Creamy Dill Sauce for Salmon Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Dill Sauce for Salmon

Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 35 min.
Dill sauce for salmon is a classic pairing. The easy baked salmon is full of lemon flavor, and the tangy, creamy sauce brings the whole dish together.

Updated: May 23, 2024

Salmon and dill go together like peas and carrots, offsetting and bringing out the best of each other’s bright flavors. With this dill sauce for salmon as the main course, plus a quick side salad or mixed vegetable saute, you’ll have a heart-healthy meal ready in about 30 minutes.

Dill enhances the subtle flavor of salmon without masking it. That’s why you want to buy the best types of salmon for this recipe. Fresh is always better in terms of flavor, but you can use frozen fillets. Either way, it’s ok to cook salmon with the skin on; in fact, salmon skin helps keep the fish moist. But if you’re really not into it, here’s how to remove skin from salmon. Most of the time, the cooked skin will adhere to the pan (or, in this case, the foil packet) when you lift the flesh away from it.

This dill sauce for salmon has a rich, slightly tangy creaminess, thanks to a blend of mayonnaise and sour cream. Horseradish, garlic salt and a splash of lemon juice add some zing. In fact, you might want to make extra to drizzle over anything you’re serving with the salmon: roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables or a mound of hot buttered fettuccine.

Ingredients for Dill Sauce for Salmon

  • Salmon: You’ll get the tastiest dish if you use wild, responsibly caught coho or sockeye salmon for this straightforward recipe. Whether using fresh or frozen fillets, here are some tips on how to buy salmon and how to cook frozen salmon, if you go that route.
  • Seasoning: Lemon-pepper seasoning puts a citrusy, spicy twist on any dish. When paired with onion salt, it becomes a complete seasoning blend.
  • Lemon: A hint of lemon adds a light acidity, giving salmon and other fish a clean, bright flavor. Fresh lemon slices slowly release their juice into the salmon as it cooks, softening enough that you can eat them peel and all if you like. You’ll use a little lemon juice in the dill sauce, too.
  • Sour cream and mayonnaise: Sour cream and mayonnaise serve as the base for the tangy, rich and smooth sauce.
  • Horseradish: Unless you grow perennial horseradish plants and harvest their white roots yourself, you will most likely recognize horseradish’s prepared form: grated and mixed with vinegar, water and salt. A little horseradish goes a long way, so use the pungent, spicy condiment in small amounts.
  • Dill weed: Dill is a great herb for your kitchen herb garden, so you always have some on hand; you can even dry the fronds yourself. This recipe calls for dried dill weed, but you can use fresh if you like. To replace the dried dill weed in this sauce, use three times as much fresh dill. Here’s more guidance on that fresh-to-dried herb conversion for any recipe.

Directions

Step 1: Lay the salmon

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with heavy-duty foil, and then grease it lightly. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the foil.

Editor’s Tip: Use butter, oil or cooking spray to grease the foil.

Step 2: Season the fish

Overhead shot of baking pan with heavy-duty foil; grease lightly; placed salmon skin side down on foil; sprinkled with lemon pepper and onion salt; top with onion and lemon; dark grey background;TMB Studio

Sprinkle the lemon pepper and onion salt over the fillet. Layer the onion and lemon slices on top before dotting the salmon with the butter. Fold the foil around the salmon, sealing it tightly by crimping the top and ends, until the fish is enclosed in a packet inside the baking dish.

Step 3: Bake the salmon

Overhead shot of unfold foil; baked salmon in a large baking pan; dark grey background;TMB Studio

Bake the salmon for 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven; open the foil packet carefully, allowing steam to escape, and then fold back the foil to expose the fish. Move the oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source, and turn the heat to the low broil setting. Return the fish to the oven and broil for three to five minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Editor’s Tip: Keep an eye on the fillet while it’s under the broiler; the goal is to put some char on the lemon and onion without overcooking the fish.

Step 4: Make the sauce

Overhead shot of a bowl; combined the sauce ingredients until smooth; serve with salmon; dark grey background;TMB Studio

While the fish bakes, place the sour cream, mayonnaise, onion, lemon juice, horseradish, dill and garlic salt in a small bowl. Stir the sauce ingredients until smooth.

Cut the salmon into portions, sprinkle with pepper to taste and serve with the sauce.

A plate of food with a bowl of Dill Sauce for Salmon and lemon slicesTMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Other herbs: Dill might be the most popular choice for salmon, but many other herbs complement the fish. If you have fresh thyme, tarragon or basil, use that for the sauce before you reach for a dried option.
  • Zing versus heat: Instead of horseradish, try adding some pickled capers. Look for small jars of capers on grocery store shelves alongside other pickles.
  • Other dairy: Mayonnaise has a distinctly eggy undertone that you can avoid by blending the sour cream with creme fraiche or yogurt. Either of these tangy dairy products could replace the sour cream. The difference in taste will be subtle, but the sauce might be a little thinner and pourable.
  • Other condiments: Other sauces made with fresh herbs are another option here. For an Asian influence, mix honey with ginger, garlic, rice vinegar and soy sauce until smooth; it will be thinner, like a dipping sauce. Honey and Dijon mustard blended with olive oil also pairs well with salmon. For a spicy fillet that offsets the creaminess of the dill sauce, sprinkle the salmon with homemade Cajun seasoning.

