Chipotle peppers in adobo are like that one accessory in your closet that changes the whole course of your day.
They’re the gaudy sunglasses that hype your confidence at a sleepy Sunday brunch. The brilliantly beat-up Converse sneakers that swell the swag of your jean shorts and tee. The big and funky jewelry that levels up your other boho bling.
Are you with me?
I’m not telling you to drape yourself in chiles and call your closest friends for a night on the town. Survey says, 10 out of 10 stylists don’t recommend wearing jalapenos as earrings.
But I am telling you that this chipotle lime salmon is a game changer in the world of simplified gourmet eats, which I define as recipes that take thirty minutes or less to prepare, use only a few ingredients, and leave you licking the plate.
Now, take a seat. You’ll want to settle in for this salmon lesson.
Utilizing just one bold, intensely-flavored ingredient alongside a simple protein can transform an otherwise forgetful meal into something worth writing home about.
If you’re unfamiliar with chipotles in adobo, let’s cover a few basics.
First, it’s not often you’ll find yourself in a scenario where you crack open and use the entire can.
Unless you’re making fish for fifty, you’ll want to use this feisty ingredient sparingly.
Case in point: this recipe feeds four and calls for a mere single pepper – or half of one if you want to take it easier on the heat.
Don’t let that scare you, though, as the complex flavor is surprisingly balanced thanks to the acidic liquid used to marinate the peppers in the can.
Chipotles, which are smoked, dried jalapenos, become rehydrated when they’re canned in a tangy, tomatoey adobo sauce. Made with vinegar and spices, this stuff packs a punch and can be used dozens of ways.
And though I’ve clearly yanked the chipotle pepper out of its can, shoved it to center stage, and invited everyone to give it a standing ovation, let’s not forget that fresh lime plays an important supporting role in today’s recipe.
It’s tart, bright, and brings a refreshing zip of acidity to the fiery sauce. I call on the zest as well to really bump up that sharp, citrusy flavor with its flavorful essential oils.
I also mellow the heat with a little sweet – and not just because it rhymes!
Honey’s sticky consistency helps the sauce cling to the fish, and its sweetness balances the chipotle’s spice.
If you find cilantro does nothing more than leave a soapy-tasting residue on your tongue, don’t let me stop you from tossing it aside. But for those of us who love the herb’s fresh, citrusy personality, the more the merrier.
It also adds a nice pop of color to the finished dish.
What’s the cooking method for this speedy entree once the sauce is complete? It’s as effortless as brush, bake, brush. Easy enough, right?
Now go strut your salmon.Print
Chipotle Lime Salmon
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
Bright lime zest and honey cut through the smokiness of chipotles in this easy oven-roasted salmon dinner that comes together in a snap.
- 2 limes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, plus 1 teaspoon sauce from the can
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 4 6-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Zest and juice one lime and slice the other into wedges. Set aside.
- In a small food processor or high-speed blender, add the olive oil, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, honey, lime juice, and lime zest. Pulse until the pepper is broken down and then blend the sauce until smooth. Set aside.
- Pat the salmon dry and season both sides with salt. Place the fillets skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet.
- Spoon about half of the chipotle-lime sauce onto the fish, spreading it to coat the tops of each fillet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh easily flakes with a fork. Remove from oven.
- Stir 1 tablespoon cilantro into the remaining sauce. Using a clean basting brush, brush the top of the fillets.
- Divide the salmon among plates and garnish with the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately with the lime wedges.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Fish
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Seafood
Keywords: chipotle, lime, adobo, salmon
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Prep, and Measure Ingredients
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Measure the olive oil. Remove one of the chipotle peppers from the can and measure 1 teaspoon of the sauce. Save the rest for use in another recipe, but be sure to transfer to an air-tight or freezer safe container and toss the can.
If you like spicy flavors but don’t want too much heat, use only 1/2 of a chipotle pepper. To make up for the textural difference, you can add 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 tablespoon minced sweet onion to the sauce.
Measure the honey. Zest and juice one lime. You will need about 2 teaspoons of zest and about 2 tablespoons of juice. Slice the other lime into wedges to be used as garnish and set them aside.
Get the salmon out of the fridge and measure the salt. Mince the cilantro.
Step 2 – Make the Chipotle-Lime Sauce
Combine the olive oil, chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, honey, lime juice, and zest in a small food processor or high-speed blender.
