Easy Grilled Salmon

Quick and easy way to grill salmon fillets, using a soy-sauce based marinade.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 3 pounds salmon fillets, skin-on (figure 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person)
  • Canola, olive, or grapeseed oil

Marinade Recipes

Basic marinade:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Basic teriyaki marinade:

  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1-inch nob of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp brown sugar

Teriyaki marinade with mirin:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Pinch chili pepper flakes

Yakitori marinade with sake:

  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • A dash of red chili pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

Method

1 Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. If sugar is an ingredient in the marinade you are using, stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.

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2 Cut filles 1 1/2 to 2-inches wide. Place marinade ingredients in a large casserole dish (or a plate with sides so the marinade doesn't run). Coat the salmon fillets in the marinade and then place them skinless-side down in the marinade. Marinate for 20 minutes for a quick marinade (can do this at room temperature while you are preparing the grill) or if you have more time from 1-2 hours chilled in the refrigerator. Before grilling, remove fillets from marinade and discard marinade.

3 Prepare grill for high direct heat (if you are using a charcoal grill, allow one side of the grill with much fewer coals for indirect heating). When the grill is good and hot, spray or brush oil generously on both sides of fish fillets. Place fillets on grill, skinless side down first, so that they can get nice grill marks on the hot grill while the fish is still firm. Close the grill lid. Cook 1-3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are.

Once the fish fillets have been placed on the grill, do not move them until you are going to flip them over, otherwise they may fall apart.

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4 Look for grill marks on the fish and a small layer of opaque (cooked) fish where the fish is closes to the grill. Using tongs, and a metal spatula if necessary, carefully turn the fish onto the other side, so that the skin side is now on the grill grates. If you are using a charcoal grill, the fillets should be placed on the side of the grill furthest from the coals. If you are using a gas grill, just reduce the flame to medium. Close the grill lid. Cook for another 2-5 minutes, again depending on the thickness of the fillets. Salmon should be just barely opaque throughout when done.

Better to err on the side of undercooking the salmon, rather than overcooking. You can always put the fish back on the grill, but once a good fillet is overcooked, there's nothing you can do.

Remove from grill and serve immediately.

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Comments

  1. HJ

    What can you substitute mirin with? I can’t find it in local asian stores. I heard so many possibilities from white wine vinegar to just white wine. In your opinion what is the best option?

    You can substitute seasoned rice vinegar. ~Elise

  2. Judy

    I LOVE Salmon grilled and basted with a mixture of lime juice, crushed garlic, a dash of soy sauce, and chopped cilantro. I could eat the sauce by itself.

  3. Sherihan

    Nice looking fillets. I love Salmon, I just simply marinade them in lemon juice, salt&pepper and grill or bake them but I would love to try new flavors, so it’s now on my list to try very soon.

  4. Peter

    With fish, simple is usually best and you’ve gone with a straight-up marinade and some good wisdom on grilling fish. Those grill marks are prefect!

  5. Dana McCauley

    While your fish looks fantastic, I usually cut the ‘tail’ end off each salmon fillet so that it cooks completely evenly. I save the trim to make salmon cakes or to poach to make salmon salad.

    One of my fav ways to prepare it is with a soy, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar glaze. Simple but delish. The sugar makes the skin crisp up beautifully.

    Great idea on trimming the narrower parts and saving for another use, thanks! ~Elise

  6. James

    “or if using a teriyaki marinade, simmer down to make a finishing glaze” — this should be from a small portion of unused marinade, not a good idea to reuse marinade from a raw protein.

    It’s not a problem if you simmer it, the high temperature kills any bacteria. ~Elise

  7. Monica

    I usually mix about a quarter cup peach-mango jam with several tbsp of soy sauce, plus some ginger, and broil the salmon. The grill method looks great! Mmmmm…

  8. carolina p

    I make a packet out of parchment paper wrapped in foil for grilling my salmon. I thinly slice a lemon and lay the slices on top of the salmon along with sprigs of fresh dill, slices of garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, a splash of olive oil and of white wine, some salt and some pepper. I seal the packet carefully and grill it about 5 -6 mins for every pound (I usually grill a whole side of salmon around 2 lbs). Fool-proof and delicious hot, room temp or cold the next day. You can alter the seasonings/liquids easily and to taste.

