Christmas Baked Salmon

Your Christmas main dish for this year has just landed!! Have you ever seen a Baked Salmon look so festive?? And it’s so EASY!

Have you ever seen a Baked Salmon that looks so festive? Featuring a honey butter-glazed side of salmon baked in foil, slathered with creamy dill sauce and finally topped with a glittering Holiday “Tapenade”, pays extremely high dividends for very little work.



  • 1.2 – 1.5 kg salmon side (skin on, bones removed, Note 1)
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt , cooking
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Honey Butter Glaze:

  • 150g butter , unsalted
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 garlic cloves , finely minced (garlic press or knife)

Creamy Dill Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream , full fat (low fat is too watery)
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill , finely chopped (lightly packed cup)
  • 1/2 eschallot (French onion), finely grated
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp salt , cooking

Holiday “Tapenade”:

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup slivered almonds , toasted (Note 2)
  • 1/3 cup parsley , roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 pomegranate , only the seeds
  • 1/4 cup parsley , roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 lemons, extra , cut in 6 pieces each (for serving, don’t skip this)

Recipe Notes:

1. Salmon – Get a whole side of salmon in one piece. It should come with skin on (holds together better for moving once cooked) and bones removed (nobody wants pokey bones with a mouthful of Christmas Salmon!). Place salmon on diagonal of tray if it’s too large. A bit of overhang will be fine (on the thinner end). 


2.  Toasting almonds – Preheat  frypan over medium heat (no oil). Add nuts then stir for 2 minutes or until they smell amazing and are lightly browned. Keep them moving as they burn easily! Transfer to bowl straight away to cool.


3. Cooked salmon – you can just pry open flesh in middle to check. Otherwise, internal temperature of cooked salmon is 43°C  for rare, 49°C for medium-rare, or 54°C for medium. Grill cooks fast so just leave in for longer if you want it cooked more, move down to lower shelf to reduce browning.


4. Serving – Dish is best served warm or at room temp, not piping hot. If at room temp, make sure it is still warm enough so honey-butter-salmon juices are liquid not firmed up (if solidified, melt 10 sec in microwave or 2 min in very low 50°C oven is enough, can do this on serving platter).


Do not spread piping hot salmon with sour cream, it melts and slides off.


Skin is needed for easy handling of salmon while cooking but it’s not pleasant to eat because it’s not crisp in this recipe. People can either just avoid eating, or you can portion it without skin (it’s easy to slide cake serve between flesh and skin)


Be sure to serve with extra lemon wedges, this is a dish that loves fresh lemon!


5. Make ahead – Excellent for preparing most ahead with simple assembly on day.

  • Tapenade – 24 hrs in advance (fridge) but keep toasted almonds in pantry and stir in before serving (few hours ahead is fine), ensure it is at room temp when using.
  • Creamy Dill Sauce and Honey Glaze – 24 hours ahead, fridge (glaze will need to be reheated to make pourable).
  • Pomegranates – bash out the seeds the day before! See in post for how;

6. Storage – Leftovers will keep for 3 – 4 days in the fridge. Allow to come naturally to room temperature. Do not microwave or oven reheat, the sour cream will melt.


7. With all the toppings, this is almost a main course size serving. So if it’s part of a banquet with other mains, this will easily stretch to 16 – 20 people.


Creamy Dill Sauce
  • Mix ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Keep refrigerated until required.
Holiday Tapenade
  • Plump cranberries: Heat orange juice in a saucepan over high heat until hot. Turn stove off, add cranberries, cover. Stand 15 minutes, then drain in a colander (discard liquid). Cool.
  • Mix: Mix cranberries, toasted almonds (see Note 2), parsley, salt and olive oil in bowl. Use at room temp.
Cooking salmon
  • Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types).
  • Prepare salmon: Place a large sheet of foil on a tray (double layer for safety is recommended), then top with baking/parchment paper. Place salmon on paper, then fold up the foil sides a bit to cup them so glaze won’t run onto tray.
  • Glaze: Place ingredients in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once it started foaming, turn down to medium, let it foam for 2 minutes then remove and pour straight over the salmon.
  • Season: Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper, putting most of the salt on the thicker part of the salmon.
  • Wrap: Cover salmon with a smaller piece of paper, then foil. Fold and seal up sides to enclose salmon in a parcel – it doesn’t need to be 100% tightly sealed.
  • Bake 15 minutes. Remove salmon from oven.
  • Uncover / fold excess paper – Remove paper and foil and paper cover. Fold/scrunch paper and foil sides down to expose salmon surface. Tucking paper down also ensures it won’t catch fire when broiling.
  • Grill/broil to brown: Switch oven to grill/broiler on high. Place salmon on middle shelf in the oven and broil 7 to 10 minutes until you get caramelisation mostly on the edges, a bit on top. Don’t put it too close to the heat element otherwise paper might catch on fire! Check to ensure salmon is cooked – either pry open in middle to check or use a probe to check internal temperatures (Note 4).
  • Transfer to plate: Use foil overhang to transfer salmon onto serving platter straight away (otherwise it keeps cooking). Slide the foil then paper out from under the salmon (see video at 1 min 24s), allowing juices to pool on platter (it’s gold stuff!).
  • Cool: Loosely cover with foil, then leave to cool for at least 15 minutes, up to 1 hour or longer (for room temp serving – Note 6 for serving notes).
Assembly and serving
  • Dollop then thickly spread with Creamy Dill Sauce (~0.8cm / 1/3″ thick layer).
  • Pile over Holiday Tapenade, scatter generously with pomegranate seeds, and then remaining parsley. Squeeze over lemon juice.
  • Serving: Serve with extra lemon wedges so people can add more to taste. Cut into pieces – I use a cake cutter for serving. Encourage people to slop up some of the honey-butter sauce that will be mixed with semi melted Creamy Dill Sauce – it’s so good! This dish is best served slightly warm, not piping hot, also excellent at room temp.
Christmas-Baked-Salmon 2

Holiday “Tapenade“

Christmas bake salmon Holiday Tapenade
Here’s what you need for the Holiday Tapenade:

Lemon Dill Sauce for salmon

Here’s what you need Lemon Dill Sauce