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Sweet and Spicy Salmon

A great rub of spices, brown sugar and lemon zest make this sweet and spicy salmon a light flavorful dish. Perfect for large crowds or just two.

Sweet and Spicy Salmon cut in 3 pieces on pan after roasting, garnished with green onions

The rub is a nice blend of sweet, spice and zest that creates a glaze when baked and makes the salmon very tasty indeed.

Our family and friends have seen this sweet and spicy salmon many times on brunch and buffet tables at holiday events because the recipe is easy, delicious and works well at room temperature. I can’t ever recall having leftovers.

Tailor To Your Taste

  • If you prefer, you can barbecue the salmon instead – flesh-side down for 4-5 minutes, then flip and barbecue another 4-5 minutes.
  • The salmon can also be cut into bite-size pieces and placed on cucumbers rounds or thin crackers for an appetizer.
  • Feel free to play around with the various spices in the rub.

What to Serve with Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Here’s a few great options for sides:


  • If you’re in a rush, skip the marinating step. The salmon will then only take 20 minutes to make.
  • Buy a rub used for fish (usually indicated on the jar/tin).

Make Ahead

  • Sweet and Spicy Salmon can be cooked, cooled, refrigerated and brought to room temperature the next day, making it a great make-ahead recipe for potlucks, buffets or holiday parties.
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4.78 from 9 votes

Sweet and Spicy Salmon Recipe

A great rub of spices, brown sugar and lemon zest make this sweet and spicy salmon a light flavorful dish. Perfect for large crowds or just two.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time37 minutes
Servings: 2
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 salmon fillets (6-8 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoon pineapple or orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey


  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use a bit more)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon


  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • MARINATE SALMON: Place juice, maple syrup and soy in a ziploc bag along with salmon. Marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  • MAKE RUB: Combine all Rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  • PREPARE SALMON: Remove salmon fillets from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Place salmon fillets on a rimmed pan lined with foil or parchment paper. (If using foil, spray with oil for easy clean up). Generously sprinkle rub on top and sides of salmon (if you have a little extra and your salmon has no skin, cover that too).
  • ROAST SALMON AND SERVE: Roast salmon for 10-12 minutes just until it flakes (rule of thumb is 10 minutes per inch of thickness). Don't overcook. Salmon should be medium with a bit of darker pink in the middle if you don't want it dry. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon slices. Can be cooled, then refrigerated for a day and brought to room temperature before serving.
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This recipe has been adapted from a 1998 Cooking Light Magazine recipe.

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