How to Store Dill Sauce for Salmon

Close shot of Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce; served on plate; with fesh veggies and rice; blue ceramic plate;TMB Studio

If you have leftovers, store the salmon and dill sauce separately. Allow the salmon to cool, and then place it in an airtight container in the back of the refrigerator, where it will stay cold and fresh for up to three days. Salmon shouldn’t be left on the counter for more than two hours. Seal the sauce in its own airtight container and use it within a week.

Salmon can be challenging to reheat without overcooking it, so consider using the leftovers in salmon chowder; a dollop of leftover dill sauce would be delicious stirred into the thick soup. You can also use the leftover fish in salmon recipes designed for precooked or canned salmon.

Can you make dill sauce for salmon ahead of time?

The dill sauce in this recipe might actually taste better if you make it a day ahead of time; the flavors will blend as they sit in an airtight container in the refrigerator, distributing them evenly. The fish will taste best when baked and served immediately, but this recipe comes together so quickly that dinner will be ready by the time you’ve steamed rice and broccoli to serve alongside the fillet.

Dill Sauce for Salmon Tips

Dill Sauce For Salmon served on lemon slices and other vegetables TMB Studio

Can you use fresh dill for dill sauce with salmon?

Fresh dill will give your sauce an even stronger flavor than the dried herb and should be your first choice if you have some on hand. Use just the feathery fronds; the central stem will be tough and stringy. Snip the fronds into the sauce so that stirring it distributes them throughout the creamy base. If you have other types of herbs fresh in your kitchen or garden, like chives or rosemary, consider using them instead of the dried dill weed.

How can you tell when salmon is done cooking?

You know salmon is done cooking when it flakes easily with a fork. The fillet will look opaque, rather than translucent, with a pink-orange flesh tone when it is cooked through. Use an instant-read thermometer to double-check that it is done; when inserted into the thickest part of the fillet, the display should read 145°. Fish continues to cook after you remove it from the oven’s heat, so err on the side of undercooked.

How should you serve dill sauce for salmon?

Some people may not like the hint of grassy flavor in dill or might be avoiding dairy, making this a good sauce to serve in a bowl and pass at the table. If everyone is on board with the sauce idea, spoon it directly over the fillet after you pull it from the oven. The residual heat will soften the sauce, letting it infuse the flaky flesh and pool slightly around its edges. You can even spread the sauce over the fish before you cut it into portions, although it’s best to leave the sauce separate if you anticipate leftovers.

What can you serve with dill sauce for salmon?

Well-matched side dishes for salmon range from rice to fresh or cooked vegetables. Upgrade simple steamed rice to a pea risotto with lemon that you can cook on the stovetop while the oven is preheating and baking the salmon. Toss together a hot, filling side of white beans and spinach just before you sit down to eat. A salad that combines greens and fruit, like spinach blueberry salad, pairs well with the light, citrus-infused salmon and sauce. You could also make a quick garlic and oregano zucchini saute while the salmon bakes, then spoon the dill sauce over both dishes at the table.

How else can you use dill sauce?

Creamy dill sauce complements so many other types of meat and even vegetables. It plays well with the charred flavor of grilled seafood recipes. Because potato salad recipes often feature a thick, creamy dressing that looks and tastes a lot like this sauce, it would be a natural replacement, especially if you have leftover dill sauce in the fridge.

Watch how to Make Creamy Dill Sauce for Salmon

Creamy Dill Sauce for Salmon

Prep Time 35 min
Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 salmon fillet (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
  • 6 lemon slices
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • DILL SAUCE:
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 3/4 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Line a 15x10x1-in. baking pan with heavy-duty foil; grease lightly. Place salmon skin side down on foil. Sprinkle with lemon pepper and onion salt. Top with onion and lemon. Dot with butter. Fold foil around salmon; seal tightly,
  2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Open foil carefully, allowing steam to escape. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat for 3-5 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients until smooth. Serve with salmon.

Nutrition Facts

4 ounces cooked salmon with about 2 tablespoons sauce: 418 calories, 33g fat (11g saturated fat), 100mg cholesterol, 643mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 26g protein.

There's nothing like fresh salmon, and my mom bakes it just right so it nearly melts in your mouth. Plus, the sour cream dill sauce is subtly seasoned with horseradish so that it doesn't overpower the delicate salmon flavor. —Susan Emery, Everett, Washington
Recipe Creator