Mark Bittman's Roasted Salmon with Butter Recipe

Romulo Yanes

Simplicity is Mark Bittman's thing. His recipes might not be ground-breakingly new, but they work, and they're solid. He doesn't overthink it; case in point, his Roasted Salmon with Butter from How to Cook Everything The Basics is exactly what it sounds like: salmon, butter plus salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of parsley, if you're feeling fancy.

A salted and peppered pan goes into a preheated oven with a few tablespoons of butter, butter foams, salmon is dropped into the pan, and eight minutes later you have dinner. Simple, right? Well, it's also kind of the best way to cook a piece of fish. Your salmon comes out of the oven that very desirable place of medium-rareness, flaky, tender, and tasting of exactly what it should: fresh salmon.

What Worked: Everything. This is the salmon recipes that will have you realizing that salmon can be dinner even on nights when you think you don't have time to tackle seafood.

What Didn't: Not a thing. Even the cooking time was spot on.

Suggested Tweaks: Here's what Bittman has to say:

Herb-Roasted Salmon: Skip the parsley for garnish. In Step 1, use 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. In Step 2, add 2 tablespoons minced shallot and 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley or basil leaves or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, thyme, or dill leaves to the pan along with the salmon. Continue with the recipe.
Salmon Roasted with Olives and Thyme: Skip the parsley for garnish. Before Step 1, pit and chop 1 cup kalamata olives. In Step 1, sprinkle the salmon with pepper, but skip the salt (olives have plenty). In Step 2, add the olives and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves to the pan along with the salmon. Continue with the recipe.

Reprinted with permission from How to Cook Everything The Basics by Mark Bittman. Copyright © 2012. Published by Wiley. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 20 mins
Serves: 6 to 8 servings

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  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 salmon fillet (2 to 3 pounds), skin on if you like
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 475°F. When the oven is hot, put the butter on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven for the butter to melt, about 1 minute. Watch it the whole time: As soon as the foaming stops, remove the pan.

  2. Put the salmon in the seasoned butter, skin side down, and sprinkle the top with more salt and pepper. Return the pan to the oven.

  3. Roast until the salmon is just cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes. To see whether the fish is done, stick a paring knife between the layers of flesh; the center should be bright pink and still a little translucent. Garnish with the parsley and serve.