Honey Apple Cider Glazed Salmon

A lovely way to prepare salmon is with a simple glaze made with honey and apple cider. You might think that this combination would make the dish too sweet, but it just adds a delicious caramelized flavor to the fish.

First you make the glaze by boiling apple cider (or juice) and honey together until well reduced. Then you pour that glaze over the raw fillets and let them marinate in it for a bit. Then the fillets are cooked on the stovetop, while you baste with the glaze, until done. Serve them over a bed of wilted baby spinach.

We’ve changed the recipe quite a bit from when we first posted it years ago. The original recipe was from a story in the Boston Globe about a country house in Ireland. That recipe required finishing the fillets in the oven which isn’t at all necessary, especially for a home cook. No need to heat up the house with the oven when you can easily cook the whole dish on the stovetop!

Recipe updated, originally posted 2006.

  • Cook: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

You can make this recipe with skin-on or skinless salmon. If it's skin-on, the skin will help hold the salmon fillets together when you turn them over in the pan. You can always easily remove the skin before serving, if you want. (We love the salmon skin, it's like salmon bacon!)

The salmon should just be barely cooked through, still a little translucent in the center, when you remove the pan from the heat. The fillets will continue to cook in their own heat for a minute or two. You can always return to the pan if the salmon is not quite cooked enough, but you can't go back if you've (sadly) overcooked the fish.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice or apple cider (not hard cider)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 8 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon slices for garnish

Method

boil honey and apple cider

1 Put the apple cider and honey in a small shallow pan on medium high heat. Let it come to a boil and boil it until the mixture reduces by about half, leaving you with a little more than 1/4 cup of glaze. Let cool for a minute.

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2 Arrange the salmon fillets (skin-side down, if using skin-on salmon fillets) in a rimmed dish large enough to fit all of the fillets in a single layer. Pour the honey cider glaze over the salmon. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then turn the salmon pieces over and let sit for another 5 minutes in the glaze.

3 Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high. (It helps to use a relatively stick-free pan like hard anodized aluminum.) Sprinkle the flesh side of the salmon fillets with salt. Place the fillets flesh side down (skin-side up) in the hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes on medium high heat. As you cook the fish, brush the sides of the fillets with some of the glaze.

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4 Turn the salmon fillets over (now skin-side down) and brush with the remaining honey cider glaze. Sprinkle salmon with lemon juice. Lower the heat to medium. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the salmon is just barely cooked through. Remove the pan from heat. Some of the glaze should have caramelized in the pan. Use a pastry brush to brush any pan juices over the top of the fillets. Cover with foil to keep warm.

5 In a separate large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the baby spinach to the pan. Cook for a minute. When the spinach begins to wilt, use tongs to turn the leaves over in the pan to help coat the leaves with a little butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Continue to cook a minute or two more until the spinach is wilted.

6 To serve, divide the spinach among 4 plates. Arrange a piece of salmon to the side or on top and garnish with a slice of lemon.

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