When I got a suggestion to make baked honey teriyaki salmon for the blog, I knew I would need to come up with a teriyaki sauce recipe. My biggest concern (other than amazing flavor, of course!) was that it didn’t require corn starch. Don’t you hate that slimy nasty texture of corn-starch-thickened sauces? Anyway, this recipe includes the abridged version of my honey teriyaki sauce, but I recommend checking out the entire honey teriyaki sauce recipe for more details and to learn about substitutions and optional changes.
The result works perfectly with salmon. The teriyaki sauce is bold, bright, and deeply flavorful. It emphasizes the sweetness of the salmon and leeks, while being tangy enough that the dish doesn’t end up being too sweet. The sesame oil also brings out the richness of the salmon’s flavor. And the beautiful bronzed glistening look of the finished salmon is just a bonus!
Melted leeks are something I’ve loved for years, because they’re so versatile and go well with almost anything. I have a post all about those too, also with more detail and some options! Check it out if you want to learn more about melted leeks! If you’re in a hurry, just proceed with this salmon recipe (which includes the abridged version).
Notes on This Teriyaki Salmon Recipe:
Melted leeks: the melted leeks in this recipe are optional, but amazing. If you don’t want to include them, you can just skip the steps involving leeks and go straight from preheating the oven to making the honey teriyaki sauce.
Substituting for leeks: if you like the idea of leeks but don’t have them on hand, the best close substitute would be caramelized onions. However, since caramelized onions are so much sweeter than melted leeks, you’ll need far fewer of them. Also, I wouldn’t recommend using them as a bed for the salmon the way you can with the melted leeks. Instead, I would arrange them on top of the salmon as you’re serving it.
Salmon baking time and temperature: the Kitchn has a fantastic guide to baking salmon in the oven. They recommend 4 to 6 minutes of bake time per ½ inch thickness (top to bottom; not width) of your salmon pieces at 425 Fahrenheit (220 Celsius). I prefer baking the salmon at 400 Fahrenheit (200 Celsius) for 5 to 6 minutes per ½ inch of thickness. This means a 1” thick piece of salmon will be done in 10 to 12 minutes. A 1 ½” piece will take 15 to 18 minutes. Ours pictured here were just over 1 ½” and took exactly 18 minutes.
Teriyaki sauce quantity: this recipe makes more honey teriyaki sauce than you’ll actually need for the salmon. It’s hard to make it in smaller quantities, though, because it just burns off too quickly. Keep the extra sauce for another use, like a stir-fry or a baked chicken teriyaki meal.
This baked honey teriyaki salmon pairs perfectly with my super-simple spicy roast potatoes. They’re quick to make, and bake at the same temperature as the salmon. If you want to make those to go with your salmon, start them first (since they need to bake longer). Calculate the bake time for your salmon, then put it in when the potatoes are approximately that close to done. For example, if your salmon should take around 15 minutes, put it in the oven about 15 minutes before your potatoes are due to come out. This way, everything will be hot and ready at the same time.
Baked Honey Teriyaki Salmon with Melted Leeks:
- 2 8-ounce salmon fillets
- 1 large leek
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt, depending on preference
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil (feel free to substitute vegetable oil)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- ½ cup honey
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius)
- Thinly slice the leek’s stalk, and wash it thoroughly.
- In a large pan, melt the butter and add the salt and leeks. Cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes, until very soft, about 30 minutes. (For normal melted leeks, you would cook them longer – but these will cook more under the salmon.)
- Meanwhile, make the honey teriyaki sauce. In another pan, heat the sesame oil and add the grated ginger. Cook over medium heat until fragrant, 20 to 30 seconds.
- Add the honey to the pan with the grated ginger and cook until it melts, then add the soy sauce and rice vinegar.
- Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring every few minutes, until it noticeably thickens and leaves a thin but viscous layer on the back of a spoon that doesn’t fill in after you run your finger through it. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Prepare your salmon. Drizzle olive oil into a baking dish, then make leek beds for each piece of salmon. Place the salmon onto the leek beds, skin-side down. Brush a generous layer of honey teriyaki glaze over the salmon.
- Bake the salmon at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 to 6 minutes per ½ inch of thickness (height from top to bottom, not the width from side to side). The nice fat pieces pictured took about 18 minutes.
- Halfway through the baking time (which depends on the thickness of your salmon), brush the fillets with another layer of glaze.
- When your salmon is done, brush it with teriyaki glaze one more time. Serve with the melted leeks, which will have absorbed some of the glaze drippings. Yum!
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