This slow roasted, butter and herb baked sockeye salmon in a foil packet is the perfect seafood roast dish for the holidays, or any special occasion. Bake a whole side of salmon for an impressive presentation, or cut into salmon fillets and bake for an easy meal prep recipe.
If you typically make an herb-crusted prime rib roast for the holidays, this easy baked salmon recipe is a great option for serving a flavor-filled and impressive fish dish with a similar flavor profile! Sockeye salmon (or any wild salmon fillet) is notoriously fast-cooking, so even slow-roasting the fish takes less than 30 minutes.
What is Sockeye Salmon?
Sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon, is a prized species of wild-caught salmon known for its vibrant red flesh and rich, distinctive flavor. With a firm texture and a flavor profile that balances both sweet and savory notes, sockeye salmon is a favorite among seafood enthusiasts. Its natural diet of plankton and krill gives it its brilliant color and a unique taste that pairs well with a variety of sauces, sides and preparations.
This nutrient-dense fish is not only delicious but also a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, making it a smart choice for seafood lovers. Whether grilled, baked, or smoked, sockeye salmon's robust flavor profile and beautiful presentation make it a standout ingredient for home chefs.
What You Need to Make Baked Salmon :
Salmon: sockeye salmon is the perfect option for this recipe, but Atlantic salmon will work, as well. Just remember that a side of sockeye salmon will be smaller and thinner than farmed salmon, so you may need to increase the butter mixture, as well as the bake time if you use a different kind of salmon.
Butter + olive oil: our compound butter brings flavor and texture to our salmon recipe. The combination of butter and olive oil is ideal, but use your favorite butter and oil combination. I use salted butter in this recipe, but use what you have and adjust the salt measurement to match your taste.
Fresh herbs: fresh rosemary and thyme bring those Christmas roast flavors to our salmon dish. But use your favorite combination. Thyme and chives would be lovely, as would tarragon and dill.
Garlic + seasoning: fresh garlic, salt and pepper are the finishing touches. Go crazy with a pinch of red pepper flakes or lemon pepper, if you please.
Fresh lemon: I've never met a fish dish that didn't love citrus. Lemon is my preference here, although I have made it with a combination of thin-sliced lemons and oranges, and loved that fresh combination, as well.
Full ingredient measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
How to Make Butter Herb Salmon:
1. Prep Foil Pouch
To begin, preheat oven to 275℉. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil. Lay thin slices of lemon on foil.
2. Prepare Compound Butter
Combine softened butter and olive oil with grated garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well.
3. Prep Salmon
Dry salmon well on both sides with a paper towel, then season the skin side with salt and black pepper. Place salmon over the lemon slices on the foil covered pan.
Spread the compound butter over the top of the fish. Use a second sheet of foil to form a pouch and roll the sides, creating an airtight packet. Move the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the fish reaches about 125℉.
4. Prep Sauce (Optional)
If serving your baked sockeye with creamy horseradish sauce, combine sour cream, horseradish, Dijon, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper in a small dish. Stir well to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
5. Plate, Garnish and Serve!
When the sockeye is finished baking, remove from the oven. Gently lift salmon from the foil to your serving platter and garnish with sliced baked lemons. Serve with horseradish cream sauce and garnish with additional fresh herbs and lemon zest.
Frequently Asked Questions & Serving Suggestions:
I prefer the salmon cooked to an internal temperature of 125℉, as measured by an instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer. Sockeye is very lean and tastes best at a lower temperature than Atlantic salmon.
Sockeye salmon is a lean fish, so cooking it in foil at a lower temperature keeps the salmon moist and tender. It also makes clean-up a breeze! Pan-searing sockeye salmon as you would other types of salmon is also possible. But extra care should be shown to avoid over-cooking the fish.
Like Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon or wild-caught salmon is versatile and can be cooked in many ways. Honey Lemon Butter Seared Sockeye is one of my personal favorites! Whether you pan-sear the salmon, bake it in foil or grill it outdoors, sockeye salmon brings a robust flavor to the party.
Duchess Potato Casserole, Garlic Lemon Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts Gratin (Low-Carb and Gluten-Free!) or French Au Gratin Potatoes are some of my favorite veggies and potato sides with salmon.
Both sockeye and Atlantic salmon have their unique flavors. Sockeye salmon is known for its vibrant reddish color and robust, rich flavor due to its natural diet. Atlantic salmon is milder in taste and usually more widely available. Personal preference will dictate which is considered "better," but both are delicious options.
Store leftover salmon in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Serve leftover sockeye salmon flaked cold over salads or in Old Fashioned Salmon Patties.