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This sockeye salmon recipe pairs the tender fish with garlic and lemon pepper for a flavorful and easy dinner!

Sockeye Salmon Recipe
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Got a fillet of fish and need some ideas? Try this sockeye salmon recipe to cook up this tender variety into an easy and flavorful meal! Season the fillet with lemon juice, zest, and black pepper, then pop it in the broiler or oven. It comes out incredibly moist and tender, with citrusy, savory notes to each bite. We couldn’t stop sneaking bites even after dinner was over (and our kids loved it too!).

What is sockeye salmon?

Sockeye salmon is a variety of salmon called red salmon, which is wild caught in and near Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Sockeye is smaller than other varieties of salmon and the fillets are thinner. It has a robust, rich flavor that is bold and “salmon-forward.” It goes over well with salmon lovers, but its flavor can also please the fish-wary.

Sockeye salmon is easy to cook, and cooks quickly because it is thin. It works well broiled or baked, but also works pan seared or grilled as well. It’s also perfect for making smoked salmon.

Ingredients in this sockeye salmon recipe

A great piece of fish doesn’t need many extra ingredients to make it shine: salt, pepper, lemon, and herbs are really all you need! This sockeye salmon recipe features both lemon pepper and fresh lemon, which really make the flavors pop. Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Sockeye salmon fillets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon pepper (no salt added)
  • Garlic powder
  • Lemon
  • Fresh parsley
Sockeye salmon

Notes about lemon pepper

Lemon pepper is a seasoning mixture of lemon zest and black peppercorns. It’s easily available at most grocery stores in the spice aisle. Keep in mind that some brands of lemon pepper include salt. Make sure to review the ingredients on the lemon pepper container before you make this recipe, and reduce the salt in the recipe if it does contain salt.

Don’t have lemon pepper? You can also simply use fresh ground black pepper in this recipe! The recipe also calls for lemon zest from a real lemon, which will bring plenty of citrus notes to the salmon.

How to cook sockeye salmon

The easiest ways to cook sockeye salmon are broiled and baked, and the thin fillets take no time to cook. You can pan sear sockeye salmon, but since the fillets thinner than other varieties we prefer it broiled. It also works grilled, and it’s absolutely divine smoked! Here are a few tips for how to broil or bake sockeye salmon:

  1. Prep the salmon: Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and brush it with olive oil. Pat each piece of salmon dry and place it on the foil skin side down. Sprinkle with kosher salt, lemon pepper, and lemon zest.
  2. Broil the salmon: Broil (on a center rack if possible) for about 8 to 11 minutes for 1-inch thick salmon, until it’s just tender and pink at the center. The internal temperature should be between 125 to 130°F when probed at the thickest point.
  3. Or, bake the salmon: Bake at 400°F for 13 to 16 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (and the internal temperature is 125 to 130°F).
  4. Serve: Spritz with lemon zest and serve with lemon wedges.
Sockeye salmon recipe

Optional: brine the salmon first

The sockeye salmon recipe below calls for brining the salmon before baking. It’s optional, but we’ve found it’s helpful for reducing the “white stuff” or albumin that can appear after cooking salmon. To do so, simply place it in a dish of room temperature water and salt for 15 minutes before making the recipe. Here’s why to brine salmon:

  • It helps the salmon come to room temperature so it cooks evenly. If the fillet is too cold, the inside might be uncooked when the outside is fully browned.
  • It seasons the salmon. Brining also helps to bring flavor to the entire piece of fish.
  • Best of all, it reduces the “white stuff.” Ever have white stuff rise to the surface of salmon when you cook it? It’s coagulated protein that seeps to the surface called albumin. The amount of albumin varies greatly depending on the fish, so it’s not something you can control. (Read more here.) But brining the salmon can help.

Tips for buying sockeye salmon

Sockeye salmon is usually available at the seafood counter at grocery stores, though you may be able to find it frozen. Here are some notes about buying this variety of fish:

  • Look for flesh that is a deep red color. Sockeye has a richer color than other varieties.
  • All sockeye salmon is wild-caught, and most populations are healthy. You may also find it labeled as red salmon.
  • Buy sockeye salmon from the U.S. The Best Choice sockeye salmon is caught in Puget Sound with lift nets during the early summer run, and everything else is a good alternative (per SeafoodWatch.org).

More sockeye salmon recipes

There are lots of other ways to prepare sockeye salmon! Here are a few salmon recipes that work with this variety of fish:

This sockeye salmon recipe is…

Gluten-free and pescatarian.

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Sockeye Salmon Recipe

Easy Sockeye Salmon Recipe


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This sockeye salmon recipe pairs the tender fish with garlic and lemon pepper for a flavorful and easy dinner!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 pounds or 4 (6-ounce) sockeye salmon fillets, wild caught
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for brining
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (no salt added*) or freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lemon, zested and half sliced
  • 1 handful fresh Italian parsley

Instructions

  1. Brine the salmon (optional): In a shallow dish mix together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes.
  2. Prep the salmon: Place a large sheet of aluminum foil on a baking sheet and brush it with olive oil. Pat each piece of salmon dry and place it on the foil skin side down. Sprinkle salmon with the kosher salt*, lemon pepper, and lemon zest (evenly divided among the fillets).
  3. Broil the salmon: Broil (on a center rack if possible) for about 8 to 11 minutes for 1-inch thick salmon, until it’s just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130°F in the center). Broil about 5 minutes for very thin salmon. Keep an eye on it because it can brown quickly.
  4. Alternatively, bake the salmon: Bake the salmon at 400°F for 13 to 16 minutes, depending on thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130°F in the center). A 1-inch thick fillet should cook in about 15 minutes total.
  5. Serve: To serve, spritz with the juice of ½ lemon and garnish with slices cut from the other half. 

Notes

*If using lemon pepper mixture with salt, reduce the kosher salt to a ¼ teaspoon, then add more to taste when serving. 

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Broiled
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Diet: Gluten Free

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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3 Comments

  1. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!






    1. Hannah says:

      Hi! What temperature did you bake at, if opting to bake instead of broil?

      1. Sonja Overhiser says:

        400°F! We’ve updated the post accordingly – thank you!