After years of making unsatisfactory, overcooked salmon, I finally figured out the best way to cook salmon and am sharing the foolproof recipe that yields restaurant quality “medium”, melt-in-your mouth salmon. As someone who was pescatarian for 18 of her (almost) 32 years, seafood has always been one of the staple protein sources in my diet. I’ve also always really enjoyed the taste of seafood too. I remember when I decided to give up meat at the ripe age of 12, I asked my Mom if being a vegetarian meant I had to give up seafood too as the words “clam chowder” stared me dead in the face on a restaurant menu. I was relieved when she said of course, not (and I believe she too was relieved as a concerned mom of a vegetarian teen would be). And go figure now I live in New England – one of the best areas in the country for fresh seafood and clam chowdAH.
My Mom really did an awesome job cooking for our divided family growing up considering I was the only pescetarian in the household. This basically meant she had to cook a separate piece of fish for me every time she cooked meat for the rest of the gang (rockstar Mom status). And that piece of fish 90% of the time was salmon.
And I continue to eat salmon regularly today. The only difference being now I make it for myself ;). Salmon has become our welcome home meal. Whenever I come back home after being away on a trip somewhere, I always want the same meal – salmon, brown rice, and kale. It’s easy, simple, tastes good, and feels good in my body. He doesn’t even bother asking anymore, he just knows to stock the fridge appropriately upon my return. Bonus points for salmon being a nutritional powerhouse too: it’s packed with healthy omega-3 fats, protein, vitamin D, B-vitamins, and antioxidants.
But my problem with salmon, up until a few years ago, was that I ALWAYS overcooked it, without fail. It didn’t matter if I pan seared it, baked it, or poached it. It never had that texture and consistency that I could only find at a good restaurant. Until, one day, all hail Chef Jeremy Sewall and the folks at Stop & Shop for hosting a cooking class where he taught us his preferred slow cooking method for salmon. By cooking salmon at a higher heat for a shorter amount of time, the proteins coil up and are constricted, causing the oils to secrete, making the fish dry, chewy, and chalky. When you cook salmon at a lower temperature, it coils the proteins more slowly, allowing the fish to retain its moisture and oils, giving it that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Ever since I started cooking salmon this way, Steve now requests it weekly. Seriously, once you try slow cooking salmon, I can guarantee you won’t be cooking it any other way.Print
Slow Cooked Salmon
- Total Time: 22 minutes
- Yield: Serves 2-4 1x
- 1 lb fresh salmon
- Freshly ground cracked black pepper
- Herb of choice (thyme, parsley, rosemary)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Pat salmon dry with a paper towel and place on baking sheet.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over salmon.
- Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon dried herb or place a couple sprigs of fresh herb over top.
- Bake salmon until salmon flakes easily with a fork and is slightly opaque, about 20-25 minutes.
- Prep Time: 2 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Seafood
- Method: Bake
Keywords: salmon, slow cook
This recipe was retested, reshot and revamped to bring you the most delicious (and most beautiful) dish! The original post was published in February 2015.
Last Updated: September 2019
I eat a lot of salmon and my favorite way to prepare it is in my electric smoker. I pat it dry season with salt and pepper and smoke it at 250 Fahrenheit for an hour. It turns out moist, slightly smoky and delicious every time. Tastes great warm right off the smoker for dinner, cold in a salad for lunch, or on a bagel or in an omelet for breakfast. Yum Yum.
Sounds delish, Linda! Thanks for sharing!
and I was just looking at baking salmon at 200 degrees. trying it in my smoker.
Let me know how it turns out!
Great advice, thank you!
BTW – I think it should be pescaterian.
Thanks, Ben! 🙂
This has been my go to recipe for over 4 years. Love how my salmon always comes out moist but cooked. This way of slow cooking salmon was a game changer for me!
I love hearing this, Debbie! Thanks for sharing. So glad you love it!
I did marinated salmon with your times and temperatures, and it turned out great! I had always cooked them at 375 or higher. Thank you for the great tip. This was so much better.
