Grilling Salmon Tips: Mastering the Art for Perfect Results

Sabrina Dawson

grilling salmon tips
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Grilling salmon is an art form that requires precision, patience, and a few insider tips to achieve that perfectly cooked, moist, and flavorful fish. Whether you’re a grilling novice or a seasoned BBQ aficionado, mastering the art of grilling salmon will elevate your culinary skills and impress your family and friends. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know to grill salmon like a pro, from choosing the right salmon to mastering the grill temperature and cooking time. So fire up your grill, sharpen your grilling skills, and get ready to enjoy the most delicious grilled salmon you’ve ever tasted!

Why Grilled Salmon?

Grilled Salmon

Salmon is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals. Grilling salmon enhances its natural flavors and textures, giving it a smoky char and tender, flaky flesh that’s irresistible to seafood lovers. Plus, grilling is a healthier cooking method compared to frying or sautéing, as it requires minimal added fats or oils.

Choosing the Right Salmon

Before you even fire up the grill, it’s essential to start with the right kind of salmon. Here are some tips for choosing the best salmon for grilling:

  • Wild-caught vs. Farm-raised: While both wild-caught and farm-raised salmon are suitable for grilling, wild-caught salmon tends to have a richer flavor and firmer texture. However, if you prefer a milder taste, opt for quality farm-raised salmon.
  • Salmon Varieties: There are several varieties of salmon available, including king, chinook, coho, and sockeye. Each variety has its own unique flavor profile and texture, so choose the one that suits your taste preferences.
  • Skin-On Fillets: When purchasing salmon for grilling, always choose fillets with the skin still on. The skin helps protect the delicate flesh from drying out and sticking to the grill grates during cooking.

Preparing the Grill

Grilled Salmon (Perfectly Seasoned!) – A Couple Cooks

Now that you’ve selected the perfect salmon fillets, it’s time to prepare your grill for cooking. Whether you’re using a charcoal grill or a gas grill, here’s how to get started:

Charcoal Grill

  • Choosing Charcoal: Opt for high-quality, all-natural charcoal briquettes made from pure hardwoods. Avoid charcoal briquettes with added fillers or chemicals, as they can impart unpleasant flavors to the salmon.
  • Using a Chimney Starter: Instead of lighter fluid, use a chimney starter to ignite the charcoal. Simply fill the chimney starter with charcoal, place a few balls of crumpled newspaper at the bottom, and light the paper. Once the charcoal is hot and covered with white ash, carefully transfer it to the grill.
  • Preheating the Grill: Preheat the charcoal grill to a temperature of 450°F-500°F, ensuring that the grill grates are clean and well-oiled to prevent sticking.

Gas Grill

  • Preheating: Turn on your gas grill and preheat it to a medium-high temperature, around 450°F-500°F. Allow the grill to heat up for at least 10-15 minutes with the lid closed to ensure even cooking.
  • Cleaning the Grates: Before grilling, brush the grill grates with a wire brush to remove any debris or residue from previous cooking sessions. This will prevent the salmon from sticking to the grates and ensure beautiful grill marks.

Grilling Techniques

How to Make THE BEST Grilled Salmon - foodiecrush .com

With your grill preheated and ready to go, it’s time to start grilling the salmon. Follow these expert tips and techniques to achieve perfectly grilled salmon every time:


  • Oil and Seasoning: Generously coat the flesh side of the salmon fillets with oil (such as grape seed or extra virgin olive oil) and season them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The oil helps prevent the fish from sticking to the grill and adds flavor to the salmon.


  • Temperature Control: Maintain a consistent grill temperature of 450°F-500°F for optimal grilling results. Use a grill thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the heat as needed.
  • Skin Side Down: Place the salmon fillets skin-side down on the preheated grill grates. The skin acts as a protective barrier and helps keep the fish moist during cooking.
  • Avoid Flipping Too Soon: Resist the temptation to flip the salmon too early. Grill the salmon skin-side down for about 6-8 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and releases easily from the grates.
  • Flip Once: Carefully flip the salmon fillets using a spatula or tongs once the skin side is cooked. Grill the flesh side for an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the salmon reaches your desired level of doneness.
  • Internal Temperature: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the salmon. The fish is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Remember that the salmon will continue to cook slightly after you remove it from the grill, so it’s okay to take it off when it’s slightly below the desired temperature.

Serving Suggestions

Grilled Salmon Fillets | America's Test Kitchen Recipe

Once your salmon is perfectly grilled and cooked to perfection, it’s time to serve it up and enjoy! Here are some delicious serving suggestions and accompaniments to complement your grilled salmon:

  • Sauces: Serve the grilled salmon with your favorite sauces or toppings, such as tartar sauce, cucumber dill sauce, or mango fruit salsa.
  • Side Dishes: Pair the grilled salmon with a variety of side dishes, such as herbaceous Mediterranean chickpea salad, avocado and tomato salad, or grilled asparagus.
  • Beverages: Wash down your grilled salmon with a refreshing beverage, such as a crisp white wine, a light beer, or a fruity cocktail.


Grilling salmon is a rewarding culinary experience that allows you to enjoy the natural flavors and textures of this nutritious and delicious fish. By following these expert tips and techniques, you’ll be able to grill salmon like a pro and impress your family and friends with your grilling prowess. So fire up the grill, grab your favorite salmon fillets, and get ready to enjoy the most mouthwatering grilled salmon you’ve ever tasted!