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Salmon with Citrus Glaze

Moist and zesty salmon with citrus glaze is an easy weeknight or company meal. The sweet-tart glaze with orange, lemon, lime, maple syrup and Dijon mustard adds bright, bold flavor. 

Get some rice or quinoa cooking, then start the citrus salmon. With a few simple ingredients, you’ll be sitting down to a delicious dinner in about 30 minutes.

salmon with citrus glaze on top of quinoa and spinach on plate.

We eat salmon once a week so I’m always looking for new and easy ways to dress it up. The flavor combination of the tangy glaze is pretty classic and works beautifully with salmon to kick it up without overwhelming it.

The recipe is simple. Simmer the glaze ingredients until slightly syrupy. Brush it on the salmon fillets and bake. Then drizzle on the remaining glaze and add optional garnishes. That’s it.

The salmon is also a great addition to a buffet table served cold the next day.

What to expect

Big bold flavors: The tangy flavor of the citrus combined with the sweet maple syrup create a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors that elevate the mild salmon. 

Healthy dish: Salmon is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, you’ll get a little extra vitamin C from the glaze 🙂

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

large salmon fillet, maple syrup, lemon, lime, orange, green onions

Salmon: Buy fresh salmon fillets if you can for the best flavor and texture, but frozen salmon filets, defrosted, are fine too (and just as nutritious). You can buy one larger filet or 2-3 individual filets. See FAQ for how to buy salmon.

Citrus glaze: The glaze includes lemon, orange, lime (zest and juice), Dijon, and maple syrup.

Garnish: Good options are chopped green onions, parsley, additional citrus zest, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and toasted sesame seeds.

Variations and substitutes:

  • Substitute salmon with any other type of mild fish like snapper, halibut, trout or perch fillets.
  • Use any combination of citrus – orange, lime, lemon or even grapefruit.
  • Instead of maple syrup, use honey or brown sugar.
  • Add chopped cilantro.
  • Add some heat with chili flakes if you like.
  • Add a tablespoon cold butter to the glaze after simmering for a rich finish.

Step by step instructions

orange juice and zest of lime, orange and lemon on cutting board.
Make the lime, orange and lemon zest and citrus juice.
citrus glaze in sauce pan.
Make the easy glaze in a small saucepan, simmering until syrupy. See shortcut below to speed it up.
uncooked salmon fillet with citrus glaze and chopped green onions on pan.
Season salmon with salt, pepper, part of the glaze and chopped green onions.
baked salmon fillet with citrus glaze and zest and chopped green onions on pan.
Bake the salmon with citrus glaze just until the fish flakes and the center is warm pink.
baked citrus salmon over quinoa with asparagus on plate.
Top salmon with the remaining glaze and garnish as you like.

Tip

  • Don’t overcook the salmon if you want moist tender salmon fillets. The salmon should be warm pink in the middle. Very pale pink or whitish salmon means it’s dry and overdone. See FAQ below for details.

Recipe FAQs

How do I choose the best salmon fillets?

Raw salmon should be moist and not fishy smelling and have no brown or dry spots. Try to get pieces that are the same thickness so they cook at the same rate. Apparently Alaskan wild salmon is the healthiest salmon available. I prefer Atlantic salmon to Pacific salmon because it’s fattier (but the good kind) which makes it juicier. It’s all a matter of taste, though, and what’s available where you live. Frozen salmon is just as nutritious as fresh salmon.

How do you make sure there are no bones in salmon?

Run your fingers over the surface flesh of the salmon to check for pin bones. If you find one sticking out, remove it with your fingers, a tweezer or small pliers. Atlantic salmon is less likely to have pin bones (it is often sold as ‘pin bones out’). Here’s video on how to remove pin bones.

How can I tell when salmon is fully cooked through?

The rule of thumb for juicy salmon cook time is 10 minutes per inch (2.5cm) of thickness. When pierced with a knife it should separate easily and still be warm pink inside (not dry and flaky white). It’s ready when it is just turning opaque.

The FDA recommends cooking salmon to 145F/62.8C, but in my opinion (and many others), that is way overcooked. The thickest part of the fish should have an internal temperature, measured with an instant read thermometer is 130-135F (54.4-57.2C). The temperature will rise a bit with a 5 minute rest.

