Caramelized Salmon

Caramelized salmon in a skillet.

Caramelized salmon.

Do I need to go on? Because the word caramelized pretty much speaks itself straight into my soul.

There’s just something about food – any food, including but not limited to meat and vegetables – that becomes sweet and salty and textured and browned into some kind of caramelized dream that makes me never want to stop eating. It’s regular food meets candy meets me floating on food lovers’ cloud nine.


Caramelized salmon on a white plate with greens.

So this salmon is caramelized. It’s like you’re painting a beautiful and crunchy caramelized outer crust on one of America’s most beloved fish-es. ← a hard fact based on my opinions and perspectives.

But it’s the truth, right? I think everybody and their mom either completely loves or feels obligated to love this healthy, pretty, pink-colored fish.

On a personal fish preference note, I like salmon, but it has always been more of that magazine-article-reading obligation kind of liking. Or as an excuse to work an Asian glaze and a hot pile of rice into my dinners. Mmhmm.

Caramelized salmon on a plate with greens.

I became a pure salmon lover just for the simple goodness of salmon about three days ago when I had this at a restaurant, stolen straight off Bjork’s plate in the middle of the restaurant with no thought about what our dinner guests would think of us because everybody shares off each other’s plates in public, right? Er, uhh, yeah. If you must know, I didn’t order the salmon because I HAD to have the grilled portabella burger with Gouda and roasted red peppers and chipotle aoli + a side of the world’s best French fries instead. Which, in hindsight, I actually do not regret. But anyways.

Ultimately the point of salmon obsession happened when I walked, no, ran home and recreated this restaurant caramelized salmon beauty in my own kitchen.

Here are the three ingredients you need to make salmon taste browned, glazey, salty-sweet, and a teensy bit spicy.

Salt, pepper, and sugar in a white bowl.

That’s it.

You’re either in love with the short spice ingredient list and thinking about how fast you can get into the kitchen and make this, orrrr your mind is already racing with at least 30 other spices that you could add to that spice mixture. And more power to you if that’s deep down in your heart.

Salmon on a cutting board.

Howwwever. Let me just say this. In my moments of strongest temptation to take a simple recipe and add lots of spice and sauce and garnish and glaze and three kinds of sprinkles, I try to remind myself that more isn’t always better. A nice filet of high-quality salmon just shines with these extremely basic seasonings and a gorgeous cooking technique (that would be you, my caramelization magic).

Caramelized salmon on a plate.

Review = Five ingredients. Twenty minutes. Perfect texture. Addicting flavor. Healthy for your bod. Pretty to look at.

Caramelized salmon for dinner tonight? Okay, cool.

Caramelized Salmon

Caramelized Salmon


This caramelized salmon is simple, healthy and completely gorgeous. Just five ingredients and 20 minutes get that browned caramelized crust on the salmon.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (if using coarse salt, use 1 1/2 tablespoons and pulse it in a food processor a few times to make it less coarse)
  • a few dashes of freshly crushed black pepper
  • 16 ounces salmon, cut into 4 filets, with skin
  • olive oil


  1. Combine the sugar, salt, and black pepper in a shallow bowl. Dip each filet into the bowl and coat the entire surface of the salmon with the sugar/salt mixture.
  2. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the salmon, skin side down in the pan, and saute for about 5 minutes. If you’re worried about the burnt sugar in the pan (or if there’s too much oil/liquid) just drain it off or spoon it out of the pan. If there’s a lot of oil splattering, turn the heat down. I would not recommend going higher than medium heat.
  3. Flip each salmon filet (carefully! keep the skin on there because it helps the filets hold together) and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Flip to the side and saute each of the sides for another 2-3 minutes, if the filet is thick enough.
  4. Preheat the broiler to 450 degrees. Sprinkle the top of each salmon filet with a teaspoon or two of additional sugar/salt mixture. Transfer the pan from the stovetop into the oven. Let the salmon broil for 5-10 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure it’s not burning. The sugar in the pan might look burnt but that’s okay as long as the tops of the salmon are looking golden brown. When the salmon is done cooking, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes (that sugar gets HOT). Gently peel off the skin before eating – it will be very dark because it’s totally caramelized with sugar, and it should come off very easily.


If you’re using regular table salt, start with just 1 tablespoon and add more salt as necessary.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: caramelized salmon, salmon recipe, healthy salmon recipe

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Caramelized Salmon - Five ingredients. Twenty minutes. Perfect texture. Addicting flavor. Healthy for your bod. Pretty to look at.

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