The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (2024)

The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (1)

By: Jessie ShaferPosted: 7/26/23

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Salmon is a wonderfully versatile protein that tastes delicious any way you prepare it. It looks great plated with a simple garnish and can pair with a wide selection of flavor profiles.

Gram-worthy plates and yummy taste aside, it also checks all the boxes for nutrition. Salmon is brimming with omega-3s, a high-quality protein, and loaded with B vitamins. It’s also an easy fish to cook. Whether this is your first time cooking salmon or you’re a seasoned salmon chef, this collection will give you easy, healthy salmon recipe ideas for a nutritious, delicious salmon dish.

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Quick Facts About Salmon

Salmon is a popular choice for chefs and home cooks for a variety of reasons:

  • It’s nutrient-dense. Salmon is full of vitamins A, D, and B, as well as minerals like magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
  • It’s versatile. The slightly sweet flavor and firm texture make salmon adaptable to flavors. It can be used with a marinade or simply seasoned for dishes like salmon pasta to salmon tacos and more.
  • It’s easy to cook. You’ll often see recipes for smoked salmon, roasted salmon, grilled salmon, and even air fryer salmon because it is so easy to cook.

There are several varieties of salmon. Wild salmon can come from the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Farmed salmon is typically Atlantic salmon.

Health Benefits of Salmon

It’s hard to think of salmon without using the word ‘superfood.’ We don’t like using that label very often, but we have to make an exception when it comes to sustainably-raised, wild-caught fresh salmon.

It is well-known that salmon is an excellent source of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA have been linked to many health benefits, including decreased inflammation, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and better brain health.

Salmon is also an excellent source of protein. We need protein for overall body health. It builds and repairs muscles and bones and helps with hormone and enzyme production. Salmon is a great option for protein if you are looking to maintain muscle mass as you age.

B vitamins are also found in abundance in salmon. Your body needs B vitamins to turn food into energy and reduce harmful bodily inflammation. Salmon has more than 100% of your daily value of B12.

Salmon Nutrition Facts

A 4-ounce serving of salmon with the skin (a standard portion for salmon filets, and the amount called for in most of these recipes), contains:

  • 180 calories
  • 10 grams total fat
  • 2grams saturated fat
  • 4.4 grams polyunsaturated fat
  • 4.3 grams monounsaturated fat
  • 60 milligrams cholesterol
  • 75 milligrams sodium
  • 412 milligrams potassium
  • 0 grams carbohydrate
  • 0 grams dietary fiber
  • 23 grams protein

The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (2)

Types of Salmon

Salmon can be fished or farmed and comes from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Wild-caught Pacific salmon, specifically wild-caught salmon from Alaska, is considered to be the gold standard of salmon. This status is due to more sustainable catching practices and perceived high-quality taste from those who love salmon.

The sustainable Pacific salmon types you can often find at stores, at fish markets, or delivered right to your door from Butcher Box include:

  • Chum Salmon: This salmon is smaller, only about 8 lbs, has lower fat content than other salmon, and has pale- to medium-colored pink flesh. It’s also called Keta salmon, Dog salmon, and Silverbrite salmon.
  • Sockeye Salmon: This type has bright red-orange flesh and a richer flavor than other salmon types. It has a firmer texture that makes it great for any baked salmon recipe, especially if you like the skin on. Sockeye salmon is sometimes called Red salmon. Sockeye salmon is great for making grilled salmon kebabs thanks to its firm texture.
  • King Salmon: King salmon is considered to be the best tasting because of its high-fat content. This gives the fish a buttery texture. Also called Chinook salmon, the flesh ranges from white to dark red. Gordon Ramsay is known for making his crispy pan-seared salmon with King salmon.
  • Silver Salmon: This salmon, also called Coho salmon, is named because of its silvery skin. It has bright red flesh, similar to some types of King salmon, but has a more delicate texture and flavor. This fish works well in a salmon salad because of its mild flavor.
  • Pink Salmon: This is the most common type of salmon in the Pacific Northwest. It is sometimes referred to as Humpies or Humpback because of the distinctive hump on the salmons’ backs when they spawn. This salmon is lower in fat than other types of salmon and has a lighter color and flavor. Pink salmon is often used for canning and making salmon burgers or salmon patties. Try our 5-minute Salmon Salad recipe which features canned salmon. Not only is it quick and tasty, it is an affordable way to enjoy salmon.

