This tender Citrus Salmon is perfectly seasoned, drizzled with olive oil, and slow-roasted in the oven with lemon and orange slices. And the best part? This elegant mouth-watering baked salmon recipe comes together in just over 30 minutes!
A "fancy" and easy salmon dinner!
It's no secret that I love cooking salmon. Eating fish is a huge part of the Mediterranean diet (lifestyle) which means that I prepare it twice a week or so. Though I love trout and other white fish too, salmon is one I turn to regularly.
One of the surest ways to cook salmon perfectly is to slow-roast it. Since salmon is already full of natural healthy fats, when you slow-bake it with olive oil the end result is tender, perfectly flaky fish that you won't even need to cut. Add a few spices and you never need to worry about a dry or bland salmon fillet.
This citrus salmon recipe is a spin off of my slow roasted salmon and potatoes recipe . The technique is the same but I've changed up the seasonings and dressed up my salmon in lots of citrus! The result is an elegant and delicious dinner that feels somewhat "fancy" but so easy to make!
I love how the citrus slices and bright colors take a simple salmon recipe and turn it into a beautiful - yet edible! - piece of art. This is a great dinner to make when you feel like enjoying a fancy meal, but don't want to go crazy with the effort. It comes together in less than an hour, and you just need a simple side like potatoes or veggies to accompany it for a complete meal.
What flavors go well with salmon?
Salmon being a heafty fish can take on a number of flavors without being overwhelmed. A variety of herbs and spices will work to flavor your salmon, but for me, the key flavors I always use on my salmon are: garlic and citrus.
In today's baked salmon recipe, I kept the seasoning simple and relied more heavily on citrus using fresh lemon juice and slices of lemons and oranges. The citrus slices, arranged below and on top of the salmon, really offer a special presentation while infusing the salmon with flavor.
You can use any combination of oranges, lemons, or limes in this recipe. The citrus adds brightness to the fatty salmon, lightening up the flavor. And it doesn't hurt to finish the dish with a few dill fronds for a pop of green.
What you'll need to make this salmon recipe
For this simple citrus salmon, all you need is a handful of high-quality ingredients!
- Oranges– I like to use blood oranges or cara cara oranges, which are sweeter and pink-fleshed. Navel oranges or other oranges will work as well.
- Lemon - Lemon juice and lemon slices
- Salmon fillet – Choose fillets with a vibrant pink hue that smell clean instead of fishy. Opt for wild salmon if you can.
- Seasonings – I used a combination of dried oregano, mint, salt and pepper, and Aleppo pepper flakes, along with a few cloves of minced garlic. Aleppo pepper has a little kick and a sweeter finish, but if you don't have it, red chili flakes will work
- Extra virgin olive oil – Be sure to choose a high quality olive oil, as the salmon gets roasted in it and the quality definitely affects the flavor.
How to choose salmon fillets
Choosing the best salmon fillet is an important part of making this dish. For this recipe, I like a center-cut salmon fillet which is meatier and more uniform in shape.
When choosing a salmon fillet at the store, look for one with a vibrant pink hue that smells clean. Avoid fillets with a dull color or a strong, fishy smell.
Opt for wild salmon if at all possible. Otherwise, frozen or sustainably raised fillets will work too. If using a frozen fillet, be sure to thaw it before beginning this recipe.
How to make citrus salmon:
This salmon dinner takes only 10 minutes of hands-on work, and even though we are slow-roasting the salmon, it will be ready to serve in just over 30 minutes. Here is how:
- Prepare the salmon. Season each side of the fillet with salt and pepper. Then add 1 each teaspoon dried oregano, dried mint, Aleppo pepper flakes (or use ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes if you don't have Aleppo pepper) to both sides.
Put the salmon in a lightly oiled baking dish over a few slices of oranges and lemon, then top with minced garlic, lemon juice, and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (trust me, this is key to rich, tender salmon). Arrange the beautiful citrus slices on top.
