Easy Grilled Salmon

Here's an easy way to cook salmon on the grill without the fish sticking to the grates. Mix up your approach with one of our four different marinades to keep things interesting.

Grilled salmon on a plate with asparagus and a second plate behind it.

Ciara Kehoe

With warmer weather comes grilling season, and one of the easiest foods you can prepare on a grill, whether it's gas or charcoal, is salmon. There is a trick to grilling salmon, though, that once you know will transform your success with grilling this fish forever.

How to Grill Salmon with Skin

Use skin-on fillets and place the salmon fillets on the hot grill skin-side up (flesh side down) first.

The fillets, when raw, won't flake and fall apart like they will when they are cooked. So, you sear the raw flesh side first, only enough to get some good grill marks and an edge of cooked fish, then you carefully flip it and finish your cooking at a lower temperature with the skin-side down (flesh side up).

This way, the skin will help keep the fillet together and help keep it from flaking apart and falling into your grill while the fish cooks.

A friend of mine taught me this approach years ago and it makes a huge difference. If you do it the other way? Skin-side down first? It's a mess.

Grilled salmon with a forkful taken out alongside asparagus and lemon on the plate.
Ciara Kehoe

Video: How to Make Grilled Salmon

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Grilled Salmon

Oil Your Grill Grates Well

Also, make sure you coat the grill grates and the fillets well with oil to help prevent sticking. Some sticking is likely to happen anyway, which is why you need to be careful when you flip the fillets over. But having a well-oiled hot grill and well-oiled fillets will help.

Best Salmon Marinades

There are plenty of marinades you can use with salmon; I've included four favorites here below. We often just use a simple soy sauce and minced garlic marinade. Sometimes I get a little fancier and add mirin rice wine, ginger, and sugar.

Do you have a favorite way to prepare grilled salmon? A favorite salmon marinade? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

A plate of grilled salmon recipe.
Ciara Kehoe

Love Salmon? Try These Recipes!

Tips for a Great Salmon Marinade

The bold, rich flavor and velvety texture of salmon makes it an ideal match for flavorful marinades. Salmon pairs especially well with salty, sweet, acidic, and pungent flavors, such as you'll find in the four marinade options we've included with this recipe.

In general, it's best to either marinate salmon briefly at room temperature, while you're heating your grill or oven, or for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator. Especially if you're using acidic ingredients in your marinade (e.g., citrus juice, mirin, vinegar), the fish will begin to chemically "cook" if it soaks for too long.

How Long to Grill Salmon

Salmon cooks relatively quickly on the grill, so stay close by and keep an eye on it. Cooking times can vary widely, depending on the thickness of your fish and the temperature of your grill, so your best bet is to look for doneness. Salmon should be just barely opaque throughout when done. It should flake easily when you press it gently with a fork or your finger. When in doubt, err on the side of undercooking, as you can always put it back on the grill if you need to!

How to Reheat Grilled Salmon

The trick to reheating grilled salmon without overcooking it and drying it out is do so slowly at a relatively low temperature. Place your salmon on a rimmed baking sheet and cover it loosely with foil. Heat it in a 275°F oven for about 15 minutes or until warmed through.

Another option for leftover salmon? Make salmon cakes!

Perfect Side Dishes for Grilled Salmon

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Easy Grilled Salmon

Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Marinating 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 3 pounds skin-on salmon fillets (about 5 to 8 ounces per person)

  • Extra virgin olive oil

Basic marinade:

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if cooking gluten-free)

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Basic teriyaki marinade:

  • 1 cup soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if cooking gluten-free)

  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger root, grated

  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar

Teriyaki marinade with mirin:

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if cooking gluten-free)

  • 1/4 cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine) or seasoned rice vinegar

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

  • 1/4 cup minced green onions

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • Pinch red chili pepper flakes

Yakitori marinade with sake:

  • 1/2 cup sake

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (use gluten-free soy sauce if cooking gluten-free)

  • 1/2 cup mirin

  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • Dash red chili pepper flakes

  • 1/4 cup sugar

Method

  1. Make the marinade:

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

  2. Marinate the salmon fillets:

    Cut fillets 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 flesh-side down in the marinade.

    Marinate for 20 minutes for a quick marinade (you can do this at room temperature while you are preparing the grill) or if you have more time, from 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

    Before grilling, remove fillets from marinade and discard the marinade. Generously rub or brush oil on both sides of fish fillets.

    filleting the salmon on cutting board
    Elise Bauer
    marinated salmon on plate before grilling
    Elise Bauer
  3. Prepare the grill:

    Prepare the grill for high direct heat (if you are using a charcoal grill, prepare one side of the grill for high direct heat and the other side with fewer coals for indirect heating).

    When the grill is hot (you should be able to hold your hand one inch above the grill grates for only 1 second), brush the grill grates with oil. (The best way to do that is to fold up a paper towel, dip in oil, and use tongs to rub the folded up paper towel on the grill grates.)

  4. Place fillets flesh side down on the hot grill:

    Place salmon fillets on grill, flesh side down (skin-side up) first, so that the fillets can get nice grill marks on the hot grill while the fish is still firm. Close the grill lid. Cook 1 to 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.

    seasoned grill on grill
    Elise Bauer
    grilling salmon with skin
    Elise Bauer
  5. Turn fillets over to grill skin-side down:

    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 to help 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
507 Calories
30g Fat
2g Carbs
53g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 507
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 39%
Saturated Fat 6g 29%
Cholesterol 143mg 48%
Sodium 1890mg 82%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 53g
Vitamin C 9mg 45%
Calcium 48mg 4%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 1018mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.