How to Grill Salmon in 7 Easy Steps

Grilled salmon

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4

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? Use aluminum foil to form a thin barrier between the fish and the grill. The layer of skin or foil (along with cooking oil) will help keep the fish from sticking and over-cooking. A very clean grill is also key to prevent sticking, so take time to give the grates a good scrub.

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 whether you're grilling individual fillets or a whole side of skin-on salmon at once. Feel free to add spice rubs, glazes, and sauces as you like.

Ingredients

  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (skin-on)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil (or vegetable oil, divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: 4 lemon wedges

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for grilled salmon
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  2. Make sure your grill is clean. Rub the cooking grate with a thin layer of oil—1 or 2 teaspoons should be enough. Heat the grill (whether charcoal, gas, or electric) to medium-high. You should be able to hold your hand about 1 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.

    Grill is clean
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  3. While the grill heats, prepare the salmon fillets. Rinse them and pat them dry.

    Pat down salmon
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  4. Use tweezers to pull out any 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.

    Remove bones
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  5. Brush the cooking grate with another 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil. Brush the 4 fillets with the remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    Brush fillets with spices
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  6. Place the salmon, skin-side-down, on the hot 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.

    Salmon on grill
    The Spruce / Victoria Heydt
  7. 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.

    Grilled salmon
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • Does your salmon not have skin? 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 top of the foil on the grill, and follow the recipe as written.
1:15

Click Play to See This Grilled Salmon Recipe Come Together