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Learn how to cook succulent, skin-on salmon fillets on the grill. The trick to grilling salmon is not to overcook it. Watching for doneness clues and an instant-read thermometer are your best friends.
Grilling adds a delicious smokiness to this heart-healthy fish full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, and B vitamins.
what is the best salmon for grilling
- The best salmon for grilling are fillets with the skin on one side. The skin protects the fish while cooking and naturally releases fat onto the grate making the fish easier to flip.
- You can chose between wild-caught varieties, with a stronger salmony taste, and farmed, often labeled “Atlantic” salmon, which has the mildest taste. Both are healthy. Keep in mind, wild-caught is less fatty and tends to cook more quickly.
How to grill salmon
- Pat salmon dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture especially if was thawed from frozen.
- Season with salt and pepper. You can also add any other seasoning of choice.
- Rub oil over the salmon fillets using your hands or a brush.
- Lay the salmon, skin side down, directly on the grill and cook with the lid open until the flesh lightens in color,
- Gently insert the tip of a spatula under the edge of the salmon. If it feels stuck, give it another minute. Otherwise, flip to the skinless side.
- Cook with the lid closed to reach desired doneness without overcooking. When you press down on the top with a fork, the filet will gently flake apart.
Tips for grilling salmon
- Lightly oil the grill for even better stick resistance. Even though you have oil on the salmon, this extra step helps to ensure a clean flip.
- Try to flip the salmon on the same spot where it was previously cooking. That’s because the skin will have released some nice oil to prevent the top from sticking.
- Don’t overcook the salmon. Don’t wait until you see that white stuff oozing out of the salmon to flip it. That stuff is albumin, a protein from the muscles, and while a little is normal towards the end of cooking, too much means your fish is already overcooked.
- Use tongs and a spatula for extra security while flipping. Try steadying one end of the filet with a pair of long-handled tongs, while you wiggle the spatula underneath the fish.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to cook to the perfect temperature. Salmon cooked to the safe temperature of 130°F may still appear pink in the center which is why many people end up overcooking theirs.
What to serve with grilled salmon
- Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
- Roasted Cabbage
- Baked Butternut Squash Fries
- Oven Roasted Cauliflower
- Melting Sweet Potatoes
- Garlic Roasted Potatoes
- Roasted Delicata Squash
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Lebanese Tabbouleh Salad
- Mediterranean Potato Salad
- Avocado Blueberry Salad
Frequently asked questions
Turn up the flavor by adding other spices like hot pepper, smoked paprika, grated lemon, or minced garlic to the fish before cooking. You can also try this citrus salsa with grilled salmon.
The USDA says it can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.
Salmon is America’s favorite fish for a reason. Add it to your cooking repertoire for healthy meals with a restaurant-grill taste.
More salmon recipes:
- Salmon Cakes
- Baked Feta Salmon
- Honey Lemon Salmon
- Air Fryer Salmon
- Salmon Burgers
- Garlic Cilantro Baked Salmon
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How to Grill Salmon (Skin-on)
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat.
- Pat salmon dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper and rub the oil all over the salmon.
- Place the salmon, skin side down, directly on the grill and cook with the lid open until the flesh lightens in color, about 5 minutes.
- Gently try to lift or flip the salmon. If it feels stuck, give it another minute.
- Flip to the skinless side and cook with the lid closed for another 3-5 minutes, depending on desired doneness. It should read at least 130°F-135°F on an instant read thermometer.
- Serve with lemon wedges, if desired. Allow the salmon to rest for a few minutes, which will continue to increase its internal temperature, before enjoying.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.