This brown sugar glazed salmon recipe is pan seared to perfection with a mouthwatering sweet and savory sticky sauce.
Love salmon with a sweet sauce? Try my Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Salmon next!
Why you'll enjoy it
I like salmon pretty much any way I can get it, but if you have a picky eater on your hands, this sauce may be just the thing that turns them into a salmon lover! It's sweet and rich without being overpowering and is tempered by the bright lemon.
Another bonus is that it's ready in just 30 minutes for a quick way to get seafood on the table. You'll also feel confident in cooking salmon on the stovetop and find yourself using this simple technique forever.
Ingredients for it
- Salmon - season it with salt & pepper and pan fry in olive oil and butter
- Brown sugar - just enough to get the ideal level of sweetness
- Soy sauce - for that savory kick. I used regular, but use low sodium if that's a consideration
- Garlic powder - who doesn't like a touch of garlic
- Lemon juice - for acidity. Always use freshly squeezed lemon.
- Ginger - that zesty element unifies the sauce
- Worcestershire sauce - this is a classic move to give savory depth to sauces. You don't taste it itself!
- Chicken broth - it's tastier than water, but if it's all you have, that's totally okay
- Cornstarch - to thicken the sauce
How to make brown sugar salmon
This is an overview, and full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
- For best results, let the salmon warm up on the counter for at least 15-20 minutes. Cut it into 4 pieces, and season it with salt & pepper.
- Preheat your skillet for a few minutes prior to searing the salmon (skin-side down) for 5 minutes, then flip it and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a bowl. Add in the rest of the butter, pour the sauce in between the salmon pieces and let it thicken for 20-30 seconds, then take it off the heat. This is important since you don't want the sauce to burn!
- Flip the salmon pieces over, and spoon the sauce over the fish.
Success tips for cooking salmon in a skillet
- Most salmon fillets (Atlantic salmon in particular) that you buy from the grocery store will be about 1" thick, and the cooking time in the recipe below will work, but in general it's a good idea to watch the color of the salmon change. The light pink color moves up slowly as it cooks, and this will give you an idea of how close it is to being finished. It will still cook for a little bit after you remove it from the heat. It's easy to overcook salmon, so keep that in mind.
- Ensure you heat the pan up enough before you add the salmon, and don't crowd the pan. It's better to cook the fish in two batches than stuff all the pieces in at once if they're a tight fit.
- Don't move the salmon around the skillet. It needs to cook undisturbed to get a good sear. When you want to flip the salmon, if it's sticking, don't force it and give it a little more time to release naturally.
Tools for this recipe
- I use cooking tongs to easily turn the salmon, and a splatter guard helps with clean-up.
- Here's a fun cooking trick: the ginger is much easier to grate if it's frozen. I always keep some fresh ginger in the freezer and keep the whole thing in a ZipLoc bag and it lasts in there for months. I use my Microplane grater/zester to easily grate it and then pop the ginger back in the freezer!
Substitutions and variations
- As with any recipe, sub ingredients at your discretion. It has been tested with ingredients as listed, and our kitchen finds the flavors to be balanced. The sauce isn't too sweet, but you could definitely add a little more lemon juice to the salmon once it's cooked if you want to cut the sweetness a bit.
- I added a bit of chopped parsley before serving, but that's totally optional. It adds a little more freshness and a pop of color.
Leftovers and storage
- This recipe should be good stored in the fridge for 3-4 days in an airtight container, but I like to eat leftover fish within a day or two.
- Reheat it in a saucepan over a low heat until warmed through.
- It's also great the next day served cold over a salad!
What to serve with it
- This salmon is delicious served with rice or mashed potatoes. Pair it with a starch and some steamed veggies for a complete meal, or try this Sautéed Spinach.
- For a light lunch, simply serve it with a side salad.
Questions about this brown sugar salmon? Let me know in the comments below! I hope you enjoy it.
Brown Sugar Glazed Salmon
- 1 pound fresh salmon cut into 4 pieces
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Take the salmon out of the fridge 15-20 minutes prior to starting the recipe if possible. Cut the salmon into 4 equal pieces and pat it dry with paper towel. Season with salt & pepper.
- Add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter to a skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the pan for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the sauce ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.
- Cook the salmon (skin-side down) for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium and flip the salmon over and cook for another 2-3 minutes (should be almost cooked through).
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet and let it melt, then pour in the sauce (just pour it in between the salmon pieces). Let it bubble/thicken for 20-30 seconds or so, and then take the pan off the heat (the pan will still be hot and the sauce will continue to thicken, but this avoids burning it). Flip the salmon over & spoon the sauce over top.
- Serve immediately. The salmon skin will be nice and crispy and is delicious when you eat it right away, but feel free to peel it off it you prefer.
- The salmon I used in this recipe was approx. 1" thick. If your salmon is thicker or thinner, you may need to adjust cooking time a bit (see blog post for tips).
- It's fine if you've got a bit more than a pound of salmon, just make sure it's not too much over or the salmon pieces will be crowded in the pan and not cook properly (then sear it in two batches).
- Pro tip: the ginger is much easier to grate if it's frozen. I always keep some fresh ginger in the freezer and I use my Microplane grater/zester to quickly grate it.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
My family LOVED this recipe 100%.
Wonderful!! Thank you for your review! 😀
Will this recipe work on skinless salmon?
Yes, but it'll likely cook a bit faster, so I'd keep an eye on it so you don't overcook it. Enjoy!
Hi, I made this for dinner last night and it was fabulous. The only thing I didn’t have was the lemon juice but I thought it was great without it. I will for sure be making this again soon. Thanks for the recipe.
Yay!! I'm so happy to hear that, Gloria. Thanks for your review! 😀
Nel A. says
Can you tell me how I would bake the salmon if i use the oven instead?
Hi! I really can't comment without testing - sorry!
This sauce made me like salmon.. outstanding
Miranda @ Salt & Lavender says
Aw that makes us so happy to hear, Shannon!! 🙂
This recipe was great! Enjoy the fact that I didn't have to turn on my oven to cook the salmon. Salmon was moist and tender but my skin didn't come out crispy which is the best part I enjoy. When cooking on stove top to I need to cover it?
Hi! I'm glad you enjoyed it! I love crispy skin too. The skin should be crispy once you flip it over (don't cover it because that'll steam it and it won't crisp up), but the sauce will make the skin soft again really quickly.
This is soooo tasty! I have been looking for a salmon recipe that really satisfied my want for it to be a little sweet and this really hit the spot! totally will be doing this again!
I'm thrilled you enjoyed it, Agatha!! Thanks so much for taking the time to write me a review! 🙂