Healthy Salmon Recipes You Have to Try
We should probably all be incorporating a little more fish into our diets. In general it’s high in protein, low in saturated fat, and full of the omega-3 fatty acids we’re always hearing about. But if you grew up without much fish at the dinner table or you’re a little wary of having too much of a fishy taste on your palate, it can be difficult to try a new fish-centric entrée.
Salmon in particular is a fish that’s known to be healthy, but its richness also lends itself to more indulgent dishes. When you pair those two traits together, you might not feel so cheated — you’ll be eating a healthy meal that’s also delicious and satiating.
The American Heart Association recommends getting at least two servings of fatty fish, like salmon, per week. That’s because getting your weekly dose of omega-3s boosts an already healthy heart, and can benefit others already diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Those same fatty acids can also reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats, and can slightly lower blood pressure.
According to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, eating one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish per week can reduce a person’s risk of dying from heart disease by 36%. However, most Americans need some convincing to eat their seafood. Just one-third eats some form of seafood each week, and about half eat it only occasionally or not at all.
If you fall into the latter category, there’s never been a better time to give fish a try. (If you’re just starting out and can’t convince yourself to try salmon right away, try some shrimp recipes instead. They won’t be as high in omega-3s, but you’ll still get some of the same benefits.) For those of you looking to expand your palate, or just to find a new favorite salmon recipe, here are a few to try.
1. Grilled Salmon Tacos with Avocado Salsa
There’s nothing quite like fish tacos, but this recipe switches up a few ingredients to include salmon, while also giving you a creamy texture that remains light and healthy. The avocado and the yogurt sauce will work together well, not only for flavor but for giving you a rich bite that complements the fish. Plus, there’s nothing like breaking out the grill a little earlier in the year to fight against the winter doldrums. This recipe from the BBC’s Good Food site is sure to be a hit, especially because of the versatility of taco ingredients. Make as directed the first time, then customize it to your tastes.
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 skinless salmon fillets
- 200 grams (just under 1 cup) natural yogurt
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 ripe avocados, stoned, peeled, and diced
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 limes, juice of 1, 1 cut into wedges
- Small pack coriander, chopped
- 8 taco shells
Directions: Heat the grill to high and line a large baking tray with foil. Mix the smoked paprika and cumin in a small bowl. Rub the spices over the salmon fillets and put them on the baking tray. Pop under the grill for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through.
While the salmon cooks, combine the yogurt with the garlic and season to taste. In another bowl, combine the avocados, onion, and tomatoes. Add the lime juice, season, and scatter with coriander.
Warm the taco shells in the oven, following pack instructions. Flake the salmon and serve with the tacos, avocado salsa, yogurt, and lime wedges.
2. Maple Dijon Salmon
The beauty of salmon is that is has an inherent richness, meaning any seasoning you add is icing on the cake. Another perk of this recipe from PBS and chef Marc Matsumoto is that it takes very little effort to create a meal worthy of a restaurant entrée. Searing one side and using the oven to cook the salmon through will ensure a great texture, while the ingredients on top provide excellent complementary flavors.
“It only takes about 10 minutes from start to finish, yet its complex mix of tastes and flavors make it irresistibly good,” chef Matsumoto writes.
- 1 pound salmon
- 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ tablespoon rosemary, minced
- 1 lemon, zested
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Directions: In a small bowl, combine the mustard, maple syrup, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt.
Drizzle the salmon with the olive oil and then rub the oil onto the salmon to ensure it’s evenly coated. Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the salmon and then carefully spoon the mustard sauce over the salmon, trying not to spill any onto the pan.
Put the pan in the oven and bake until the salmon is cooked to your desired doneness. (Matsumoto typically cooks salmon to an internal temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit.)
3. Salmon Chowder
Normally, fish and dairy don’t pair particularly well together. But when it comes to chowder, all bets are off. This variation from Epicurious uses a little cream and bacon for the indulgence you’re looking for — especially if you’re trying to eat fish while also staying cozy with a big bowl of soup. However, there aren’t any thickeners included, so you’ll have a light broth that’s big on flavor, without the lump in your stomach when you’re finished. Epicurious suggests using a wild variety of salmon, though you’re welcome to use whichever variety you prefer.
- ½ pound red potatoes
- ½ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ¼-inch strips
- 2 cups chopped scallions
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 Turkish or ½ California bay leaf
- ⅛ teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 3 cups whole milk
- ⅔ cup heavy cream
- 1 (1.5-pound) piece salmon fillet, skin discarded and fish cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Chopped fresh chives, to garnish (optional)
Directions: Cut potatoes into ½-inch cubes, then cook in a 1- to 1½-quart heavy saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
Cook bacon in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook scallions, corn, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red-pepper flakes in fat in pot over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until scallions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add milk and cream and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to moderately low, then add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt, and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf before serving.
4. Salmon Quinoa Burgers
Making a salmon burger is a great way to feel indulgent without eating anything that’s bad for you. By incorporating a lot of flavors, you’ll be able to try fish without having an entire fillet on your plate. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, this burger (paired with the recommended salad) is a great way to do it.
