This is where we are now. It’s not just the cooking. It’s the sheer exhaustion of trying to think about what to cook. We’ve dissolved into eating plain crackers. Delving into chips to not do dishes. Skipping meals. And more than once this week, I have peered into my pandemic freezer feeling a little too much like Shelly Duvall in The Shining. It’s not good.

Sheet pan to the rescue! When you are tired, weary and just plain unprepared for dinner, a sheet pan is the answer. You can defrost fish faster than anyone can figure out that you didn’t make a plan for dinner and use this foolproof way to cook a lush, flavorful filet of salmon. It’s fast, it’s easy and best of all: zero cleanup. Pick one from the list below, or season each filet differently and try several at once. Add rice and greens and you’ve got dinner. Or, serve with sliced avocados and supremed citrus for a cheery, bright can’t wait for spring supper. 

Don’t have salmon? You will get great results using this same technique with other fish, as well. You can make stellar fish tacos by seasoning cod, tilapia or rockfish with chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper and simply baking as below. Finish with a spritz of lime and some fresh cilantro. Olé! 

Line your sheet pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Remove the skin after cooking. Easier! Cook to your desired level of doneness, somewhere between 10 and 15 minutes depending on your salmon filets and your oven. The FDA recommends cooking salmon to 145º F, but many chefs cook to medium, 125º F.  Because it will continue to cook after you remove it from the oven you can pull it out when it reaches 140º.

Easy Sheet Pan Salmon 

  • 4  6-ounce skin-on salmon fillet portions, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup honey or maple syrup
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Maple Curried 

  • curry powder

Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with curry powder to thoroughly coat.  

Sweet and Spicy Cajun

  • Joe’s Stuff Seasoning Blend

Sprinkle with Joe’s Stuff (or other Cajun Seasoning) to thoroughly coat. 

Mustard and Herb Glazed

  • Dijon mustard
  • Herbes de Provence

Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add Dijon and gently spread to coat. Sprinkle thoroughly with Herbes de Provence.

Lemon Pepper

  • lemon zest
  • dill (optional)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced 

Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with lemon zest and dill, if using, then top with 2 lemon slices. 


  • BBQ sauce or sriracha

Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add BBQ or sriracha and gently spread to coat. 

Everything Bagel 

  • everything bagel seasoning

Sprinkle with seasoning to thoroughly coat.


  • basil pesto, chilled  

Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add pesto and gently spread to coat.


Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pat salmon dry, then place on pan skin-side down. Brush each salmon filet on the fleshy side with honey or maple syrup, then proceed with seasoning as directed for desired option.  

Transfer to center rack of oven. Bake about 10 to 15 minutes. Let rest several minutes before serving. 

– inspired by recipe from Sunny Anderson, Food Network 

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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