How to grill salmon until it’s tender, juicy, and slightly charred! This Grilled Salmon Recipe uses simple seasonings and no marinating necessary.
Table of Contents
- Why We Love This Grilled Salmon Recipe
- Ingredients for Grilled Salmon
- Difference Between Wild vs. Farmed Salmon
- How to Season Salmon for Grilling
- Skin On or Off?
- Which Side Down First When Grilling Salmon?
- Do You Flip Salmon on the Grill?
- How to Grill Salmon
- How Long to Grill Salmon?
- Tips for Best Results
- More FAQs
- Sauces That Go Well with Grilled Salmon
- How to Store It
- More Salmon Recipes to Try
- Grilled Salmon Recipe
Learning how to grill salmon should be on every fish-lovers to-do list. Healthy, fast, simple, and super flavorful grilled salmon is a great addition to your grill recipes or even for midweek quick dinners.
I used to order salmon in restaurants but because I was getting 6 ounces portion for nearly $20, I learnt how to make perfect salmon on the grill at home!
Today, I’ll take you through all my top tips for the best grilled salmon recipe including what salmon to use, how long to grill salmon, and sauces and salsas that go well with it.
Why We Love This Grilled Salmon Recipe
- This recipe for grilled salmon yields tender, flaky, juicy salmon every single time!
- It uses just a handful of pantry basics for a simple, flavorful seasoning.
- Skip the hours of marinating time. All you need for this grilled salmon recipe is the time it takes for the grill to preheat!
- This grilled salmon is the ultimate “blank canvas” – perfect for serving with all your favorite side dishes or adapting to personal taste with other herbs, seasonings, and marinades.
- You can have this fish from your grill to the table in under 30 minutes with less than 15 minutes grill time!
- You can swap the outdoor grill for a non-stick grill pan during the winter months and enjoy this flakey salmon year-round! You can also broil salmon like I do with this Thai salmon.
Ingredients for Grilled Salmon
You can make restaurant-quality grilled salmon fillets at home in under 30 minutes and a few simple seasonings.
- Fresh salmon: Read below for tips on buying salmon. I prefer to use wild salmon which has more flavor and is leaner in comparison to farm-raised salmon. Sockeye salmon, King salmon, Coho salmon and Spring salmon are all types of salmon you can look out for.
- Oil: I recommend using a neutral cooking oil like avocado oil. Olive oil works as well but it has a lower smoke point, so it’s best for lower temperature grilling.
- Seasonings: I used a simple combination of smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper. I love how smoked paprika boosts the color and smokiness and is a spice I use often with grilled salmon. However, the grill will add smokiness too, so get creative with the spices and use what you have.
- Acid: You can use lemon juice, lime juice or apple cider vinegar.
Difference Between Wild vs. Farmed Salmon
In this household, buying salmon is a treat. It’s definitely not the most cost-efficient ingredient. However, when I do buy salmon, there are a few things to look at, primarily whether to buy wild vs. farmed salmon.
Wild salmon: This includes Sockeye, Coho, Spring salmon. Wild salmon contains more minerals, higher levels of Omega-3s and 3 times less Omega-6s than farmed salmon. Wild salmon is also more lean, as wild fish naturally moves more, but more expensive.
It requires less grilling time.
Farmed salmon: Most fish labeled “Atlantic salmon” is farmed salmon. Farmed salmon can contain more contaminants and is fed processed feed that makes them larger.
Farmed salmon is also very confined with limited movement, which results in higher amounts of Omega-6s (harmful when eaten in high quantities). However, it is cheaper than wild salmon and the extra fats can mean it’s more juicy in flavor and texture.
For those who aren’t massive fish fans, farmed salmon may actually be preferred as it tends to be slightly more mellow in flavor. It will also need a bit more time on the grill.
How to Season Salmon for Grilling
There are dozens of ways to flavor any recipe for grilled salmon, whether you want to use a spice rub or a marinade. In this recipe, I used a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powders to add flavor, color and smokiness.
I also like to mix dry spices with oil for easier application on salmon before grilling.
