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This easy cajun baked salmon recipe is ready in just 10-minutes! Get all of my best tips for cooking salmon in the oven that turns out perfectly each and every time!
One of the types of fish that readers write and request more information and recipes about is salmon. Salmon is readily available in most grocery stores and is absolutely packed with protein and omega-3s. It pairs well with a variety of seasonings and sauces, too.
Salmon has a very light taste with a meaty texture that stands up well to many different cooking styles. This recipe is for a cajun-style oven baked salmon with an easy lemon-butter sauce.
Quick cooking and delicious, this is a meal you can deliver to the table in under 15-minutes.
Easy Baked Cajun Salmon Video | <1 Minute
Ingredients and Cooking Tools Needed for Cajun Salmon:
To make this baked salmon recipe, you will need:
- Salmon: When it comes to purchasing salmon, I recommend looking for fillets that have bright, silvery skin and shiny dark pink to red colored flesh. Fresh fish should not smell “fishy”; it should have a very low odor or smell briny like the ocean.
- If only frozen salmon is available in your area, choose a brand you trust. Follow thawing instructions located in the FAQ section of this post.
- Oil: I prefer to use extra-virgin olive oil for this recipe since we will be able to taste the oil, you want to use a quality cooking oil for this recipe.
- Cajun Seasoning: Store-bought or freshly prepared both work fine with this recipe. I have included a homemade blend on the recipe card.
- Butter: I use unsalted sweet cream butter. If you use salted, decrease the salt by 1/4 tsp in the Cajun seasoning.
- Lemon Juice and Zest: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is best for this recipe. I have not found any bottled lemon juice that tastes as bright and natural as a fresh lemon.
- Freshly Chopped Parsley: I prefer Italian flat-leaf parsley, but curly will also work. This lemon butter is also good with fresh chives.
You will also need:
- Meat Thermometer: You know I’m a big advocate of cooking thermometers. To have an accurate check on the doneness of your salmon, I recommend investing in a quality digital cooking thermometer. These are very easy to use and ensure that your food is neither over or under-cooked. I recommend these thermometers and in fact – I do own both of these for different cooking methods:
- Remote Digital Thermometer : I love this one because it can be used inside of the oven, grill, or smoker. You place the probe into the thickest part of the meat and close the door. With the wireless, portable transponder, I can carry that around and know exactly what temperature the meat is from basically anywhere in my house or outdoors.
- Digital kitchen thermometer : this is a basic digital thermometer I have owned and used for several years. I find the digital series of thermometers much easier to use and more accurate than classic meat thermometers.
- Fish Spatula: A fish spatula is the best tool to use when serving long fillets of fish like salmon. It keeps the fillets whole without breaking. It’s just the best tool for the job.
- Parchment Paper: you can always use aluminum foil but I prefer the pre-cut parchment paper (affiliate link) sheets. Clean up is simple and they are pre-mesaured for most rimmed baking sheets making them quick and easy to use.
How to Cook Salmon:
So, you’ve got the salmon portioned out and seasoned. Now, let’s talk now about baking the salmon in the oven.
- Bring the salmon to room temperature. Just like other meats, bring your salmon fillets out of the fridge and let them rest out on the counter for 15-30 minutes to come to room temperature. This promotes even cooking. Cooking it still cold from the refrigerator will result in overly done small ends as compared to the middle thickness.
- Check for Bones: Salmon fillets usually come cleaned and ready to go from the market, but it’s always a good idea to run your fingers over the flesh and check for any small bones. These can be removed usually by hand but also with a pair of kitchen tweezers.
- Season the salmon. Place the salmon fillets skin side down on aluminum foil or parchment-covered baking sheet. Brush the top and sides with a little olive oil. Sprinkle the tops with the cajun seasoning and gently massage it in for an even coating.
- For children’s portions, consider seasoning with salt and pepper only as cajun seasoning can be a spicy for the little ones’ palates.
- Bake. Bake at 450°F until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145°F. How long to bake salmon will depend on the thickness of the fillets. For fillets cut into 4-ounce portions, figure on about 8-10 minutes. You can test for doneness by a thermometer or by inserting a fork into the salmon and giving it a half twist; the fish should flake apart easily and glisten in the center.
- Prepare the Sauce. While the salmon bakes, prepare the lemon-butter sauce by melting the butter and combining with the lemon zest and lemon juice along with freshly chopped parsley (chives also work well here).
- Transfer salmon to a serving plate. Remove salmon from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before transferring to serving plates. Top each filet with a tablespoon of lemon-butter sauce.
- Serve immediately.
What Sauce Goes with Cajun salmon:
Fresh herbs add a lot of flavor that enhances the fish without overpowering it. For this recipe, I prefer a lemon butter sauce with fresh parsley or chives.
