Three Ways to Cook Salmon

We've got three delicious recipes that maximize the flavor and health benefits of this pink-fleshed fish.

Reviewed by Elaine Magee, MPH, RD on May 09, 2014
From the WebMD Archives

Vibrantly colored, tenderly textured, and richly flavored, salmon is loaded with the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These polyunsaturated fats may help boost the immune system and reduce the risk of heart disease. And in the area of brain development, they’re thought to be beneficial for a developing fetus, nursing infants, and young children. Scientists also continue to study omega-3s fatty acids and their potential to lower cancer risk.

The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings a week of fish, preferably oily fish such as salmon. Salmon is one of a few fish rich in omega-3s (1.2 to 1.9 grams per serving, compared with almost none for chicken, pork, and beef). It’s also an excellent source of protein, vitamin B12, and selenium, with good amounts of vitamin B6, thiamine, and niacin.

Salmon's characteristic rosy color, which ranges from pale pink to orangey-red, comes largely from astaxanthin, a carotenoid (naturally occurring pigment) that the fish ingest from microalgae in their diet. Research suggests that astaxanthin, an antioxidant, may help protect the immune system.

Because salmon is a rich fish, the best preparation methods are those that add little or no fat, such as the following three recipes.

Because salmon is a rich fish, the best preparation methods are those that add little or no fat.

Salmon Cakes With Lemon Dill Yogurt Sauce

Makes 4 servings


Salmon cakes:

1 pound cooked, flaked salmon

1/4 cup panko bread crumbs (whole wheat panko is now available)

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup light mayonnaise

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 small red onion, finely minced

2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

dash hot sauce

cooking spray


1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon zest

1 Tbsp fresh dill

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

1/2 cup seeded, chopped cucumber


1. In a large bowl, combine all salmon cake ingredients and mix well. Form into four patties.

2. Spray a large skillet, and heat over medium heat. Sauté patties 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.

3. Make sauce by combining all sauce ingredients.

4. Serve each salmon patty with the lemon dill yogurt sauce.

Per serving: 397 calories, 30 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 25 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 134 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 5 g sugar, 377 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 56%

Spicy Citrus Grilled Salmon and Asparagus Salad

Makes 4 servings


4 4-ounce salmon fillets

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

dash salt

1/2 tsp pepper

cooking spray

12 spears asparagus

4 cups mixed salad greens (arugula, spinach, baby lettuce)

1 orange, peeled, sliced into wedges

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 Tbsp feta cheese

2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Salad dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp orange zest

1 ounce orange juice (2 tablespoons)

1 ounce lemon juice (2 tablespoons)

1 Tbsp sherry vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


1. Combine brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Rub blend on fish; cover and chill 30 minutes.

2. Grill asparagus on rack coated with cooking spray for 5-7 minutes. Grill fish, skin side up, 5 minutes each side.

3. Toss greens with dressing, and arrange on four dinner plates. Top with grilled salmon and garnish with orange, asparagus, tomatoes, feta, and walnuts.

Per serving: 471 calories, 27 g protein, 35 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 68 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 9 g sugar, 204 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 66%

Pecan-Crusted Salmon

Makes 4 servings


4 4-ounce salmon fillets

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp panko bread crumbs (whole wheat panko is now available)

2 Tbsp chopped pecans

1 Tbsp chopped parsley

fresh lemon cut in wedges


1. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper.

2. Place salmon skin side down on baking sheet.

3. Combine mustard and honey, and brush on salmon.

4. Mix topping of bread crumbs, pecans, and parsley, and sprinkle over salmon, pressing down into honey mustard coating.

5. Bake salmon at 400°F 10-15 minutes or until flaky.

6. Serve with lemon wedges.

Per serving: 265 calories, 29 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (1.6 g saturated fat), 78 mg cholesterol, 0.4 g fiber, 282 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 42%

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Show Sources


Lewin, G. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No 118. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Wolk, A. Journal of the American Medical Association, Sept. 20, 2006.

Levitan, E. European Heart Journal, published online April 21, 2009.

Albert, C. New England Journal of Medicine, April 11, 2002.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.

Gurzell, E. Journal of Leukocyte Biology, April 2013.

Park, J. Nutrition & Metabolism, published online March 5, 2010.

WebMD Feature: "Do Omega-3s and Antioxidants Fight Cancer?"

WebMD Health News: "Pregnant? Omega-3 Essential for Baby's Brain."

WebMD Medical Reference: "Astaxanthin."

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