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Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon

Bourbon Salmon with brown sugar, garlic and a squeeze of lime is restaurant quality food at home in 30 minutes.  This tasty marinade is perfect for those looking for a non-lemon preparation for salmon.

shallow bowl with bourbon salmon and vegetables

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Bourbon Salmon

salmon with sweet potatoes and water glass

How to make Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon at home

I hear that bourbon salmon is on the menu of a few chain restaurants (Outback, Longhorn, Cheddars, etc).  If you would like to recreate this recipe at home, this is a pretty good start. It’s also a less expensive option.  This tasty version of a restaurant favorite is a snap to make.  A quick marinade, a flash in the pan and 10 minutes in the oven.  That’s it.  It is really that easy.  I had leftover grilled zucchini (or courgettes for my friends on the other side of the pond) and a bit of roasted sweet potatoes, so those were our sides.  Use leftover veggies, rice, potatoes, etc to make this a complete meal.

Fresh vs Frozen Salmon

This is probably one of the questions I am asked most often.   It depends on personal preference, budget, storage space, etc. There is nothing wrong with buying frozen fish.  Personally, I always buy fresh fish. My mom buys frozen fish because they don’t get to the store as often and they eat smaller portions. And sometimes, the only available option for certain fish is frozen. Maybe the market sold out of fresh, maybe I can’t find it fresh in my area, etc.  Choose whichever option is best for you.

If you buy frozen fish, you’ll need to let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Once it’s thawed, place it on a plate between a few layers of paper towel to remove some of the water from the fish.  Lightly press the fish and let the paper towel soak up the liquid.  Almost all frozen fish tends to get a bit waterlogged, so you’ll need to remove some of the water before marinating or cooking.  It only takes a few minutes and it’s an important step, so please don’t skip it.  Once your salmon is pressed, it’s ready for the brown sugar bourbon marinade.  If you’re using fresh fish, you can put the fish straight into the marinade.

bourbon salmon on sheet pan

What can I use instead of bourbon?

If you want to make an alcohol-free recipe, you could use this bourbon extract or you could try a bourbon flavoring.   Most of the alcohol does evaporate in cooking, but if you are looking for a completely alcohol-free option, those would be a couple of options to consider.

bourbon salmon with vegetables and gold forks

But, what about the fishy smell?

Are you someone who doesn’t cook fish at home because of the smell?  I’ve heard this quite a bit over the years, so I decided to do a little research.  This candle helps to eliminate strong food odors, like fish, so your house is clean and fresh-smelling.  They also make a gel, if you don’t like candles.  Why am I telling you this?  Because if the reason you avoid cooking fish is because of the smell, I don’t want that to stop you.  I want you to feel at home in your own kitchen and cook!

The importance of a HOT pan

You want a nicely seared, lightly charred, crispy outside on your salmon, right?  In order to get this, we need to turn up the heat. Don’t be afraid of burning it, it won’t be on the flame long enough.  The sugar needs to caramelize (or caramelise) and we need heat for that to happen.  Throw caution to the wind and let’s sear this bourbon salmon.

Don’t forget to Pin it!

brown sugar bourbon salmon with sweet potatoes and zucchini in shallow gray bowl

What do I need to make Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon?

Brown Sugar Bourbon Salmon

Cheryl Bennett
4.86 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 14 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 29 minutes
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 379 kcal


  • 24 oz salmon 4 - 6 oz portions
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar (demerara sugar)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice fresh squeezed
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  • Combine bourbon, olive oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic and lime juice in a zip-top bag.
  • Place salmon inside bag and seal.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350 °F (176°C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • Heat butter in a nonstick pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
  • Remove salmon from marinade and pat dry.
  • Gently place fish in the pan and cook for 4 minutes without disturbing.
  • (You may have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan)
  • Flip fish over and place immediately on lined sheet pan.
  • Cook for 10 minutes.  

Brown Sugar Bourbon Glaze

  • While fish is cooking, reduce marinade over medium high heat until slightly thickened and almost syrupy. Drizzle over fish.


Calories: 379kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 35gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 1438mgSugar: 9g
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