Zesty lemon pepper salmon baked in foil is one of my favorite ways to cook salmon that’s flaky, juicy, and full of flavor. This healthy dinner idea is easy to make and even easier to clean up afterward.
If you love salmon, check out more of my favorite healthy salmon recipes!
Easy Lemon Pepper Salmon Baked in Foil
With just a few ingredients, you can make this beautiful salmon dinner that tastes and feels totally fancy. It even looks fancy. And yet, it’s incredibly simple! If you loved my lemon butter grilled salmon, just wait until this easy oven-baked version hits your plate.
This lemon pepper salmon is baked in foil with juicy ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs. It takes minutes to assemble your foil packets and the fish cooks up quick-sticks in the oven. This salmon comes out succulent and flaky, smothered in flavorful lemon butter, and ready for serving with your favorite healthy sides.
Why Bake Salmon in Foil?
There are so many benefits to baking salmon in foil. This method is flawless!
- The foil acts as a barrier, sealing in the natural juices of the salmon. This helps prevent the fish from drying out during baking, resulting in a moist and tender final product.
- Baking salmon in foil allows it to cook in its own juices and any seasonings, herbs, or marinades added to the foil packet. This enables the flavors to meld together and infuse into the fish, enhancing its taste.
- Using foil makes cleanup a breeze! Once the salmon is cooked, you can discard the foil, minimizing the mess and making post-meal cleanup much easier.
Why You’ll Love This Salmon Recipe
- Minimal prep. If you have 5 minutes to spare, you can have these easy salmon foil packets ready for the oven.
- Minimal ingredients. You only need 5 ingredients to make this baked salmon recipe. The foil locks in moisture, for perfect salmon that’s flaky and infused with the flavors of lemon and herbs. This method is so simple, healthy, and foolproof!
- Amazing flavor. Suffice it to say, I’m a tad obsessed with the lemon-pepper butter that takes this baked salmon over the top. Fresh, peppery, and finger-licking delicious.
Is Salmon Good For You?
Yes! Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s known to help with brain health, weight control, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. Wild-caught salmon is one of my favorite ingredients (of all time!) and it always has a place on my table all year round.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need just a few easy ingredients to make this succulent baked salmon, plus foil sheets, of course. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for a full ingredient list and detailed instructions.
- Salmon: You’ll need 4 wild-caught salmon filets, skin on or off.
- Butter: My lemon pepper compound butter is the secret to this salmon recipe.
- Lemon: The flavor of fresh citrus dazzles next to the thyme and enhances the flavor of the butter.
- Tomatoes: I couldn’t resist baking some veggies alongside my peppery salmon. Sweet-tangy grape tomatoes give a nice pop of color, too.
- Thyme: Adding herbs to your foil packs is optional, though it brings freshness and flavor. I love thyme sprigs, but you can use any fresh herbs that you have on hand.
Should I Bake Salmon With the Skin on or Off?
- You can bake salmon in foil with the skin on or off, whichever you prefer. I usually go the lazy girl route and make this recipe with the skin on, since that’s usually how the fish comes in the store. It also helps to seal in extra moisture. Once your salmon is cooked, the skin should come away easily enough.
- If you’d prefer your baked salmon without skin, your best bet is to buy skinless filets or ask the seafood counter to remove the skin beforehand.
How to Make Lemon Pepper Salmon in the Oven
- Lay out your foils on a baking sheet while your oven preheats to a nice and sizzley 400ºF. The lemon pepper salmon packets are quick to assemble:
- Assemble. Place the salmon fillets over the foil sheets, one fillet per foil. Spread the top of each fillet with a generous smear of lemon pepper butter. Give the tops a sprinkle with salt, then layer on a couple of lemon slices and some chopped tomatoes. Finally, finish things off with a sprig of thyme.
- Seal. Bring both sides of the foil together to cover the fish, and then roll the ends up to seal the foils closed.
- Bake. Place your foil-wrapped salmon dinner into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Afterward, plate the salmon with your favorite sides! See below for easy serving ideas.
Tips for Success
Here are some final tips and tricks for the best baked lemon pepper salmon:
- Bake the salmon skin-side-down. If your filets have skins, make sure that you lay the salmon skin-side-down.
- Don’t overcook the salmon. Baking salmon in foil helps to lock in moisture, making it easier to avoid overcooking. That being said, make sure that you don’t leave your salmon in the oven too long.
- What if my fish is undercooked? If you take your salmon out and it’s still slightly underdone at the thickest part of the filet, leave the foil open and place the salmon under the broiler for a couple of minutes. This will crisp up the top and help the fish to cook through.
