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We never get tired of salmon, but we always need new ideas for easy salmon recipes for dinner! Salmon has great flavor and silky richness, and it’s extremely versatile. It’s my go-to fish for weeknight dinners. And it’s definitely considered a superfood with its high levels of healthful Omega-3 fatty acids (the good-for-you fat).

And so many great sides go with salmon. Of course, it depends on how you are seasoning or saucing your fish, what season it is, whether you’re using the oven or firing up the grill. Below you’ll find lots of sides paired with the salmon recipes. But you can never go wrong with rice and a simple green salad.

Make sure you are buying salmon at a market with high turnover, or better still a fish store or grocery with a good fish counter. See below for lots of tips on how to choose the most sustainable and freshest salmon when you shop.

On a busy weeknight, a salmon dish can be one of the fastest dinners around. It takes well to almost every kind of cooking treatment — sautéing, baking, roasting, poaching. And, you can’t get bored of it because you can shower it with seasonings from any cuisine: Asian, Mediterranean, and any version of “New American” ingredients. I don’t even know what I mean by that, but I guess I’m thinking of salmon dishes that you would find in a cool neighborhood restaurant.

Below you’ll find a slew of ideas for weeknight salmon dinners and also a recipe for a simple citrus-marinated salmon with a bright creamy sauce that takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table. Plus, it includes only 3 ingredients beyond the salmon! What are you waiting for?

Salmon is extremely versatile, and these easy dinner recipes will perk up the weeknight dinner rotation.

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What Kind of Salmon to Buy

Salmon is available everywhere because it’s so damn good and so damn popular. You can use farmed salmon or seek out wild Alaska salmon when it’s in season. There are a whole bunch of varieties to choose from Coho to King to Sockeye — explore the different types to see which you like best.

Also, importantly, different types of salmon have different levels of sustainability. Seafood Watch is a good resource for checking to see if the fish you are buying is environmentally friendly. You can buy sustainably raised fish that is line caught and also some that are farmed. But where it’s harvested and how it’s farmed make a difference, so get to know the market!

Wild Alaska salmon has a more pronounced flavor than farm-raised, so you’re getting the full salmon experience. And the Alaskan seafood folks are extremely vigilant about sustainability and harvesting practices. So, you know you’re eating salmon that has no growth hormones, artificial coloring, preservatives, or additives that you might be concerned about.

How to Cook Salmon

Let’s start with three of the most popular ways to cook salmon. Here’s everything you need to know about:

How to Cook Salmon Without Flipping It

I love starting fish in a pan, then transferring it to the oven to finish cooking. Make sure your fish is fairly thick for this method (about 1 inch, or even thicker) so it doesn’t overcook or dry out. Here are the three main reasons why:

  1. You can use the oven to cook something else to go with the fish — whether it’s roasted potatoes or other vegetables. They can be started before the fish finishes cooking in the oven.
  2. Starting the fish in the pan means that if you are cooking fish with the skin on it, you can get a really crispy skin. Make sure your pan is very hot, and then place the fish in the pan skin side down. The skin will get nice and crispy against the hot pan.
  3. You don’t have to flip the fish, which, even for the most confident and experienced cooks, doesn’t always end well.

Salmon Cooking Tips

  • If possible, buy filets of similar thicknesses so they cook at the same time. If you have some thinner filets, you will probably want to take them from the heat earlier than the thicker ones. 
  • For a few extra dollars, you can buy the filets from the center of the fish, which are thicker and more uniform in size.
  • To thaw frozen salmon, place it well-wrapped in the fridge overnight to defrost. If the packaging isn’t airtight, place a plate under the salmon to catch any drips. If you are in a rush, place the salmon in an airtight zip-top bag and place the bag in a bowl or sink of ice water. The salmon should defrost in a couple of hours. Do not defrost salmon at room temperature; that could encourage bacteria to grow.

How to Know When Salmon is Done

Fully cooked salmon will be opaque throughout and flake easily with a fork.
The FDA recommends a safe internal temperature of 145 degrees for fish and shellfish. However, if you are using fresh, high-quality fish, you can cook it to medium-rare (135 degrees internal temperature).

Tips for Marinating Salmon

One of the many good things about seasoning fish and seafood is how quickly they absorb flavors. Therefore, you never want to marinate any fish or seafood for too long because you don’t want to overpower the delicate deliciousness of the fish itself.

  • Most salmon recipes should marinate in the fridge for between 1 and 2 hours, but follow the recommendations in your specific recipe.
  • Any acidic ingredients in the marinade (like citrus juice or vinegar) can also start to cure or “cook” the fish after enough time goes by. That can affect the firm and flaky texture of the salmon.
  • If you don’t have the hour-plus to marinate the salmon in the fridge, just leave it out for 15 minutes at room temperature. A short room temperature marinating is safe; just don’t let it sit out for much longer than that.
Three salmon filets in cast-iron pan.