How much salmon do I need per person?

A healthy portion is considered to be 3-4 ounces (85-113g), but most adults will eat 6-8 ounces (170-227g). So it depends on who you are serving!

Best side dishes to serve with salmon

Side dishes: You can serve this salmon with a simple salad or one these favorites:

Salad: Or try this 3-in-one side dish party salad with grilled vegetables and quinoa. That’s all you will need as a side.

Shortcuts

To reduce the time it takes to thicken the citrus glaze, add a little cornstarch to the cold ingredients before simmering. You will save about 5 minutes.

Make ahead

You will find instructions in the recipe notes for:

  • making the glaze ahead,
  • making the salmon ahead,
  • how to store leftover salmon and
  • the best way to reheat cooked salmon.
baked citrus salmon over quinoa with asparagus on plate.

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salmon with citrus glaze on top of quinoa and spinach on plate.
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Salmon with Citrus Glaze

Moist and zesty salmon with citrus glaze is an easy weeknight or company meal. The sweet-tart glaze made with orange, lemon, lime, maple syrup and Dijon mustard is simply delicious.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 large portions (or 3 smaller)

Ingredients

Citrus sauce or glaze, Note 1

  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1 small lime, zest and juice
  • 1/2 lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey or brown sugar (or more to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, optional Note 3

Salmon

  • 1 pound salmon fillets, Note 2 one larger filet or 2-3 individual filets
  • salt and black pepper
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Garnish options: Note 4

Instructions

  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 425F/218C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with oil (for easy clean up).
  • MAKE GLAZE: In a small saucepan, stir together 2 teaspoons total of a mixture of orange-lemon-lime zest, orange juice (about 1/4-1/3 cup/59-79 ml), 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon-lime juice combination, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes (if using).
    Bring to boil on medium-high heat then lower to medium heat to simmer briskly for 5-7 minutes until mixture thickens a bit to become slightly syrupy. For a shortcut, see note 3. Taste and adjust, adding more citrus, syrup or Dijon as needed.
  • PREPARE AND ROAST SALMON: Place salmon fillets on pan, skin side down. Sprinkle salmon generously with salt and pepper. Brush on a couple of tablespoons of glaze. Sprinkle on chopped onions. Roast for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. Rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch of thickness. Brush on another 1/2 tablespoon of glaze half way through. Salmon should just be able to flake easily but still have a little translucency in the middle with a medium pink colour.
  • FINISH AND SERVE: To remove skin, slide a spatula between skin and salmon meat and lift off to a plate. Drizzle top of the salmon with remaining glaze. Garnish as desired, Note 4. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Recipe Notes

  1. Citrus glaze variations:
    • Use any combination of citrus – orange, lime, lemon or even grapefruit.
    • Add chopped cilantro.
    • Add some heat with red pepper flakes if you like (1/8 tsp).
    • Stir in a tablespoon cold butter after cooking the glaze for a rich, velvety finish. 
  2. Salmon substitutes: Use any other type of mild fish like snapper, halibut, trout or perch fillets. Here’s video on how to remove pin bones if you feel any on the fish flesh.
  3. Shortcut for citrus glaze: Shorten the glaze cook time but adding 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch to the glaze before simmering it in a small sauce pan. This will thicken it in about 2 minutes. Repeat if necessary. Or if too thick add a bit of water or juice.
  4. Garnish options: chopped green onions, parsley, additional citrus zest, an extra drizzle of honey or maple syrup, toasted sesame seeds. If serving company, you can decorate plate with orange slices or lemon slices. 
  5. Make ahead: 
    • The glaze can be made a day or two ahead.
    • The full salmon recipe can be made ahead, cooled, then refrigerated, covered, to be served cold the next day.
    • Store leftover salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
    • The best way to reheat salmon is in a low heat oven of 275F/135C for 10-12 minutes. The internal temperature will be 125-130F/52-55C.
 
Nutrition values are estimates. 

Nutrition

Calories: 459kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 455mg | Potassium: 1402mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 395IU | Vitamin C: 61mg | Calcium: 113mg | Iron: 2mg
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