It's a new year and if you are like me, you are scrambling to ramp up your health food game after another decadent holiday season. Although I miss my snowman cupcakes, eggnog pancakes, apple cider, and spice cake, I am ready to eat whole foods that are light and healthy and most of all - easy to prepare! One of my favorite "get back on track" meals to make is my Oven Baked Salmon with Lemon and Dill. Some people might be intimidated about cooking salmon in the oven, but fear not! This baked salmon recipe could not be easier to prepare.
This baked salmon recipe is packed with bright, earthy flavors and just a pinch of heat. It is baked in the oven in tinfoil packets - perfect for steaming the fish and creating a deliciously tart, yet unctuous sauce that pairs perfectly with rice. The best part is that it is healthy!
What Are The Health Benefits Of This Baked Salmon Recipe?
Although the ingredient list is short, this recipe is a healthy powerhouse recipe.
- Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B, and potassium, among other things.
- Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C and it can help reduce cancer risk and help improve digestion.
- Dill has anti-inflammatory properties in addition to being a great source of antioxidants and vitamin C, vitamin A, and magnesium.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Extra virgin olive oil is also a great source of antioxidants. It has anti-inflammatory properties and may even help prevent strokes and heart disease.
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Crushed red pepper flakes are made mostly from dried cayenne peppers, which help digestion and boost metabolism.
So, if you are asking the question, "Is baked salmon healthy?", the answer is a very enthusiastic, "YES!"
Why Does This Recipe Call For Olive Oil And Not Butter?
This recipe calls for extra virgin olive oil because it is the most healthy olive oil. It is processed less than its two counterparts: refined and virgin olive oils. So, if you are looking to detox in January or if you are looking for something light and healthy to eat in spring and summer, I highly recommend using extra virgin olive oil in this baked salmon recipe.
You can definitely substitute the olive oil for 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Just place it on top of the lemon slices before you fold the tinfoil packet. I choose extra virgin olive oil over butter in this recipe because butter is higher in saturated fats and cholesterol. However, if you are a butter purist, this recipe is also fantastic with butter.
Salmon: Skin On Or Skinless?
Salmon is a quick and easy protein to work with. You can buy it in a large fillet, with skin on (serves 6-8 people). Supermarkets also sell salmon in 3-4 oz. portions - sometimes with skin on, sometimes with skin off.
If you buy salmon with skin on, you can cook it as is. Although salmon skin is delicious in other preparations (like pan-seared), I would caution against eating the skin in this recipe. The skin does contribute to keeping the moisture in the fish during the baking process. However, it becomes flabby and a little rubbery in this preparation.
The salmon in this recipe is baked within a foil packet, which helps the salmon to retain its moisture. So, the salmon skin is not as necessary. If you want to prepare your salmon without skin, you can buy skinless salmon portions or remove the skin yourself prior to baking.
How Do You Bake Salmon Without Overcooking It?
Salmon cooks very quickly, which is why some people tend to overcook it. Salmon is safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 145°F/63°C.
Chef Tip: To prevent your salmon from overcooking, remove from the oven when the internal temperature registers 140°F/60°C. The fish will continue to cook once it is out of the oven and resting.
If you don't have a digital thermometer, you can tell salmon is done when the flesh on the exterior is opaque and flaky and the interior is slightly translucent and pink.
No need to be intimidated by salmon. With this recipe, you will find that cooking salmon is SO easy!
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All of my posts contain my recommendations for essential tools. I have researched these tools. Many of them are already in my kitchen. The ones that are not come highly rated. I do the research so you don’t have to and I only recommend high-quality tools.
If you are just starting to furnish your kitchen with tools or if you are looking to expand your kitchen toolkit, be sure to reference Expert Guide: Equip Your Kitchen for Less Than $200. This guide contains links to all of the equipment items I recommend for a basic kitchen set up.
My essential tools when making this baked salmon recipe include the following:
Video Tutorial: Easy And Healthy Oven Baked Salmon
Easy And Healthy Oven Baked Salmon With Lemon And Dill
- 6 3-4 oz. salmon portions see blog post regarding skin on or skin off
- 4 large lemons sliced into wheels
- 6 sprigs fresh dill
- 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil divided
- salt and pepper to taste
- crushed red pepper to taste (optional)
- 6 pieces aluminum foil cut at about 12" x 12"
- fresh parsley chopped (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.
- On each aluminum foil sheet, assemble salmon packets in this order: 2 slices lemon, 1 salmon portion, 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, 1 pinch salt, 1 pinch black pepper, 1 pinch crushed red pepper, 1 sprig of dill, 2 lemon slices.
- Fold aluminum foil sheet into a pouch, being sure to seal completely.
- Place all aluminum foil packets on sheet pan and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (until internal temperature measures 140°F/60°C).
- Remove from the oven and rest for 5-10 minutes. Open packets and serve salmon (using a fish spatula) over rice or vegetables.
- For extra flavor, be sure to spoon the remaining sauce over the fish before serving. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and enjoy!