Looking for the best way to cook salmon in the oven? Look no further than this baked lemon pepper salmon! This foolproof recipe is incredibly easy to make and full of flavor. It’s gluten free, dairy free and paleo friendly.
This is by far my favorite baked salmon recipe because of how easy it is. I like to serve it with quinoa and broccoli, but you can keep it paleo or keto by serving it with cauliflower rice or just on top of a salad!
It only takes about 20 minutes to make from start to finish, so it’s perfect when you need dinner on the table ASAP!
I used to be super intimidated to cook fish because I never knew how to tell when it was done, how to flavor it well, what to do with the skin, and just thought it was too fancy to make at home.
Well, this lemon pepper salmon may taste fancy, but I promise it’s not. It’s the perfect recipe for beginner cooks!
There are so many flavors that pair well with salmon, but lemon pepper is simple and perfect when you’re craving something light and fresh. If you love this recipe, try my air fryer salmon next!
We have some butter or olive oil (or both!), fresh cracked pepper, salt, lemon juice and zest for lots of citrusy flavor, garlic, and chopped chives and red pepper flakes if you really want to spruce things up.
How to make lemon pepper salmon
To make this recipe, first preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, whisk together minced garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, melted butter or olive oil, salt and lemon zest.
Add the salmon fillets to a cast iron pan or baking sheet and pour the sauce on top. Take a brush to spread the mixture on evenly. It will pool around the sides of the salmon which is ok.
Take 1 extra lemon and slice into thin strips. Place on top of each fillet and top with additional black pepper, lemon zest or salt if desired. Let sit to marinate while the oven finishes heating.
Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon and your preference of “doneness.”
I like salmon well done and my fillets were somewhat thick, so I did 18 minutes, but check it at 12. It should flake easily and peel right off the skin.
Serve with quinoa, rice, cauliflower rice and any green veggies such as steamed broccoli or asparagus.
How can you tell when salmon is done?
There are two main tests I use to check for salmon “doneness.” The first is the flake test. If you take a fork and slide it into a piece of the salmon, it should flake right off.
The color should be even throughout and the middle shouldn’t look raw (unless you like it that way).
The second way to know it’s done is that the skin should peel right off. I always recommend leaving salmon skin on while baking it because it helps keep it moist.
Once it’s done, just take a fork or knife and peel the skin right off before serving. However, some people like to eat the salmon skin since it’s totally edible and actually good for you, so up to you and whoever you’re serving!
You can definitely slice the skin off before cooking and either bake as is or cut the salmon into cubes. These smaller pieces will cook faster, so keep an eye on the time!
How long does cooked salmon keep?
Cooked salmon generally keeps for up to 48 hours in the fridge. You can serve it cold with a pasta salad or warm it up on the stove or in the oven.
Just be sure to let it cool completely, then transfer to an air tight container before placing in the fridge.
What kind of salmon is best?
I always reach for wild caught salmon, which has a much more vibrant color than farmed raised salmon. For this recipe, any kind will work, but nutritionally, I much prefer wild caught.
Try these recipes next!
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Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon
by: claire cary
- 4, 4-6 ounce salmon fillets defrosted overnight if previously frozen
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Optional: 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a small bowl, whisk together minced garlic, black pepper, lemon juice, melted butter or olive oil, salt and lemon zest.
- Add the salmon fillets to a cast iron pan or baking sheet and pour the sauce on top. Take a brush to spread the mixture on evenly. It will pool around the sides of the salmon which is ok.
- Take 1 extra lemon and slice into thin strips. Place on top of each fillet and top with additional black pepper, lemon zest or salt if desired.
- Bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon and your preference of "doneness." I like salmon well done and my fillets were somewhat thick, so I did 18 minutes, but check it at 12. It should flake easily and peel right off the skin and be an even color throughout.
- Add an extra squeeze of lemon juice and serve with quinoa, rice, cauliflower rice or any green veggies such as steamed broccoli or asparagus. Enjoy!
Very grateful for the recipe. Excellent dinner.
OMG this was delicious. My husband is always a little nervous about eating Salmon and he said “if you can guarantee that it will be like this every time than I will eat this every time”. We paired it with the kale salad, YUM! Thank you for providing flavorful alternatives.
Claire Cary says
Salmon can be tricky for so many people! So happy you both enjoyed this and thanks for the feedback!