Easy method for cooking salmon or other types of fish in a toaster oven that is foolproof for a moist and juicy fillet every time!
Believe it or not, it is quite easy to cook salmon or other fish fillets in a toaster oven. I’ve used this method exclusively for at least a couple of years. Since a surprising number of people shy away from cooking fish at home, I thought I would share this easy hack as it is less intimidating than the stovetop or oven.
Toaster Oven vs Stove for Cooking Fish
There are three reasons why I prefer cooking salmon and other types of fish like cod, haddock, flounder, and Mahi in a toaster oven over the stovetop or range oven.
First, this method is obviously more energy efficient. Think about how much less electricity you are using with a toaster oven versus the oven. If you have a gas oven or outside grill, the comparison should still apply, especially considering the price spikes for oil and gas recently.
Secondly, using a toaster oven results in a more juicy piece of fish. This is because it is easier to avoid over-cooking the salmon/fish fillets using the toaster function. You will understand why after I explain how to do it below.
Third, the toaster method is desirable during warm summer months when using the stove results in an uncomfortably warm kitchen! Cooking fish on the stovetop in a frying pan is also very heat-producing in my opinion.
Using a small, countertop toaster oven instead does the job just as well…even better…than the range oven with little heat output to the surrounding rooms.
Some people resolve this problem by grilling out on the patio. This works too, but if you need to be inside for whatever reason, the toaster oven can’t be beat especially during the hot summer!
How to Cook Fish in a Toaster Oven
The first step to successful cooking of salmon and other fish fillets is your source. Quality matters and you get what you pay for especially when it comes to food.
Wild is Worth the Price
I recommend using wild fish as this will ensure a more nutritious dish. Beware of fillets labeled “sustainable”, as this is deceptive marketing-speak for farm-raised, potentially GMO fish.
I recommend this local foods website for quality wild fish of all kinds. You can buy a single fillet or in bulk for greater discounts. Free shipping is available as well.
If you buy your fish from another source, be sure to look for the following:
- No antibiotics
Steps to Perfectly “Toast” Your Fish!
Note that this method is optimal for 1-4 fillets. More than that really won’t fit in a toaster oven pan!
I’ve tried it on a couple of different toaster oven models (this is the one I currently use). It works the same!
- Evenly space a pat of butter for each fillet on a small pan or oven-safe dish that fits inside your toaster oven. This ensures easy removal of the fillets without using foil and also keeps the fish moist.
- Place a thawed fillet skin side up on top of each pat of butter. This ensures that the oils in the skin filter down through the meat while the fillet is cooking. This further ensures a moist result. I got this tip years ago from a chef!
Cook and Serve
- Place dish or pan in the toaster oven and switch the setting to dark toast (4.5 minutes).
- Press start and let the fish toast until the oven automatically switches off.
- Switch the toast setting to medium (2.5 minutes).
- Press start and once again let the fish toast on this lower setting until the oven switches off.
- Let the fillets sit in the heat of the toaster oven after it switches off for an additional 3-5 minutes without opening the door.
- Remove the pan and test for doneness. I do this by taking a fork and slicing each fillet in half lengthwise.
- If you can cut the fillets easily with a fork, they are done. If you get a bit of resistance, they could use one more “toasting” on light-medium (2 minutes). This will be likely if you are cooking more than two fillets.
- Remove the skin if desired (it will pull off easily with a knife and fork) and serve immediately.
Do you have an unusual method for cooking fish? If so, please share with us!
Thanks for the great article! I just bought a toaster oven and saw that it has a quartz heating element. Do you know if that’s a safe element to cook with? The little I’ve read and copied is here in quotations. Not so sure about it and I’m a little concerned and would love to know your thoughts! Thanks! (I haven’t used the oven yet so I can still return it): “Quartz heating makes use of radiant heating techniques. Unlike others that emit heat, a quartz element emits some short-wave infra-red radiation that cooks the food.
Technically, a quartz heating element heats food in the same way that the sun can heat your skin, just at different intensities. So, the surface of the food gets heated up and depending on the quality of the toaster oven you have, you can end up with a very evenly-cooked meal.
With a quartz heating element, the infra-red radiation gets transmitted in a straight line from the source of the radiation, in this case, the heating element.
As such, reflectors will be needed to effectively direct the radiation to the food for even cooking.
The radiation itself loses power over a distance and hence renders the toaster oven very safe to use.
The heating element is comprised of a sealed quartz glass enclosure with an electrically-resistive element like tungsten inside. The tube is then filled with an inert gas like argon. The direct heating of the quartz material creates the infra-red radiation.”
Hi Sarah, could you please tell me what temperature you set your toaster oven on before choosing the dark/light setting?
Thank you for your help! I LOVE your site very much
Sarah Pope MGA
The temperature setting on my toaster oven only is operational for the bake or broil settings. There is no temperature for the toast setting … only light/med/dark.
Wow! Easy peasy…. I can’t wait to do this. Much thanks Sara
Does the fish oil splatter while cooking? It is so difficult to clean the inside and mine is stainless steel.
Sarah Pope MGA
No because you are cooking it skin side up.
I got rid of the microwave and I reheat in a fry pan, however I am considering a toaster oven for heating leftovers and for cooking fish as you have mentioned here. What is your opinion regarding using a toaster oven for reheating left overs? Thank you.
Sarah Pope MGA
I use the toaster oven all the time for leftovers!
I love this idea! My toaster oven only has minutes, not light/dark toast functions. Can you give approximate minutes for this method? Thanks!
Sarah Pope MGA
It doesn’t have light/dark and is a toaster? The toaster function is different from using the bake or broil function because the toaster turns on *both* the upper (broil) and lower (bake) heating elements. Selecting light, medium or dark controls how hot these burners are. I wouldn’t know how to adjust based on just minutes.
My toaster function on my toaster over only has a timer as well.
Sarah Pope MGA
I timed the dark, medium and light functions on my toaster oven and updated the recipe above for how long to toast if yours only has a timer.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about “wild caught” and “wild” seafood being two different things. Wild being the preferred label. What are your thoughts?
Hi! Thanks for this recipe! Do you know if this toaster oven has a nonstick coating? It has recently come to my attention that toaster ovens can emit chemicals & I am looking for a nontoxic toaster oven. Thanks!
Sarah Pope MGA
The inside of mine is stainless.
I have a Panasonic with infrared heating which requires no pre-heat. Cooks much like a toaster oven, but its bigger and has no coating inside. They cost about $100 on Amazon. I can cook a frozen cauliflower pizza in it. I bought this primarily because I like the stainless steel interior.