Grilled Salmon is one of the tastiest, healthiest, and most pleasurable ways to enjoy fish. With these tips, this grilled salmon recipe is easy and excellent! Here’s everything you need to know to grill perfect pieces of salmon like the pro you are (or like the pro you are about to become!).
Even if you’re a grilling novice, you’ll feel like straight-up Bobby Flay when you pull crispy-skinned, succulent fillets hot off the grill.
When I’m cooking for a crowd or want leftovers, I prefer to cook a single, large piece of fish like Grilled Salmon in Foil.
When you want to cook individual portions, however, this method for grilled salmon fillets is the one to choose.
Tips for Perfect Grilled Salmon
To grill pieces of salmon that are 1) moist and tender (not dry!), 2) optimally seasoned, and 3) don’t stick to the grill, follow these tips:
- Choose Skin-On Salmon. If you want to cook salmon directly on the grill grates, you must use skin-on salmon fillets or the salmon will not hold together.
- Season or Marinate. Well-seasoned salmon is delicious salmon. Use Salmon Seasoning or your favorite salmon rub, try a Salmon Marinade, or make a stellar simple grilled salmon with just olive oil, salt, and pepper. Smoked Salmon has great seasoning ideas.
- Make Sure Your Grill is CLEAN and HOT. 450°F to 500°F is the ideal temperature for grilling salmon. It will ensure the fish releases easily and that you get a nice sear.
- Only Flip Once. Fish is delicate. Whether you’re making Grilled Swordfish, Grilled Cod, or grilled salmon, flipping it more than once is very likely to cause it to fall apart. Also, if the skin gets a little messed up during flipping, no biggie—it won’t affect your final taste.
- Don’t Overcook the Salmon. Overcooking is the biggest mistake people make when grilling salmon. Use an instant read thermometer to check for doneness and anticipate that the salmon’s temperature will rise as it rests. The FDA considers salmon cooked at 145°F; I recommend removing salmon between 130°F and 135°F to keep it moist.
For more about cooking salmon to the perfect internal temperature, see my Salmon Temperature Guide.
How to Make Grilled Salmon
Look in the mirror and believe as I do: YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Keep the grill hot and clean, your thermometer and fish spatula handy, and pour yourself a beverage.
Cooking salmon on the grill is easy and fun!
This recipe will work for any kind of grill—gas grill, charcoal grill, electric grill, Traeger, etc.
Remember: no matter what kind of grill you use, cook the salmon to temperature, not to time on the clock.
- Salmon. Tender, protein-packed salmon is easy and delicious on the grill. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil. Brushing the fillets with extra-virgin olive oil helps add flavor and moisture. It also keeps them from burning or sticking to the grill.
- Seasonings. How to grill salmon with flavor! Keep it simple with just salt and pepper (you must add these two), add garlic powder or onion powder, or spice things up as you please. See the “Ways to Season Grilled Salmon” section below for ideas.
- Let the salmon stand at room temperature.
- Dry the fillets.
- Brush the salmon with oil.
- Sprinkle the fillets with salt, pepper, and other desired seasonings.
- Grill the salmon skin-side down over medium-high heat for about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Flip the salmon, cooking for about 2 to 4 minutes more. Let rest for 5 minutes on a clean plate. ENJOY!
Ways to Season Grilled Salmon
- BBQ Grilled Salmon. Stir together 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Rub the mixture onto the fillets after brushing them with the oil. Serve with Barbecue Sauce if desired.
- Chili Lime Grilled Salmon. Season the fillets with 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon honey. Drizzle freshly squeezed lime juice over the fillets after grilling. (This would be wonderful with Grilled Corn Salad.)
- Curry Grilled Salmon. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder to the spices listed in this grilled salmon recipe.
- Garlic Butter Grilled Salmon. Instead of olive oil, brush the salmon fillets with melted butter. Season with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Drizzle the finished fillets with additional garlic butter and add a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
- Sweet, Smoky, and Spicy Grilled Salmon. Use my homemade salmon seasoning recipe. It’s linked in the recipe card below.
- To Store. Refrigerate salmon in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Very gently rewarm salmon in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also gently reheat salmon in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze salmon in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
What to Serve with Grilled Salmon
- Rice. A side of Lemon Rice or Instant Pot Brown Rice would be delicious.
- Pasta. Pair this salmon with Mushroom Pasta, Garlic Pasta, or Pesto Pasta.
- Vegetables. Enjoy more grilled goodness by serving Grilled Potatoes or Grilled Asparagus. Roasted Broccoli and Oven Roasted Vegetables are tasty options too.
- Salad. Try a simple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, Pesto Potato Salad, or this Caprese Pasta Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Tongs. A must-have tool for grilling.
- Baking Sheet. Easily transport your fillets to the grill with a baking sheet.
- Brush. Ideal for brushing the olive oil onto the salmon.
This crispy-topped, succulent salmon will be on repeat here all grilling season long.
You’ll fall for it hook, line, and sinker!
Frequently Asked Questions
See Cedar Plank Salmon for a clear recipe and tips for grilling with cedar planks.
Do not remove the skin when grilling salmon, as it keeps the fish moist and also prevents it from falling apart. The skin is easy to remove for serving if you prefer.
Start by grilling your salmon skin-side down. It’s much easier to flip the fillets when the skin side is down, so starting with that side is best since we’re only flipping it once.
Yes, you can grill frozen salmon, but it needs to be thawed first. If you’d like to cook the salmon directly from frozen, make Instant Pot Salmon instead.
The amount of time it takes to grill salmon will vary based on the thickness of your fillets, if they are farmed or wild-caught (wild-caught salmon is leaner and cooks more quickly), and the exact temperature of your grill. Plan on about 8 to 12 minutes over medium-high heat.
- Salmon Marinade Use in place of above seasonings
- Remove the salmon from the fridge and let stand at room temperature. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high to high heat—450°F to 500°F. A hot grill is key to making sure the salmon doesn’t stick. Once the grill is hot, use a grill brush to rub the grates as clean as possible.
- Pat the salmon fillets dry on both sides and transfer them to a plate or baking sheet so you can easily transport them to the grill.
- Drizzle the oil over the flesh side of the salmon and brush to coat the salmon evenly with the oil.
- Just before grilling, sprinkle the skin side of the salmon with the salt, pepper, and/or any additional seasonings (wait until just before grilling to salt the salmon so that you don’t draw out excess moisture). Rub lightly if needed so the salmon is coated evenly with the seasoning.
- Place the salmon skin-side down on the HOT grill. Let cook on the skin side without disturbing until the salmon releases easily with a spatula, about 6 to 7 minutes.
- Carefully flip the salmon (only flip it this once or it will likely fall apart). Let cook on the flesh side until the salmon reaches 130°F to 135°F on an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part (it will continue to cook as it rests), about 2 to 4 minutes more depending upon your grill temperature. Transfer to a clean plate or cutting board, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate salmon in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Very gently rewarm salmon in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat. You can also gently reheat salmon in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze salmon in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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