You’re welcome, Nichole! So glad you enjoyed it.
This is a great recipe. Is using parchment paper on a baking sheet personal preference, or is there a reason you recommend this instead of non-stick sprayed or aluminum foil at the bottom of a baking dish?
Thank you! Definitely preference – either option you mentioned will do the trick. I find that parchment paper has a little more non-stick abilities.
Hello and thank you for sharing! My question is this. If I have skin on salmon and I am cooking it in this manner how could I still get crispy skin?
Thanks for your question, Diana! For slow-cooked salmon, unfortunately I don’t think you’d be able to achieve that delicious crispy skin. Usually, crispy skin comes from a super-hot sear or broil. I wish there was a way to do both 🙂
hello! if you get a rack to put over your baking pan, it allows air to circulate. I just did a salmon now, on a rack, skin down… baked it high though at 400 for 10minutes.. the skin got a little crisp, it was good!
Great tip! Thank you!
Thank you for this recipe! I’ve used it several times and it’s always delicious. Last night I used it with friends and they were so impressed.
Love to hear that! Making a delicious dinner for friends is the best. I also have an air-fried salmon recipe if you’re interested in yet another super easy way to cook salmon! https://karalydon.com/recipes/air-fryer-salmon-fresh-frozen/
Most people overcook salmon. There is nothing worst in my opinion. I always bake salmon at even lower temperature (240 F). It is melt-in-your-mouth, super moist and delicious everytime.
I’ll have to try experimenting with cooking salmon at an even lower temperature like you! Thanks for sharing, sounds delicious 🙂
Hello … I’m a big fish fan, and order various types from companies in Alaska that dry ice ship. At times I get a variety of fish like regular cod, halibut, black cod, coho and sockeye salmon.
Would this recipe apply to those other fish? Also, what about if the pieces are usually less than 1″ thick, do I reduce the cook time? Finally, is the cook temp of 300 the same on on Regular Bake vs Convection Bake?
Hey Juan! Yep, you can apply this method to all fish! 300 degrees is regular bake. And for less than 1-inch thick, you may need to reduce the cook time. I always test with a fork in the middle of the fish and if it flakes easily, I know it’s ready.
Hello Juan, where do you buy this alaskan fish that is shipped with dry ice? Can you please share your sources? Sounds like it’s some fresh fish, right out of the ocean!
I never thought to slow cook salmon! Such a great idea, it was so tender!
Thanks, Liz! It really it the best!
Thank you for this Recipe.Every time I make salmon it comes out perfect.One of my favorites.Thank you
That’s awesome, Stefen! This is one of my favorites too. 🙂
Epic failure! Chalky feel, and much more of the white protein material. I will go back to my tried and true method – 400 degrees for 11 minutes.
You might try testing variations in your oven temp, especially according to thickness of filet. Ever since I’ve started cooking my salmon this way, it’s my absolute favorite. Leftovers shine even more! Never could stand leftover salmon previously.
Great point, Lara! Oven temps do vary. If I have a very thick piece of salmon, I often have to cook it for closer to 25 minutes. Lara, I’m so glad you enjoy this method!
Sorry to hear that it didn’t work for your tastebuds, Zha!
Do I need to use fresh or dried herbs for this recipe?
Either work, Katie!
But the amounts listed in the recipe are for dried herbs.
THE BEST RECIPE OF ALL TIME! After I made it once… I’m hooked! Now, every time I have salmon in a restaurant it seems really dry and over cooked. This is the only way I like it now because it’s SO DELICIOUS! I’m so thankful I found your recipe. Thank YOU! 🙂
YAYYY! This makes me so happy to hear. I had the same experience.
I’m a fellow dietitian and I want to make this for a cooking class at an outpatient facility. I’ve cooked it twice at home now and both times couldn’t get it up to the food safety temperature recommendations of 145 degrees. It kind of hovers at 133-135 degrees after 30 minutes. Even if i pop it back in for 5-10 at 275 degrees, I can’t get it up to temp.
However, it does look done on the inside- opaque and flakes with a fork.
Have you tried to temp this?
