3 Super-Simple Methods for Cooking Salmon that Absolutely Anyone Pull Off

Apricot garlic butter salmon
Photo Credit: The Daley Plate

March 3, 2021

by Geraldine Campbell

A few months ago, I ordered a big box of meat and fish from ButcherBox. It was filled with chicken thighs (which are vastly superior to chicken breasts in my humble opinion), a whole chicken, ground turkey, bacon, and a 2 lb. pack of wild Alaskan salmon fillets. Even though I am a household of one, it didn’t take me long to work my way through the chicken, turkey, and bacon. The salmon, however, sat in my freezer, a resolution to eat more fish unfulfilled. Until the other day, when I decided to finally get over my fear of cooking salmon and just make it already. The worst thing that could happen? I’d end up with overcooked fillets and an apartment that smelled of salmon.

Admittedly, my first attempt did not start out that well. I had forgotten to take my fish out of the freezer overnight, so when dinner rolled around, the fillets were still semi-frozen. And yet, I still managed to pull off some darn good fish, along with sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli. My apartment didn’t stink at all. And I ate the cold salmon the next day, flaked, on top of my salad.

Could the salmon have been more tender? Yes. Did I still consider it a success? Yes. And it made me brave enough to try a few different techniques. Here are 3 super-simple methods of cooking salmon that absolutely anyone can pull off. Pinky promise.

salmon
Photo Credit: Gimme Some Oven

1. Roast Salmon in the Oven

This is how I made my half-frozen salmon the first time and it has since worked even better with fish that is fully defrosted. All you need to do is pre-heat the oven (most recipes recommend 400°F to 450°F), dry the fish thoroughly, season the fillets, and cook them for about 15 minutes. I like to use very simple seasoning — salt, pepper, olive oil — because that means I can use the fish for leftovers the next day, but you can easily dress this recipe up once you get the hang of it. And, if you’re using a sheet pan, you can also add vegetables to the mix. I think asparagus and broccoli make good plate mates.

Get a recipe: Baked Salmon from Gimme Some Oven

salmon
Photo Credit: Once Upon a Chef

2. Pan-Sear Salmon on the Stovetop

This method could not be easier or faster. And you can also accommodate diners who like their salmon more or less cooked. This method will stink up the kitchen a bit, so be prepared, turn on a fan, and open up the windows. Otherwise, just make sure to leave the salmon undisturbed to get a good sear on one side before flipping it.

I served my salmon with a super simple salad of tomatoes, slice red onion, and rinsed black beans, seasoned with salt, pepper, and good olive oil.

Get a recipe: Restaurant-Style Pan Seared Salmon from Once Upon a Chef

salmon
Photo Credit: Primavera Kitchen

3. Broil Salmon in the Oven

This might be my new favorite way of cooking salmon. You get the same combination of crispy skin and tender, flakey flesh as you get by pan-searing — but it’s even faster and less smelly. The trick is not to overdo it. I found using a pre-heated cast iron skillet and cooking the salmon for about 8 minutes yielded even cooking and the perfect texture.

Get a Recipe: Easy Broiled Salmon from Primavera Kitchen