Grilling salmon is easy, as long as you follow a few simple steps. This no-flip technique requires that you work with skin-on pieces of salmon. Have skinless salmon filets? Scroll to the bottom and see how to troubleshoot that situation in the "tips" section.
Use this recipe to grill any type of salmon or size of fillet perfectly every single time.
While many people swear by the superiority of king (aka chinook) salmon, other varieties such as sockeye, coho, and even pink salmon are also delicious on the grill. Plan on about 6 ounces of salmon per person and grill individual fillets or cook a whole side of skin-on salmon at once. Feel free to add spice rubs, glazes, and sauces as you like—check out this miso-glazed grilled salmon recipe as an example.
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- 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin-on
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Optional: 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: 4 lemon wedges
Gather the ingredients.
Make sure your grill is clean. Rub the cooking grate with a thin layer of oil, 1/2 tablespoon should be enough. Heat the grill, either charcoal, gas, or electric, to medium-high (you should be able to hold your hand about one inch above the cooking grate for 3 to 4 seconds before pulling it away from the heat). A properly heated grill will help keep the fish from sticking excessively while also cooking it gently and thoroughly without setting it aflame.
While the grill heats, prepare the salmon fillet(s): Rinse them and pat them dry.
Use tweezers to pull out the pin bones (pull them out in the direction at which they're coming out for the smoothest results). Don't see any pin bones? Run your finger down the "seam" of the fillet—you'll feel them.
Brush the cooking grate with another 1/2 tablespoon oil.
Brush the 4 fillets with the remaining tablespoon of oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the salmon, skin-side-down on the grill and cover. Cook, undisturbed, until the salmon just starts to release its fat (opaque mayonnaise-like stuff), or until it reaches 145 F, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes for most 1-inch thick fillets. Allow another 5 to 10 minutes for each extra inch of thickness. Use a spatula to remove the fish from the grill.
Serve grilled salmon immediately. Offer lemon wedges so people can spritz their salmon with fresh lemon juice, or serve with the garnish of your choice (fresh herbs are nice).
- Does your salmon not have any skin on it? Simply use a piece of foil a few inches larger than whatever piece of salmon you have. Punch a few holes in it—about one hole every inch—and oil it liberally. Cook the salmon on the foil on the grill, no turning required!
- Have an entire salmon? You might want to check out how to grill a whole fish (salmon is great grilled whole, stuffed with herbs and lemons, coated with oil or mayonnaise).
- Have salmon but no grill? See more tasty ways to cook salmon.