Simple ingredients yield delicious results in this easy Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon recipe, which can be made in 30 minutes or less! Salmon fillets are drizzled with a citrusy garlic butter, topped with fresh lemon slices, wrapped in a foil packet, and oven-baked until tender and flaky. This healthy and low-carb seafood dinner shows that elegant weeknight dinners don’t always have to be complicated.

Baked basil salmon wrapped in foil and topped with lemon slices.

Easy Baked Salmon in Foil

When winter thaws and the spring season starts, there’s one thing I can never seem to get enough of as the warm weather sets in… the bright, acidic taste of fresh lemons!

And soon enough, there always follows an abundance of fresh, wild-caught salmon at the grocery store. With recipes like Lemon Dill Salmon and Air Fryer Fish coming into season, it’s hard not to take advantage of the match made in heaven that is fresh lemons and even fresher seafood. 

With this recipe for Lemon Baked Salmon, these two bright, refreshing ingredients meet rich butter and aromatic garlic and basil, to make a delicious dish all wrapped up to bake in aluminum foil. 

By wrapping the salmon in foil—otherwise called the “foil packet” method—heat and moisture stay trapped inside with the food, and that gorgeous fillet of fish is able to baste in the lemon-garlic butter as it bakes.

For those who prefer not to use aluminum foil, no worries – this method works equally well with parchment paper!

Whip up some tender salmon the whole family will love for the perfect weeknight dinner.

Five salmon fillets on a baking sheet.

Ingredients

The simple ingredients you need to make the best baked salmon recipe include:

  • Salmon. A little over a pound of fresh, wild salmon is used in this recipe, as it has the best taste and texture, but previously frozen or farm-raised Atlantic salmon will do as well. Wild salmon is healthier and has the benefit of a richer nutrient profile from its natural habitat, and farm-raised fresh salmon will have a slightly better flavor and a higher fat content.
  • Lemons. Freshly-squeezed, natural juice from a lemon is a key ingredient, bringing acid and bright, tart flavor to the salmon as it cooks. Avoid pre-squeezed, bottled lemon juice; it’s extremely tart, not nearly as fresh, and often contains preservatives. For a different taste, limes or oranges may be used as a substitute.
  • Basil. Fresh basil, not dried, is the other star of the show. Sweet basil is preferred but Thai basil may also be used, as can dill or fresh cilantro for a different flavor profile. (Check out more substitutes for basil if you’re coming up short!)
  • Butter. A good-quality butter, such as Plugrá or Kerrygold, will take this dish over the top with its rich flavor and high fat content. Feel free to use a non-dairy butter alternative such as vegan “buttery” sticks. You want the flavor, so avoid olive oil if possible.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves give a wonderfully aromatic taste. You can substitute with garlic powder, at ⅛ teaspoon for each clove, but the flavor will be significantly less fresh.

Note: If using currently frozen salmon, ensure that it has time ahead of baking to fully defrost, and that any excess liquid is patted dry from it before seasoning. If cooked directly from frozen, too much extra liquid will be generated from the melting frost and the salmon may not cook evenly. 

How to Bake Salmon in Foil

The basic steps for making foil-baked salmon recipe are simple to follow:

Slice the Salmon

Begin preheating the oven to 375°F. 

If you purchased a whole salmon fillet as opposed to pre-sliced salmon steaks, leave the skin on to help ensure that the delicate meat of the fish holds together during slicing and cooking. Once it is cooked, it is easy to separate the meat from the skin for eating.

When cutting salmon, it is extremely important to use a very sharp knife, both to avoid injury and to make clean cuts. A light, flexible filleting knife designed for cutting delicate fish thinly is ideal for this, but any freshly sharpened knife will do.

Going crosswise into the salmon, cut the fillet into 1½-2-inch portions, depending on weight and preference. A single portion of salmon generally lands between 3-5 ounces in weight.

A pound of salmon cut into fillets.

Prepare the Foil Packet

On a large sheet pan, lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil, big enough to wrap around all of the salmon at once. Place another sheet of parchment paper, only slightly smaller than the foil, on top. 

By double layering the foil packet with a sheet of parchment paper as well, the delicate fish steaks are further insulated during cooking. They are also protected from direct contact with the aluminum, which can cause it to stick. 

