This Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon is pan seared with a wonderful brown sugar glaze and is so tender it will melt in your mouth! 

For some more delicious and easy salmon recipes, try my Lemon Honey Glazed Salmon, Honey Garlic Baked Salmon, and my Sheet Pan Chili Lime Salmon recipes. These are the best salmon recipes to have in your collection due to the variety of ways they are cooked and the combinations of spices!

Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon and broccoli on a grey plate.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Easy recipe for serving salmon to your kids! Growing up, my father made brown sugar crusted salmon once a month. It was one of our favorite ways my dad would cook the salmon. We loved the sweetness of the brown sugar. If you have a picky eater in the family, try this brown sugar salmon recipe! You might be surprised at their willingness to eat it!
  • Sweet brown sugar crust. By searing the salmon with brown sugar on a buttered skillet, the butter and brown sugar combine to form a delicious sugary crust for an easy glazed salmon recipe! 
  • Perfectly tender salmon. Seared salmon is a delicious way to keep the flavors and juices in because it forms a seal on the exterior of the fish. This gives us the ultimate juicy salmon and makes sure there is lots of flavor! 

Ingredient Notes

Brown Sugar Salmon ingredients on a bronze baking sheet.
  • Salmon Fillets: Skin on or skin off is fine (I used skin off). As a factoid, I attended a meeting with the owner of Alaska Seafood Select. He said 90% of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported. We send the fish to China to be processed, and then back to the U.S. Farmed salmon has color added (if color wasn’t added the salmon would appear grey), as well as steroids and antibiotics. When picking out salmon at the grocery store, wild caught will be one of the best options.
  • Butter: Unsalted or salted is fine. If you are using salted butter, I would recommend reducing the amount of salt in the dish. If you need more, you can always salt the fish when serving it. 
  • Brown Sugar: You can use light or dark brown sugar. The difference between light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses. Dark brown sugar has more molasses than light brown sugar. 
  • Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is a coarser texture than table salt, so be sure to know the substitutions if a recipe calls or one or the other. If a recipe calls for Kosher salt, use 1/4 teaspoon less of table salt per teaspoon of salt. If a recipe calls for table salt, use 1/4 teaspoon more of Kosher salt per teaspoon. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Melt butter. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Sprinkle salt and brown sugar on the salmon. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the salmon filets. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar on 1 side of the fish. If you are using fish that has skin on, you can add ALL of the brown sugar to the side of the salmon that has no skin.
Two photos, left photo is a black cast iron pan with melted butter in it, right photo is raw salmon filets with brown sugar overtop of them.
  1. Place salmon on the skillet and sear. Place the salmon in the skillet (the side without the brown sugar should be face down, touching the skillet). If using salmon with skin on, have the skin side down in the skillet). Sear for 4 minutes. 
  2. Flip the salmon. Flip the fish so the brown sugar side is now on the skillet. Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar on the top of the fillets. Spoon some of the melted butter overtop to help melt the brown sugar on top. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the fish reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. Serve immediately.
Two photos: left photo is brown sugar salmon in a black skillet, right photos is a spoon drizzling brown sugar glaze overtop of salmon filets.

Recipe Tips

Use an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon. It should reach 145°F. 

You don’t want to over cook the salmon or else the texture will be tough and it will be dry. 

Even though you melt the butter on the pan prior to adding the fish, once I place the fish on the pan, I move it around just a little bit to coat that layer that is face down on the skillet in the butter. This will reduce the risk of the salmon sticking to the pan. 

Use a nonstick pan/skillet to further avoid sticking. 

Make this brown sugar salmon a complete meal with some of my favorite sides: Buttered Vegetables, Oven Roasted Broccoli or a Strawberry Spinach Salad

Make Ahead, Storing, and Freezing

I do not recommend making salmon ahead of time. Salmon is best enjoyed freshly cooked and warm. Salmon quickly loses its heat, so you’ll want to serve it immediately.

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftover salmon pieces are great to use for fish tacos, on salads, or in wraps. 

