Brown Sugar Baked Salmon

This brown sugar baked salmon is such a delicious and easy dinner. Our easy brown sugar rub is perfect for salmon fillets. It caramelizes and turns into a sweet and smoky glaze in the oven.

Brown Sugar Baked Salmon Fillets

My family loves this easy salmon recipe. It takes minutes to prepare, and you’ll love the brown sugar glaze on top.

One of my favorite salmon recipes, this baked salmon is easy to turn into a sheet pan dinner. Simply toss a handful of veggies onto the sheet pan and bake them alongside it!

Brown Sugar Baked salmon with veggies

Key Ingredients

  • Salmon: Any salmon fillet will work for this baked salmon recipe. I especially love salmon with a higher fat content, like sockeye, king, and coho. Salmon with a higher fat content stays soft and moist after it is baked.
  • Brown sugar: It adds sweetness, and it lightly caramelizes in the oven. You don’t need a lot — one tablespoon for four large fillets is plenty.
  • Lemon: A bit of lemon zest adds a pop of flavor. We use our microplane to zest the lemon. Then, we use the zested lemon for serving. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice just before serving is a must.
  • Smoked paprika: It adds a smoky-sweet flavor and color to the salmon spice rub. For a spicier rub, try a little chipotle powder or cayenne (1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon should do it).
  • Veggies: Since we bake our salmon fillets on a large baking sheet, we have some space left for veggies. Choose a quick-cooking veggie, such as green beans, zucchini, asparagus, snap peas, broccolini, or cherry tomatoes.

How to Make Brown Sugar Baked Salmon

This baked salmon is tender, moist, and soft in the middle. Add our brown sugar spice rub, and the outside becomes lightly caramelized, sweet, and a bit smoky. We love it!

I use the same salmon rub when making cedar plank salmon and love its simplicity. All you need to do is mix brown sugar with lemon zest, salt, and smoked paprika. Then rub it all over your salmon fillets (I’m pretty generous with it).

Adding Brown sugar rub to salmon fillets

Add your salmon to a sheet pan and bake it in the oven until done. I use a 400°F oven for this baked salmon recipe, which means it usually takes between 15 and 20 minutes. Remember, you can turn this into a sheet pan dinner, and add your favorite veggies to the baking sheet. I’ve shared suggestions below.

When baking salmon, you can tell it’s ready to come out of the oven when the flesh is somewhat opaque and flakes easily when you insert a fork into it. If you have an internal thermometer, use it! I take my salmon out when it reads 125°F, which means it will be a slightly darker pink in the middle.

Baked Salmon with a brown sugar glaze

Storing Brown Sugar Baked Salmon

Baked salmon can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It can also be frozen in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. To reheat, bake in a preheated oven at 325°F (165°C) for 10 to 15 minutes.

What to Serve with Brown Sugar Baked Salmon

Since we bake our salmon fillets on a large baking sheet, we have some space left for veggies. I love sheet pan dinners! This salmon recipe needs 15 to 20 minutes in the oven, perfect for green beans, asparagus, zucchini, snap peas, peppers, onions, broccolini, or cherry tomatoes.

If you prefer heartier vegetables, partially bake them first. Add the salmon for the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking, adjusting the total baking time based on your chosen veggies. For example, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts take 20 to 25 minutes, while root vegetables and winter squash take 30 to 45 minutes.

More side dishes for baked salmon include corn salad, mashed sweet potatoes, cilantro lime rice, and my favorite quinoa salad.

Brown Sugar Baked Salmon

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

My family loves this easy brown sugar salmon recipe! As the salmon bakes in the oven, the brown sugar rub melts and caramelizes into a delicious, sweet, smoky glaze. To make this a sheet pan dinner, toss your favorite veggies onto the baking sheet with the salmon. The article above has suggestions for which veggies work well in this recipe.

Makes 4 servings

You Will Need

For the Salmon

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or substitute chipotle powder for a spicier version

Half of a lemon, quartered

For the Beans

3/4 pound green beans or quick cooking veggie

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

    1Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Set aside a large rimmed baking sheet.

    2Mix the brown sugar, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and the smoked paprika in a small bowl.

    3Pat the salmon fillets dry and rub them with olive oil.

    4Scatter the brown sugar rub over the salmon, and gently massage it into the fish. Swipe the skin side of the salmon through any spice rub that’s fallen onto the cutting board. If you have the time, marinate the salmon for 10 to 15 minutes.

    5Add the salmon fillets, skin-side down, to the baking sheet.

    6Toss the beans with a tablespoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and then scatter them around the salmon on the baking sheet.

    7Bake the salmon until it is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes, depending on its thickness. We cook salmon until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 125°F.