Hey Sarah, thanks for asking. I haven’t tried to temp it. If it flakes easily with a fork after sticking it at its thickest point and has lost its translucence, it should be done. Sorry I can’t help more!
For this recipe, is it recommended to pre-cut the 1 lb of salmon into individual filets before baking? Or do you always cook it whole no matter the size?
Hey Shawn – I don’t pre-cut the salmon before baking but you certainly could!
Hi! I was wondering if you’d alter this any for a toaster oven? (I was also looking at your Greek style salmon and the temp there is higher than you recommend here, is there a reason for that?)
Also, I’m concerned about the albumen coming out of the fish when I slow cook it. Have you found that to be a problem?
Hey Ivan – good catch on the Greek style salmon recipe! The reason for that temp change is I changed apartments and ovens and the lowest setting on my current oven is 300 degrees F. Temperatures and cooking times always vary between ovens so be sure to keep a close eye on the salmon. Cooking time will also vary depending on how thick the piece of salmon is. Toaster ovens heat up quicker because they’re much smaller so the cooking time should be reduced by 30%. So for 20 minute recipe, I’d try 14 minutes in a toaster oven.
Some albumin will come out of the salmon whether you slow cook it or over cook it. The remedy to this is marinading the salmon in a quick brine solution prior to cooking.
Thanks for the Q!
Thank you so so so much!
I am a fish lover. I just had my best salmon tonight! I almost finished 2lb at dinner:-)
So glad you enjoyed some delicious salmon, June!
Made this tonight and it was perfection! This is only the 4th time I ate Salmon and now I will make it more often! I didn’t have any Thyme or Parsley but it was still delicious!! I got already skinned thick pieces of Salmon and put it on parchment paper. I had the oven preheated at 300 degrees because the store said use that temp. Then I found your slow cook method and used the reduced 250 degrees at 25 minutes! Oh my gosh it was the taste and texture I was looking for!!! Thank you!
I am so glad you enjoyed it, Margie! 🙂
This is so helpful! Thank you, Kara! I am the only fish eater in the house and will be trying this slower cooking method. I usually throw salmon in an omelette or sushi when it is just me. Now I will be trying this for myself with a side salad!
Thank you, thank you, thank you! My daughter loves salmon in restaurants, but I could not replicate it at home— until now. So grateful to add this to her weekly diet.
I too love salmon. I place mine in parchment paper, pour olive oil on top and add seafood seasoning. Fold parchment paper so nothing oozes out and place it in microwave for 1 minute. So yummy!
I don’t order it in restaurants because its always too overcooked for my taste.
How do you cook salmonella in a convection microwave?
Hey Steven – I’ve actually never cooked salmon in the microwave but here’s a recipe from my colleague in case you’re interested: http://www.joybauer.com/healthy-recipes/easy-3step-microwave-salmon/
Can you use frozen salmon?
If you use frozen you should defrost it first so that the cooking time is not obscure by the frozenness.
Hi, Jackie! You can but I would defrost before cooking.
I am planning on making this. Just wondering if I need to debone the salmon or if the bones will cook soft. My kids love the canned salmon bones and I would love to be able to cook the bones to be that soft. I have not seen anything online yet to tell me how to cook the bones to eat. And the salmon bones at the farmers market are so cheap! Thanks!
Hey, Ginger! Great question. Unfortunately, the bones don’t cook to soft.
Didn’t work ended up cooking it for an hour
I’m so sorry to hear that, Bon! What temperature did you cook it at? How much salmon were you cooking? What type of oven?
I don’t know if you ever resolved your issue, but if you live at a high altitude if will take longer to cook things. We live at 7500 ft. above sea level and sometimes it takes twice as long to cook certain meats, That, and the size of fish you are cooking will have a big impact on length of time.
That’s a great point, Patricia! Thanks for sharing.
I NEVER slow cook it…I usually fast cook it! HA! Definitely going to have to try this 🙂
I always fast cooked it until I tried slow cooking and have NEVER looked back!
