How to Grill Salmon

5 from 310 votes

Learn how to grill salmon with skin on using this step-by-step tutorial. Grilling salmon this method creates moist fillets that won't stick!

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Learn how to grill salmon with the skin on like a pro with this simple, step-by-step guide. While it might seem obvious, the trick to grilling an amazing piece of salmon is not overcooking it. It’s not a protein you can just throw on the grill and walk away from. I’ll teach you how to grill salmon the right way and identify visual clues that the salmon is cooked perfectly. Go grab an instant-read thermometer, and let’s get grilling!

Plate of 4 salmon fillets grilled served with lemon wedges
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Summertime is the perfect time for grilling out with friends and family. And what’s better than grilled salmon? Not much! Salmon is my favorite fish to grill, air fry, bake, and pan fry – needless to say, salmon is a staple protein at my house. Grilling adds a delicious smokiness to salmon that you just can’t beat. In this post, I will provide a step-by-step guide on how to grill salmon with the skin on (my fav way!). This is a great way to ensure that your salmon stays moist and juicy. Let’s get started!

Why Learn How To Grill Salmon

  • Easy to mess up. Salmon is a delicate protein. If you cook the salmon too long, it will become dry and tough, and no one likes dry fish.
  • Basic technique that can be used for other fish. The tips and tricks I’m about to give you can be used for many types of fish.
  • Flavorful. Grilling salmon with the skin on adds flavor and crispiness to the outside while keeping the inside moist and delicious.

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 choose 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.

Basic Ingredients You’ll Need To Grill Salmon

  • Salmon: You can grill fresh or frozen salmon (thawed) with the skin on. For grilling, you do want a thicker fillet as it holds up better to the open flame, and if cooking multiple pieces of salmon at once, you’ll want to make sure they are about the same size.
  • Oil: You’ll want to use a high-heat oil such as canola, avocado, or grapeseed.
  • Salt and Pepper: The key to great flavor is seasoning the salmon before grilling. I like to use sea salt, black pepper, and sometimes some smoked paprika for extra smokiness.
4 salmon fillets on plate with oil, salt and pepper

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.
3 image collage to show how to prepare the salmon, first by patting dry, then by seasoning, then by rubbing the seasoning into the salmon
  • 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.
3 image collage to show how to grill the salmon, starting with skin-side down, then flipping and then finishing off

Tips for grilling salmon

  1. 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.
  2. Try to flip the salmon in 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Use an instant-read thermometer to cook to the perfect temperature. Salmon cooked to a safe temperature of 130°F may still appear pink in the center, which is why many people end up overcooking theirs.

How to tell your salmon is done cooking

When salmon is done cooking, it should be opaque in color and flake apart easily with a fork.

The internal temperature should also read 130°F-135°F when measured with an instant-read thermometer. It will continue to cook after it’s removed from the grill.

While the USDA recommends that salmon should be cooked to 145°F, most of the internet disagrees. Some even recommend cooking salmon only to 120°F-125°F. Since everyone has different preferences, it might take a few attempts to find the perfect internal temperature for you. I find that 130°F-135°F yields the best flavor and texture. At this temperature, the outside is crispy, while the inside is moist and flavorful.

The cooking time will vary depending on how thick your fillet is, so use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that you are not overcooking it.

Remember, if you start to see “the white stuff” in abundance, your salmon is nearing or has entered the realm of overcooked, and you want to remove it from the grill immediately.

What to serve with grilled salmon

Frequently asked questions

What other flavors go well with grilled salmon?

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.

What sauces go well with grilled salmon?

There are so many! Try a spoonful of Tzatziki, Cilantro Yogurt Sauce, Cucumber Yogurt Sauce, or Lebanese Garlic Sauce. All would be delicious.

How long does grilled salmon stay good in the fridge?

The USDA says it can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days.

Grilled salmon fillets on plate with fork next to plate

Grilling salmon with the skin on is a great way to add flavor and crispiness while keeping the inside moist. With this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to grill like a pro in no time! Remember not to overcook your salmon so that it stays juicy and tender – use an instant-read thermometer for accuracy. Make sure the internal temperature of your fish reaches 130°F-135°F before taking it off the heat. If done correctly, you will have perfectly grilled salmon with delicious smoky flavor every single time! So what are you waiting for? Head outside and fire up the grill!

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How to Grill Salmon (Skin-on)

Learn how to grill salmon with skin on using this step-by-step tutorial. Grilling salmon this method creates moist fillets that won't stick!
5 from 310 votes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 304
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
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  • 4 6-8 ounces salmon fillets about 1-inch thick, with skin on
  • 2 tablespoons oil canola, vegetable, grapeseed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Lemon wedges for serving


  • 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.


Storage: It’s best to enjoy grilled salmon immediately after cooking. However you can store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Photo Credit: Erin Jensen


Calories: 304kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 8g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 94mg, Sodium: 656mg, Potassium: 837mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 69IU, Calcium: 22mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine American
Course: Main Course
5 from 310 votes (309 ratings without comment)

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  1. Maureen (Mo) Smith says: with Yumna is like a cooking dream come true!
    I’m a loyal follower and I love what I learned from her regarding setting
    up all your ingredients in small individual dishes before you start as well
    as her recipes and cooking techniques. It makes cooking following the
    BEST there is.
    Mo from BC Canada

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      Wow, thank you so much! Glad you are finding all the tips and recipes useful and delicious! Thank you!!

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      1. Yumna Jawad says: