How Long to Bake Salmon in the Oven?

Baked Salmon with Balsamic Vinegar
Baked Salmon with Balsamic Vinegar

It is often difficult to figure the exact baking time of Salmon fillets or steaks. There are a few reasons that contribute to this; first, salmon is a very meaty fish, meaning that the flesh is dense. Also Salmon may be purchased in a variety of cuts. Fillets will take less time to cook than a steak, because they are often cut more thin. Steaks are the most difficult to cook correctly because of the bone in the middle. The bone may be removed, but that will cause the steak to dry out during cooking. Salmon must always be cooked at about 400° Farenheit for optimal results. Fish cooks fast and must be baked at a high temperature to kill bacteria and cook the flesh evenly. The lowest possible temperature to cook Salmon is 350°, but this may result in a dried fish, unless it is completely wrapped in foil.

For optimal baking results, each fillet or steak should be coated with olive oil, margarine or butter and then about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice should be drizzled over it. Pepper and salt may be added, but generally it is better to salt the fish after it has completed cooking. When baking fish in the oven, the flesh tends to dry out faster if it is salted. Before baking the Salmon in the oven, be sure to line the pan with aluminum foil. The skin on Salmon often includes scales which will cause erosion to teflon pans; additionally it will stick to glass pans and cause a burnt-on residue that is very difficult to wash off. One important thing to remember about determining when Salmon is done baking is to check it with a fork. When pressing on the flesh, it will not feel soft anymore, it will feel more resistant to pressure. Also the flesh will take on an opposite appearance than that of when it was raw. Raw Salmon is pink with white lines. When Salmon is done it will look white with pink lines. To ease the difficulty in determining various baking times, here is a helpful and detailed reference for various sizes and cuts of Salmon and how long they must remain in the oven:

● Middle Fillet

This fillet is one of the thickest cuts at about a 2″ thickness, coming from the middle section of the fish. The best way to cook the thicker fillets is to use 400° as the set temperature and bake the fish for 18-20 minutes. If a lower heat is desired, season the fillet and wrap it in foil, sealing it tightly and bake at 350° for about 25-30 minutes.

● Thin Fillet

Thin fillets are either closer to the tail or taken from a smaller fish. Usually a fillet of 1″ or less is considered thin. For a fillet that is about 1″ thickness, bake the fish at 400° for about 10-12 minutes. When using a foil wrap, the fillet should be baked at 375° for about 15-20 minutes.

● Tail Fillet

The tail tip is the thinnest fillet and often the most tender. When seeking a cut of Salmon other than a steak, this will often be the best choice. Bake the tail at 415° for optimal results. This cut should be baked for a total of 12-15 minutes. When baking a tail wrapped in foil, use 375° as the heat setting and bake the fish for 20-22 minutes.

● Salmon Steak

Steaks of course are much thicker than a fillet. For each 1″ of thickness, figure on 10 minutes of baking time. Steaks should be baked uncovered at exactly 400°.


Author: Neil

Neil Wardlow has been writing professionally since 1989. Neil discovered he enjoyed writing when he suffered an injury during his 15-year building construction career. Neil now writes full-time, whenever he’s not occupied with entertaining family and friends, growing things, or making repairs in and around his beautiful ranch house.

50 thoughts on “How Long to Bake Salmon in the Oven?”

    1. The “skin” as you call it is one of the healthiest parts of the fish. If you marinate in an olive oil/butter/garlic combo (making sure there’s a pool underneath the scale side) and cook it with heat from below only while tightly wrapped in foil you’ll find that the “skin” soaks up a lot of the garlic and butter flavor and also adds moistness to the rest of the fish when eaten with the primary meat.

      Might I suggest taking a bite from a properly prepared “firm” salmon with the “skin” still attached (but seasoned) so that you can’t see it first before you toss the baby out with the bathwater? I’m Alaskan and have been eating salmon for the majority of my life. I think you’re really missing out because of your “turn off” of viewing fish “skin”. This isn’t like trout or bass or halibut where you don’t want the “skin”. Don’t hold the noble salmon accountable for the crimes of bad preparation you’ve gone through with other fish by people who likely aren’t as familiar with salmon. 🙂

      1. J242, thank you for sharing your expert advice on how to cook salmon with the skin properly. As it is with most types of foods, there are some that are better when prepared with the “skin” on and some that are better when prepared with the “skin” off. And many people lose out on essential nutrients due to cooking these foods with the skin off instead of on merely due to personal preferences.

      2. Thank you so much! I used coconut oil (I use it for everything) as the marinade with some spices and it with the skin was awesome :))))) Just so you know, it was the first time I ate it because I really liked it and not just being polite :))))

        1. The THF staff are glad you enjoyed this recipe, Charlu! Maybe you can share some of your recipes in the future, after you start experimenting with cooking salmon more often. I live in SE Oklahoma, so we usually eat freshly caught catfish and bass more frequently than we eat salmon.

    1. So how did the salmon turn out, BVS? Between Neil’s article and Dorothy Sheehan’s comments, I can’t decide if it’s easy to bake salmon or really complicated.

      1. Its really not difficult. Its the only way Ive ever cooked salmon. My mother, who hates fish, enjoys the salmon I cook lol.

  1. finally an answer to the question “how to bake salmon as easily as possible” without me having to wade through 10,000 wrong answers first. thank you

    1. So did the salmon turn out as great as it smelled while you were baking it, Vigilante3? Are there any alterations you would make to Neil’s recipe?

  2. Thank you, thank you, thank you..I used tin foil, and wrapped lemon slices, garlic, and onion with it..a few slivers of butter, and cooked at 375degrees for about 20 minutes and have perfect salmon…Yum…

  3. Baked a 3.5″( mid vertical) salmon steak. Preheated at 400F. Marinated the steak with lemon juice 1/2tsp salt. Baked for 35 min. Perfectly baked. Not over doneand wasn’t raw either. It wasn’t dry too.

  4. EASIEST baking of Salmon I’ve ever encountered! Found this Last night and used it with one of the enormous Salmon (Skinless and Boneless) filets from Costco. Pre-heated oven to 400, and then cut off the tail end of the filet (because it didn’t fit in the pan) drizzled big part with Olive oil, Lemon Juice, and Dried Dill. As Per instructions, I left off the Salt before placing it in the oven. Salmon was perfectly cooked through in 11 minutes! Everything was cooked, although the thickest part was just a bit less than the rest. Someone who wanted crispy salmon would probably want to add around 3 minutes to cooking time. The entire filet was only about 1 1/4″ at the thickest.

  5. This is a very useful page, oh my lord! I’ve had this recipe ghost through my head based on how I made it, and I’ve wet fingered it most of the times (basically guestimating with the eye.) Now I’ve got one page that clearly describes it all, I will use this to see if I can get even better results. I personally prefer my oven at 380-385 ish when doing it in foil but will try at 375.

    My recipe, in case anybody cares, I melt some creamy butter, add 2 teaspoons Z’atar, 1 teaspoon Carribean spices, a fat teaspoon of finely cut lemongrass (Can use paste), 2 teaspoons of freeze dried Italian spices (Dille,thym,oregano,parsley) and 2 fat teaspoons of lemon pepper. Mix it, when it’s to taste I rub the mixture (once it’s cooled) on the salmon, both sides. Should have some of the mixture left, drizzle it in the foil package, lift the salmon a bit on both sides so it can run underneath the skin and then close the foil package. I like to leave about a pinky of room around the salmon so the juices can really marinade the fish, wrapped too tight I don’t like the taste that much.
    Bake it 18 minutes on 380f (preheated oven) and try to aim for a 1 inch thick piece of salmon. Bit thicker works, but much thicker and the timing is off again. Anyway, yeah, that’s how I do it, and when I cook this, my very chatty father doesn’t utter a word until it’s all eaten.

  6. Is anyone still viewing this page? I absolutely love salmon, as I have been eating it all my life – wrapped in a foil packet, olive oil all over salt, pepper, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and I chop some shallots with it too. I bake it at 400 degrees for about 20 min. to start. I have found that isn’t long enough for a 1″ thick filet, skin on. Sometimes I go a little too long…any suggestions?

    1. By the way I baked mine wrapped in foil with coconut oil, lemon, garlic, onion for 25 minutes for a filet about 1lb.

  7. I had to buy a whole salmon today so I could have salmon steaks instead of fillets. Why have salmon steaks gone out of style? So easy to bake and so delicious!

  8. I made gravlax with a piece of salmon. Covered it with fresh dill, capers, salt and sugar. It was too fishy tasting. Can I bake it now?


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