Salmon Cooking Times

The chart below shows the approximate cooking times for (6 to 8-ounce) salmon filets, about 1 ½ inches thick, to different levels of doneness.

Level of DonenessTotal Cooking Time
Rare (dark pink in the center)7 to 9 minutes
Medium-Rare12 to 16 minutes
Medium10 to 13 minutes
Medium-Well11 to 14 minutes
Well Done12 to 15 minutes
Cooking time for (6 to 8 ounce) salmon filets, about 1 ½ inches thick.

If you like your salmon cooked all the way through, that’s super fine, cook it how you like it. I have a vivid memory of being at a very fancy restaurant, and the waiter brought my friend a brick-sized cut of barely seared tuna. My friend sent it back, asking that it be cooked all the way through. The waiter huffily removed the fish and returned it several minutes later. Cooked exactly the same way. Clearly, the chef was having none of this “cooked through” business, but here’s the thing — who was eating the fish, the chef or my friend?

FAQs

Should you wash salmon before cooking it?

No, and please don’t! Some cooks worry that there might be bacteria on the fish, but any bacteria will be destroyed when the fish is cooked.

In actuality, washing your fish increases the risk of spreading bacteria. This is because the sink and anything that gets splashed by the salmon-rinsing water could get contaminated. Another reason is because unless you dry the salmon completely, it will prevent any marinade from sticking to the fish. It will also prevent it from browning when seared or roasted.

Should you always marinate salmon?

Salmon often benefits from marinating, gaining extra flavor. Follow the recipe instructions, and don’t marinate salmon or too long, which could affect the texture of the fish. If you need to get that fish into the oven or the pan pronto, then try to marinate the fish for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature. This will allow the fish to absorb some of the marinade flavors.

When you don’t even have time for that, still coat the fish with the marinade. You’ll be able to taste the flavors, but it just won’t penetrate the fish as deeply. You can also reserve some of the marinade (don’t let it touch the fish) and drizzle it over the cooked fish at the end as a kind of sauce.

Do you have to flip salmon fillets?

It depends on the recipe! If you are cooking the fish in a pan, you may need to flip it for even cooking. Another option is to cover the pan for part of the cooking to trap the heat and allow the top to cook through before the bottom overcooks.

If you are transferring the pan to the oven, then, no, you do not need to flip the salmon. And if you are cooking fish in the oven, then no need to flip in most cases.

Is it better to cook salmon in the oven or on the stove?

That also depends! I like cooking the fish in the oven at a higher temp, which is nicely hands-off. It’s also great to start the fish in the pan and transfer it to a preheated oven (and usually, something else is roasting in there already!).

Is it better to bake salmon at 350 or 400 degrees?

Either one is fine, though the salmon will bake a bit faster at the higher temperature (that stands to reason, right?). I usually make the decision based on what else I am cooking in the oven since all you have to do is adjust the cooking time, and you’ll still get perfectly cooked salmon at either temperature.


20 Easy Salmon Dinner Recipes

Here are a bunch of salmon recipes to keep dinner interesting for a while!

Simple Asian Salmon with Sautéed Corn and Zucchini / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Simple Asian Salmon

Four ingredients, not including the salmon…Wow, right?
Seriously, by the time you preheat the oven, the marinade will have been made and the salmon will have its quick 15 minutes of soaking time. And, you’d better have started the rice and made a salad or whatever because dinner is about to be ready!

Tarragon vinaigrette atop a Salmon filet.

Salmon with Tarragon Vinaigrette

Fancy enough for company, easy enough for a weeknight.

Poached Salmon with Cilantro Sauce

Poached Salmon with Cilantro Sauce

An extremely easy, foolproof method for poaching salmon, paired with a pretty, creamy herby sauce.

Horseradish Ginger Salmon / Photo by Kerri Brewer / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Horseradish Ginger Salmon

A little East meets West-ish moment. A terrific easy salmon dinner. (Think about wasabi — Japanese horseradish, right?)

Thai Salmon / Carrie Crow / Katie Workman / themom100.com

Thai Salmon

The terrific combo of ingredients in this marinade give salmon a sweet, salty sour Thai vibrancy.

Hoisin glazed salmon with quinoa and salad on a gray plate next to pink napkin.

Hoisin-Glazed Salmon

When in doubt about how to get kids to embrace fish, head over to the Asian part of your pantry and cook up hoisin salmon.

Two green plates on table with teriyaki salmon, greens, and rice.

Teriyaki Salmon

Salmon is a perfect base for this much-loved, sweet-and-salty Japanese teriyaki glaze.

Air Fryer Salmon

Air Fryer Salmon

You will be amazed at how easy and delicious this air-fried salmon is — moist, tender, not at all dry, and ready in about 10 minutes!

Miso Salmon on a plate with broccoli and rice.

Miso Salmon

Not counting a flexible marinating time, this miso salmon recipe takes 5 minutes to pull together and 10 minutes to cook. The miso glaze is a perfect pairing with the rich salmon.

