Creamy rich sauce, sweet morsels of tender salmon and piquant capers make up this delicious Italian style pasta alla salmone. This easy salmon recipe comes together fast (under 30 minutes!) with just a few simple ingredients and a foolproof cream sauce. (GF option included)
Why I made this recipe
Creamy pasta dishes are some of my favorite fancy meals. A rich bowl of pasta and seafood is something special and celebratory. Found on many Italian restaurant menus, this salmon dish makes a wonderful Christmas eve dinner or a fancy (but easy to make) New Years eve supper. Capers and lemon keep this tasting fresh and bright.
This was partly inspired by my Easiest Seafood Alfredo, another great holiday dinner for pasta lovers. If you are a salmon lover like me, check my other salmon recipes like Miso Baked Salmon, Salmon Carpaccio and Easy Furikake Salmon. Mediterranean Cauliflower Salad or Fresh Fig Salad would make great side dishes along with your favorite bread for mopping up all the sauce.
An easy recipe, these fresh ingredients come together fast for a silky and luxurious salmon pasta.
- Salmon - The star of this dish, fresh, boneless, skinless salmon is good for this recipe. I've stirred in cooked salmon but there is a quick tutorial for cooking it if you're starting with raw salmon. Wild salmon is my choice for this simple recipe. Sockeye, chum, spring or coho, whichever is in season is best. Leftover chopped salmon is great too.
- Parmesan Cheese - Parmesan adds so much depth of flavor and adds to the creamy richness of this sauce. This recipe isn't technically alfredo sauce but it uses many of the same ingredients and tastes quite similar.
- Capers - Along with lemon, capers add tiny bursts of refreshing acidity to this rich pasta recipe. I love the complex flavor of capers and use them often with smoked salmon dishes and in salads that need a little something extra.
See recipe card for quantities.
Substitutions + Variations
- Gluten-Free - This recipe is easily made gluten-free by swapping the flour for cornstarch. Use the same amount and stir it through the cheese before adding to the hot cream mixture. Be sure to buy GF pasta to serve it over.
- Canned Salmon - Although using canned salmon will not be as good as using fresh salmon (it will turn out a little dryer in texture), it does make a pretty decent substitute. Be sure to drain any oil or water from the tinned salmon before using.
- Smoked Salmon - Swap an equal amount of your favorite smoked salmon for the plain. I think the lemon and capers make this a natural with smoked salmon. Got smoked salmon? Check out 35+ Best Smoked Salmon Recipes.
- Cheese - Asiago or grana Padano or both excellent substitutions for Parmigiano.
- Acid - For a more grown-up flavor, swap lemon juice for an equal amount of white wine. Choose a bright, unoaked white wine like Sauvignon blanc or Chablis or similar.
How To Video
Preheat the oven before putting your pasta water on. This way, the salmon will be cooked by the time your pasta has finished cooking.
Cook the salmon
Place salmon fillet on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with 2 teaspoons olive oil, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and bake at 400º for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and use a fork to gently flake the salmon.
Make the pasta sauce
This sauce for this pasta al salmone differs from a true alfredo by adding chicken or fish stock and lemon juice. The addition of stock requires a little flour (or cornstarch) to achieve a silky thick sauce.
To start, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and cook fettuccine noodles as per package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. Top Tip: Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and use it to thin your sauce as needed at the end.
Step 1. Meanwhile melt the butter in a heavy saucepan.
Step 2. Add minced garlic cloves and cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant and translucent.
Step 3. Add cream, chicken broth, and lemon juice (or white wine if desired) to the butter and garlic. Stir to combine and heat over medium low heat until sauce begins to steam, do not let it come to a boil.
Step 4. In a separate bowl, combine shredded parmesan cheese with flour (or cornstarch if making this gf).
Step 5. Toss the cheese and flour together well.
Note: Tossing the flour with the grated cheese makes it easy to incorporate the flour into the sauce without worrying about lumps.
Step 6. Add cheese mixture to cream and broth. Keep heat at medium-low. Stir frequently until cheese is melted and sauce thickens.
Step 7. Add flaked salmon...
Step 8. and capers....
Step 9. and stir to combine.
***If you feel your sauce is too thick at this point, add in a little of the reserved pasta water until it is the consistency you want.
Step 10. Stir in fettuccine, and serve, topped with fresh parsley.
Italian cuisine favors fresh ingredients and fresh herbs make this Italian dish sing. I've used fresh parsley but chopped chives, tarragon or even dill are delicious sprinkled on top. Love lemon? Grate a little lemon zest before juicing your lemon and sprinkle it in with the salmon and chives.
Yes. Thinner linguine or wider tagliatelle or even pappardelle work well for this. I you want a noodle that will grab more sauce, penne pasta or fusilli are a popular choice.
The creamy sauce with briny capers pairs well with a few types of wine. A crisp pinot grigio or Sauvignon blanc are light and refreshing choices. For a deeper, richer wine, an oaked chardonnay plays well with the butter and cream.
Yes, you can replace the chicken broth with additional cream if you prefer. If you opt too use all heavy cream, omit the flour or cornstarch addition.
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Cheers friends! Sabrina
Have a wonderful and delicious day my friends, thanks for reading along.
- 8 oz Fettuccine Noodles (½ lb or 2 cups of dry pasta)
- ¾ pound Cooked Salmon (Boneless, skinless) or about 2 cups cooked and flaked
- 2 tablespoon Butter salted is fine
- 1 cup Heavy Cream 30-36% M.F.
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- ½ cup Fish or Chicken Broth
- ¼ cup Lemon Juice
- 5 oz Shredded Parmesan Cheese Approx. ⅔ cup
- 1 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tablespoon Capers
- 2 tablespoon Parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously and cook fettuccine noodles as per package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. Melt butter in a heavy saucepan and add minced garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant and translucent.
- Add cream, chicken broth, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Heat until sauce begins to steam, do not let it come to a boil.
- In a separate bowl, combine shredded parmesan cheese with flour. Add cheese mixture to saucepan, and stir frequently until cheese is melted and sauce thickens. Season to taste with fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt to taste.
- Add flaked salmon and capers and stir to combine.
- Stir in fettuccine, and serve, topped with fresh parsley.
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