Alternatively, a double-sided parchment paper “foil” packet may be used instead, to avoid the use of aluminum entirely. This is more difficult to fold and keep closed, but works just as well for baking the salmon.

Lay the sliced salmon fillet out on top of the material for the packet, with a small amount of space left in between the individual portions.

Five salmon fillets on a baking sheet.

Season the Salmon

In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, garlic, fresh basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Spoon half of the lemon-garlic butter over the top of the salmon, spreading it generously across and between the pieces, for full coverage. Save the other half of the sauce for later, when the salmon is finished cooking.

Top each salmon portion with a thin slice of fresh lemon. This gives the salmon a little bit of an extra lemony kick while cooking, and provides a lovely garnish effect for the final dish.

Seal and Bake

Carefully close the parchment paper and aluminum around the fish to create a packet, folding and sealing the edges as much as possible. Make sure that there is nowhere for the lemon-garlic butter to leak out of the packet, and that there is still some room left inside the packets for air ventilation.

When the sides of the foil packet are sealed, bake it for 14-16 minutes without opening it. This gives the fish time to steam and baste in its own juices, achieving that lovely, bright flavor and tender texture.

Pull the salmon from the oven, and open the foil packet, pouring the remaining sauce over the fillets. Ensure the open packet is still folded to keep the butter mixture contained, and return it to the oven under a high-heat broiler for 5-7 minutes.

Broiling the salmon after baking helps give it a last high-intensity flash of cooking which will give it a lovely surface browning, without overcooking it. Watch the fillets closely as they broil, to ensure they don’t burn. 

When the salmon has just slightly browned at the surface, remove it from the oven and serve!

Meal Prep & Storage

  • To Prep Ahead: The sauce can be prepared and the raw salmon cut to size ahead of time. These can be stored separately in the refrigerator in airtight containers for up to 24 hours.
  • To Store: The leftover salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: This dish can be frozen in an airtight container or sealed in a freezer bag for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: The best way to reheat this baked salmon is to pop it back into a 300°F oven for 5-7 minutes. It can also be heated up in a covered skillet over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes.

Dietary Modifications

The recipe you’ll find below is already gluten-free, low-carb, keto, Paleo, and Whole30 as written. Here are some adjustments and substitutions you can make to help it fit your other dietary requirements:

  • Dairy-Free: Substitute the butter for coconut oil or a vegan butter alternative. Be aware that the coconut oil will yield a slightly different flavor profile, however. 
  • Paleo and Whole30: Replace the butter with ghee.
A fillet of fish with chopped fresh basil and lemon slices.

How long to bake lemon salmon?

When baking salmon in foil, cook for around 15 minutes in the packet, then open it up and broil for another 5 minutes or so to get that crispy skin. For medium-cooked salmon, it’s generally recommended to cook it up to an internal meat temperature of 125-130°F. It’s best to aim for the slightly lower end, as the fish will continue to cook for a few minutes on residual heat even after being removed from the pan or oven. Exact times will change based on the size of the fish. Learn more here about achieving the perfect internal temperature for salmon.

Is salmon good for you?

Yes! Salmon is incredibly good for you. It is full of nutrients and healthy fatty acids that benefit your eyes, heart, brain, and skin.

Can you freeze cooked salmon?

You can freeze cooked salmon for up to 3 to 4 months. For the best results, be sure it is in an airtight container with as little skin exposed as possible.

An easy foil packet seafood dinner recipe with fresh basil and lemon juice.

How long is baked salmon good for?

After salmon has been cooked, it is best enjoyed within 3 to 4 days. As with all food, be sure to follow safety guidelines to reduce the risk of bacteria.

Expert Tips and Tricks

  • Pack it in. This recipe showcases the salmon being baked in a foil packet on its own, but other vegetables like tomatoes, asparagus, potatoes, and much more can often be baked alongside it too.
  • Don’t overdo it. Over-cooking salmon, even in a moisture-retaining method like a foil packet, can turn the fish dry and stringy instead of tender and flaky.
  • Go fresh. Wild salmon is healthier and more nutrient-dense than farm-raised, while fresh has more flavor and a better texture than salmon that has been previously frozen.
  • Portion it ahead. Slicing a larger cut of salmon into smaller portions before cooking ensures the sauce can fully penetrate the fish. It also cooks much more quickly and evenly than a big cut.
  • Get a little zesty. To really amp up that lovely lemon flavor, try grating just a little bit of fresh lemon zest into the butter sauce before cooking.
  • Try different herbs. Basil tastes great with salmon, but so do many other fresh herbs, including dill, rosemary, parsley, oregano, and thyme. Sprinkle some on top for a beautiful presentation.
A close-up image of a lemon basil baked salmon recipe that has been baked in foil packets.