Oh man..to this day I still remember how good Boston clam chowder was..that was nearly 8 years ago!! Now onto the salmon..keep the temp low..keep the temp low..I unfortunately don’t have any salmon on hand right now, but I’ll def remember this trick next time I prepare it! Thanks, Kara 😉
Haha! It’s the best! When I was a kid, I used to judge and rate all the clam chowders when on summer vacation in Boston :). Hope you enjoy the tip the next time you prepare it!
Ah the salmon love! I am the worst RD, I don’t eat salmon like ever! I need to break out of this but I think a lot is because we never had it as a kid! Your mom is a superwoman- I love it!
Haha! A lot of people don’t like salmon – you’re not alone! Thanks, Liz 🙂
Or you can bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes to obtain the exact same results. I cook it that way every time and it’s perfect! Usually a temp of 145 degrees using a food thermometer is good to ensure doneness.
Best salmon recipe. Ever.
Thank you so much ~ I’ll never need another salmon recipe ~ if you haven’t tried it yet, do!!
Wow. Thanks, Nance! So glad you loved it!!
This recipe is awesome! Only way I’ll eat salmon now 🙂
Yay!! Thanks, Rachel! You and me both 🙂 Glad it was a game-changer for you too!
I made this last night and it was amazing. I had to turn up the temperature just a little because I cooked a whole side cut up into pieces and it needed more time. The only question I have is about the skin: the skin was a little too soft so I’m wondering if it would be possible to do a quick sear to crisp the skin a bit, then pop it into the oven to cook. I’ll try it some time with a much smaller piece of fish, but was curious if it’s anything you have tried.
Glad you enjoyed it, Crystal! Yeah, the skin won’t crisp up this way. I’ve never tried it but will next time because now I’m curious! I would suggest cooking the skin on high heat for a minute or two after you bake it. And I would reduce the baking time accordingly. https://karalydon.b.wpstage.net/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?paged=4#comments-form
This was my first time cooking Salmon and I used your method which made the perfect piece of fish! Thank you!
Amazing! Glad it worked out perfectly for you! I will never make salmon any other way now 🙂
Can you you use a slow cooker?
You can poach salmon using a slow cooker but it probably won’t give you the same texture and consistency as slow cooking in the oven. Here’s a recipe for poaching salmon in the slow cooker: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooker-poached-salmon-recipes-from-the-kitchn-196453
I was wondering if I could use foil or wax paper instead of parchment paper…. I don’t have any
You could use foil but I wouldn’t recommend wax paper as it’s not heat resistant. You could also just place your salmon on a baking sheet or dish without any parchment paper – you’ll just have a little extra clean up! 🙂
THIS LOOKS AHHHH! I WANT – RIGHT NOW!!! OMG I can’t even…..
Haha thanks Gigi! Enjoy 🙂
I agree with gigi…
You weren’t kidding this method was a total game changer! It was so delicious. I kept commenting to my husband the rest of the evening, “wasn’t that salmon the best?”. I was pretty proud of myself that I cooked it that well because I always over cook it too and it becomes a dry mess.
Thanks for the great recipe!
Aw, yay!! So glad you enjoyed it! I always used to overcook my salmon too until I tried this method. Now, my fiancee begs for salmon every night! lol
I made this last night with kale and lemon-garlic farro. The slow-cook method is a total game changer. Thank you for the inspiration!
Awesome, Nicole! Glad you enjoyed it! I agree – total game changer. Love those sides you paired the salmon with too!
Thanks for the shout out Kara:) The salmon looks delicious… I’ll have to try it this way next time I cook it.
Anytime, Ma 🙂
YUM! Salmon is one of my favorite foods but I never know how to cook it. Can’t wait to try this!
Thanks! Let me know how it turns out! Enjoy 🙂
I could eat salmon everyday! But I actually like it a bit overcooked 😉
haha to each their own, my friend!
As a West Coaster at heart, I love love love salmon; however, it is so easy to overcook. I’m going to try this recipe soon (I bet my man will beg for it too) 🙂
I bet he will! 🙂 Let me know how it turns out!