There is only one type of salmon from the Atlantic Ocean, and most of the time it is farm-raised. Atlantic salmon is still a fatty, flavorful fish. It is also larger than most other salmon, yielding bigger pieces of salmon.

Tip!

How to Remember Types of Salmon

A fun way to remember the five main types of salmon is to look at your hand. Imagine each finger representing a different kind of salmon:

  • Thumb: Think “Chum” because it rhymes with thumb
  • Pointer Finger: Because “Sockeye” is like a pointer finger poking your eye
  • Middle Finger: It’s “King” since this finger is taller than all the others
  • Ring Finger: This is your “Silver” finger because it holds a ring
  • Pinky: Think “Pink” since this is your pinky finger

How to Choose Sustainable Salmon

We all want to make good choices when it comes to our food and what we put in our bodies. Buying sustainable salmon helps protect the fish population, the oceans, and the communities that rely on them.

Here are some tips for choosing the best salmon:

  1. It’s okay to try some farm-raised varieties. Wild-caught salmon, particularly from Alaska, is often considered more sustainable because Alaskan salmon fisheries are well-managed and have stringent regulations. However, not all farmed salmon is bad. Look for farmed salmon from operations that use responsible farming practices, such as land-based closed containment systems or offshore deepwater net pens that have less environmental impact.
  2. Look for sustainability certifications on the packaging. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification ensures the fishery has met rigorous sustainability standards. The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) and Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification are good indicators of responsibly farmed salmon.
  3. Pay attention to the country of origin. Wild Alaskan salmon is usually a good choice (USA). Norway also has strict regulations for its fish farms, making it a more reliable choice for farmed salmon. Chile and Canada’s farmed salmon, on the other hand, have been criticized for their environmental impact.
  4. Avoid endangered salmon species. Some species of salmon are more threatened than others. For example, Atlantic salmon is critically endangered in the wild, which is why almost all Atlantic salmon available are farmed.
  5. You can get up-to-date recommendations. Resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch can provide up-to-date recommendations on the most sustainable choices for salmon, as well as other seafood.

For more on selecting seafood that’s best for your health and the health of the oceans, read our post on How to Choose Safer Seafood.

The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (3)

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Salmon Cooking Tips

Cooking salmon properly enhances its flavor and preserves its nutritional value, making your meal tasty and healthy.

  • Before cooking, take the salmon out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. This helps ensure the salmon cooks evenly.
  • Salmon has a wonderful natural flavor that shines through when simply seasoned. No need to make a garlic butter sauce — sometimes, a touch of salt, black pepper, and perhaps a squeeze of lemon are all you need.
  • No matter which cooking method you’re using, preheating is important. A hot cooking surface sears the filet quickly, ensuring a crispy exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy.
  • Overcooked salmon becomes dry and loses its flavor. Be mindful of your cook time. How long do you cook salmon? A good rule of thumb is to cook salmon for 4-6 minutes per half-inch of thickness. If you’re unsure, it’s better to slightly undercook salmon, as it will continue to cook a bit more from the residual heat after you remove it from the heat source.
  • Check for doneness. Salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F (62.8°C). To check, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the filet. Alternatively, you can check by gently pressing down on the top of the fish with a fork. If the layers of the salmon flake apart easily and the inside looks slightly translucent, it’s done.

The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (4)

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The Real Food Table features over 100 delicious mostly gluten-free, grain-free, and dairy-free recipes for everyday. Now available in paperback at a lower price!