  9. Paula Snyder

    Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper and chipotle powder. Grill. Finish off with a glaze of red chili raspberry jam. Garnish with some lime wedges and a few fresh raspberries…….to die for good.

    I get the red chili raspberry jam from Heidi in Corrales New Mexico……it is great to have such a treasure in my own backyard. She also makes a ginger raspberry jam that would be equally as good on the grilled salmon.

    I’ve never tried red chili raspberry jam, but I love anything with chili in it, sounds great! ~Elise

  10. Kalyn

    Wow, 108! We haven’t gotten close to that yet, but yesterday was our hottest day of the year so far, with hotter temps predicted through this week. What a great-looking piece of salmon, one of my favorite things to cook on the grill!

  11. ketherian

    Thanks for all the different marinade recipes. I typically grill salmon skin side down and covered in lemon or lime slices & a good twist or two of freshly ground pepper. I tend not to turn it because I don’t cut the piece before grilling. Next time I cook salmon I’m definitely going to try the Teriyaki marinade with mirin.

  12. Carrie

    I do something similar to this but after I flip the fish I spoon on a paste-like mixture of melted butter and brown sugar while the other side is grilling. It melts into the fish and creates a sweet-salty sensation for the salmon that guests, kids, hubbies, anyone just devours.

  13. The Italian Dish

    I do love the Asian marinade you made for this salmon. One of the other favorite ways I love to make salmon is with a pomegranate sauce. It compliments the flavor of the salmon perfectly. I make it with Pomegranate liquor. If you want to look at the recipe, it can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/dx4h3y

  14. Lee

    We were in the 100s all last week, so I’ve been using the grill almost exclusively. Here’s a good marinade for salmon, tuna, chicken, pork…

    1 c. bourbon or Tennessee whiskey
    1/2 c. soy sauce
    3 T. brown sugar
    4 cloves garlic, smashed
    1 inch knob ginger root, sliced and smashed
    freshly ground pepper
    pinch cayenne pepper (or as much as you like)

    Kind of an East meets South vibe. Hope you like it!

  15. caroline

    I’ve made my own teriyaki before, but I actually prefer Trader Joe’s Soyaki (this is coming from someone who normally abhors store-bought sauces). It’s not overly sweet like most teriyaki sauces, and it has a prominent ginger flavor that I love.

  16. Karen

    My favorite way to grill salmon (I usually do filets not steaks)

    Glazed Grilled Salmon
    Recipe By: Epicurious.com/Bon Appetit-July 1996
    Serving Size: 2

    3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
    4 teaspoons prepared Chinese-style hot mustard — or Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 teaspoon rice vinegar
    2 7-to-8 ounce salmon steaks — about 3/4″ thick

    Prepare grill (medium-high heat). Combine brown sugar, mustard and soy sauce in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Transfer 1 tablespoon glaze to small bowl; mix in rice vinegar and set aside. Brush 1 side of salmon steaks generously with half of glaze in medium bowl. Place salmon steaks, glazed side down, onto grill grates. Grill until glaze is slightly charred, about 4 minutes. Brush top side of salmon steaks with remaining glaze in medium bowl. Turn salmon over and grill until second side is slightly charred and salmon is just opaque in center, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer salmon to plates. Drizzle reserved glaze in small bowl over salmon and serve.

  17. Janet

    At the Seattle World Fair in the ’60’s, there was a Northwest Indian Salmon booth, where they grilled salmon and glazed it with butter, brown sugar, and marjoram — yummy!

