Next, as we mentioned above, bake your salmon at 350°F for silky, tender salmon perfection, each and every time.
  • Finish with a generous squeeze of lemon. 
  • That’s it? Yup, that’s it!
salmon and grapefruit salad with honey mustard dressing styled on a plate

How to Buy Salmon

Farmed or wild-caught? Coho vs. sockeye. Fresh or frozen. To the uninitiated, shopping for salmon can be more complicated than actually cooking it. But, as ever, we’ve got your back! We created this handy salmon-buying cheat sheet to help you out:

  • Farmed vs wild salmon? From contaminants to cost, the debate between farmed verses wild salmon is ongoing. Oftentimes, it just comes down to what you have access to—two-thirds of the salmon sold in the U.S. is farmed. If health is of concern, studies have shown that farmed salmon can have nearly double(!!) the calories and fat content than wild-caught (though both boast high levels of omega 3s). If your fish label says Atlantic salmon, chances are it was farmed. “Sustainably farmed” means it was likely raised in a tank instead of ocean cages, meaning cleaner living conditions. Shop for wild salmon May-September, which is typically wild salmon season. Also, wild salmon shoppers should keep an eye out for the phrase “troll-caught,” which is considered one of the most sustainable methods of fishing. Thankfully, most experts, including the Washington State Department of Health, say that so long as you’re eating salmon—and getting the healthy dose of omega 3s that come with that—where your fish comes from is ultimately up to you. 
  • What type of salmon do I buy? Sockeye salmon is perhaps the most “salmon-y” of the salmons, with bright red flesh and meaty flavor. Coho salmon is milder than Sockeye, and typically smaller, making them a great option for cooking whole. King Salmon (aka Chinook) is the rarest—and most expensive—salmon of them all. If you find Chinook on sale, let us know!
  • Is fresh or frozen salmon better? Unless you can be assured that the fresh salmon you’re about to buy was literally caught that day, frozen is your best bet. In fact, most “fresh” fish you see at the market in teeny tiny letters will tell you it was, in fact, previously frozen. Just make sure the fish you’re buying has only been frozen/defrosted once. The more it’s refrozen and defrosted the less “fresh” it will taste.
  • When in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask the fishmonger behind the counter. Most of the time they’re more than happy to dive into all the fishy details. Pro tip: If you ask super nicely, most fishmongers will even fillet and parcel out an entire fish for you, keeping the dirty work behind the fish counter and out of your kitchen.
salmon and grapefruit salad with honey mustard dressing styled on a plate

What to Serve with Baked Salmon

When salmon is baked to moist-yet-flaky perfection, you don’t want to overwhelm it with boldly seasoned side dishes (seriously, just say no to the garlic mashed potatoes). Which is why we love serving our oven baked salmon alongside a simple, flavorful—and unexpected—salad of mâche (or other fresh salad green), grapefruit, and avocado, all lightly dressed in a Honey-Mustard Dressing. It’s the perfect dinner for when you want to feel fancy, but still get the meal on the table in under 20 minutes. Oh, and did we mention our kids also devour this—salad and all??

Tools You’ll Need to Make Our Best Baked Salmon Recipe

Our baked salmon fillet recipe is really as easy as it gets. A few simple tools and you’ll be forking in no time. 

  • Sheet panDepending on the size of your fillet, a half or quarter pan should do quite nicely.
  • Parchment paperDid we mention there’s virtually no cleanup? You can thank parchment for that.
  • Fish spatulaOptional, really. But we do love having one around. Bonus: when you’re not using it to cook fish it makes a great addition to the toddler sensory bin.

Feeling Fishy?

We think you’ll get along with these other fish recipe quite swimmingly:

Love Our Easy Baked Salmon Recipe?

Is ours the best baked salmon recipe you’ve tried? Tell us more! Tag us @themodernproper and #themodernproper with your fish pics.

Baked Salmon with Grapefruit Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

3/4 lb fresh salmon filet
1 cubed avocado
1 red grapefruit
4 cups loosely packed mache (or other greens)
1 lemon
honey mustard vinaigrette
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. On a parchment lined baking sheet season salmon filet with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until opaque.
  2. While the salmon is baking use a paring knife to peel the grapefruit by cutting away skin and slicing each wedge away from the inner white skin. Assemble salad on each plate by layering greens, avocado and grapefruit wedges and dress lightly with vinaigrette. Divide the salmon in two and dress with the juice from one lemon, plate and serve along side the salad.