The lemon really balances out the heat from the spicy cajun seasoning making this a very well-rounded dish. To take this sauce to the next level, add a tablespoon of capers. Capers are salty and a little briny, they go great with butter sauce and fish.
Cooking with Salmon FAQ:
Can I eat the Salmon skin?
Yes, as long as it’s been cleaned and scaled. Salmon skin is best eaten after it’s been grilled, broiled, or seared. The skin is not ideal when it’s been cooked skin side down (like in this recipe) in the oven and tends to be rubbery.
Therefore, I usually cook salmon with the skin on and remove it just before serving. To serve salmon without the skin, simply run your spatula just under the flesh and above the skin and the salmon will lift right off.
What is a Serving Size for Salmon?
The recommended serving size for salmon as an entree is 4 ounces. So for a dinner party, I generally calculate 4 ounces per guest for average eaters and 6 ounces for big eaters. For an appetizer sized portion, I use 2 – 3 ounce servings.
As a rough guide, a 3-ounce portion (for my hand size) is about 2 fingers wide, 4-ounce portions are about 3 fingers wide, and 6-ounce portions are about 4 fingers wide. I use this formula in combination with my digital kitchen scale and over time found a measuring system that works well for me to be able to cut appropriate portions.
Can I cook my salmon more / less than the recipe states?
Absolutely, some people prefer their salmon to be more or less well-done than prescribed in this recipe. The USDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, so that’s why I stated this temperature.
Using a meat thermometer, I remove the salmon at 140 degrees F and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. During this resting period, the fish continues to cook raising the internal temperature of the fish to the recommended 145 degrees F.
What’s the best way to thaw frozen Salmon?
To thaw salmon, wrap in plastic and allow to thaw naturally in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse and blot dry with paper towels prior to seasoning.
How do I store leftover Salmon?
Store remaining cooked salmon in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container not made from metal. Use leftovers within 3 days.
How do I reheat leftover Salmon?
Place the fillets on a rimmed baking sheet , cover them with foil (to prevent drying out the fillets), and heat in a 275 degree F oven until the fish registers 125 to 130 degrees F. This will take about 15 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Reheating times will vary according to the size and thickness of the fillets.
What else can I prepare with leftover salmon?
What to Serve with Salmon:
For this dish, I prefer sides that compliment and pair well with the lemon sauce like roasted asparagus and couscous. Rice pilaf, any variety of steamed vegetables, or even on a freshly tossed salad also go very well with salmon.
- Garden Vegetable Rice
- Apple Pecan Blue Cheese Salad with Apple Vinaigrette Dressing
- Quick and Easy Asparagus Salad
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Baked Cajun Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce
- Digital meat thermometer
- fish spatula
- parchment paper or aluminum foil
- 16 oz Salmon - , bones removed (4- 4oz fillets)
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon capers - optional
- Preheat oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Mix the Cajun seasoning: In a small bowl, mix all the Cajun Seasoning ingredients.
- Prepare the Salmon: Line a baking sheet parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean-up. Salmon fillets usually come cleaned and ready to go from the market, but it’s always a good idea to run your fingers over the flesh and check for any small bones. These can be
removed usually by hand but also with a pair of kitchen tweezers.
Sprinkle each fillet evenly over the top with the seasoning mixture. Gently rub the mix around to get even coverage. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until fish flakes easily. The salmon is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Do this by placing the tip of the meat thermometer gently into salmon fillet at its thickest part.
- Prepare the Lemon Butter Sauce: While the fish bakes, prepare the lemon butter sauce by melting the butter either in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the lemon zest and juice and stir to combine. Stir in the fresh parsley. Spoon sauce over fish at the table or just before serving.
Baked Salmon FAQ:Can I cook my salmon less than the recipe says? Absolutely, some people prefer their salmon to be more or less well-done than prescribed in this recipe. The USDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, so that's why I stated this temperature. Using a meat thermometer, I remove the salmon at 140 degrees F and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. During this resting period, the fish continues to cook raising the internal temperature of the fish to the recommended 145 degrees F. What’s the best way to thaw frozen fillets? To thaw salmon, wrap in plastic and allow to defrost slowly in the refrigerator overnight. Rinse with cool water and blot dry with paper towels prior to seasoning. Leftover Storage: Store remaining cooked salmon in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container not made from metal. Use within 3 days. Reheating Leftovers: Place the fillets on a rimmed baking sheet, cover them with foil (to prevent drying out the fillets), and heat in a 275 degree F oven until the fish registers 125 to 130 degrees F. This will take about 15 minutes for a 1-inch-thick fillet. Reheating times will vary according to the size and thickness of the fillets. As an alternative to reheating, I do recommend serving leftover salmon in a cold application like a salad with vinaigrette or Caesar dressing.
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