Today we look at how long to bake salmon at 400 degrees. This guide and recipe will help you develop the perfect, juicy, tender texture and ultimate fresh and buttery salmon flavor. Without it, you risk overcooking or undercooking this beautiful piece of meat.
If you would like to learn more about this buttery fish, you can look at the guides on How To Tell If Salmon Has Gone Bad and Do You Eat The Skin Of Salmon With Scales.
And, if you are looking for some wonderful side dishes to serve with your oven-baked salmon, try this Homemade Garlic Bread or my famous Cucumber And Onion Salad. And, for something to drink, you cannot go wrong with a classic Mexican Margarita!
How Long To Bake Salmon At 400 Degrees?
So, how long do you bake salmon? That depends on a couple of variables.
The timeframe that I will give you below, as with most recipes, is a guide. But no recipe will ever be able to give you an exact amount of time.
So, it’s important to understand what affects the baking time when roasting salmon in the oven. If you understand what affects this time and how much it affects it, you can better choose an accurate time for your specific cut.
Obviously, for this article, we are only baking salmon at 400. So the temperature remains constant, and it won’t make a difference in baking time in this case.
Thickness Of Cut
This is the biggest factor affecting how long to cook salmon for in the oven. And there are a couple of rules that you can follow.
Personally, there is only 1 rule I use, and that is the 10-minute rule. It basically states that you should bake your salmon cut for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
This rule works great because weight isn’t an accurate measurement of the thickness of a piece.
For example, you can have two 5-inch cuts. One can be 2 inches thick, while the other is only 1/2 inch thick. The 1/2-inch cut will take less time to cook than the 2-inch cut. So again, the weight of a piece of fish isn’t an accurate way to determine how long it should cook.
There is another rule I use for a whole salmon. Basically, for every pound, you can bake the fish for roughly 15-20 minutes. So, a 2-pound salmon will take between 30-40 minutes to bake.
Doneness Of The Salmon
Unlike most types of fish, salmon can actually be cooked to various degrees of doneness.
While some of these may not be the safest to consume, it does often make the fish a lot tastier.
The time frames above will be affected by how cooked you want the salmon to be. You can test this doneness using an internal or probe thermometer. Measure the temperature of the thickest part of the fish or cut.
For rare salmon, the internal temperature will be less than 120ºF (49ºC). But as I’ve said, there are some risks to eating salmon this raw. You have to be confident that you have a reputable supplier that only sells and serves healthy fish.
For medium-rare salmon, your internal temperature will be between 125-130ºF (51.6-54.4ºC).
Medium salmon can be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of between 135-140ºF (57.2-60ºC). Personally, this is the best way to serve salmon. It leaves the cut moist and tender but safely cooked.
And finally, for well-done salmon, you can use an internal temperature of 145ºF (62.7ºC). But this makes the fish dry and bland!
So, How Long To Bake Salmon At 400 Degrees?
To recap, the factors that affect how long to bake salmon include the thickness of the cut and how done you want it to be. As I’ve mentioned, I generally cook my salmon until it reaches an internal temperature of 135-140ºF (57.2-60ºC), which makes it medium in doneness.
At 400 degrees, that will take roughly 11-14 minutes for a 1-inch (2.54cm) cut. These cuts usually weigh between 5 to 7 ounces (142-198 grams).
A pound of salmon (which will usually be slightly thicker than an inch) will take between 15-20 minutes to cook to medium.
A whole salmon will take between 50-70 minutes to cook, depending on its exact thickness.
How Long To Cook Salmon In The Oven At 350?
Because the baking temperature for salmon is lower than mentioned above, the fish will take longer to cook.
The 10-minute rule now becomes the 15-20 minute rule. Every inch (in thickness) of salmon will take roughly 15 minutes to cook but can potentially take slightly longer.
This also means a fillet will likely take about 20-25 minutes to bake to medium (135ºF).
While it is perfectly fine to bake salmon at 350, I prefer using 400ºF. It makes the flesh tender and juicy while giving it a crispy skin (if you leave the skin on). Not to mention that it helps give the fish some color too!
Tips For Making Baked Salmon At 400 Degrees
- Always check the doneness of your salmon earlier than the estimated cooking time. It’s better to test the doneness early than to overbake your fish. Depending on the final cooking time, I like to test mine roughly 5-10 minutes before it has finished cooking.
- Thicker salmon cuts will be more difficult to overcook. You have slightly more time to work with it because it will take longer to reach the desired internal temperature.
- Fatty salmon (usually farmed salmon) can help make a cut moister. This is beneficial because it makes it harder to overcook. And at the very least, the fat will help hide overcooked, dry meat (to some degree). That being said, wild salmon is lower in calories and contains a lot more nutrients.
