Salmon is one of the most underrated proteins to prepare for a quick, low-prep, minimal-dishes weeknight dinner, and this brown butter lemon pepper salmon checks all those boxes. It needs next to no cutting and trimming and only requires a simple accompaniment of a few flavor-packed ingredients you probably already have in your fridge for something both aesthetically beautiful and honestly quite delicious.

What you’ll need

  • Salmon: 1.5 lbs is about right for four portions. Try to find a fillet that’s as evenly thick along the entire fillet as possible to prevent uneven cooking. Fresh is great, previously frozen and thoroughly thawed also works.
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper: This ingredient list is short, please crack your own black pepper for this recipe. We are looking for a pretty coarse grind here, you want to know the pepper is there.
  • Butter: Salted or unsalted is fine, whatever you’ve got in the fridge will do.
  • Lemon: Sliced with the seeds out, it’s worth the extra step.
  • Thyme: Fresh sprigs are great and pretty, but a big pinch of dried thyme works as well.

When is it done?

Properly cooked salmon is truly wonderful – tender, never dry, and flakes apart with a nudge of the fork. Overcooked salmon is absolutely still edible, it’s just, well, a bit less wonderful. The surefire way to properly cooked salmon is to use an instant-read meat thermometer – 110-125° F for medium rare or 125-130° F for medium. The outside of the salmon will be a lighter, opaque pink while the inside should still be a bit translucent and a slightly darker shade of pink than the outside. This could take 13-15 minutes or possibly even less depending on the thickness of your fillet, so start checking on the early end to avoid the dreaded “well-done”.

What to serve with brown butter lemon pepper salmon

While the ingredient list for this salmon is short and sweet, flavor is definitely not in short supply. We love this salmon with simple but no less delicious sides to really let the lemon and thyme shine through. Serve the salmon alongside a pile of deeply roasted baby potatoes (pop them in the oven before you roast your salmon and finish them off while the salmon is cooking) or rice along with sauteed broccoli, green beans, or a spinach salad. Go ahead and give it all a hearty dousing of lemony brown butter drizzle leftover from the sheet pan. It’s basically liquid gold and would make even a humble boiled potato sing. Weeknight dinner solved.

Brown Butter Lemon Pepper Salmon

Brooke Eliason
Servings: 4 servings
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Brown butter lemon pepper salmon is the perfect quick, low-prep, minimal-dishes weeknight dinner that also happens to look quite impressive.


  • pound salmon fillet
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 sliced lemon, seeds removed
  • thyme
  • rice for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 325° F. Pat your salmon dry with a paper towel and place on a parchment-lined quarter or half-sheet pan, skin side down. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and set aside.
  • In a small or medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted, allow it to brown– butter will foam and sizzle as brown specks appear on the bottom of the pan. Add sliced lemon and cook in butter for 2-3 minutes, until softened. Add a few sprigs of thyme and cook for 1 additional minute, tossing everything together with a spatula. Be careful not to burn the butter.
  • Pour the contents of the saucepan evenly over the salmon fillet, making sure the lemon slices and thyme are dispersed evenly on the top. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers between 110-125° F for medium rare, or 125-130° F for medium. Salmon will still be slightly pink and translucent on the inside and opaque on the outside surface. Do not overcook! Serve with rice and sauteed vegetables.

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