Tender salmon coated in an irresistible, 4-ingredient, sweet and savory sauce. This honey garlic salmon comes together in less than 20 minutes and will be your new favorite healthy ultra-fast meal.
Hi! Monica from Nourish and Fete here, once again. 🙂
Quick weeknight dinners are always in season, and this simple honey garlic salmon is destined to be one of your favorites. Salmon is such a healthy and easy fish to prepare, but when you smother it in a sticky honey garlic sauce, it truly gets the star treatment.
I love that I can prepare this meal in no time and with minimal prep work, so it’s a breeze even after a long day. We always feel better eating a real, healthy dinner! And, as an extra bonus, you probably have everything you need to dress up the salmon in your pantry and fridge right now.
What you’ll need to make honey garlic salmon
- Salmon filets: Look for wild-caught salmon if possible. It will have a deep red-orange hue, more vibrant than that of its farm-raised cousins, and a more savory and complex flavor. Wild-caught also tends to be healthier and more sustainable. You can buy filets with or without skin; either works for this recipe.
- Seasonings: Paprika, salt, and pepper are all you need. A smidge of parsley makes a nice garnish, too, and can be fresh or dried.
- Honey: Makes the sauce sticky, sweet, and irresistible!
- Soy sauce: Adds that signature salty, savory flavor to complement the honey. Low-sodium works best!
- Apple cider vinegar: A little acidic tang is necessary to offset the honey’s natural sweetness. You can sub lemon juice or another type of vinegar in a pinch.
- Garlic: Can’t have honey garlic sauce without the garlic! Use fresh minced garlic here. There are only four ingredients in the sauce, and you want each to shine.
- Olive oil: Just a smidge in which to pan fry the salmon.
How to make honey garlic salmon
This is so simple to make. You might feel intimidated to sear salmon in the skillet, but I promise you can do it! And once you try this method, you’ll appreciate how easy it is to make salmon in one pan without any fussing with the oven or broiler.
- Season salmon filets generously.
- Sear one side in a hot, oiled skillet. Don’t prod or move them around during this initial phase!
- After 3-4 minutes, use a fish turner or spatula to try gently lifting the filets. If they come up fairly easily, use a bold flip to turn them over and begin searing the other side. If they don’t loosen quite yet, let them cook for another 1 minute on the first side.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients, pour over the salmon, and let it bubble and thicken. Dinner is done!
This is the same pan-searing method I use for my favorite pistachio herb-crusted salmon. The results are amazing!
How to tell when salmon is done
There are several ways to tell when salmon is cooked through. Firstly, the color will change from translucent, raw red, to a more opaque pink. Another easy test is to press gently on the filet with a fork or your finger — cooked salmon will flake easily, meaning it separates along the white lines that criss-cross the filet. These lines are strips of fat.
The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145°F. However, many chefs prefer to cook salmon to medium — between 125°F and 135°F — for a flakier, more tender result.
I will say that farm-raised salmon is more forgiving. It tends to be fattier than wild-caught and therefore to stay more juicy, even on the off chance it gets a bit over-cooked.
What to serve with honey garlic salmon
This salmon is so easy and so delicious, it goes with anything! Try serving alongside some steamed vegetables, like green beans, asparagus, broccoli, or carrots. Rice, noodles, or quinoa make great additions, too, and are especially good with a bit of the honey garlic salmon drizzled on top!
Honey Garlic Salmon
- 3-4 salmon filets
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10-12 cranks fresh-ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce low-sodium preferred
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- parsley fresh or dried, for an optional garnish
- Pat salmon dry and sprinkle on one side with paprika, salt, and pepper. (If the salmon has skin, season the skinless side.)
- Whisk together honey, soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup; set aside.
- Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add salmon to the pan, with the unseasoned side down, and cook for 3-4 minutes. Test the salmon; when the bottoms release fairly easily from the pan, it’s ready to flip. Turn each filet over, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- When salmon is nearly done, pour sauce evenly on top. Let the sauce bubble for about 1 minute, while drizzling spoonfuls from the bottom of the skillet over the salmon. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with parsley, if desired, and serve right away.
- If possible, it’s helpful to remove salmon from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for 15-20 minutes prior to cooking. This helps it cook more evenly and release more easily from the pan after cooking on the first side.
- There are several ways to tell when salmon is done: the color will change from translucent, raw red, to a more opaque pink, and it will flake easily when pressed gently with a fork or your finger—this means that it separates easily along the white lines that criss-cross the filet, which are strips of fat. The FDA recommends cooking salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- Keep in mind that the salmon may continue to cook briefly after you remove it from the heat, particularly if using a cast-iron skillet or other cookware that holds heat very well.
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