- You can use foil or parchment paper to cover the salmon while it is baking. This helps trap moisture as the meat cooks which will ultimately make your cut juicier.
- You can also stuff the whole salmon to make it more flavorful and add more juices. It’s another way you can help hide slightly overcooked fish.
- My salmon recipe today is very simple and enhances the natural flavors of the meat. You can add spices, herbs, and flavorings that you like best.
Choosing The Freshest Salmon Cut
Even though we know now exactly how long to bake salmon at 400 degrees, it’s equally important to know how to buy fresh salmon.
Naturally, there are quite a few different options when it comes to salmon cuts. More often than not, people will either roast a whole salmon, a fillet, or a cut portion from the fillet. It really depends on the event because salmon is quite expensive.
Other cuts that you may be able to find include a tail fillet, butterfly fillet, shank, steaks, and belly fillet.
Choosing A Whole Fish
When buying fresh whole salmon the signs to look out for are slightly different than for cuts.
First and foremost, the skin should be unbroken and blemish-free. It should not be dull or pale and should be uniform in color. And yes, even though it has been scaled, it still shouldn’t be damaged.
Then, you can look at the eyes. The eyes shouldn’t be dull, cloudy, popped, or bloody. The eyes of fresh fish should always be bright, moist (not slimy), and intact.
Fresh salmon should also have firm flesh that isn’t softened or mushy. The skin should be moist but not slimy or sticky.
And finally, if it smells fishy, it is fishy. Fresh fish shouldn’t smell like anything! So, if you get the faintest whiff of fish, it’s best to choose a different option.
Choosing A Cut
If you buy cut salmon pieces, there are some signs mentioned above that don’t apply (for example, the eyes).
Fresh cuts should also have a uniform color. However, most salmon have a bright pink or orange color. Again, it should be saturated and not dull at all. And it goes without saying, the pieces shouldn’t have spots or bruises.
The flesh should be moist and not dry at all. Dry cuts are old. You can also feel the texture of the cut. It shouldn’t break apart, be super soft, or mushy.
A fresh cut has a firm texture and a smooth surface area. And again, if it smells like fish, it’s gone bad.
Baking at 400ºF helps make the flesh tender while giving the salmon a crispy skin. Anything lower and the salmon will still be tasty but have less texture. Anything higher and you lose too much moisture. It’s also an easy way to accidentally overcook the fish, ruining it completely.
I don’t bake salmon covered unless I am infusing it with a ton of flavors or cooking it for a long period of time. Cooking it covered will prevent you from getting crispy skin.
My favorite methods include baking and pan-frying. You can also use finishing techniques in combination with the two mentioned above. These cooking methods help you slowly develop flavor and the ultimate soft, juicy texture.
The best stuffing is any simple recipe. Many people simply love using a seasoned breading mixture, whilst others like to make a creamy, saucy stuffing. Spinach, cream cheese, mozzarella, or a lemony, orangy glaze are always flavors that work well with the salmon. And, working with these ingredients is easy and very quick.
How Long To Bake Salmon At 400 Degrees? Making Perfect Fish
- 4 1-inch salmon fillets
- Sea salt flakes, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1-2 medium lemons
- Sliced garlic cloves, to taste
- Fresh thyme leaves, to taste
Baking Salmon Fillets (Whole)
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Line a baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Make sure the lining bends over the edges to catch all of the juices.
- While the oven is preheating, score the salmon skin. Make a couple of incisions (not very deep) across the entire skin. This will help keep the beautiful fillet shape and cook it evenly.
- Next, season the salmon fillet with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. You can season both sides.
- Finally, place the fillet on the lined baking dish, skin-side facing downwards.
- If you have a basting sauce, rub, spices, or a dressing, you can brush it on the meat now. For this recipe, we will brush the surface with butter and squeeze over some fresh lemon juice. Also add your herbs now.
- Bake the salmon for roughly 11-14 minutes for every inch of thickness. Most fillets are only about 1 inch in thickness, so this guide can be accurately used. If you have a thicker cut, bake it for longer. As I've mentioned in the article above, this gives you medium doneness (135-140ºF).
Baking Salmon Portions
- When baking salmon portions, you are only decreasing the overall baking time. This is especially important when you are cooking thinner strips of the fillet. You can prepare the equipment and meat in exactly the same way as mentioned above.
- Bake the portions for roughly 8-15 minutes, or until the meat has reached the appropriate internal temperature.
Baking Whole Salmon
- You can stuff the whole salmon or simply brush it with butter. Don't forget to season it on the inside with salt and pepper.
- When baking whole salmon, you have to score the skin on both sides of the fish.
- When your oven is preheated, add the whole fish and leave it to bake for roughly 50-70 minutes, depending on the thickness and how done you want it to be.
- Once half of the time has elapsed, turn the fish over so the other side is now facing upwards.
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