Tender, moist, and a little spicy - this baked blackened salmon is an impressive but easy salmon recipe! The whole salmon fillet is coated in Cajun blackening seasoning then baked to perfection. Ready in 30 minutes with minimal prep. This easy blackened salmon recipe is the best way to cook a whole salmon fillet.
- Blackened Baked Whole Salmon Fillet
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Ingredients & Substitutions
- Equipment needed
- How to make cajun blackened salmon in the oven
- Internal temperatures for salmon
- Expert Tips for Oven Baked Salmon
- Storage & make ahead
- What to serve with whole baked salmon
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Blackened Recipes
- More Salmon Recipes
- Oven Baked Blackened Salmon Recipe
Blackened Baked Whole Salmon Fillet
Want to cook a whole salmon filet, but still have that delicious blackened flavor? This baked blackened salmon recipe is perfect!
Blackening is a cooking technique developed in New Orleans by famous chef, Paul Prudhomme. Normally when making blackened fish, it’s traditional to use a cast iron skillet on the stove top, like in this Blackened Cod Recipe. This gives the fish a crispy blackened crust where it comes in contact with the hot pan.
Since a whole salmon fillet is so large, it's not possible to blacken it in a hot skillet. You can easily bake it though!
This recipe coats the whole salmon fillet with blackening seasoning to give it that Cajun blackened flavor. The flaky salmon stays moist on the inside while the outside gets a flavorful blackened layer.
To learn all about the blackening cooking method, see Homemade Blackening Seasoning.
What’s the difference between blackened and grilled salmon?
Grilled salmon is simply salmon cooked on a grill. Blackened salmon is made with a special blackening seasoning mix.
I have a whole post explaining the differences and similarities between blackened and grilled fish. Check out Blackened vs Grilled Fish for an in depth explanation. It goes over all the ingredients and equipment you will need, plus tips for making the best blackened fish.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It’s EASY. Cooking a whole salmon fillet might seem intimidating, but this recipe truly is easy. Season the salmon, and throw it in the oven. Making a whole salmon fillet is actually easier than cooking individual portions on the stovetop.
- It’s impressive! This is my go-to recipe for serving at a dinner party. Not only because it’s so easy and needs little prep, but also because it makes a beautiful presentation as a main dish. Top the salmon with fresh herbs and persillade sauce, and wow your guests.
- So moist. Baking the whole salmon fillet helps keep the inside super moist and tender, while the cajun spices on the outside create a beautiful blackened crust. I’ve served this to my dinner guests and they said it was the best salmon they’ve ever had!
- It’s fast. This easy salmon recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, with minimal prep work. Quick enough for busy weeknights, but impressive enough for a special occasion.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Whole salmon fillet - I usually buy my whole salmon filets from The Fresh Market. Atlantic salmon fillets will be around 3 pounds, while wild-caught salmon tends to be a little smaller. I recommend leaving the skin on when baking salmon. It helps lock in moisture, and is easily removed once the salmon is cooked. You can also use smaller cut salmon fillets for this recipe. Use 1 tablespoon of the blackening seasoning mix per pound of salmon.
Blackening seasoning - Blackened seasoning is a type of Cajun seasoning with dried herbs and spices. It gives blackened meats the distinct flavor and blackened crust. To learn more about this seasoning and the blackening technique, see Homemade Blackening Seasoning.
To make your own, you will need smoked paprika, regular paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, and sugar. To make this spice blend less spicy, reduce or eliminate the cayenne pepper. You can substitute white sugar for brown sugar.
Unsalted Butter - Adding a layer of butter over the salmon gives it a more traditionally blackened flavor. You can use olive oil if you need to, but I think butter adds a better flavor.
Optional sauce - I HIGHLY recommend serving this baked blackened salmon with Persillade Sauce. It’s a super flavorful chimichurri style French herb sauce made with parsley, green onions, garlic, lemon and olive oil. It’s the perfect bright flavor to compliment this Cajun spiced salmon.
See the recipe card below for the complete list of ingredients and measurements.
How to make cajun blackened salmon in the oven
If you’re wondering how to cook a whole salmon fillet in the oven, it's really easy! This baked blackened salmon recipe is as easy as season and bake.
Step One: Season
Combine melted butter and blackened spice mixture together. Brush on the salmon to coat.
Step Two: Bake
Bake salmon until it reaches 125°F (51°C). Turn the broiler on in the last few minutes of cooking to deepen the dark color on top.
Serve salmon topped with parsley or chives, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Kick it up a notch even further by adding Cajun Tartar Sauce or Persillade Sauce on top. It’s a french lemony herb sauce that will take this salmon to the next level!
PRO TIP: An instant read thermometer is one of my MOST used kitchen utensils! It's great for blackening fish since fish can overcook quickly, and this thermometer will quickly read the temperature.
Internal temperatures for salmon
A note about salmon safety!
The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).
Most of the time, cooking salmon to this temperature will result in dry overcooked salmon. If you are buying sushi grade salmon from a reputable supplier, you can cook salmon to a lower temperature.
|Doneness||Fahrenheit (°F)||Celsius (°C)|
Expert Tips for Oven Baked Salmon
- Check for bones. Salmon can sometimes have thin bones called pin bones. Run your finger along the flesh to feel for any bones. Remove them with a fish bone tweezer.
