This is a tasty salmon tray bake recipe that’s as simple as it is healthy. Salmon is slathered with an assertive lemon garlic paste that adds a stack of flavour, then cooks in just 11 minutes alongside parmesan asparagus and blistered cherry tomatoes. Sheet pan oven dinner. No stove splatter – yay!
Lemon garlic salmon tray bake
I am a little fussy about baked salmon recipes because a pale, colourless salmon fillet just doesn’t rock my boat. Give me caramelisation! A sticky glaze! A crunchy crust!
Thus, I tend to default to the stove. Also, crispy salmon skin. Yessss!
But for those days when I want to keep things simple – no stove splatter, no separate vegetable side – this salmon recipe is one I’ve made repeatedly over the past year. The secret is a bold lemon garlic slather-marinade. I know the word “slather” is not the most flattering, but that’s what this is and that’s what makes this oven salmon so tasty. It infuses the flesh with flavour but it’s also thick enough to stick to the surface of the salmon so it adds plenty of flavour even if you don’t have an hour to marinade.
Also – proof of moist flaky flesh. ⬇️ No overcooked dry salmon in pursuit of surface browning!
Here’s all you need to make this salmon tray bake.
The salmon and marinade-paste
Salmon – It doesn’t matter if it’s skinless or skin on as the paste isn’t slathered on the underside. The skin won’t go crisp so if this bothers you, just eat the flesh off the skin. There’s enough paste to use for 4 fillets up to 200g/7oz. The standard serving size is 180g/6 oz of salmon per person. Substitute: recipe also works perfectly with trout.
Dijon mustard – This thickens the marinade into a paste that sticks to the salmon as well as adding a little mustard tang. You can’t really taste it, to be honest.
Garlic – The garlic cloves are grated finely so they almost dissolve into the paste. I prefer this to finely chopping so you don’t get little burnt lumps on the salmon, though if you don’t have a microplane or fine grater then just really finely mince the garlic.
Lemon – We’re using both the zest and juice. Zest for actual lemon flavour, and juice for tang. (Because lemon juice really is mostly just sour, most of the lemon flavour is in the zest).
Oil – Helps give the salmon colour.
Salt and pepper – Fish likes salt! Don’t shortchange yourself.
I’m using asparagus and cherry tomatoes because they cook in the same time as the salmon. Try to use thicker asparagus, else it will get a little too soft. If you can only find thin ones, consider adding them onto the tray partway through the cook time.
Asparagus – No need to trim the asparagus with a knife! Did you know the ends will naturally break at the point where the woody end is. Try it, it totally works! (But not with limp old ones).
Cherry tomatoes – Well, grape tomatoes actually! I use one standard punnet (200g/7 oz).
Salt, pepper and olive oil – For seasoning.
Parmesan – For showering at the end. Instant face lift!
Alternative vegetables – Anything that can cook in the same time as the salmon, such as green beans or thin broccolini (split thick ones in half lengthwise). I love how the florets go crunchy!
How to make this Lemon Garlic Salmon Tray Bake
It may become my mission in life to create more recipes that require only FOUR step photos.
(Though, we both know it’s not going to happen. I’ll get bored. I need to throw in challenges every now and then!!)
Lemon garlic slather – Mix the lemon garlic paste ingredients together then slather onto the surface and side of the salmon. Use all the paste – there should be just enough to coat all the surface. No point doing the underside, it will just sweat off.
Marinade for 1 hour if time permits, the flavour will infuse the flesh. If not, proceed to the next step (the paste has a lot of flavour so it will compensate for not marinating).
Toss the vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Prepare tray – Put the salmon on the tray with a bit of space between each one. Arrange the vegetables around it. Spray the salmon with oil.
Oven grill / broil for 11 minutes or until the salmon is cooked. The flesh should flake, and if you’re being accurate (which I like to be), the internal temperature should be 50°C/122°F for optimum juiciness.* Also by this time the asparagus will be cooked and the tomatoes will be wrinkled and some will have appealing charred spots.
To serve – Transfer the salmon and vegetables onto plates. Grate parmesan over the vegetables, squeeze lemon over everything, sprinkle with parmesan if using then dig in!
* 50°C/122°F pull temp out of the oven is optimum juiciness for salmon, the default to which chefs and restaurants cook to. It will rise to 53°C/127.4°F after resting for 3 minutes which is medium rare. For medium, pull at 60°C/140°F, it will rise to 63°C/145.4°F after resting. A little more done and slightly less juicy
There you go! Nice and simple. Tasty. Healthy. No greasy stove splatter to deal with. (Let’s ignore the periodical oven clean we all like to pretend doesn’t need to happen).
I usually just toast bread and add that to the plate for the starch quota, to fill out the meal and smear with the charred burst tomatoes. Though if I’m trying to “be healthy” I increase the volume of vegetables on the tray, skip the carbs, then do my very very best not to stick my hand in the cookie jar later that evening…. – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Lemon garlic salmon tray bake – easy & healthy!
- 4 x 180g/6 oz salmon fillets , skin on or off, doesn't matter (Note 1)
- 1 tsp lemon zest (1 lemon)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dijon mustard (Note 2)
- 2 garlic cloves , grated using microplane (Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp cooking salt / kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3 bunches asparagus , woody ends snapped or trimmed off (Note 4)
- 200g/ 7 oz cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes, 1 Aussie punnet)
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Cooking & serving:
- Olive oil spray
- Parmesan , finely grated
- Lemon wedges or slices , optional
- Parsley , finely chopped, optional
- Crusty bread or toast , for serving
- Lemon garlic paste – Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Slather onto the top and sides of the salmon. If time permits, marinade for 1 hour. Otherwise, proceed with recipe.
- Preheat oven grill / broiler to 280°C/525°F or as high as yours goes. Place the oven shelf 20 cm /8" from the heat source.
- Prepare tray – Toss the asparagus and cherry tomatoes with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread out on a large tray then clear space for the salmon. Place salmon on the tray leaving a bit of space between each. Spray surface of salmon with oil.
- Cook – Grill/broil for 11 minutes or until the salmon is done – the flesh should flake, the internal temperature should be 50°C/122°F (Note 5).
- Serve – Transfer salmon and vegetables to plate. Grate parmesan over the vegetables. Squeeze lemon juice over the salmon, sprinkle with parsley. Eat!
- Medium rare – pull out at 50°C/122°F which will rise to 53°C/127.4°F after resting which is medium rare. This is the optimum point of juiciness and level of doneness chefs/restaurants will cook to by default.
- Medium – pull at 60°C/140°F, will rise to 63°C/145.4°F after resting. A little more done and slightly less juicy.
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