How to Grill Salmon

5 from 191 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 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.

Plate of 4 salmon fillets grilled served with lemon wedges

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.
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 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.
  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 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

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

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:

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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 191 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Main Course
Calories 304
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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

Nutrition

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.

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Plate of 4 salmon fillets grilled served with lemon wedges

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