At 400ºF, these salmon foil packets should cook through in about 15 minutes depending on the thickness of your filets. Check the fish after 12 minutes and go from there.
To check your salmon for doneness, use a knife or fork to test the thickest part of the fish. If it’s easily flaked, your salmon is ready to come out. Another option is to use an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 145ºF.
Looking to change up the method and flavors in this easy salmon recipe? Try these ideas:
- Grilled salmon. These lemon pepper salmon foil packets easily translate to the grill. Preheat the grill to medium-high, prepare the foil packs as directed, and place them onto the grill. Cover and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes, until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
- Without foil. Try my oven baked salmon with asparagus for an easy variation that’s baked without foil.
- Different herbs. Instead of thyme sprigs, top your salmon with fresh parsley, dill, bay leaves, or rosemary.
- Garlic butter. Trade lemon pepper butter for garlic butter to make garlic butter baked salmon in foil.
- Maple. Try this maple mustard salmon baked in foil for a sweet and tangy variation.
- Pesto. In place of lemon pepper, try coating your salmon fillets with basil pesto. It tastes amazing with the lemon and tomatoes! Or, try this baked pesto salmon.
What to Serve with Lemon Pepper Salmon
My love affair with salmon continues with this delicious version coated in lemon pepper butter. These are some of my favorite sides to turn this baked salmon into a meal:
- Vegetables. Pair your lemon pepper salmon with any veggies you’d like. This air fryer roasted broccoli is quick and easy. Other good options are Sauteed Brussels sprouts or mixed roasted vegetables.
- Asparagus. Oven roasted asparagus might just be my absolute favorite salmon side dish. These cheesy asparagus foil packets would also be delicious (not to mention, it would keep clean-up to a minimum!).
- Potatoes. Serve with a side of garlicky roasted potatoes.
- Rice. Another classic salmon side, jasmine rice is fluffy and filling. For a low-carb option, try cauliflower rice.
- Salad. Serve with grilled zucchini salad or this very berry avocado salad in the summertime. Or, turn your lemon pepper salmon into a salmon Cobb salad.
Storing and Reheating Leftover Salmon
- Fridge: Store leftover baked salmon airtight in the fridge for up to 2 days. We love enjoying salmon cold over salads or served over toast.
- Reheating: I recommend letting your salmon come to room temperature before reheating. Reheat the salmon with a bit of water, covered, on the stovetop over low heat so that it can steam. Alternatively, reheat the filets in the microwave at low power.
- Freezer: Leftover salmon fillets can be stored airtight or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, and kept frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost salmon thoroughly in the fridge before reheating.
More Easy Salmon Recipes
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Creamy Garlic Dijon Salmon
- Baked Sockeye Salmon
- Maple Teriyaki Salmon
- Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon
- Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon
Lemon Pepper Salmon In Foil
- 4 (9×9) foil sheets
- 4 salmon fillets, about 4-ounces each
- 4 tablespoons lemon-pepper compound butter, divided
- salt, to taste
- 8 lemon slices, divided
- 8 grape tomatoes, halved, divided
- 4 sprigs of fresh thyme, divided
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Using a mixer, whip the butter until fluffy. Add in the lemon pepper seasoning, chopped fresh parsley, and garlic; continue to mix until combined. Set aside.
- Place the foil sheets on a large baking sheet.
- Arrange the salmon fillets atop the foil sheets; one fillet per sheet.
- Season the salmon with salt and spread a tablespoon of lemon pepper butter on top of each fillet.
- Add 2 lemon slices on top of the fillet, followed by 4-halved pieces of grape tomatoes and a sprig of thyme.
- Continue to add remaining ingredients over each fillet, finishing with a sprig of thyme.
- Fold the sides of the foil over the fish, covering completely; seal the packets closed.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through.
- Transfer foil packets to plates and serve.
- Salmon: You’ll need 4 wild-caught salmon filets, skin on or off. You can purchase the filets separately or buy a large piece of salmon from the fish counter and portion it yourself. Look for good-quality wild-caught salmon.
- Butter: Butter is the secret to this salmon recipe. The lemon-pepper compound butter is filled with zesty lemon and black pepper flavor. You can also buy flavored butter which will cut down on prep time. Wrap and refrigerate leftover compound butter.
- Herbs: Instead of thyme sprigs, top your salmon with fresh parsley, dill, bay leaves, or rosemary.
- Bake the salmon skin-side-down.
- Don’t overcook. Salmon is cooked through when its internal temperature registers at 145˚F. Baking salmon in foil helps to lock in moisture, making it easier to avoid overcooking.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.