Salmon is rich, buttery and satisfying. Starting the salmon on a super-heated baking sheet then roasting it at 275 degrees keeps the salmon super moist. Topping each filet with a vibrant fresh cherry glaze with balsamic vinegar and black pepper perfectly accents the fish. This baked salmon recipe with cherry glaze is light and easy with an elegant presentation - perfect for a date night in or even a weeknight meal for two.
Salmon is one of the most versatile fish in the culinary world. There are infinite ways to season, prepare and serve fresh salmon. For this recipe, we take it right down to the basics to create an awesome, full flavor, tossing in some seasonal ingredients to create a cherry glaze that is to die for.
All the cooking takes place in the oven, no searing or broiling necessary – yep, easy clean up!
You may be wondering about the cherry glaze. I am super excited to share this no-fuss glaze that comes together in one pot and in 5 minutes.
This recipe inspired during a recent trip to Oregon driving through the fruit loop, where there are roadside cherry stands are around every corner.
Additionally, a fresh wild caught Salmon from the Columbia River is easy to purchase – often next to the fruit stands. The combination of baked salmon with a balsamic cherry glaze is great for any dinner occasion – weeknight or a romantic dinner in.
What you'll need
Say goodbye to dry, over cooked salmon! This recipe needs only a few ingredients and is ready in under 30 minutes – a keeper in my book.
Let’s quickly chat about some of the key ingredients and tools you will need.
- fresh or frozen red cherries or Rainer cherries – How do you pit a fresh cherry? Using a chef’s knife, press down on the cherry smashing it with the flat edge of knife. If you cannot find fresh Cherries use frozen.
- balsamic vinegar – use a good quality balsamic vinegar.
- brown sugar – I like the lighter taste of light brown sugar but dark can work in a pinch
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- dry white wine – use what you enjoy drinking. To quote Julia Child, “If you have not a good wine to use, it is far better to omit it, for a poor one can spoil a simple dish and utterly debase a noble one”.
- salmon fillets – The most important factor when buying salmon is to buy it fresh. It should smell like the sea, not fishy or sour. It should be on ice or properly refrigerated, look bright, shiny and firm – not dull or musty. Be picky at the seafood counter; a tail-end of salmon will be difficult to cook properly. Ask for a center cut and leave the skin on.
See recipe card below for ingredient quantities.
- Parchment Paper makes clean up a snap! I like to use the unbleached and chlorine free parchment paper. Look on the box to make sure your parchment paper can be placed in a 400 degree oven.
- Baking sheet - The Nordicware Naturals® Quarter sheet is the baking sheet I use when cooking fish fillets for two.
- Instant read meat thermometer – To achieve a moist interior, we don’t want to overcook the fish. An instant read thermometer will help you gauge when the fillets are done.
- A Fish spatula is defined by the shape and thickness of its head, which is narrow, rectangular, and very thin, with a slightly offset upturn that cradles foods and increases the spatulas agility. The angling of the head makes it easy to get it between the fish meat and the skin making it easy to remove the skin before plating.
- Small sauce pan – I really like using this all clad saucepan as it provides even heat making it easier to thicken the cherry glaze.
How to Make This Recipe
Alright, got your ingredients and tools ready? Here’s how to make the perfectly bake salmon with a cherry glaze!
Preheat a rimmed baking sheet: Starting the salmon on a super-heated baking sheet renders some of its fat, which is a fancy way to say it causes the fat to dissolve or transform into a liquid or oil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. Place the baking sheet in the oven and heat oven to 500 degrees.
Pit the cherries. Using a chef’s knife, press down on the cherry smashing it with the flat edge of knife.
Remove the pit by gently opening the smashed cherry.
Make the glaze. Start by placing cherries, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, vinegar, and wine in a saucepan. We will bring this to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring constantly to combine and dissolve the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, reduce heat and let the glaze simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Continue to cook until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon – it will get thicker as it rests off the heat.
Score the salmon skin: To help the salmon’s fat render, cut several slits in the skin before cooking. Using a sharp or serrated knife, cut 4 to 5 shallow slashes, about 1 inch apart, through the skin of each fillet. Be careful not to cut into the flesh.
Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
Baste Salmon. Measure out 2 tablespoons of glaze into a separate cup (to avoid cross contamination if glaze touching raw fish and cooked fish) and coat each fillet with the cherry glaze using a basting brush.