You can experiment with all kinds of sauces and spices:
- I often like to add a sprinkle of brown sugar to the grilled salmon marinade. It sounds odd but tastes amazing once it caramelizes on the grill.
- Use this all-purpose seasoning or Italian seasoning.
- Pot roast seasoning goes amazing with all types of proteins. It has a bit of a kick to it.
- Bump up the heat with the addition of chili flakes or hot sauce!
- Marinate salmon in a healthy BBQ sauce or sweet chili sauce.
Fresh herbs are more tricky to use as they burn easily on the grill. However, if you want to experiment then fresh dill, parsley, and rosemary work particularly well in a grilled salmon marinade. Or perhaps used in a sauce to brush over the salmon when serving.
Just know that marinade contains acid that denatures, cooks, the meat. So do not marinate salmon longer than 30 minutes.
Skin On or Off?
I recommend to use skin-on salmon fillets for grilling. Even if you don’t plan on eating the skin (it’s 100% edible but some just prefer without), grilling the salmon with the skin helps to hold it together as it cooks. Then remove the skin when serving, if preferred.
If you want to grill salmon fillets without the skin, then you can grill salmon in foil. I like to place some fresh herbs like parsley, dill, rosemary and, optionally, lemon slices under the salmon on the heavy-duty tin foil.
Then place the oiled and seasoned salmon over that, seal the foil parcel, and grill for 12-16 minutes. Grill time will vary based on the size and thickness of your salmon fillets.
Which Side Down First When Grilling Salmon?
You can start with grilling salmon skin side up for beautiful grill marks presentation. Or grill salmon with skin side down first for the crispy skin. It is whichever method you prefer.
Do You Flip Salmon on the Grill?
Yes, you flip the salmon on the grill but only flip it once. The more you touch or fiddle with the salmon, the more chance you have of it falling apart. Flipping salmon once is enough to get perfectly tender results and wonderful grill marks.
The key to flipping grilled salmon without it falling apart is to make sure it’s ready to flip. Try to flip it too soon and you’re asking for a nightmare.
When you place the salmon fillets on your grill, they will naturally stick to the grill grates during the first few minutes of cooking time before starting to release. About 4-5 minutes, then it’s time to flip. If you feel resistance when trying to flip, stop and give it more grilling time!
You also have to make sure to flip salmon carefully! Use a spatula and slowly slide it under the salmon fillet, wiggling it ever so slightly. Then flip carefully.
How to Grill Salmon
Here is a quick overview how to grill salmon. Full recipe card is located below.
First, you marinate the fish for as long as it takes to preheat your grill, then pop it on your grill and within 10-15 minutes say hello to flaky, juicy, tender grilled salmon perfection!
- Prepare and brush the grilled salmon marinade: In a small bowl, combine all the marinade ingredients, mix well, and then pour over the fillets in a wide dish with edges. Allow it to marinate while you preheat the grill.
- Heat the grill: Clean and oil the grill grates with an oil-soaked paper towel. Then preheat the grill to between 450-500F. If you don’t have a thermometer, the temperature is ready when you’re able to hold your hand above the grates (don’t touch them!) for 5 seconds before it becomes too hot to handle.
- Grill the salmon covered: Place the salmon fillets on the grill skin side up, close the lid (this creates more of an oven environment with more even heat distribution, so it’s important for the cooking process), and leave untouched to grill for 4-5 minutes. Check if it’s ready to flip by using a spatula to lift the salmon. If the salmon has nice grill marks and lifts from the grates easily, it’s ready to flip. If it’s still sticking, wait for another 30-60 seconds and try again.
- Then grill uncovered: After flipping, grill salmon for another 3-4 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads desired internal temperature (please consult the table below). Allow grilled salmon to rest for 5 minutes and then serve.
How Long to Grill Salmon?
It’s important to note that how long to grill salmon will vary based on your particular grill, the thickness of your salmon, and how well done you like it.
Grill salmon fillets for about 10 minutes, flipping once, over medium-high heat of 450-500F. Your salmon on the grill is ready when its flesh is opaque and flakes easily.
