Bourbon Glaze Recipe for Salmon
This Bourbon Glazed Salmon recipe takes less than 30 minutes and requires only a few ingredients. Serve with rice and simple steamed veggies.
Weird little tidbit about me – I worked at Applebee’s in the early 2000’s. Let’s just say it was the heyday of bourbon glazed . . . everything.
Bourbon glazed steaks! Ribs with bourbon bbq sauce! Bourbon glazed chicken (which I would normally order for my shift meal, along with mashed potatoes and veggies). And I’m pretty sure there was even a bourbon glazed salmon on the menu.
It’s been MANY years since I’ve thought about that job or had any desire to bourbon glaze anything. But you know me. I’m always looking for new salmon recipes.
Today, I’m sharing an ode to my high school part time job and sharing this updated, delicious take on bourbon glazed salmon.
What is Bourbon Glazed Salmon?
The bourbon sauce for salmon can be prepared while the fish is in the oven. It should take only about 5 minutes to cook, but you could also prep it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator, too (more on that in the next section).
What you’ll need for this Recipe for Bourbon Salmon
- salmon – center-cut salmon fillets are the star of this dish that the bourbon glaze will cling to.
- bourbon – the key ingredient for the glaze, lending its distinct smoky and slightly sweet flavor to this dish.
- brown sugar – enhances the sweetness and molasses notes in the bourbon.
- soy sauce – seasons the glaze and adds umami and depth of flavor.
- rice vinegar – adds tangy acid and helps cut through the richness of the fish.
- fresh ginger – adds a zesty, aromatic kick to the glaze.
- garlic – adds a savory taste that complements the other flavors.
- unsalted butter – this emulsifies the glaze, and adds a velvety smooth mouthfeel.
- ground white pepper – this adds a bit of heat to the glaze. If you don’t have white pepper, feel free to use ground black pepper.
- salt – essential to any well-seasoned salmon dish.
How to buy the best fish for bourbon salmon:
If you have a grocery store, butcher, or seafood market where you can specify that you need center-cut pieces, that’s ideal for this bourbon brown sugar salmon.
You can use any variety of salmon you like best for this bourbon salmon, whether that’s Atlantic salmon, sockeye salmon, or something else. Food & Wine’s Guide to Every Type of Salmon You Can Buy will help you learn the differences.
How to make Bourbon Glaze for Salmon
To make the sauce for this bourbon salmon recipe, simply stir together bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar (save the balsamic for balsamic glaze), ginger and garlic in a small pot. Bring it all to a boil and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by about half.
Turn off the heat and whisk in a little butter, kosher salt, and ground white pepper. That’s it!
Psst – if you don’t have time to make homemade sauce, try my pesto salmon. It uses store-bought basil pesto, so it’s even faster!
Making this Bourbon Salmon Recipe in advance
While the bourbon glaze takes only about 5 minutes to make, I see all you meal preppers out there. The people who want to prepare as much as possible in advance so that weeknight meals are a breeze. I got you.
One way to make sure that this bourbon glazed salmon recipe comes together as fast as humanely possible is to make the bourbon sauce in advance.
So, go ahead and make this bourbon glaze up to 3 days in advance (you can do this with the glaze for my honey roasted carrots, too). Just keep the bourbon sauce for salmon it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the bourbon brown sugar salmon.
Then, spend those extra 5 minutes making some quick side dishes to go along with this bourbon salmon recipe, and you’re ready to eat!
How to cook Bourbon Salmon
Baking salmon is basically the easiest thing in the world, and I use this same technique for my salmon alfredo, too.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Then, grab a small rimmed baking pan. I usually line it with foil for super easy cleanup. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray (or rub it lightly with olive oil) so the salmon doesn’t stick.
- Place the salmon on the foil and give it a sprinkling of salt (or, for extra flavor, a little rib dry rub).
- Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked through. If you have an instant read thermometer, the easiest way to check for doneness is to check for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the fillet.
- The next step, broiling, is optional for bourbon glazed salmon, but I really like to do it, as it gives the fish kind of a crispy, caramelized crust.
- I brush each piece of fish with the bourbon glaze, and then return the pan to under the broiler. Just like when you broil the sugar on top of chocolate creme brulee, watch it SUPER CAREFULLY and let it broil for just a minute or so until the sauce bubbles and caramelizes.
- If you prefer not to use the broiler for this bourbon glazed salmon recipe, simply brush the bourbon glaze onto the fish when it comes out of the oven and serve without broiling. It’s great either way.
What bourbon should I use for this Bourbon Salmon Recipe?
Look, you don’t need to use anything fancy or top shelf for this bourbon glazed salmon recipe! Conversely, it shouldn’t be so cheap that you wouldn’t bother drinking it.
I used Bulleit bourbon for this bourbon salmon recipe, because that’s generally what we have on hand. It’s a nice middle-of-the-road bourbon that is equally good for cooking and drinking in a bourbon lemon rosemary cocktail.
What to serve with Bourbon Salmon
Like my wonton nachos and orange ginger chicken, this recipe has an Asian-inspired flare to it with the soy sauce and ginger in the glaze, so I chose to serve this bourbon glazed salmon with rice and steamed sugar snap peas (which I also love in Easter salad).
Asian noodle salad would also be delicious alongside a piece of this salmon.
Simple roasted potatoes and sauteed green beans (or green beans and tomatoes) are also a good choice to pair with this bourbon glazed salmon recipe.
How to store Bourbon Salmon
While this dish is best eaten immediately after cooking, any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Bourbon Salmon Recipe FAQs
A successful glaze for savory food usually involves something sweet (which in this glaze, is the brown sugar), something tangy (vinegar), and something that will emulsify the ingredients and create a rich glazy consistency, like butter.
The brown sugar and the butter in this glaze combine to create a glossy, caramelized coating for the salmon.
There are many ways to cook salmon, including baking, steaming and grilling. You can be successful with any of these methods by paying attention to the internal temperature of the salmon with a probe thermometer. As long as you don’t overcook it, your salmon should be moist. Cook salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F and no higher. It should be opaque and flake easily with a fork, but not dried out.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 4 center cut salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
- Pinch ground white pepper
- Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spray small rimmed baking pan with nonstick spray. Place salmon fillets, skin side down, on prepared pan and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- Transfer to oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until salmon is opaque throughout and internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in small saucepot, stir together bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and whisk in butter, white pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- When salmon is finished cooking, remove pan from oven. Evenly spread glaze over salmon.
- Set broiler to HIGH and place salmon under broiler. Cook 1 minute or until glaze becomes bubbly and slightly caramelized, watching very carefully.
- If desired, slip spatula between salmon skin and flesh to remove skin before serving. Serve salmon garnished with green onion, if desired.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 480Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 781mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 0gSugar: 5gProtein: 38g
This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.