Our Cookbook

Our Top 12 Healthy Recipes for Salmon

Sheet Pan Baked Salmon with Vegetables

When you’re short on time and dinner ideas, this Sheet Pan Baked Salmon with Vegetables is fast, balanced, and delicious! Minced garlic and fresh herbs season this simple dish. We love it because it uses one of our favorite convenient kitchen tools of all time: the baking sheet.
This is a go-to dinner recipe around here, and a great way to start (especially if you’re new to cooking salmon!).

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Paleo | Whole 30

Get the Recipe Here

Salmon Caesar Salad Grain Bowl

This is a “healthified” update to the classic Caesar salad. Flaky salmon, shaved Parmesan, tender grains, sliced radishes, and fresh romaine are all served in a bowl topped with crispy chickpeas and Caesar dressing, making for a satisfying lunch or quick weeknight dinner.

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free

Get the Recipe Here

5-Minute Salmon Salad

It sounds too good to be true, but all you need is 5 minutes and 5 ingredients to make this flavorful and satisfying salmon salad. This recipe relies on canned salmon to make a quick and easy meal using ingredients you probably have in your pantry.
This salmon recipe is perfect for a quick and nutritious lunch, a satisfying afternoon snack, or a stress-free dinner. Serve it as a sandwich, lettuce wrap, with cucumber slices, or as a salad.

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free | Paleo | Whole 30

Get the Recipe Here

Teriyaki Salmon Bowl

This nourishing and flavorful dish that can be prepared in 30 minutes. With glazed salmon, rice, avocado, and fresh vegetables, it is a nutrient-rich meal that works well for busy nights or in meal prep.
The recipe is flexible, allowing for the addition of more vegetables and the substitution of rice with cauliflower for a grain-free option.

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free

Get the Recipe Here

Salmon Burgers with Thai-Inspired Cabbage Slaw

A delicious and quick way to get more healthy fats in your diet. These burgers are anything but ordinary when topped with a cool and crunchy cabbage plus a spicy-tangy tartar sauce.
This recipe is great for weeknight meals or meal preps — and we give directions for making it on the stovetop or in the air fryer.

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Paleo | Whole 30

Get the Recipe Here

Grilled Salmon Kebabs with Creamy Curry Yogurt Sauce

These grilled salmon are marinated in a blend of lemon juice, avocado oil, honey, and seasonings before being skewered with lemon slices.
Marinating the salmon before grilling takes the flavor to another level, and the citrus makes the pieces more tender. The kabobs are paired with a curry yogurt sauce that you can make ahead of time and use the leftovers for a veggie dip.

Egg Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free | Grain Free

Get the Recipe Here

Mediterranean Bowl with Salmon

Here’s a beautiful quinoa bowl that comes complete with lemon-herb marinated salmon, chickpea salad, crisp greens, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and an easy homemade Tzatziki sauce.
This is one of our favorite recipes to meal prep for healthy lunches throughout the week. This nutritionally balanced meal is hearty, healthy, delicious, and makes for the perfect prep-ahead meal.

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free

Get the Recipe Here

Sheet Pan Honey Glazed Salmon with Asparagus

This recipe delivers a sweet and savory combo. By glazing the salmon with honey and baking it alongside asparagus on a single sheet, you’ll have a high-protein main course and side ready in no time. Seriously, it’s only 10 minutes of prep time and then 12 minutes to cook.
Honey-glazed salmon stores well and can be made in large batches by doubling the recipes, making it perfect for meal prepping or showing off your culinary skills at social gatherings.

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free

Get the Recipe Here

Grilled Salmon with Elote-Style Veggies

A perfect mix of two popular cuisines: This is what you get when Mexican meets Mediterranean. We think this match-up is the most delicious way to fill your plate with nutritious veggies and delicious grilled salmon.

Egg Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Nut Free

Get the Recipe Here

Raspberry Balsamic Glazed Salmon

This elegant-yet-easy salmon calls for basic ingredients and has a raspberry glaze that provides the perfect complement to rich salmon. It’s made even more beautiful because the whole thing can be on your table in less than 30 minutes.
We include directions to make this impressive, healthy dinner in the oven or on the grill.