If you’re just looking to get your omega-3s but aren’t concerned about a little extra fat, you could also add a tartar or mustard sauce to the mix to add another layer of richness. Like tacos, burgers are easy to personalize to your preferences. The recipe makes five patties, so you’ll have enough for the whole family. If you’re cooking for just one or two, several commenters said the burgers also froze well.
- 16 ounces wild salmon fillet, skin removed
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ⅓ cup diced shallots
- 1 cup kale, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ¾ cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay
- 1 large egg, beaten
Directions: Using a food processor or chopper, finely chop about 4 ounces of the salmon. The fine chop will help to keep the burgers together. Chop the remaining salmon with a knife into small pieces, and transfer all of the salmon to a large mixing bowl.
Over medium heat, sauté shallots and kale in oil, using a nonstick pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook until wilted and tender, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the kale and shallot mixture to the bowl with the salmon along with the quinoa, Dijon, Old Bay, and egg. Mix to combine, then form into five patties, about ½ cup each.
Lightly heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, spray with oil and add the salmon patties. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, then gently turn and cook an additional 4 to 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Skinny Taste provides a salad recipe to go with it, or add to your favorite bun and top with arugula and tartar sauce or a mustard sauce.
5. Smoked Salmon Dip
Nothing says indulgent quite like a creamy dip, but this one from Cooking Light incorporates the salmon that also makes it a better choice than your typical pub fare. Serve with your favorite crackers or a loaf of crusty French bread, and you have the perfect appetizer or weekend snack. This recipe uses low-fat cream cheese and sour cream to cut the calories, but if you’re not worried about that you can use traditional cream cheese. Plus, no recipe is simpler than just combining the ingredients list, and keeping it chilled.
- 4 ounces ⅓-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 4 ounces light sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 ounces chopped smoked salmon
- 2 tablespoons chopped red onion
- Garnish: additional fresh dill
Directions: Combine softened cream cheese, sour cream, fresh dill, lemon juice, salmon, and onion in a medium bowl. Garnish, if desired.
6. Spring Salmon Fettuccine
This recipe from Good Housekeeping gets its name because asparagus, one of the ingredients, is freshest during the spring months. But if you have a good produce supplier, this pasta dish is good all year round. You get your greens with the asparagus, your protein with the salmon, and your richness with the creamy sauce. The lemon brightens the dish while also complementing the fish. Who said fettuccine is only good with chicken?
- Salt and pepper
- 2 lemons
- 1 cup light cream
- 1 pound thin asparagus
- 18 ounces fresh fettuccine or 1 pound dried fettuccine
- 20 ounces skinless salmon fillet
- 1 ounce Parmesan cheese
Directions: Heat covered 6-quart pot of water to boiling on high. Add 2 teaspoons salt.
Into small bowl, from lemons, finely grate 1 tablespoon lemon peel. Stir in cream. Into another small bowl, squeeze 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Cut remaining lemon into wedges.
If using fresh pasta, add asparagus to boiling water in pot. Cook 1 minute, then add fettuccine. Cook 1 minute less than minimum time that label directs, stirring occasionally. (If using dried pasta: Add pasta to boiling water in saucepot. Cook 3 minutes less than minimum time that label directs, stirring occasionally. Add asparagus and cook 2 minutes.) Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water. With tongs or slotted spoon, transfer pasta and asparagus to colander; do not discard cooking water in pot.
Add salmon to pot. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or just until fish turns opaque throughout. Drain carefully; set aside.
Add pasta mixture, cream mixture, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to same pot. Cook on medium 1 minute or until pasta is al dente and well coated, tossing and stirring. If mixture seems dry, toss with reserved pasta cooking water. Top pasta with Parmesan and salmon, and serve with lemon wedges.
7. Salmon Cakes
Somewhat like crab cakes and a little less hearty than the salmon burgers we featured earlier, these salmon cakes are perfect for appetizers, creating sliders, or simply piling on a plate for dinner. The Food Network and Rachael Ray provide this recipe, complete with a chili mayonnaise sauce that complements the flavors. Plus, frying the cakes means you’ll satisfy any cravings for greasy food, while also combining fresh ingredients that are high in protein.
- Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- 3 (6-ounce) portions cooked salmon or 3 (6-ounce) cans salmon, drained well
- 1½ cups cracker meal
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 rounded teaspoons Old Bay seasoning blend
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 20 blades fresh chives, snipped or chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh dill, a handful, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Salad greens
- Coarse salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- ½ cup mayonnaise or reduced fat mayonnaise
- ½ cup chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
Directions: Heat a large, heavy skillet with 1 inch of frying oil over moderate heat.
Flake the cooked, cooled salmon with a fork. Add cracker meal to the bowl and work through the fish with your hands. Add the eggs, seasoning, pepper, chives, dill, pepper sauce, and the zest of one lemon to the bowl. Combine the ingredients well with your hands. If the mixture is a little wet, add a bit more cracker meal. Form 3-inch patties of salmon cakes 1-inch thick. You should yield 8 to 10 cakes. Fry cakes until golden in a single layer 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel lined plate.
Toss salad greens with coarse salt and the juice of the lemon you zested. Drizzle the greens with a little extra-virgin olive oil and re-toss the salad to coat.
Combine mayonnaise, chili sauce, and relish in a small dish. To serve, place salmon cakes on a bed of baby greens, 2 cakes per person, and top with chili mayonnaise sauce.