Bake the salmon. Reduce oven to 275 degrees and remove the baking sheet. Place salmon skin side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Now set a timer for 9 minutes and grab your instant read thermometer.
When the thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees, remove from oven. Move fish to a serving platter and spoon the remaining glaze generously over the fish. Enjoy!
How to tell when baked salmon is done?
Overcooking is a common cooking mistake. The trick to perfectly cooked salmon – salmon that is cooked all the way through, but not dried out and flavorless – is knowing when to remove it from the oven so that it is just slightly underdone, then allowing residual heat to finish the cooking.
The most accurate method is to use an instant-read thermometer. Salmon is best cooked to medium-rare registering at 125 degrees in the thickest part, with the center still translucent. It may look like it is underdone, but it keeps cooking after it is removed from the oven.
Buying and storing fish
What to look for: The most important factor when buying salmon is making sure the salmon you buy is fresh. The fish should be on ice or properly refrigerated. Look doe fillets that are bright, shiny, and firm – not dull or mushy.
Fresh vs Farmed: In season, I prefer the more pronounced flavor of wild-caught salmon to farmed Atlantic salmon. High quality fresh salmon is best purchased from late spring through the end of summer.
What to ask for: It is best to have your fishmonger slice the fillet to order rather than buying the precut pieces, as these might have been sitting around longer. Be Picky! Ask for a center cut this will make sure that the fillet cooks evenly, avoiding having the thinner or tail-end cuts that cook faster making it more difficult to not overcook. Furthermore, buy the total amount you need in one piece and cut the individual fillets yourself.
Freezing Salmon: Because salmon is a firm fillet it is acceptable to freeze or buy frozen.
Defrosting Salmon: To defrost salmon in the refrigerator overnight, remove the fish from its packaging, place it in a single layer on a rimmed plate or dish to catch released water, and cover with plastic wrap.
Skin on versus skin off
For this recipe you will want to buy the salmon skin-on.
- I find that that leaving the skin on helps keep the fillet moist (one more measure to avoid overcooking).
- After the salmon is baked, the skin comes away easily. You can either remove it from individual pieces before you serve them or avoid eating it after it’s on your plate.
Tips to make this recipe
Want to know the secret to making the perfectly baked Salmon? Here are some of my best tips that I’ve learned making this recipe again and again.
- Start cooking the salmon on a pre-heated baking sheet. A super-heated baking sheet renders some of its fat; roasting it at 275 degrees keeps the fish moist.
- Have a timer and instant read thermometer. To avoid overcooking the salmon set your timer for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes, use an instant read thermometer to check if the salmon is medium-rare, the thickest part of the fillet registering 125 degrees. Remember the fish will continue to cook after removing it from the oven.
Looking for other fish and seafood recipes for two? Try these:
What to serve with baked salmon with cherry glaze
Here are a few of my favorite appetizers, sides and desserts to serve with this recipe:
- Mashed potatoes. I love serving this recipe with mashed potatoes the glaze soaks into the potatoes making it super yummy.
- Asparagus. Salmon with asparagus is a classic. Try this roasted asparagus recipe
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Baked Salmon Recipe with Cherry Glaze
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- ½ cup red cherries or Rainier cherries, pitted and sliced into quarters – I smash cherry with flat edge of knife to easily remove the pit. Frozen Cherries also work in this recipe
- 3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 salmon fillets ,skin on, about 4 ounces each
- First, Adjust your oven rack to lowest position, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up. Now place rimmed baking sheet on the oven rack, and heat the oven to 500 degrees. For prepping the fish, make 4 or 5 shallow cuts about 1 inch apart along skin side of each piece of salmon, being careful not to cut into flesh.
- Meanwhile, make the balsamic cherry glaze. Place the cherries, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and wine in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring to combine ingredients and dissolve sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until sauce has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat.
- Pat salmon dry with paper towels, portion out about 2 tablespoons of the glaze into a separate cup(to avoid cross contamination or glaze touching raw fish and then cooked fish) and brush the glaze onto the salmon fillets, coating each one thoroughly. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Reduce oven to 275 degrees and remove baking sheet. Place salmon skin side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees, 9 to 13 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Move fish to a serving platter and spoon the remaining glaze generously over the fish.
Your Notes, Tips and Tricks
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.