Salmon is the perfect gateway fish for people who think they hate fish. People who avoid it completely, fry it beyond recognition or drown each bite in tartar sauce, ketchup or malt vinegar. Oh, I was once one of you. The thought of eating a wet, limp, UNBREADED piece of fish? Repulsive.

Then I discovered salmon. A fish that’s easy to prepare, quick to cook, nutritious and can handle big flavors: teriyaki glaze, red pepper, butter and lime, sun-dried tomato pesto. Jeff and I eat salmon every other week, so we are ALWAYS on the lookout for a new salmon recipe. This Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon comes from Jeff found it online a few weeks ago, and we’ve already made it twice.

It’s hard to fight the peppery brown sugar rub, the way it caramelizes, especially at the edges of the salmon. And it doesn’t just form a crust; it infuses mouth-watering spicy sweetness into the entire fish. You probably have the ingredients in your pantry right now: brown sugar, onion powder, lemon pepper and cracked black pepper. Just brush a little butter onto the salmon, press the rub down gently, and it’s ready to roast in the oven or grill on a cedar plank.

Just beware, it’s hard to stay away from those caramelized edges. They pull away so easily, so sweet and peppery. Definitely worth licking your fingers, even if this fish isn’t battered and fried.

Peppery Brown Sugar Salmon

Adapted from

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets (bones removed)
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted*
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Pat the salmon fillets dry, and brush them with melted butter.
  3. Combine the seasonings in a small bowl, and mix. Sprinkle them over the salmon, and press down gently.
  4. On a lightly greased baking sheet, bake for 20-25 minutes. Line the sheet with foil for easy cleanup.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF butter.

Nutritional Information (Per Serving) – calories: 307, fat: 13.7g, carbs: 14g, fiber: 0, protein: 34g, PP+ = 7