Is It Better To Cook Salmon In The Oven Or On The Stove?

You’ve got an oven with a stovetop, top-quality salmon fillets, and dinner guests you want to impress who’ll be arriving at your home in a few hours. Should you cook the salmon in the oven or on the stove for the showiest, tastiest results?

Common ways to cook salmon in the oven are baking and broiling. Baking makes it tender and buttery, and broiling gives it a rich flavor and crisp layer. You can get similar results using a stove. You’ll crispen the salmon and intensify its flavor by pan-frying it or make it moist through poaching.

You probably don’t have extra time (or salmon fillets!) to experiment with cooking methods. So, we’ll break down the similarities and differences between cooking salmon in the oven and on the stove. Then, you’ll know which method is most likely to earn your guests’ applause.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven Vs. On The Stove: A Comparison

You can cook salmon on the stove or in the oven in countless different ways. Broiling and baking are the most popular ways to cook salmon in the oven, and pan-frying and poaching are the methods most commonly used on the stove.

We’ll look at the pros and cons of broiling, baking, pan-frying, and poaching salmon.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven Vs. On The Stove: Time & Effort

Salmon cooking methods range from practically effortless to needing your nonstop attention.

Here’s how oven and stovetop methods measure up against each other regarding the time and effort they require.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven

Salmon is usually baked or broiled in the oven.

Baking Salmon

Baking involves coating salmon in a little oil, salt, and pepper, placing it skin-down on a greased baking tray, and cooking it at about 400°F for 12 to 15 minutes.

For a twist on the standard baking method, wrap your salmon in parchment paper before popping it in the oven. This method is called en papillote in French. To cook salmon en papillote, you put the fish on a sheet of parchment paper, add oil and seasoning (if you want), fold and roll up the paper to enclose the fish in a parcel, then bake the parcel on a baking tray at 400°F for 12 to 15 minutes.

Baking salmon is low-effort because you don’t have to keep your eye on the fish as it cooks. All that’s needed is a glance in the oven’s direction now and then while you get on with another kitchen task.

Broiling Salmon

The first steps for broiling salmon are the same as for baking it. You season the fish, brush it with oil, put it skin-down on a baking tray, and place it in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. The difference is that, when baking salmon, you apply heat to all sides of the salmon, whereas you heat only the top of the fish while broiling it. You also use a higher temperature when broiling (500°F).

Broiling is higher maintenance than baking. Because you expose your salmon to direct scorching heat, you need to watch it closely to stop it from burning. Look away from the oven while washing your asparagus, and your salmon could become charred, not golden.

Cooking Salmon On The Stove

Pan-frying and poaching are the most popular ways to cook salmon on the stove.

Pan-Frying Salmon

Pan-frying is the quickest of the four methods we’re looking at. You can have your salmon done in under 10 minutes! Heat oil (enough to coat the pan) over medium heat, add seasoned fillets to the pan skin-side up, and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn the fillets over and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.

Although cooking salmon in a pan is a speedy method, it’s also messy. So, protect your clothing with an apron or splatter guard.

Poaching Salmon

Poaching salmon involves cooking it in liquid over heat. You warm two cups of water (or one cup water and one cup wine) in a skillet, add seasoned salmon fillets to the warm liquid, and then simmer the fish for 12 to 15 minutes. If the liquid evaporates too fast, use a lid – the fish should stay submerged in the liquid.

Poaching salmon is a low-maintenance method, only needing you to check that the fish stays under the liquid.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven Vs. On The Stove: Taste & Texture

The different cooking methods give salmon distinct tastes and textures.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven

Baking cooks salmon evenly all over, but it doesn’t brown the top. So, you get tender flesh but no golden-brown layer. Baking salmon gives it a mild, buttery flavor. Salmon baked in parchment paper is moist yet firm and looks like steamed salmon.

On the flip side, broiling heats the top of the salmon more than other parts, resulting in a golden, crispened top layer and juicy center. The high heat also creates a stronger flavor.

Cooking Salmon On The Stove

The magic of pan-frying salmon is that its skin transforms from something slimy you move to the side of your plate into a crisp, tasty morsel you can’t wait to pop into your mouth. The taste and texture of pan-fried salmon are similar to broiled salmon. It’s also full-flavored, flaky and juicy inside, and crisp and golden outside.

Poached salmon looks and tastes a lot like steamed salmon. It has an almost silky texture and a fresh, mild taste.

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Cooking Salmon In The Oven Vs. On The Stove: Nutrition 

A mouth-watering taste isn’t the only thing salmon’s got going for it. The fats that make this fish so tasty (called omega-3 fatty acids) also make it a nutrition superstar. Omega-3s are linked to better brain, heart, and eye health, among other benefits. Plus, salmon contains vitamin D and a good dose of protein.

Certain cooking methods can destroy some of salmon’s goodness. Here’s what you need to be aware of if you’re eating for enjoyment and health.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven

Broiling salmon at high temperatures can create compounds called advanced glycation end products. High levels of these compounds might increase your chance of developing diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. To lower your risk, broil your salmon only occasionally, keep cooking times quick, and don’t char your fish (another reason to keep watch while it cooks!).

High cooking temperatures can also zap some of salmon’s nutrients, like omega-3s.

When salmon is baked, it might lose some of its omega-3 power, but these healthy fats are protected better than during cooking methods that use higher temperatures. Baking salmon can also preserve its vitamin D content.

Cooking Salmon On The Stove

Watch how much oil you use when pan-frying your salmon. You need just enough to coat the pan, not so much that your salmon swims in the stuff. Vegetable oils like sunflower oil are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids, so deep-frying your salmon can change its fat profile from healthy to potentially harmful. Plus, lashings of oil add lots of calories.

Pan-frying’s high temperatures also increase the risk of salmon losing nutrients and forming harmful compounds.

To make your pan-fried salmon healthier, choose heat-stable oils like olive and avocado and add just as much as you need to crispen the fish and prevent sticking.

Poaching is one of the healthiest ways to cook salmon. You don’t add any oil, so there are no extra calories or omega-6s. And the lower cooking temperature is less likely to harm those precious omega-3s.


So, it turns out you can get similar results cooking your salmon in your oven or on your stove. The cooking method (like baking, broiling, pan-frying, or poaching) you choose influences your salmon’s taste, texture, and nutrition more than where you cook it.

Bake your salmon wrapped in parchment paper in the oven or poach it on the stove if you’re after the healthiest cooking method. Broil or pan-fry your salmon if you want maximized flavor and a crispy, golden exterior. If you’re looking for the quickest method, go for pan-frying, and if you want something likely to work well every time, try baking your salmon in parchment paper.