  18. Pinktlb

    TLB’s Delish Grilled Salmon:

    Use a tin or pan with the surrogated edges on bottom (broiler pan) I cut up onions and lay the salmon on the onions. Salt pepper and then cut up orange slices add on top. Dot with butter and brown sugar. I grow herbs, so I put rosemary, sage, thyme and whatever else I have and then I put tin foil on it and put on the grill. Simple – easy and fast. Delish – the onions keep the salmon up and steams it mostly. EASY / FAST To die for.

  19. Cheryl

    We have cooked salmon in our Brinkman charcoal smoker for so many years now, and haven’t modified the recipe at all, finding this one is loved by everyone who tries it. We use a large filet, one-half of the fish left uncut, and place it skin side down on a tray. Remove any bones (our fishmonger is fantastic at that, so we rarely have any). Blend together 3/4 cup olive oil, 2 large or 3 small garlic cloves crushed, 1 tbsp dill weed, 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, juice of 2 limes, and a little dry white wine or water to make a total of 1.5 cups of marinade. Whip briskly with a wire wisk until the mixture appears creamy and smooth. Pour over the filet, and lightly sprinkle to taste with a good quality seasoned salt and crushed black pepper (lightly is the key word–don’t overwhelm the fish). Place covered with plastic wrap in refrigerator until grill/smoker is hot (1/2 hour or so). Smoke over hot coals at least 10 inches from fish, using soaked apple wood or pecan wood (the soaked shells of pecans is fantastic and easy) placed directly on coals for a delicate smoked flavor. Ours is usually done within an hour or so depending upon the size of the filet. When filet is firm and flakes easily, remove from grill/smoker allow to stand for 15 minutes. Enjoy! We like to squeeze lime over the fish, or use (sparingly) chipotle tabasco sauce at the table for a different flavor.

    Lovely. I bet the salmon smoked that way is just terrific. ~Elise

  20. Corinne

    I like cooking salmon by itself for all its great flavors, but if I glaze it, I like making an apricot glaze with preserves, soy sauce, cinnamon, and something else…

    I’ll have to pull that recipe out again sometime. :)

    Thanks for all the awesome marinades in this post!

  21. Kay

    Believe it or not, but I’ve never mixed salmon with soy sauce. The thought just never crossed my mind. I’m definitely going to try!

  22. Cookin' Canuck

    Great marinade variations! I love to grill the salmon coated with olive oil and sprinkled with s&p. Then I make a very simple brown butter and sage sauce on the stove top and ladle it over the cooked salmon. Nutty and delicious!

    If you want to check out the recipe, just follow this link:
    http://cookincanuck.blogspot.com/2009/04/salmon-with-brown-butter-thyme-sauce.html

  23. Mary

    FYI, mirin is sweetened sake, and I’ve seen substitutions in japanese cookbooks that have you add sugar to sake in a 1:3 ratio, (or your preference). Rice vinegar wouldn’t be a good flavor substitute because it’s sour.

    Unless you use seasoned rice vinegar, which is what we usually have on hand. Good point. I’ll make that distinction in the recipe. ~Elise

  24. CLH

    The best salmon I ever had was fresh caught in the Cascade Mountains… the individual steaks were placed in foil packets with fresh lemon juice, butter and brown sugar; then grilled to perfection.

    I think there is nothing better than freshly caught salmon. I have a friend who fishes out beyond Bolinas outside of San Francisco and have been lucky enough to share in a few meals when the boat comes in. Nothing like it. ~Elise

  25. Linda

    I generally grill my salmon in a foil packet. I spray the foil with cooking spray. Lay two large cuts of salmon down, then drizzle lemon juice on it. Sprinkle Adobo (without pepper) seasoning on it, as well as some Mrs. Dash (table blend). Then I cut thin slices from a stick of butter and lay those on top, sprinkle dried parsley (crushed) on top of that, and add thin lemon slices to the pieces). Close the packet up tightly and cook for 12 minutes on the grill on medium-low.

    My husband didn’t like any fish till I started serving this!

