Spice up your weeknight dinners or meal prep with firecracker salmon! This easy recipe dresses pan fried salmon filets in the rich, fiery, and subtly sweet goodness of firecracker sauce.
When I fall in love with something, I make variations upon variations of it. That’s what happened when I made my firecracker chicken. It turned into firecracker meatballs, firecracker shrimp, and now firecracker salmon.
Like my honey garlic salmon and sweet chili salmon, this recipe begins with succulent salmon filets and ends with perfectly cooked fish coated in a sticky, flavorful sauce. It’s fancy enough for dinner parties but also simple enough to throw together on a whim!
Table of Contents
- It elevates your everyday salmon. The star of the recipe is undoubtedly the firecracker sauce. It dresses up your standard pan seared salmon with a delightful blend of savory, spicy, and subtly sweet flavors.
- A 20-minute dinner. There is a reason why this is one of my family’s weeknight dinner staples.
- It uses pantry staple ingredients. All you have to do is stir the pantry staple sauce ingredients together, then drizzle it over the fish. Simple!
- Flexible fiery flavors. Firecracker sauce has a fiery flavor that you can easily cool off or intensify. I’ve made it super mild for the little ones and also extra spicy for my fellow spice fiends.
- Perfect for dinner and meal prep. I often make a double or triple batch of the salmon so I can enjoy it during the week as part of a meal prep. All I need to add is some rice and something green and it’s filling, satisfying, and oh-so-flavorful.
Ingredients (and substitutions)
As mentioned earlier, this recipe doesn’t really call for much to make. Here is what you’ll need:
- Salmon filets. I like to make this recipe with skin-on filets because the skin adds a nice crunch and extra flavor to the dish.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
- Oil. You need oil with a relatively high smoke point, like olive oil or avocado oil, to sear the salmon.
For the firecracker sauce:
- Buffalo sauce. This gives the firecracker sauce a creamy, buttery base and its signature hot and spicy flavor. I find Frank’s sauce to be a classic, but any brand will work.
- Brown sugar. The sweetness helps balance the heat. I’ve also used coconut sugar and white sugar.
- Soy sauce. Or use tamari if you’re gluten-free.
- Olive oil. A small amount of oil is needed to emulsify the sauce.
- Ginger root. Always use fresh ginger. It adds a touch of zing that can’t be beat!
- Garlic cloves. For a rich and aromatic flavor. Please use fresh garlic as the dried kind just does not compare.
- Black pepper. This will intensify the warmth in the sauce.
- Paprika. For a sweet and smoky element.
- Garnishes. I typically add a tiny sprinkling of dill, but sesame seeds and green onions are also fab.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make firecracker salmon
Step 1- Make the sauce. Stir the sauce ingredients in a bowl.
Step 2- Sear the salmon. Season the salmon filets with salt and pepper, then sear them in a hot oiled skillet on both sides.
Step 3- Add sauce, then bake. Pour the sauce over the salmon. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven, and cook until the sauce thickens.
Step 4- Garnish and serve. Serve warm with a sprinkle of fresh dill, and enjoy!
Recipe tips and variations
- Always pat dry. Remember to pat the salmon filets dry with a paper towel first. This helps the seasonings stick and will give you a flavorful, seared crust.
- Baste. I like to occasionally spoon the sauce over the salmon as it bakes. It’s the best way to infuse the fish with a fiery flavor!
- Let it rest. Set the finished dish aside to rest for a few minutes after baking. This gives the juices in the salmon time to redistribute, making the salmon extra moist and flaky.
- Crank up the heat. Swap the buffalo sauce for something spicier, like sriracha, harissa, hot chili paste, or chili garlic sauce. Alternatively, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (Note- this is NOT for the faint of heart).
- Make it creamy. Stirring a splash of coconut milk or heavy cream into the sauce towards the end of cooking will tone down the heat and give the firecracker sauce a velvety mouthfeel.
- Use a different sweetener. You can replace the brown sugar with honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, or coconut sugar. Or use keto honey to keep the dish relatively low carb.
To store. Place salmon leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
To reheat: Microwave the salmon in 10 to 15-second intervals or reheat it in a pan over medium-low heat until it’s warmed through.
Frequently asked questions
Firecracker sauce is bold. You’ll experience its irresistible, well-rounded blend of sweet, savory, spicy, smoky, and pungent flavors in every bite.
Firecracker sauce has a noticeable heat but it won’t set your mouth on fire. Instead, the heat is nicely complemented by the other sweet and savory notes.
Sure! Save time by stirring the sauce together and storing it in an airtight jar in the fridge for 5 to 7 days ahead of making this recipe.
Absolutely. Place the salmon filets skin side down in an oiled baking dish, cover with foil, and bake at 350ºF (180ºC) for about 15 minutes. Pour the firecracker sauce into the pan during the last 5 minutes of cooking so it thickens, then serve.
Make this part of a well-rounded meal by serving the fiery salmon with rice, stir-fried vegetables, or some salads.
More delicious salmon recipes to try
- Salmon Wellington- Elegant, delicious, and perfect for entertaining.
- Air fryer salmon– 6 minutes total cooking time and always crispy and flavorful.
- Air fryer salmon bites– The sticky Asian sauce is finger-licking good.
- Keta salmon– A unique cut that is so flavorful.
- Salmon baked in foil– My family’s favorite way to enjoy dish.
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons oil
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F.
- Combine the firecracker sauce ingredients in a bowl.
- Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook the salmon for 3 minutes per side.
- Pour the firecracker sauce over the salmon and place the skillet into the oven. Cook for 9 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and serve the firecracker salmon immediately.
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