5-Ingredient Honey Ginger Salmon

Honey Ginger Salmon

A handful of ingredients and under 30 minutes of time get you a delicious dinner that the whole family can get behind.

Salmon, Potato and Broccoli Sheet Pan Supper

Salmon, Potato, and Broccoli Sheet Pan Supper

A one-sheet supper is one of the most appealing and accessible ways to make dinner on a weeknight.

Salmon with Dill Sauce

Crispy-Skinned Salmon with Dill Sauce

This classic fish pairing is ideal for special occasions or weeknight dinners, and takes about 30 minutes to make.

Orange Salmon with Leeks and Mushrooms / Katie Workman / themom100.com / Photo by Cheyenne Cohen

Orange Salmon with Leeks and Mushrooms

This is one of my favorite salmon dishes ever. I actually missed the leftovers when I left for a business trip.

Ginger and lemongrass salmon filets piled on yellow plate.

Ginger Lemongrass Salmon

Inspired by Vietnamese cuisine, this salmon recipe is full of flavor and a quick weeknight dinner option.

Fork, knife, and Salmon with Polenta and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette on a colorful plate.

Salmon with Polenta and Warm Tomato Vinaigrette

Frankly, if you served a shoe over polenta I would be happy. But this salmon is so much better.

Sheet Pan Salmon and Broccoli Rabe

Sheet Pan Salmon and Broccoli Rabe

A simple sheet pan supper saves the day, and this one-pan wonder is a gorgeous weeknight dinner.

Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

Flaky, moist salmon is drizzled with a simple sauce for an easy but elegant dinner. A 20-minute recipe!

Dedie’s Herbed Salmon

Dedie’s Herbed Salmon

An eclectic and interesting blend of herbs, spices, citrus, and maple syrup makes this a very memorable salmon dish.

Plates of rice, salad, and salmon topped with creamy Tuscan sauce.

Creamy Tuscan Salmon

Perfectly cooked salmon is amazing topped with creamy sauce studded with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and fresh herbs.

Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce

Baking salmon with a generous slathering of flavorful herby sauce turns everyone's favorite fish into a special meal.

Side Dishes for Salmon Dinners

Obviously, the side dishes you choose will depend on the salmon recipe itself. When in doubt go with a simple starch like rice, roasted potatoes, or orzo and a simple sautéed, steamed, or roasted green vegetable. Here are a few basics to consider!

What to Serve with Salmon

How to Cook Perfect Rice on the Stove

How to Make Perfect Roasted Potatoes

Herb Orzo Salad

Sautéed Broccoli

Sautéed Green Beans with Thyme Butter

How to Sauté Spinach

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Citrus Salmon

This recipe couldn’t be easier. If you don’t have the time to marinate the fish, it will still be delicious, though the flavors won’t penetrate so deeply. And the creamy citrusy sauce comes together in 5 minutes and echoes the flavors of lemon and orange in the marinade.

Serve this with rice or potatoes and some Brussels sproutsgreen beansAir Fryer Green Beans, or a crisp salad (maybe with some roasted veggies tossed in) for a colorful and healthful meal.

Easy Weeknight Citrus Salmon Dinner

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 People
Salmon lends itself perfectly to flavorful, fast and easy weeknight fish dinners. Try this 30 minute citrusy salmon with a creamy sauce for your next salmon meal.

Ingredients 

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange
  • 4 6 to 8-ounce salmon fillets
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (regular or low-fat)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions 

  • Zest and juice both the lemon and the orange. Mix together two zests, then remove 1 teaspoon of the combined zest and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, and the citrus juices and the remaining zest. Season the marinade with salt and pepper. Place the salmon fillets in a baking pan, and pour the marinade over the fish turning to coat evenly. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise and the reserved teaspoon of zest, and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Preheat the broiler. Transfer the salmon to an oiled rimmed baking sheet, separating the pieces. Discard the marinade.
  • Broil the salmon for 8 to 10 minutes until it is just cooked through (the fish will continue to cook a bit after it is removed from the oven, so take it out just before it’s done to your liking), and remove from the oven. Transfer to individual plates, and top each piece with a spoonful of the sauce.

Notes

  • Any acidic ingredients in the marinade (like the citrus juice in this recipe) can start to cure or “cook” the fish after enough time goes by. That can affect the firm and flaky texture of the salmon. Don’t let your salmon marinate too long.
  • If you don’t have the hour-plus to marinate the salmon in the fridge, just leave it out for 15 minutes at room temperature. A short room temperature marinating is safe; just don’t let it sit out for much longer than that.

Nutrition

Calories: 533.29kcal, Carbohydrates: 6.45g, Protein: 45.74g, Fat: 35.48g, Saturated Fat: 5.33g, Cholesterol: 130.62mg, Sodium: 189.44mg, Potassium: 1207.84mg, Fiber: 1.54g, Sugar: 3.99g, Vitamin A: 164.41IU, Vitamin C: 31.73mg, Calcium: 47.33mg, Iron: 2.04mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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