  26. Susan

    I am not a huge seafood lover, but I do like grilled salmon. When I watched Jaden, of White on Rice, on the video for her grilled chicken wings (on Goodbite), the first thing I thought of was “Hmmm..that marinade would also be great grilled on salmon”..I do belive it would. I think Hoisan sauce is such a great quick alternative to using soy sauce because it’s not as salty, already sweetened and condensed so it’s nice an thick and clingy!

  27. Peggy

    We have salmon once a week so will be trying many of the suggestions from you and other commenters. My favorite quick way to grill salmon is to simply spoon soy sauce mixed with a bit of melted butter – perhaps a ratio of 4 or 5 to 1 (put both in the microwave for 30 seconds or so) onto the fish before placing on the grill. We continue to baste the fish as it is cooking and then save some of the sauce to spoon on the fish before eating.

  28. Amy

    The marinades listed all look good — I think salmon pairs wonderfully with asian flavors. As for reducing the marinade down into a sauce, I confess to doing it. Keeping it at a good simmer for five minutes will kill nearly anything. I won’t officially recommend it, though, since apparently there are some bacteria heat won’t kill bla bla death bla bla.

    My favorite salmon marinade begins with a brown sugar and spice rub and then marinates in soy, ginger, etc. for about an hour. Yum! The whole recipe is here: http://shinycooking.com/asian-salmon-on-quinoa.

  29. Melanie

    We just did grilled salmon the other night. We kept it pretty simple – olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. We also grilled some asparagus – again with olive oil, salt and pepper. I made some plain couscous to go along. I’m looking for some easy recipes for side dishes to go along side the grilled meats.

  30. Faith

    This salmon looks perfect! I usually marinade salmon in something similar to your Teriyaki marinade, but I with the addition of orange juice and zest.

  31. Lynn

    Penzey’s has a Thai mix of herbs that can’t be beat on salmon, called “Bangkok Blend”, which consists of dried sweet peppers, garlic, ginger, black pepper, galangal, hot peppers, lemon grass, basil, and cilantro. You could make up a marinade with the blend and some olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch of brown sugar and a few drops of really flavorful dark sesame oil, or you could just coat the fish with the mixed oils and lemon juice and pat on the herb mix before grilling (or indoor broiling). The lemon grass and galangal really make it sublime — if you make up the herb mix, try to get these ingredients, along with as aromatic and “perfumed” a black pepper as you can find.

  32. Janel

    I love grilled salmon. It’s one of my favorite ways to eat it. My mom and I came up with a marinade using merlot, fresh ginger, honey, salt & pepper, and fresh garlic. It’s amazing!

  33. vicki in GA

    My favorite is Robert Rothschild Farms Asian Sesame Oven & Grill Sauce.

    It contains sugar, honey, ground mustard, toasted seasme oil and seeds, red raspberry vinegar, mustard seed, salt, ground red pepper, ground black pepper and garlic oil.

    Also, divine on pork.

  34. foodie4ever

    Minced garlic with soy sauce is mostly the way I eat salmon. It’s just definitely yummy with the salmon. Try it and you will totally agree! yumyum =p

  35. shanlee

    I use Mr. Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce. I marinade a 1 lb. fillet with skin on in a gallon Ziplock bag. Then I put it skin side down on a piece of foil on a medium-hot grill, close the lid, and let it cook until the fish is opaque and flaky on top. Easy, peasy! The less I have to go near the grill when it’s 100+ degrees, the better.

    Then to serve I just slide a spatula between the skin and fish, put the fish on a plate and the foil/skin in the trash. I serve sides of a simple sunomono (sliced cucumber, TJ’s rice wine vinegar, and a little sesame oil) and steamed rice. Yummo!

  36. meg

    Mmm. I have some salmon marinating in maple syrup right now, but my favourite marinade is soy-wasabi – just perfect on the bbq!

    http://yearinkitchen.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/baked-salmon-with-soy-wasabi-marinade/

  37. Kara

    Was the yakitori marinade one that you have previously used on chicken? The word translates to yaki= fried, tori=chicken. Also, salmon= sake, fish= sakana.