It’s important to use a smaller food processor or blender to puree the marinade as opposed to a larger one where the small quantity of ingredients may not blend smoothly.
Pulse until the pepper breaks down and then blend until you have a smooth sauce. Set aside.
Pat the salmon dry with paper towels and season both sides of the fish with salt. Place the fillets skin-side down on the prepared baking sheet, with a little space in between each.
Evenly spoon and spread about half of the chipotle-lime sauce onto the fillets. At this point, you could either proceed with baking the salmon or cover the pan, refrigerate, and allow the fillets to marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour before cooking. If marinated for any longer than one hour, the fish may become mushy.
Step 3 – Bake, Brush with Remaining Sauce, and Serve
Bake the salmon until the flesh easily flakes with a fork, for about 15 to 20 minutes. You may need to adjust the cooking time depending on the thickness of your fillets.
Combine 1 tablespoon of the cilantro with the remaining sauce, and use a clean pastry brush to coat the top of the fillets.
Garnish with the remaining cilantro, and serve with the lime wedges.
Looking for a carby side dish that’s ideal for soaking up sauce? Serve the salmon with fluffy cilantro lime rice. You can even make it in the pressure cooker while you cook the fish.
Rein in That Heat
If you dig a little spice but all this hot jalapeno talk is scaring you, there are plenty of ways to use chipotles in adobo sauce while adjusting the heat to your liking.
As suggested in the recipe, you can use half of the chipotle and add a few savory aromatics to make up for the difference in texture.
You can also skip the teaspoon of liquid in the can that’s called for and use water, chicken broth, or vegetable stock instead.
This will mellow the spiciness without sacrificing any flavor since even half a chili still brings a ton of smoky notes.
No matter the amount you choose, don’t toss the goodies left over in the can! I like to puree, dollop into an ice cube tray, and freeze. You now have little spice bombs available to drop at your disposal.
Eater discretion is advised.
Other than using this sauce for salmon dishes, I like to make a double batch and slather it onto burgers and grilled chicken skewers. How will you spread the chipotle lime love?
Share your saucy suggestions in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
Sometimes, a squeeze of tart lime is all a dish needs to find its dazzle. Stock up on the citrus and let it shine in these recipes next:
- Chili Lime Chicken with Black Beans and Rice
- Vegan Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
- Cilantro Lime Grilled Corn
Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on May 12, 2014. Last updated on August 15, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”
27 thoughts on “Chipotle Lime Salmon”
I’d like to have this, I’ve made similar dishes in the past. Perfect for lunch or dinner, but I like to make just small portions because it really sucks having to reheat it. Loses its appeal to me if I have leftovers for some reason!
I agree fresh made is better but sometimes left overs are godsend – especially with multiple kids afoot.
I agree! I’m a huge fan of leftovers, but leftover fish definitely does not appeal to me. All the more reason to eat it all the first day, eh? 😉
Yeah, sometimes fish that is not fried loses its moisture when it is reheated. However, the recipe is so luscious that there will be no left overs. There are never any leftovers when Salmon or Tilapia is served, at my home. I like the warmth that the chipotle adds.
I would normally choose Tilapia over salmon, but this dish looks delicious. I could be persuaded to try this instead of my usual white fish. It’s definitely worth a shot. I think the way it is seasoned is the main reason. I enjoy both flavors. I’d likely try the combination on most on type, but if salmon is the chosen one, I’ll go for it.
I’m not sure what to pair this with, but I guess salad is always a good standby. I could have salad at every meal, personally, but my family gets a little bored with it after a while.
Okay. I’ve only just discovered this blog an hour ago and I have already printed out two weeks worth of dinner recipes. I’ve always been afraid of cooking salmon. One of my kids has been asking me to try, and this is going to be the first recipe I attempt. We recently moved to an area with an amazing fresh fish market. This is gonna be awesome!
I’d really enjoy this right about now. Being a very new empty nester, I’m able to really eat as I want. My daughter didn’t really care for lighter foods, instead she was more of a meats and potatoes kind.
There’s nothing quite like fish on a bed of greenery to make one feel immediately refreshed. Salmon is my favorite kind of fish. It is so easy to cook and make taste like you slaved in the kitchen all day. I certainly appreciate a simple recipe, too.
I’m not big on salmon, but the people I cook for love it. I’ll give this a shot for them, then eat some snacks for myself. 😉 Thanks!
