piece of salmon in parchment paper image

Fish en Papillote Recipe

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If you want to bake tender, flavorful fish, then you’ll want to try this fish en papillote. Baked inside a sheet of parchment paper, you can expect a mouthwatering, fork-tender piece of fish on your plate.

Whole Fish en Papillote

Fish can be a tricky thing to bake because it can tend to overcook very easily, which translates to dry and rubbery fish. Nothing is worse than dry fish!

One way to avoid this calamity is to utilize the French method of “en papillote” which literally translates to in paper or in parchment in French.

To use this method, you simply place a whole fish or fillet of fish inside a packet of parchment paper. 

salmon en papillote image

How do you make parchment packets for fish?

Once the fish is placed on the parchment paper, the paper is scrunched up and folded together along the edges to effectively seal the fish inside the paper. 

The idea behind cooking fish in wrapped paper like this is to have the fish bake in its own steam. This helps ensure the fish maintains its moisture as it cooks.

fresh herbs

How do you cook en papillote?

You typically season the fish with salt and pepper like your normally would, but you can also add additional ingredients like olive oil, herbs, olives, and veggies that you enjoy inside the packet for enhanced flavor.

A topping like sauce vierge would also be a fantastic choice for your fish packet.

The sealed packet of fish is then placed on a baking sheet and set inside the oven to bake for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how thick your fish is. 

You can use a variety of fish depending on your preference, but usually cod, salmon, tilapia, or flounder are popular choices. For my fish en papillote, I used a piece of fresh salmon.

fish en papillote image

I season my salmon with the usual salt and pepper, then create an herb butter compound by mixing softened butter with fresh chives, garlic, and a little lemon zest.

The compound then gets placed on top of the fish along with some more lemon zest and some lemon slices before the parchment paper packet is closed shut.

Fish en papillote is traditionally served in its sealed parchment paper so that guests can not only smell the delicious aroma as they rip into the paper, but it also helps keep the juices of the fish in place.

It’s a perfectly light and easy dish to create for any lunch or dinner. 

piece of salmon in parchment paper image

Fish en Papillote

Yield: 4-6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Salmon cooked inside a parchment paper packet for a perfectly moist and tender fish.


  • 4-6 salmon fillets, or another preferable fish
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3 chives, finely chopped
  • 2 lemons
  • parchment paper for wrapping
  • 1 egg white for sealing paper shut


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Take 4 to 6 large sheets of parchment paper (1 sheet per fish fillet) and fold each in half vertically like a book. Cut out a wide heart shape from the folded parchment paper. To do this, place your scissors near the bottom corner of the paper where the closed/folded side of the parchment paper is. Then move your scissors in the direction of the open end of the parchment paper so that you're cutting the heart shape. When you unfold the parchment paper sheet, you should get a really wide, cut-out heart shape.
  2. Create your butter compound by mixing the butter, garlic, and chives together. Add the zest of 1/2 a small lemon or 1/4 a large lemon. Mix that into the butter.
  3. Place a salmon fillet on one side of each heart-shaped parchment paper. Season the salmon with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Place a tablespoon of the butter compound onto each piece of salmon. Then add a little bit of lemon zest over piece of fish too. Place a couple of thin lemon slices either underneath or on top of the fish too.
  4. Brush the egg white on the entire border of each sheet of parchment paper, working with each serving one at a time as the egg white dries quickly. Before the egg white dries, fold the empty flap of paper over the fish and press down on the edges to seal the fish into the parchment paper pocket. Scrunch and fold the edges of the parchment paper in to keep the fish sealed in.
  5. Place each serving onto a baking sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick and large your fish is. For example, a 4 oz thin piece of salmon is usually perfect at 10 minutes. Serve fish in its paper so that guests can rip into the paper themselves. This helps maintain moisture and aroma.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 298

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  1. Hi Beeta,

    We do this with tin foil on the grill. Do you know if it would taste the same if I used tin foil in the oven? Sometimes I’m out of Parchment Paper and was just wondering if the flavor is the same… does the tin foil maybe create too much liquid? And it definitely wouldn’t lend itself to a beautiful presentation in folded parchment as a dish of course, but just wondering about the cooking and flavor differences.

    1. Hi Cynthia! The tin foil will have the same cooking effect, but I think the reason it’s not preferred or recommend over parchment paper is that foil is not non-stick like parchment paper. For really delicate fish, this can be an issue sometimes. Other than that, foil won’t affect the cooking or flavor!

      1. Hi Beeta,
        Cool thanks for the info… maybe we can try wrapping the fish in parchment paper and then putting that in tin foil so it can be placed on the grill! A good experiment to try. 🙂 Will let you know how it comes out.

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