    Likely. It’s a favorite of my sister who lived in Japan for several years. ~Elise

  38. Michael O'Doherty

    Absolutely best grilled salmon:

    Coat the salmon liberally with best sesame oil.
    Place in flat dish and sprinkle liberally with dark soy sauce. Cover dish with plastic bag and allow to marinate in fridge for about 2 hours. Ensure that all salmon is benefiting from being immersed in this marinade i.e. turn it over at least once during its sojourn in the refrigerator. Grill! You cannot buy swoon!

  39. starlit

    hello ms. elise

    can I use tuna as a substitute for salmon?

    unfortunately, I am allergic to salmon :(

    but the recipe looks really yummy

    I would love to try it at home

    thank you for sharing this!

    cheers!

    You can try it. If you do, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  40. Erika

    This looks great! I plan to link to it in an upcoming newsletter.
    I usually marinate salmon in a citrus and garlic marinade (some oj and some lemon juice) and then rub it with a brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and cayenne mixture.

  41. Isin

    I always use minced garlic, ginger (usually dry) and cinnamon and a bit of olive oil or soy sauce to mix. Try adding cinnamon to the teriyaki sauce above, it is perfect wih salmon.

  42. Tish

    Favourite salmon marinade – equal parts maple syrup and light soy sauce.

  43. Aggie

    What a beautiful photo of your salmon! I love salmon, I recently made it with a homemade bbq rub that was out of this world! It gave it a sweet, smoky flavor. You can do so much with salmon! Great post!

  44. Janet

    We love grilled salmon. Even though we’re in the great white north, we BBQ during the winter. Our favourite way to grill salmon is with a Cajan rub.

    We first rub a little Cajan spice on the fish, then apply a little olive oil. Get the grill nice & hot, clean it. (First with the wire brush and then using a paper towel and tongs rub with vegetable oil) A clean grill will help ensure the salmon doesn’t stick. Grill the salmon as mentioned above. It will smoke a bit, but that is okay. You’re out doors. When done serve a slice of lemon or lemon/mayo sauce.

  45. megan

    Love grilled salmon. I make it a variety of ways but the current favorite is to rub mccormicks grill-mates sweet & smoky rub all over the salmon and grill it. Top with pineapple salsa (or any fruit salsa, I think peach salsa would work well also!) and YUM!

  46. Tim

    It doesn’t sound all that good, but my Dad has been grilling salmon this way for years. Very moist as long as you don’t leave it on the grill too long:

    Start the grill on low. Brush on a thin layer of Miracle Whip over the meat side of a fillet, and then crack some pepper over that. Clean the grill, and then rub some oil to prevent sticking ( you can also just put the fillet on a double-folded piece of tin foil sprayed with no-stick spray ). Put the fillet on the grill, and leave it until it starts to flake. If it didn’t stick to the grill ( or foil ), the meat comes right off the skin.

  47. Zhandarq

    Hee hee, the filet of salmon even LOOKS like a whole fish. Aesthetic AND gustatory synchronicity (?!), I love it.

    I have just copied this entire page (yummy photo included) into my fish recipes folder. Too many great ideas gathered in one arena to pass up. Cheers for all the variations on this theme!

  48. à la ganache

    Once a year I make an apple-butter sauce for salmon based on an Emeril recipe I once found. My variation is to saute a diced apple in apple cider over moderate heat, then add some spiced rum and ignite to burn off the alcohol.

    Add a good pour of heavy cream and reduce. Dice 6 tablespoons of cold butter, and keep adding cubes of butter (while constantly whisking so the sauce doesn’t break). Serve over baked or grilled salmon – it sounds like an odd combination, but it’s absolutely delicious!

  49. Soma

    Love it! Love it! love all the flavors you have used here as the marinade.

