Use paper towels to pat the salmon fillets dry. Then, allow them to come to room temperature on the counter for 15 minutes.There's no need to rinse the raw salmon. This will just risk spreading bacteria across your sink and kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Juice the lemon and mince the garlic, adding them to a small bowl with the olive oil. Brush this mixture into both sides of the salmon (or rub with your hands), seasoning it with salt and pepper afterward. Add the herbs (optional).For more flavor, you can bake the salmon on a bed of or topped with thin lemon slices. This will also help to keep the salmon moist. Only add the salt right before baking, as it will draw out moisture from the salmon.
Step 2: Bake the Salmon
Bake the salmon, skin-side down, for 12-15 minutes, until the salmon is a light opaque pink and flaky. The exact time will depend on the thickness of your fillets.You can optionally broil the fillets for a minute or two at the end.
Remove the oven-baked salmon from the oven and enjoy with your sides of choice!
How to Make Ahead and Store?
Make ahead: While a long marination period isn't necessary for this recipe, you can leave the fillets to marinate (minus the salt) for up to 12 hours for more flavorful results. Then, allow it to come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes before baking.Store: Allow it to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can enjoy the leftovers chilled or reheated.Freeze: First, spread the fillets on a tray and allow them to freeze until solid. Then transfer the frozen baked salmon fillets and store them in a Ziplock bag or airtight container for 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before enjoying it once more.Reheat: To avoid overcooked, dry salmon, I recommend reheating the fillets in a skillet. Add a splash of water to the pan, cook over medium-low heat, and have the lid on. This will help to steam the salmon and make sure it’s moist. It will take around 5-7 minutes.
Baking time varies: How long to cook salmon varies, dependent on the thickness of your salmon fillets and your specific oven. If you're using a whole salmon fillet (half a salmon), the time will increase by 3-5 minutes.
Use fillets with skin attached: This helps hold them together while they cook and yields more evenly cooked results. You can easily remove it afterward if preferred.
Use even-sized fillets: So they cook at the same rate.
For crispier skin: Pat the skin side with a paper towel before seasoning it. After baking the fillets, remove the skin from the fillets and broil/pan-fry it until crispy.
If there are any bones in the fillets: I always like to double-check salmon fillets before cooking them, even if they're labeled as de-boned. The easiest method I'd found is to lay the salmon, skin-side down, over a bowl, which helps make any remaining pin bones easier to find. Alternatively, use your fingers along the fillets to feel for any bumps in the flesh. Then, use tweezers to remove them.
Cook room temperature salmon: It's always best to allow it to rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before baking for the most even cooking results.
Be careful not to overcook it: Residual heat will continue to cook the salmon after removing it from the oven. Therefore, I recommend removing it from the oven when it's 5ºF lower than your aim. Then, allow it to rest for 5 minutes out of the oven before serving — voila!
Optional Add-ins and Variations:
Smoked paprika: Add it directly to the marinade for a subtle smoky flavor and wonderful color.