Pretty Poached Salmon with Cucumber-Dill Sauce is the perfect make ahead entrée for a spring or summer gathering. Poaching fish in the oven is an easier method, and results in a light, flavorful, moist piece of salmon. A fresh, tangy, herb-y Cucumber Dill Sauce is the perfect complement!

Oven Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

I love serving salmon when entertaining – most of our friends and family like it, plus it’s very versatile, easy to prepare, and super delicious. In fact, I have several recipes (including this one) where you can prepare it ahead of time, which I love because then I can enjoy my own party!

How to Poach Salmon

In this recipe, a salmon fillet is topped with sliced lemons, onions, peppercorns and bay leaves, wrapped in cheesecloth, and then baked in white wine. The result is a light, flavorful, moist piece of salmon. I prefer oven poached salmon (vs. poaching on the cooktop) because I think it’s easier to control the temperature, and therefore you’re less likely to overcook it.

I was intimidated by poaching at first, until I tried poaching salmon in the oven and realized how easy it is! Here are the steps.

  1. Preheat oven.
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in middle.
  2. Prep cheesecloth.
    Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap the salmon fillet completely.
  3. Prep baking dish.
    Spread cheesecloth in a glass baking dish (large enough to hold the salmon in one layer); the cheesecloth will extend out over the long sides of the pan.
  4. Prep seasonings.
    Slice lemons and onions.
  5. Prep salmon.
    Lay salmon fillet(s), skin side down, on cheesecloth. Spread lemon slices over top. Top with sliced onions. Scatter peppercorns over the top. Place bay leaves evenly on top. Fold over cheesecloth over salmon to cover completely; tuck in sides.
  6. Add poaching liquid.
    Pour wine over the top of salmon.
  7. Bake.
    Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the fillet reaches around 125 to 130 degrees.
  8. Remove and cool.
    Remove pan from oven. Using two large flat spatulas, carefully remove fish from pan and place on a cutting board to cool. Once cool, wrap salmon (still in cheesecloth) in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  9. Serve.
    To serve, remove cheesecloth and seasonings from salmon, keeping the lemon slices for garnish. Place fillet on a serving dish; arrange lemon slices over the top (see photo). Garnish with dill.
Poached salmon fillet topped with lemon, onion, peppercorns and bay leaves

So pretty, so scrumptious – it pairs perfectly with this amazing sauce of grated cucumber, mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, dill and chives. Whenever I prepare this sauce, I can’t stop eating it, so the recipe makes a bit extra, to ensure there is enough for Robert and our guests!

Poached salmon garnished with lemon slice and dill, with a side of cucumber dill sauce
Is it better to poach salmon in the oven or on the stove?

I prefer poaching salmon in the oven, because it’s easier to control the cooking temperature. Burner temperatures are not as exact as ovens. And, controlling the temperature means you’re less likely to overcook it.

Can I poach salmon with the skin on?

Yes you can. I actually prefer cooking my fillets with skin on because it helps hold them together. Once the salmon is cooked and becomes flaky, it can fall apart.

How to tell when Poached Salmon is done

The best way to tell if any fish is done is an instant read thermometer. Once the middle of the thickest part of the salmon fillet reaches between 125 to 130, it’s time to take it out of the oven. It will continue cooking a bit as it cools.

Can oven poached salmon be made ahead of time?

Yes, salmon can be poached up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated – but it’s best served within 12 hours of poaching.

Storing Poached Salmon

Store poached salmon well wrapped and in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. While it can be frozen, the texture and flavor will change, so I don’t recommend it.

Poached Salmon in the Oven

Check out my Fresh and Flavorful Spring Menu, featuring my Poached Salmon with Cucumber Dill Sauce alongside other scrumptious spring dishes!

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Poached salmon garnished with lemon slice and dill, with a side of cucumber dill sauce

Oven Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce and Cucumber

Pretty Poached Salmon with a flavorful Cucumber-Dill Sauce – the perfect make ahead entrée for a festive luncheon or dinner party.

  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Ingredients

Scale

Cucumber-Dill Sauce

  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh dill fronds (around 1 2/3-ounce package), chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Poached Salmon

  • 1 (3-pound) salmon fillet (see Variation)
  • 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Fresh dill, for garnish

Instructions

Cucumber Dill Sauce

  1. Peel, seed and grate the cucumbers. Place in a dish cloth, roll up and squeeze/ring out as much moisture as possible. Set aside.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, mustard and lemon juice. Stir in chopped dill and chives. Remove grated cucumber from cloth and stir into mayonnaise mixture, along with the salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Poached Salmon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut a piece of cheesecloth large enough to wrap the salmon completely. Line a glass baking dish large enough to hold the salmon in one layer with the cheesecloth. Lay salmon fillet(s) on cheesecloth.
  3. Spread lemon slices over top of salmon. Top with sliced onions. Scatter peppercorns over the top. Place bay leaves evenly on top. Fold over cheesecloth to cover completely and tuck in sides. Pour wine over the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the fillet reaches around 125 to 130 degrees.
  4. Using two large flat spatulas, carefully remove fish from pan and place on a cutting board to cool. Once cool, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  5. When ready to serve, remove cheesecloth, bay leaves, onions and peppercorns. Carefully remove lemon slices and set aside. With a damp paper towel, gently wipe off any white residue on top of salmon. (It’s coagulated protein and it’s fine to eat, it just doesn’t look pretty!) Using two large flat spatulas, move salmon to a serving platter.
  6. Wipe any white residue off of lemon slices; arrange decoratively on top of cooked salmon (see photo). Garnish with fresh dill. Place cucumber sauce in a bowl and serve on the side.

Notes

Variation: Instead of one large fillet, substitute 6 to 8 individual fillets. Reduce cooking time to 15 to 20 minutes.

Make ahead: Cucumber sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Salmon can be poached up to 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated – but it’s best served within 12 hours of poaching.

  • Author: Lee Clayton Roper
  • Category: Fish, make ahead
Poached salmon garnished with lemon slice and dill, with a side of cucumber dill sauce

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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.


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