Make za'atar salmon for a flavorful and quick one-pan dinner. Salmon fillets are coated in lemon zest and za'atar seasoning, paired with tender asparagus, and baked to perfection in the oven.
For this recipe, we're using za'atar spice blend, which has an earthy, herby, nutty flavor that's mild and savory. Commonly found in Middle Eastern cooking, it's made with a variety of herbs and spices including oregano, thyme, marjoram, sumac, and sesame seeds.
Salmon and asparagus are the perfect pairing for a sheet pan meal. They both cook quickly in the oven in just 12 minutes. Za'atar and lemon zest add a bright, earthy, and fresh flavor that you're going to love.
Serve za'atar salmon for a quick weeknight meal - it's ready in less than 30 minutes (including prep time and cleanup)! It's perfect for when you're looking for a lighter meal but can also be paired with steamed rice or mashed potatoes.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Salmon - You'll need about 1 pound of salmon, or 3-4 salmon fillets (depending on size).
- Olive oil - Can be substituted with other cooking oils if needed.
- Za'atar spice blend - Can be found in the spice aisle at your local grocer. It has an earthy, herby, nutty flavor. You can also make your own at home - here's a great recipe: za'atar spice recipe.
- Lemon zest - You'll need about 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, or one zested lemon, for this recipe. I don't recommend skipping this ingredient - it adds a bright, fresh, and citrusy flavor that pairs perfectly with za'atar.
- Other seasoning - Salt, pepper, and chopped parsley enhance the flavor of the dish.
Tips and tricks
- Trimming asparagus - Hold the asparagus by the woody end and gently bend until it snaps naturally, about 1-2 inches in. Discard the woody ends. To trim asparagus quickly, find the breaking point of one spear, then cut the rest with a knife in the same spot.
- Prepare on the sheet pan - To avoid dirtying extra dishes, season your salmon and asparagus directly on the sheet pan.
- Check salmon for pin bones - Before baking, check the salmon for pin bones (thin, pin-sized "bones" throughout the salmon). While most butchers remove these, I frequently find one or two every time I cook salmon. Gently run your hands across the top of each salmon fillet - a pin bone feels like a hard bit protruding out. Use pliers or your fingers to gently pull the bone out.
- Use a meat thermometer - To avoid overcooking your salmon, I highly recommend using a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends cooking salmon to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, but many prefer the texture of salmon at 125 degrees Fahrenheit because it retains more moisture.
- Don't have a meat thermometer? - Insert a fork into the center of a salmon fillet. If it easily flakes apart, your salmon is done.
Frequently asked questions
Za'atar is a spice blend commonly found in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cooking. It has an earthy, herby, and nutty flavor that's mild and savory.
Yes, za'atar and lemon work well on any mild fish, like tilapia, cod, or mahi mahi.
Leftover salmon and asparagus will keep for up to 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
- 1 pound salmon fillets
- 1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon za'atar spice blend
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease a sheet pan.
- Check salmon for pin bones and place in the center of prepared sheet pan. Arrange asparagus around the salmon in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over salmon and asparagus.
- In a small bowl, combine za'atar and lemon zest, then sprinkle liberally all over salmon fillets.
- Sprinkle asparagus spears with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
- Leftovers will keep for 3 to 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
- Salmon can be substituted with any mild fish fillets, like tilapia, cod, or mahi mahi.