Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon

Gluten-Free, Main Courses, Seafood / Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Salmon is the perfect gateway fish for people who think they hate fish. People who avoid it completely, fry it beyond recognition or drown each bite in tartar sauce, ketchup or malt vinegar. Oh, I was once one of you. The thought of eating a wet, limp, UNBREADED piece of fish? Repulsive.

Then I discovered salmon. A fish that’s easy to prepare, quick to cook, nutritious and can handle big flavors: teriyaki glaze, red pepper, butter and lime, sun-dried tomato pesto. Jeff and I eat salmon every other week, so we are ALWAYS on the lookout for a new salmon recipe. This Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon comes from Jeff found it online a few weeks ago, and we’ve already made it twice.

It’s hard to fight the peppery brown sugar rub, the way it caramelizes, especially at the edges of the salmon. And it doesn’t just form a crust; it infuses mouth-watering spicy sweetness into the entire fish. You probably have the ingredients in your pantry right now: brown sugar, onion powder, lemon pepper and cracked black pepper. Just brush a little butter onto the salmon, press the rub down gently, and it’s ready to roast in the oven or grill on a cedar plank.

Just beware, it’s hard to stay away from those caramelized edges. They pull away so easily, so sweet and peppery. Definitely worth licking your fingers, even if this fish isn’t battered and fried.

Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon

Adapted from

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets (bones removed)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted*
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Pat the salmon fillets dry, and brush them with melted butter.
  3. Combine the seasonings in a small bowl, and mix. Sprinkle them over the salmon, and press down gently.
  4. On a lightly greased baking sheet, bake for 20-25 minutes. Line the sheet with foil for easy cleanup.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF butter.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 307, fat: 13.7g, carbs: 14g, fiber: 0, protein: 34g, PP+ = 7

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45 thoughts on “Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon

  1. Lovely picture and great sounding flavour profile! I’d just caution your readers to look for wild salmon. The farmed stuff is surrounded by controversy. Regrettably wild salmon isn’t always available but the environmental benefits are well documented by people like the Monterey bay Aquarium and Oceanwise.

  2. Ooooh!! Looks yummy! I’m always looking for new slamon recipes too, but DH’s all-time favorite is just as easy as the one above and also has crispy delicious edges! I came up with it several years ago after having something similar in a restaurant that I wanted to recreate at home. It’s so fast and easy!

    Blackened Herb Salmon:
    -1 pkg. boneless salmon fillet
    -1 Tbsp. olive oil
    -kosher salt
    -black pepper
    -dried Italian seasoning
    -dried dill weed
    -farlic powder
    -Olive oil non-stick spray

    -Cover a broiler pan with aluminum foil and place fish on it.
    -Brush fish with olive oil, coating sides too.
    -Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, herbs and garlic powder (I’ve found they adhere best to the fish if I do it in that order, but I guess it’s not that critical)
    -Spray top of fish with the non-stick spray. It helps everything adhere to the fish and gives a little added protection to the herbs under the broiler.
    -Broil 12-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet. Top should be dark, sizzly and crispy!

  3. That sounds just amazing. I’ve been on a bit of a salmon kick lately (in fact, just broiled some for lunch today!). One of my favorite marinades has brown sugar in it so I know just what you mean about the amazing caramelization. I definitely want to give this one a try!

  4. WOW love this one – Looks amazing – I have a freezer full of Salmon from Alaska that Hubby brought home a few weeks ago and this recipe will be perfect.

  5. This looks beautiful.
    You are right about salmon for people who don’t think they like fish: it goes with so many different spices/rubs/etc.

    One of my favorite ways to cook it is topped with a mixture of tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, and onions

  6. That’s entirely too difficult. Why by salmon if you’re gonna smother it in other tastes? Why eat salmon if you really want something else? The flavor of salmon is delicious, I’d never taint it with any of this.

  7. I like fish but don’t eat because once a fine cartilage (well bone) of fish got struck in my throat and it was very painful. Since then I don’t eat fish :(

  8. I just stumbled upon your blog and really like it! This recipe looks amazing. I love salmon and am definitely going to try this out…the carmelization sounds delicious.

  9. I made this tonight and it ended up fine restaurant quality. And I can barely cook. Great, easy recipe; even for beginners.

  10. I usually like my fish 2 ways: 1. Tuna, and 2. Raw.

    ie: sushi freak here. I don’t generally like cooked fish, because of my 1st wife’s dependence on fish sticks. She refused to go to the Stick treatment center for her habit and so we split, very sad.

    However, I think dinner for tomorrow night just landed on my PC. Thanks!

  11. Try this one – place individual salmon fillets in tin foil (big enough to make loose parcels). Mix together in a dish enough runny honey and dark soy sauce to coat the top of each fillet and , if you like it, some finely chopped garlic. Make loosely wrapped parcels and cook for around 15-20 minutes at 170 C. Scrummy!

  12. Ya I want to know why you say “and line the baking sheet with tin foil for easy cleanup.” If your gonna have a recipe that a lot of people will read and do at least don it in a sustainable manner. Looks good

  13. I am going to make this for my Mom tomorrow when I visit for lunch. Any suggestions what to serve with this? Rice? Salad?



  14. I’m John’s Mom; I’m a fishy person, and salmon is my preferred choice — and am so looking forward to this recipe, Thank you — Joan

  15. Cooking salmon at a lower temperature, after thawing it overnight in the refrigerator, often yields a more moist fillet. I’ve had great success in cooking it at 275 for 25-30 minutes, and then to glaze-up the brown sugar, hold it under the broiler for 4-5 minutes.
    I must agree, brown sugar & those other seasonings go wonderfully with wild Alaskan salmon!

  16. I usually hate salmon, but I also tried this recipe from Recipezaar and fell in love. Thanks for sharing, everyone needs to try this!

  17. I am planning on making this tonight for New Year’s Eve. I have made once before, making two fillets instead of only one. My biggest problem with the last time I made it . . . I didn’t make enough to let everyone have seconds. :) Thank you for a wonderful recipe. This is simple, tastes wonderful, and will be a pleasure to make again.

  18. Oh me and my fiancé LOVE salmon and are always searching for new ways to have it. This is perfect, we’ve had it several times and it is wonderful! thanks for pointing us towards such a great recipe! (Excellent photo too!)

  19. I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed this recipe! I’ve made it several times since you first posted it and it is so wonderful. I’m making this for mine and my hubbys Vday dinner tonite. Thanks for a great recipe!

  20. I whipped this up for dinner tonight, and hubby gave it Rave reviews – it paired nicely with Roasted Garlic brown rice and a Caesar salad. I didn’t have any onion powder, so I substituted garlic powder – it was the perfect blend of Spicy and Sweet!

  21. OOuu, This sounds great! I'm trying it tonight. My husband fishes – alot!! So we eat salmon – alot!! BTW, here in Oregon it isn't legal to keep wild salmon when you catch them… you must release them. My favorite salmon is spring chinook!! Yummy!! Just in from the ocean, they have a little more fat on them and are really fresh.

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