  50. Trey

    It sounds delicious! I do have a question about salmon though. I enjoy it smoked a great deal but for some reason when I grill or bake salmon at home it always has a strong fishy taste. Is there something I can do to cut down on the strength of that flavor?

    Yes, make sure you are getting the freshest fish possible, and cooking it the same day you buy it. If it is fishy tasting, that’s because it isn’t fresh. Never buy fresh fish the day before you intend to cook it. Only cook it the same day, and make sure you get it from a reliable fish monger. That said, cooking any salmon indoors will tend to stink up your kitchen, which is why we usually grill or poach ours. ~Elise

    • THERESA

      If you are poaching, a bay leaf will tone down the fishy taste. If you are grilling, you just have to be sure it is fresh. That’s harder than you think it is when supermarkets thaw it and pretend it is fresh.

  51. Delia

    A local “grill-master” had showed us a way to grill salmon and I have loved making this ever since. First, coat the salmon with dijon or whole grain mustard, then add a thick layer of brown sugar and then top with a lot of chopped fresh dill. Grill skin-side down for 15 mins. yum!

  52. Jeanne

    I love salmon in any form!!
    Try mixing whole grain mustard and brown sugar into a paste. Spread on fillet, grill without turning, and enjoy.
    I need help however. I have a gas smoker that goes to 250 degrees, (has pan for water & chips).
    I want to smoke salmon halves with salt, spices, etc. I need help because my last try was too salty.

  53. Jody

    I’ve been grilling salmon lately and so far, my all-time favorite way is to douse the fillets with good olive oil, sprinkle on Montreal Steak seasoning and toss on the grill. You get all the good flavor of the salmon….no marinade take-over.

    Jody

  54. HankShaw

    Not overly fond of marinades myself, but I like the technique here — it is counter-intuitive to go meat-side first, but it really is the way to go. I will be doing this with the Trinity River chinooks we caught last weekend…

  55. Jim Bumgarner

    As a young boy growing up on the panhandle of Texas in the ’50’s I thought salmon only came in the fried patties my mom fried up from canned salmon. I would lather them in catsup and thought they were delicious:-(

    Years later, while living on the Olympic peninsula in Washington state, I learned about King salmon, fresh off the hook out of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We have salmon just about weekly now and thoroughly enjoy it.

    The recipe we use most often calls for honey, ginger, orange juice, and soy. We love it, and we’ve never fed it to anyone who didn’t also love it. I have it posted on my food blog here: Honey-Ginger Grilled Salmon

  56. Sherihan

    I tried the first two marinades and it’s officially my favorite way of cooking salmon; it makes it so juicy & tasty and you can’t get enough of it!

  57. Faye

    Is it ok to grill or broil (or bake,for that matter) frozen salmon, unthawed?

    Not unless you want salmon that is overcooked on the outside and raw or still frozen on the inside. Thaw the fish first. You can do so rather quickly by putting it in a bowl of cold water. ~Elise

  58. Lena Pavao

    I know salmon is good for you, I don’t eat fishes often enough period because of their strong fishy taste, I love Chilean sea bass though,I made up this marinate and have eaten more fishes:

    1 cup soy sauce
    1/3 cup olive oil
    1/3 cup fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinergar
    1/3 cup chopped fresh lemon grass
    1 whole garlic
    2-3 shallots

    put everything in a blender or food processor to coarsely blended, marinate your fish 30 -35 minutes before grilling.

    Note: you can get frozen grounded lemon grass in the Asian Markets.

  59. donutty

    One very easy marinade is just some balsamic vinegar. I pour some over the top of the salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper right before cooking.

  60. Angie

    I live in Seattle, but I just had the best salmon I’ve ever eaten in Michigan…it was Norwegian salmon. We sprinkled it with garlic salt, black pepper and dill. Though I usually do prefer a good marinade. These filets turned out amazingly well.

  61. Andrew T

    All these sound great! I love trying different recipes for salmon. One of my favorites is Planked Salmon. I usually slide the plank off the grill onto a large cutting board and serve it right off the plank.