Same here! I never eat it but everyone else seems to love it. This looks like a good recipe and I’m sure it will make for an interesting meal. I might have to try it and see if it can win me over. I’m not big on seafood so I might have to make something else for myself.
Your photo has my mouth watering! I’m going to pick up some salmon for dinner tonight. This looks so good and I haven’t had salmon in a while.
I think it’s great that you are exposing your kids to so many interesting flavors. They’ll grow up with great palettes. I think if you start introducing a wide variety of foods when they’re very young it avoids many picky eater habits.
Checking back in! I made this last week and it was delicious. All of the flavors tasted great together. I wanted to save some for lunch the next day but it all got snatched up! I’ll be adding this into my recipe rotation. It took me less than 20 minutes to cook mine but everyone’s oven will vary.
Another awesome salmon recipe. I think its wonderful that you have so many unique recipes on here. I’m excited to learn to cook salmon. Hoping to see more fish related recipes on here! Healthy and delicious.
My main concern with eating salmon is that I can never judge how well it’s cooked based on the color. I have a very minute version of color-blindness where I cannot differentiate very slight changes in shades..and salmon always looks the same color to me. I tend to stay away from it for that reason, but I really want to try this recipe! I printed it out and I’m going to have my husband try to whip it up for me 🙂
This also would work well with a variety of fish, shrimp, crab etc. for those concerned about cooking salmon. This recipe is packed with flavor and so easy to prepare. I tried it and loved it. Thanks for a great dish!
Mmm, that looks like a delicious recipe and I’m not surprised your boys loved it! I’d never really thought about adding heat to salmon before and I love chipotle so this is definitely one to try.
I’m telling you, Lynne, these recipes as of late are sticking a chord in me. You just combined my three favourite things: Salmon, lime, & chipotle. Now I have to go to the store & pick up some salmon. I’m curious if I can get away with cooking the fish for fifteen minutes.
Whoa, I never actually thought of devouring something like this. This peaks the curiosity of my taste buds seeing that I love to eat salmon and having that type of flavored fish sounds like a meal I’d be all up for. I wonder how it would taste with a chipotle and tangerine type flavor.
This looks absolutely amazing. My family and I are obsessed with salmon. Usually I make it with lemon pepper spices, but this looks even better. I bet this would be outstanding with some cilantro rice. The pictures were beautiful, they really made me hungry.
This dish looks awesome! What a difference from the boring salt pepper and lime way that I cook mine. I’m dying to try it at my household. I’m sure it will be a winner, since we are all spicy food lovers. I like that the recipe is so simple, and that you can be doing the side dishes while the salmon is in the oven. Trying soon. Thank you for the recipe.
Hi Ms. Jaques. I would like to thank you very much for this recipe. I found it while surfing through the site earlier during the week, and I knew I just had to have it. I managed to follow all the directions, served it with mashed potatoes and Caesar salad as side dishes. If I had 2 words to describe dinner that day, they would be “Delicious Success”. Thanks again for all the hard work that is put into this site, and for always providing us with such amazing recipes.
I am so glad I came across this recipe as I just took out salmon for the family. I will omit the heat for my toddlers but definitely add it for my hubby and I. Usually I buy fresh salmon, however, this is frozen packaged salmon, therefore, adding a little heat will disguise that not extremely freshness. There truely is nothing better than fresh fish but at times it just isn’t available.
Fresh salmon is so good yet a little expensive. I usually cook the white fish, but when we want a treat this is what we go for. I have a little trouble keeping it moist throughout cooking times however.
This is more my speed, I don’t care for recipes with creamy sauces. Citrus in general makes fish a whole lot better, especially salmon.
This looks interesting. I have had lemon on salmon, but not lime. I have had chipotle seasoning, but never combined with citrus. I think I’ll work this one into this month’s meal plan. It’s fun to try new stuff and new twists on things.
Yum! One of my favorite flavors ever is the sightly (and really strong as well) taste of chili and the acidic but delicious taste of lime, and those who combined are one of my favorite things to eat. On the other hand, I’m not a really big fan of salmon but my mom definitely is, and most of the time she just cook it with some aluminum paper and she puts a little bit of lime in it, but I’m pretty sure that she will be amazed with this recipe, a little bit of variation never killed no one.
Thanks for sharing! :).
I love including salmon into the routine and the more ways I can spice things up the better, so thank you for that. I am not sure I have ever had a chipotle lime flavor, but it sounds pretty good so I will have to give it a shot. I do like adding some acidity to fish, so that makes some sense to me.