Check with internal meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of salmon for your desired doneness. Here is a handy chart to use:
|How cooked salmon is
Tips for Best Results
- Dry your salmon: Pat dry it with paper towels to remove any extra moisture before seasoning. This will ensure salmon grills and browns versus steaming.
- Frozen salmon: Thaw completely before grilling, overnight in the refrigerator or in a bowl with cold water for an hour before cooking.
- Rest it before grilling: Let salmon come to room temperature on the counter before grilling. This will ensure more even and efficient cooking.
- Preheat and grease the grill: The best grilled salmon is made when cooked on a searing hot grill (450-500F) that’s lightly greased to avoid the fish sticking to the grates.
- Don’t forget to oil the salmon: The grilled salmon marinade I use contains oil and don’t omit it. Some people don’t oil the grates and just oil the fish. It’s important to do both for the best results.
- Use a grill basket or mats: If you struggle with your salmon sticking to your grill, you can always use grill basket or grill mats. Just keep in mind grill time will be slightly longer.
- Using an indoor grill pan: If you don’t have a grill or the weather is not cooperating, you can use a grill pan on the stovetop. Make sure it’s properly preheated and oiled then cook in a similar way (covered, flip, uncovered).
As per USDA guidelines, grilled salmon is ready when it reaches an internal temperature of 145F. However, we have to factor in the residual heat, which further cooks the grilled salmon filets, even after removing them from the grates. For that reason, my recommendation is to check the salmon with a meat thermometer and remove it a few degrees before desired doneness. Then, allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
When ready, salmon should also easily flake with a fork and have changed from a red color to pale pink. Keep in mind that wild salmon is leaner and can overcook quicker!
Even if you don’t want to eat salmon skin, keep it during barbecuing. Grilling salmon with skin helps to keep salmon slices together and not falling apart. Make sure you remove scales before cooking with a knife. Salmon scales are small and are easy to remove. Often salmon is sold already cleaned.
If you eat salmon skin, know it is very good for you. It contains more of the same minerals and nutrients contained in salmon, which may be an excellent addition to any diet.
Sauces That Go Well with Grilled Salmon
This grilled salmon recipe is perfect for topping with a fruity salsa or sauce. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Mango salsa
- Fresh peach salsa
- Strawberry mango salsa
- Pineapple jalapeno salsa
- Pico de gallo
- Greek yogurt tartar sauce
- Avocado cilantro dressing
To say that this fish is versatile would be an understatement. Serve grilled salmon with your favorite side dishes like healthy coleslaw, healthier potato salad, Mediterranean pasta salad and other salads.
How to Store It
Store: Allow the grilled salmon to cool down, then refrigerate, covered, for up to 4 days. The leftovers are great for enjoying cold in a canned salmon salad recipe, a sandwich, or wrap!
Freeze: Transfer the salmon to a freezer-safe airtight container and store for up to 3 months. Try to do this within a couple of hours of cooking them to prevent bacteria growth. Thaw in the refrigerator before reserving.
More Salmon Recipes to Try
- Honey garlic glazed salmon
- Air fryer salmon and brussels sprouts
- Salmon stir fry
- Lime and ginger marinated salmon
- Baked teriyaki salmon
- Baked salmon in foil
- Canned salmon cakes
- Panko crusted salmon recipe
- In a small bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic and onion powders, salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- In a shallow flat dish with edges, lay salmon slices and brush with marinade. Marinate from 10 minutes for up to 24 hours. Longer marinating time, more flavorful salmon.
- Preheat grill to high heat of 450-500 degrees F. Clean grill well and oil the grates with soaked in oil paper towel. It is important to avoid salmon sticking to the grill.
- Place salmon on the grill skin side up, close the lid and grill for about 4-5 minutes.
- Check with spatula – if salmon has nice grill marks and comes off the grill easy – you flip it. The key to prevent fillet from falling apart is to move spatula under it slowly and flip.
- Cook uncovered for another 3-4 minutes or until thermometer reads 125 degrees F for medium rare or 140 F for medium.
- Store: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
- Freeze: You can freeze leftover cooked salmon for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
- Wild salmon is more lean than farmed salmon and can come out dry. Make sure not to overcook and by following recipe instructions.