- Pat it dry. Blotting moisture on the surface of the salmon helps it get a better texture.
- Do not cover it. When cooking a whole salmon filet, there is no need to cover while in the oven. This will prevent it from getting a blackened top.
- Make your own blackened seasoning. Blackened seasoning is sold in stores, but I find it's often over salted and under seasoned. Making homemade blackened seasoning tastes a lot better!
- Use a thermometer! Once your salmon is getting close to the end of cooking time, check the temperature with an instant thermometer. I like to remove it at 125°F (51°C). This will yield a cooked but moist interior.
Storage & make ahead
How to store leftovers: Store leftover baked blackened salmon in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
How to freeze: I don’t recommend freezing this recipe once it has been cooked. You can stock up on salmon when it's on sale though and freeze it raw for later using a vacuum sealer!
How to reheat salmon: The best way I’ve found to reheat salmon is in the oven. Reheat salmon in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through. You can add some butter or olive oil on top to keep it moist. If your salmon is on the drier side, you can cover it with foil.
Make ahead: You can prepare the blackening seasoning well in advance and store in an airtight container in a dry place. It is best to make the rest of the recipe just before cooking.
What to serve with whole baked salmon
I like to serve this salmon with a green veggie plus a carb. It is better to choose sides that don’t require the oven (unless you have double ovens!).
I also have a whole round up of Healthy Side Dishes for Salmon so you can keep it on the lighter side!
Here are some more ideas for salmon side dishes.
What to do with leftover salmon?
Salmon salad - My favorite way to eat this leftover salmon is on a salad. Add romaine lettuce and spinach to a bowl, add diced red peppers, sliced red onion, tomatoes, and Homemade Croutons. Dress it with Remoulade Sauce or Cajun Ranch. Serve the salmon on top warm or cold. It is so good!
Salmon tacos - You can also use the leftovers to make blackened salmon tacos! Reheat salmon and add to warm tortillas. Top with shredded cabbage, avocado, and Chipotle Lime Sauce. Serve with lime wedges
Salmon eggs benedict - Toast english muffins, and top with a poached egg, leftover salmon, and hollandaise sauce. Top with fresh chives.
Frequently Asked Questions
Baking a whole salmon fillet is actually easier than pan searing individual portions. Baking a whole salmon fillet also comes out with a more tender and juicy inside since it's exposed to a more gentle heat.
Baking a whole salmon fillet at 425°F (220°C) should take about 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick the fillet is. Baking individual salmon fillets will take a little less time, around 10-15 minutes.
The FDA recommends to cook salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). If you are using high quality sushi grade salmon, you can cook it to a lower temperature. I prefer to remove my oven baked salmon at 125°F (51°C). It will continue to rise a few degrees after removing from the oven, and will be a perfect medium cook, with a tender and moist inside.
Yes, you can use smaller salmon pieces for this recipe. Prepare in the same way. Baking time may be less since the pieces are smaller.
More Blackened Recipes
More Salmon Recipes
Oven Baked Blackened Salmon Recipe
- PREP: Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) and place rack at the center. Check fish for any pin bones by running your finger along the fillet. Remove any bones with a fish tweezer. Pat the fish dry with a paper towel. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place salmon fillet in the center, skin side down.
- MIX: Melt butter by microwaving for 20 second increments, stirring in between until melted. Combine all blackening seasoning ingredients in a small bowl with melted butter and mix well.
- SEASON: Brush the melted butter and seasoning mixture over the flesh side of the salmon evenly.
- BAKE: Bake salmon for 15-20 minutes until the center reaches about 125°F (51°C) with an instant read thermometer. If salmon isn’t blackened, set it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes until darkened.
- SERVE: Cut into individual portions and serve warm. Top with lemon and parsley, or try this herbaceous Persillade Sauce.
- The FDA recommends to cook salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). If you are using high quality sushi grade salmon, you can cook it to a lower temperature.
- A whole salmon fillet is pretty large, and will be enough for about 8-12 servings of salmon. If you would like to make less servings, cut your whole salmon fillet in half. Vacuum seal the other half and freeze for later.
- If your salmon is very cold, the butter mixture may harden before you have a chance to spread it. If this happens, microwave the butter mixture for a few more seconds. This isn’t a huge deal, as It will melt in the oven anyway.
- Cooking times will depend on how thick your salmon is. Start checking the temperature at 10 minutes. To make this recipe less spicy, use less cayenne pepper.
- You can use this blackening seasoning on all kinds of proteins! It is great with chicken, shrimp, pork, and other fish.
- You will need a very large baking sheet, big enough to fit the whole salmon fillet. If your fillet is too large, you can cut it in half, and put it on 2 baking sheets if needed.
- Leftovers: Store leftover baked blackened salmon in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
- I don’t recommend freezing this recipe once it has been cooked.
- Reheat salmon in the oven at 350°F (175°C) until warmed through. You can add some butter or olive oil on top to keep it moist. If your salmon is on the drier side, you can cover it with foil.
- Make ahead: You can prepare the blackening seasoning well in advance and store in an airtight container in a dry place. It is best to make the rest of the recipe just before cooking.