Dairy Free | Egg Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Paleo | Whole 30

Get the Recipe Here

Salmon Burgers with Avocado Garlic Sauce

These burgers are rich in flavor and nutritious omega-3 fatty acids. The flavor is popping from the addition of dill, shallots, and fresh lemon juice. The quick avocado sauce topper makes everyone ask for more.
Pair it with veggie fries or green beans to round out the meal. You’ll want to make extra to have for easy salmon dinners all week.

Dairy Free | Gluten Free | Grain Free | Paleo | Whole 30

Get the Recipe Here

Easy One-Skillet Creamy Tuscan Salmon

This is a quick and easy recipe that has all the flavors to transport you to the Tuscan countryside. Creamy Tuscan salmon is a 25-minute recipe that will give you a dish with more depth than your average garlic salmon with pesto.
We use spinach, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and basil in our creamy Italian sauce. You’ll be saying ‘mangia’ in no time with this conveniently healthy salmon dish.

Egg Free | Gluten Free | Nut Free | Grain Free

Get the Recipe Here

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best cooking method for salmon?

Some argue that the best cooking method for salmon is pan-fried on the stove. We think the best cooking method for salmon is baking it. This method is easy, allows you to flavor however you’d like, and is the perfect option for low-fat salmon recipes since you don’t need any extra oil to fry the fish.

Is it better to cook salmon in oil or butter?

If you are pan-searing and looking for crispy skin, you’ll want to use an oil with a high smoking point. Butter, ghee (clarified butter), and olive oil have low smoking points that will prevent you from getting the pan to the temperature you need for that sear.

Is it better to bake salmon at 350 or 400 degrees?

Salmon is better baked at 400 degrees when you are looking for some crispiness. If you prefer a milder method of cooking or are nervous about overcooking, baking at 350 degrees for a little longer is totally fine, too.

What is the most popular way to serve salmon?

Baked salmon is our most popular way to serve salmon. It’s easy and always yields a nice flaky, moist, and yummy meal.

Is it better to bake or broil salmon?

This totally depends on the recipe you’re making. Broiling cooks much faster than baking and has a higher potential for error, but it will give you a nice tender fish when done correctly.

What is a good side dish for salmon?

You can pair your salmon with greens, veggies like sauteed asparagus, a healthy grain, roasted potatoes, or pretty much anything that will compliment your flavor profile.

More Recipes To Try

Sheet Pan Honey Garlic Shrimp DinnerCrispy Baked Cod with Lemon-Garlic Aioli (Gluten Free, Dairy Free)Gluten-Free Garlic Cheddar Biscuits (Red Lobster Biscuit Copycat)

For ultimate success, we highly recommend reading the tips in the full blog post above. All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish a recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words. Link back to the source recipe here on The Real Food Dietitians. Thank you!

The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (21)

Jessie Shafer

Jessie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living near Denver, CO where she splits her time among nearby playgrounds, typing away at her trusty laptop, and heating up her home kitchen with delicious experiments. Her best taste tester is her husband, a Denver firefighter with a well-trained palate. A former magazine editor-in-chief, Jessie has a long career in food publishing and health writing. While she once played centerfield for the Northwestern University softball team, Jessie now prefers her fitness in the way of biking up mountain passes and chasing three little kiddos (the latter proving to be the more exhausting activity).

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  1. The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (27)Sharon Anne says

    Oh, my gosh! Looking at all these gorgeous pics and salmon recipes makes me feel like I have died and gone to Heaven!

    I MUST exclusively eat Gluten Free. So, salmon and veggies are truly one of my FAVORITE go-to “COMBOS”! I absolutely love finding new ideas and options.

    Thank you from the bottom of my Heart❤️ and Soul👼!

    Reply

    • The 12 Best Easy & Healthy Salmon Recipes (28)Jessica Beacom says

      We hope you can try them all soon, Sharon!

      Reply

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