How to Grill Salmon

Step-by-step guide

Choosing the Right Salmon

The first step in grilling perfect salmon is to choose the right fish. Look for fresh, wild-caught salmon (preferably organic), as it will have the best flavor and texture. Fresh salmon should have a glistening appearance, firm texture and no fishy odor. Additionally, look for salmon that has uniform thickness so it will cook evenly on the grill.

Preparing the Salmon

Before grilling, it’s important to prepare the salmon properly. First, rinse the fish under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Remove any pin bones with a pair of pliers or a fish bone tweezer. You can also ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Then, season the salmon with salt and pepper or any other seasonings you prefer. Some other popular seasonings include garlic, lemon, dill, or rosemary.

Prepping the Grill

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat, between 375°F to 450°F. Make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled to prevent sticking. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan or foil to prevent sticking. If using foil, make sure to grease it lightly with cooking spray or oil.

Grilling the Salmon

When grilling salmon, there are two main methods: direct or indirect heat.

Direct heat: This method is best when grilling thin fillets or steaks. Place the salmon directly on the grill grates or on a grill pan, skin-side down. Then, close the lid and cook for 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness and the desired level of doneness. Don’t flip the salmon until it’s fully cooked on one side, which should result in an easily flaked texture. Remove the salmon from the grill with a spatula and serve immediately.

Indirect heat: This method is best for thicker salmon fillets, which require a longer cooking time. Start by placing your salmon on a grill pan, skin-side down. Then, move the pan to the cooler side of the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 10-12 minutes depending on the size, thickness and the desired level of doneness. Check for doneness by inserting a fork into the thickest part of the fish and twisting. If it flakes easily, it’s ready to serve.

Grilling Tips

Be careful when flipping the salmon, as it can easily fall apart. Use a spatula for support and a pair of tongs to gently lift and flip the fish over.

For added flavor, brush the salmon with olive oil, butter, or a glaze made with balsamic vinegar or honey during the last minute of grilling.

If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling to prevent them from burning.

For a smokier flavor, add wood chips to the grill. Choose from a variety of woods, including apple, hickory, or mesquite.

Keep an eye on the cooking time to avoid overcooking the salmon, as it can dry out quickly.


Grilling salmon is a simple yet delicious way to enjoy this healthy fish. By following these steps, you can grill salmon to perfection every time. Remember to choose fresh, wild-caught salmon, season it properly, and cook it using the direct or indirect method. With these grilling tips, you’ll have a mouthwatering meal that’s perfect for any occasion. Happy grilling!

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