    8Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the salmon.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • How to tell when salmon is cooked: Cook salmon to 125°F (51°C), which means it will be soft, tender, and slightly pink in the center. For a visual cue, look for the flesh to be somewhat opaque. Also, when inserting a fork into the salmon, it should flake easily.
  • Baking time: Depending on the type and thickness of the salmon you are baking, cook time will vary. The cook times suggested above are for middle cut fillets, about 1-inch thick. For thinner fillets or end pieces, check the salmon a bit earlier. For thicker fillets, you may need an additional 5 to 10 minutes of bake time.
  • Veggies: Try green beans, chopped zucchini, snap peas, bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, or cherry tomatoes. Heartier veggies like broccoli will take longer, so partially bake them for 10 to 15 minutes before adding the salmon to the baking sheet.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 (6-ounce) fillet and 1/4 of the beans / Calories 325 / Total Fat 15g / Saturated Fat 2.9g / Cholesterol 76.5mg / Sodium 374.9mg / Carbohydrate 8.7g / Dietary Fiber 2.4g / Total Sugars 5.1g / Protein 38.4g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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13 comments… Leave a Review
  • Donna Spicer January 20, 2024, 6:24 pm

    Made this tonight and it was delicious! Will definitely make again!

    Reply
  • Carolyn August 15, 2022, 7:49 pm

    Delicious!! I used a sprinkle of chili powder (because that’s what I had in the pantry) along with the brown sugar.

    Reply
  • Brieanne December 9, 2021, 8:49 pm

    This was so delicious! Thanks so much for this amazing recipe.

    Reply
  • Km November 10, 2020, 8:03 pm

    Best Salmon recipe I have ever made. I shared with all of my friends and they love it too. So easy. Absolute staple in my repertoire going forward.

    Reply
  • Kelly June 5, 2020, 9:33 pm

    Delicious AND healthy! I lined my cookie sheet with tin foil…No dishes! I will make again!

    Reply
  • Marjean February 20, 2020, 9:54 pm

    Wonderful! Have added this to my favorite recipe file.

    Reply
  • Sorce January 21, 2020, 8:25 pm

    Just made this tonight when I realized I didn’t have all of the ingredients for my regular salmon rub. I added a little more brown sugar to the recipe but other than that, this rub was perfect. Nothing but rave reviews from the fam!

    Reply
  • Bernie Carney December 29, 2019, 11:02 am

    Delicious.. very tasty and easy.

    Reply
  • Jessica Evangelista November 20, 2018, 4:45 pm

    Another gem from your website ? This was easy to make and it packs a lot of flavor. 🙂 I didnt have lemons on hand so i substituted with an orange. It turned out great – for some reason, it reminded me of salmon teriyaki. Thanks again. This will be definitely on my rotation of salmon dishes!

    Reply
  • Carol DeLaurier October 26, 2018, 5:17 pm

    My husband doesn’t eat fish but he loved the flavors of the salmon. Me too! Love your site.

    Reply
  • Chris October 18, 2018, 10:09 pm

    Awesome! Made with frozen, wild caught salmon filets from Kroger. Followed the recipe exactly, except I used ¼ tsp. smoked paprika and ¼ tsp. chipotle powder, instead of ½ tsp. of one or the other. Chipotle complemented paprika amazingly, just the right amount of heat and smokiness. Served with roasted baby portobello mushrooms tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, coarsely chopped fresh rosemary from our garden, and coarsely chopped fresh garlic. Also served roasted cauliflower/carrot blend tossed in Harissa spice. All was cooked on sheet pans, at 400 degrees. Started veggies cooking first, then put the salmon in when veggies had about 15 minutes lift to cook. Everything went well together, like it was meant to be… My 7-year old son said, “It’s F’ing awesome!”… we try to not cuss much, but alas! we’re human. Anyway, will definitely make this again. Thanks for a tasty, easy meal!

    Reply
  • Maxie October 17, 2018, 7:00 pm

    I made this! It was amazing! Perhaps my favorite at-home salmon to date. Thanks so much for this and your other awesome content. I really love that you use traditionally “unhealthy” foods (sugar, for example, in this recipe) but limit it to a very small amount. I do the same with sugar and heavy cream in various recipes and sauces which really amps the flavor without a huge amount of calories. Too many people shy away from these ingredients when it’s really the balance of it all that contributes to amazing food. Thanks again!

    Reply
  • Beth October 9, 2018, 7:35 pm

    I recently found a recipe for salmon with lemon and dill that is oven-baked, starting in a cold oven. The recipe says to put salmon in a cold oven, turn the temp to 400 degrees, and bake for 25 minutes. It turns out perfectly every time. I’m going to bake your salmon recipe the same way. The brown sugar sounds like a delicious flavor to add. Thanks for your recipe. One more thing –
    I always bake on non-stick foil for easy clean up.

    Reply

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