- Roast at low temperature. Cook the salmon for approximately 25 minutes, until it reaches an appropriate internal temperature or easily flakes with a fork. Serve immediately.
How do you know when salmon is ready?
The easiest way to tell when salmon is done, is when it flakes easily using a fork. The slow-roasting method often means the top still looks a bit transparent due to the low temperature but if it flakes easily, you can be sure the inside is cooked.
If you want to double-check, you can use an instant read thermometer and check the temperature at the thickest part of the fillet. The internal temperature should read 125 degrees F for medium-cooked salmon or 145 degrees F for well-done salmon. While the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F but I prefer it a few degrees under that, as salmon cooked to 145 degrees F sometimes tastes too well-done and dry to me.
Tips for best results
Ready to impress your dinner guests with this flaky, mouth-watering citrus salmon? Just keep these few tips in mind:
- Choose quality salmon fillet. I mentioned a few things up in the post, but it's worth repeating to buy from reputable fishmonger and opt for a center-cut piece of salmon that looks moist and shiny and does not smell odd or extra fishy.
- Don't overcook the salmon. Salmon cooks quickly, so once it has finished cooking, remove it from the pan so it doesn’t continue to bake. If you’re not sure if the salmon is done, check it with a meat thermometer vs just leaving it in the oven for a few extra minutes. The internal temperature should read 125 degrees F for medium-cooked salmon or 145 degrees F for well-done salmon (I take mine out at 125 degrees F, knowing that I can cover it for a couple of minutes to let it continue cooking).
- Prepare your sides first. Even with the slow-roasting method, salmon takes like 25 to 30 minutes to cook. Be prepared to enjoy it as soon as it’s finished by preparing any side dishes first or at least starting them so they finish just before the salmon.
Serve it with
When it comes to side dishes for citrus salmon, choose recipes that compliment that flavors of the salmon, without overpowering.
The salmon is so beautiful, fresh and flaky on its own that you don't need a show-stopping side dish. Try something like sauteed asparagus, grilled zucchini salad, boiled potatoes or lemon roasted broccoli.
How to store and reheat leftovers
Leftover slow-roasted salmon can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Be sure to store it with the olive oil, which will prevent it from drying out.
You can reheat on the store but you will dry the salmon out a bit. Honestly, I prefer to eat leftover salmon cold because I never like the texture after reheating. If you don't want to eat cold salmon on its own, leftover citrus salmon would make a great addition to a salad or a grain bowl.
More salmon recipes:
Easy Citrus Salmon Recipe
- 1 to 2 large orange, blood orange, car acara or other variety, sliced into rounds
- 1 large lemon thinly sliced into rounds, plus juice of half a lemon
- 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet, skin removed
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried mint
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or ¾ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Heat the oven to 250 degrees F.
- Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish and arrange some of the orange and lemon slices on it.
- Season the salmon with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. Mix together the oregano, mint, and Aleppo chile flakes. Rub this seasoning mix over the salmon.
- Place the seasoned salmon in the baking dish over the arranged citrus slices. Top with the minced garlic, lemon juice, and drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Arrange the remaining citrus slices on top of the salmon and drizzle with a bit more olive oil.
- Roast in the heated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, watching carefully to make sure the salmon does not overcook (the top may look a bit translucent still, but if the salmon flakes easily, it is ready).
- Do not overcook the salmon. Begin to check your salmon earlier as ovens will vary. The slow-roasting method often means the top still looks a bit transparent due to the low temperature but if it flakes easily, you can be sure the inside is cooked. If you have a thermometer, the internal temperature of the salmon should read 125 degrees F for medium-cooked salmon or 145 degrees F for well-done salmon. While the USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F, I prefer it a few degrees under that, as salmon cooked to 145 degrees F sometimes tastes too well-done and dry to me.
- Leftovers:Store leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Be sure to store it with the olive oil, which will prevent it from drying out.
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