What to Serve with Baked Salmon in Foil? 

This fish recipe is a great main dish and goes very well with a number of sides. These are a few different vegetable dishes that can turn this into a healthy meal.

Both Roasted Cauliflower and Oven Roasted Broccoli are good for you and easy to whip up.

Broccoli Slaw and Chinese Green Beans are light and refreshing.

Save time with Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts and Air Fryer Asparagus.

More Salmon Recipes

Make the most of fresh, wild salmon being in season with even more of these amazing recipes.

Blackened Salmon and Teriyaki Salmon are so incredibly flavorful.

Lemon and Dill Salmon and Honey Sriracha Glazed Salmon are easy to make.

Impress a dinner party or friends on special occasions with this Salmon Piccatta.

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 6 votes

Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon in Foil

Simple ingredients yield delicious results in this easy Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon recipe, which can be made in 30 minutes or less! Salmon fillets are drizzled with a citrusy garlic butter, topped with fresh lemon slices, wrapped in a foil packet, and oven baked until tender and flaky.
A low-carb seafood recipe for dinner with basil and lemon.
Yield 6 servings
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
Total 25 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 ¼ lbs. salmon skin on, cut into 5 fillets
  • 5 Tbsp. butter melted
  • 1-1½ cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 Tbsp. basil finely chopped, packed
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice divided
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • 5 lemon slices
  • See this recipe in Healthy Meal Plan #1

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Whisk melted butter, garlic, basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Layer a piece of parchment paper that is slightly smaller than the foil on top.
  • Lay salmon fillets on paper with a slight gab between each one.
  • Pour half of the lemon-basil sauce over salmon fillets. Reserve the remaining sauce for later.  
  • Top each fillet with one lemon slice.
  • Close paper and aluminum foil around salmon to make a packet. Bake salmon for 14-16 minutes without undoing the foil packet.
  • Open the foil packet, pour remaining lemon-basil sauce over fillets and return salmon to oven under a High broil for 5-7 minutes. (Make sure you tear off or fold down any parchment paper that might be sticking up!)
  • Watch salmon closely while broiling. Once salmon starts to brown slightly, remove from oven and serve immediately.  See this recipe in Healthy Meal Plan #1

Tap stars to rate!

5 from 6 votes

Video

Notes

Meal Prep & Storage

  • To Prep Ahead: The sauce can be prepared and the raw salmon cut to size ahead of time. These can be stored separately in the refrigerator in airtight containers for up to 24 hours.
  • To Store: The baked lemon-garlic butter salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • To Freeze: This dish can be frozen in an airtight container or sealed freezer bag for up to 3-4 months.
  • To Reheat: The best way to reheat this baked salmon is to pop it back into a 300-degree Fahrenheit oven for 5-7 minutes. It can also be heated up in a covered skillet over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 226kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 19g, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 78mg, Sodium: 369mg, Potassium: 478mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 605IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 23mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Made this recipe?Leave a comment below!
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Tips & recipes for getting yummy — and healthy — meals on the table.

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Comments

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I’m so glad you found it easy and flavorful. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment!

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious I use olive oil instead of butter . I didn’t have basil so I use cilantro bake in my Ninja Foodi digital air fry oven . Temperature and time perfect for my salmon. This is going to be my preferred Salmon recipe 🤗

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Pearly! This sounds delicious. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  2. 5 stars
    My family loves salmon so I’m always looking for new unique delicious ways to make it. This recipe was amazing & did not disappoint. It was packed with SO much flavour & was a huge hit. Thanks for this, it’s a keeper!

    1. Yay! So happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Sabrina! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

    1. Thanks Annette! Parchment paper is one of my favorite tricks to keep everything separated. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating!

  3. Hello,
    If I wanted to do this on the BBQ would I cook the same length of time and would I still put on a baking sheet?
    Thank you

    1. Great question! You can cook it right in the foil with no baking pan. I’d suggest cooking for about 15-18 minutes over medium heat. Can’t wait to hear what you think, Opal!