Lemon Garlic Salmon is drizzled with garlic butter, wrapped in foil, and then baked in the oven until tender and flaky. This healthy and low-carb seafood recipe is a quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe that can be ready in under 30 minutes!
Baked Lemon Salmon Recipe
When the Spring season starts, there is one thing I can never seem to get enough of…
And then very soon after there is also an abundance of fresh and wild-caught salmon at the grocery store.
So it’s no wonder that these two epically refreshing ingredients pair so wonderfully together! (See this Lemon Dill Salmon for further validation.)
But this isn’t just any ole’ baked salmon recipe you see right here in front of you today.
Oh no, no, no.
There is a very special, and also very simple, technique which makes that fish so incredibly tender and flaky.
We’re going to be wrapping up that gorgeous filet of fish in a piece of aluminum foil. Doing this helps to trap in all of the heat and retain all of the lemon juices so it cooks together in a medley of deliciousness.
And no worries if you’re opposed to the use of aluminum foil. There’s actually a little trick I’ll show you so your food never has to touch the heavy metal. (I’ll give you a hint – it start with parchment and ends with paper!)
A big reason why this salmon recipe is so popular is how simple the ingredients are:
- Salmon – A little over a pound of fresh, wild, salmon is used in this recipe. You can also use previously frozen or farm-raised if that’s what you can find.
- Lemons – Juice that has been freshly squeezed is a key ingredient. Avoid using the bottle of pre-squeezed lemon juice. That stuff is super tart and not nearly as fresh!
- Basil – Fresh basil, not dried, is the other star of the show. Sweet basil is preferred but Thai basil may also be used.
- Butter – A higher-quality butter, such as Plugra or Kerrygold, will take this dish over the top. Feel free to use a non-dairy butter alternative such as vegan “buttery” sticks.
- Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves give a wonderfully nutty taste. You can substitute with garlic powder, but it won’t give it quite the same pizzazz.
- Salt and Pepper – Adjust these according to your taste preference.
Types of Salmon
When you purchase salmon from your grocery store you will have a few options to choose from.
Fresh vs. Previously Frozen Salmon
Fresh means it has never been frozen and will have a better taste and texture.
Previously frozen is still a great option if you are not in the midst of salmon season. (This is typically from May-August.)
Wild-Caught vs. Farm-Raised Salmon
Wild, versus farm-raised, is a healthier option since it was caught while in its natural habitat. The salmon ate a more diverse array of microorganisms and has a richer nutrient profile.
Farm-raised will have a slightly better flavor and more fat versus wild-caught.
Learn more about wild versus farm-raised salmon.
When this recipe was initially created in 2017 I was unaware of the potential harmful effects that foil can have on our food.
Since then, I have adopted a new method for first wrapping the salmon in parchment paper, and then in another layer of aluminum foil.
This double-wrapping technique gives you the benefits of a good, metallic heat conductor while also creating a healthy barrier between it and your fish.
There are two ways you can do this:
- Use regular parchment paper and aluminum foil.
- Cut the paper a little shorter so you have foil hanging over the sides to easily roll up your packets.
- Wrap it up in a double sided parchment paper-foil.
- It’s quick, easy, and super efficient to use.
- The one downside to it is that it can be a little difficult to fold and hold in place.
Foil packets of food are great for easy cleanup and little hassle. They also make wonderful camping meals!
How to Bake Salmon in Foil
Now that you have all of your ingredients gathered together, let’s start baking! Here are the step-by-step instructions you’ll want to follow: (See recipe card below for more detailed information.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Whisk together melted butter, garlic, basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- 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. (Step 1 above.)
- Pour half of the lemon-basil sauce over the fillets. Reserve the remaining sauce for later. (Step 2 above.)
- Top each fillet with one lemon slice. (Step 3 above.)
- Close paper and aluminum foil around fish to make a packet. Make sure there is some room for air ventilation. (Step 4 above.)
- Bake for 14-16 minutes without undoing the foil packet.
- Open the foil packet, pour remaining lemon-basil sauce over fillets.
- Return to oven under a High broil for 5-7 minutes. Watch closely while broiling.
- Remove from oven once salmon starts to brown slightly.
While this is already a low-carb, Paleo, whole30, and gluten-free dinner recipe, there are a few tweaks you can make:
- Try using dill or cilantro in place of basil.
- Switch up the citrus and try out limes or oranges!
- Not a salmon fan? Another fish, such as mahi mahi or cod, will work great, too!
Meal Prep & Storage
To Prep Ahead: Whisk together the sauce and prep the salmon. Store separately in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
To Store: Baked salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days or frozen for up to 3-4 months.
To Reheat: The best way to reheat this baked lemon salmon is to pop it back into a 300 degree oven for 5-7 minutes. You can also heat it up in a covered skillet over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes.
Do I need to remove the skin before baking?
It is not necessary to remove the skin before baking it in the oven. In fact, it helps retain the fat and flavor and is best if left on.
Can I use a non-dairy alternative in place of butter?
Yes, you can use coconut oil or a vegan butter substitute in place of the butter. However, you will have a slightly different flavor profile.
Can I use frozen salmon?
For frozen fish, make sure you defrost it completely before baking in oven. If cooked directly from frozen you will end up with quite a bit more liquid (water) and it may not cook evenly.
Meal Prep & Storage
Pro Tips and Tricks
- Use the double-wrapping technique. Line the foil with a piece of parchment paper so the fish does not make direct contact with the heavy metal.
- Bake salmon until just cooked through. Over-cooking salmon can lead to dry fish instead of one that is tender and flaky.
- Use wild and fresh salmon when available. Wild salmon is healthier than farm-raised while fresh has more flavor and a better texture than previously frozen.
- Keep the skin on the salmon. The skin becomes much easier to peel after the fish is done baking.
- Cut the salmon into filets. Smaller portions of salmon cook much faster and more evenly than cooking a whole pound of salmon at one time.
- Sprinkle a little lemon zest in the garlic butter sauce. This will really increase the lemon flavor in the dish.
- Try out different herbs. Basil tastes great with salmon, but so does fresh dill, rosemary, and thyme.
Make it a Meal
This fish recipe is a great main dish and pairs well with a number of sides. A few different dishes you can pair this with include:
Lemon Garlic Baked Salmon in Foil
Lemon Garlic Salmon is drizzled with garlic butter, wrapped in foil, and then cooked in the oven until tender and flaky. This healthy and low-carb seafood recipe is a quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe that can be ready in under 30 minutes!
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Whisk melted butter, garlic, basil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a medium-sized 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