I don’t recommend freezing cooked salmon as it will lose its freshness and moisture. 

A spoon drizzling brown sugar glaze overtop of salmon in a black skillet.

Recipe FAQs

What kind of brown sugar should I use?

You can use light or dark brown sugar, whichever you have on hand or whichever you prefer! The only difference is a darker color to the brown sugar and a richer molasses flavor. Either will produce a delicious brown sugar crusted salmon! 

What does searing salmon mean?

Searing means you heat the exterior quickly to form a seal. This keeps the juices inside, which creates a really moist texture. Because of the brown sugar on the exterior or the salmon, it will caramelize with the butter and form a brown sugar crust while searing. 

How do I cut the salmon?

I would cut the salmon in equal fillets. You want equal thickness and equal sizes with the fillets to they cook more evenly. 

How long does it take to sear salmon?

It will only take a few minutes on each side. Salmon cooks fairly quickly, so you’ll only need a couple minutes on each side if you are using a hot pan. 

Brown Sugar glazed Salmon on a grey plate on a white background.

More Seafood Recipes

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A spoon drizzling brown sugar and butter glaze overtop of a seared salmon filet.
Print Review
5 from 3 votes

Brown Sugar Crusted Salmon

This brown sugar crusted salmon is seared with a delicious brown sugar run. It's cooked to perfection and melts in your mouth! Kids and adults love it!
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 15 mins
Servings: 3 servings

Ingredients
 

  • 3 – 6 oz salmon fillets - skin on or skin off is fine (I used skin off)
  • 4 tablespoons butter - unsalted or salted is fine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions
 

  • Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat.  
  • Sprinkle the salt over the tops of the salmon filets. Then sprinkle half of the brown sugar on 1 side of the fish. If you are using fish that has skin on, you can add ALL of the brown sugar to the side of the salmon that has no skin.
  • Place the salmon in the skillet (the side without the brown sugar should be on the skillet… if using salmon with skin on, have the skin side down in the skillet). Sear for 4 minutes.
  • Flip the fish so that the brown sugar side is on the skillet. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on the tops of the fish. Use a spoon to gather some of the melted butter and spoon it overtop of the salmon. This will help melt the brown sugar that's on top. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Serve immediately.

Notes

Use an instant read meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon. It should reach 145°F. 
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftover salmon pieces are great to use for fish tacos, on salads, or in wraps. 

Nutrition

Calories: 324kcal (16%)Carbohydrates: 18g (6%)Protein: 17g (34%)Fat: 21g (32%)Saturated Fat: 10g (50%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 87mg (29%)Sodium: 550mg (23%)Potassium: 446mg (13%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 501IU (10%)Calcium: 30mg (3%)Iron: 1mg (6%)
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Did you make this recipe?Leave a star rating and review on the blog post letting me know how you liked this recipe! Take a picture and tag @saltandbaker on Instagram and Facebook so I can see what you’re making!

Because I’m sharing this delicious brown sugar salmon recipe, I wanted to share a fun experience with you! 

My dad and his brothers had a tradition of going to Alaska every other year with one of their children. When my year rolled around, I was 12 years old. We spent a week fishing 8+ hours each day. We fished for wild salmon, halibut, silvers, and crab. If you have the opportunity to go fishing in Alaska, GO! It was so much fun! Not only will you enjoy yourself and the delicious food, but the scenery is breathtaking.

One day, my uncle, cousin Beth, my dad, and I were together fishing on the same boat. In the distance, we saw a big commercial fishermans boat. We could see people gathering on the boat to look at a pack of whales swimming not far off. Our first thought, “Cool! Let’s turn off our boat motor to see if they’ll come closer to us.” 

In a matter of minutes, a HUUUUUGE humpback whale was heading for our boat. There were 30 seconds of pandemonium while we thought, “What do we do?” ”What happens if the boat flips?” Rather than panic, my uncle pulled out his video camera and caught it on tape. I wish I had the footage to show you! It’s definitely a moment I’ll never forget. Thankfully, the whale didn’t flip our boat. But we did get to see him dive under it!