Fresh Salmon Salad

SaladPaleoPoached SalmonSalmon

Cool off with this easy Salmon Salad! Poached salmon is gently tossed with celery, red onions, capers, and dill and is perfect for a brunch or light lunch.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Are you a salmon lover?

Here is a salmon salad using freshly poached salmon that is restaurant-worthy. It’s light, cool, and wonderfully flavored with dill, capers, and lemon. Perfect for a brunch or light lunch!

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How to make salmon salad

To make this salmon salad, we first salt the fillets and chill them. This gives time for the salt to penetrate the fillets a bit and give them more flavor.

Then we lightly poach the salmon fillets for just a few minutes in salted water with a slice of lemon.

Next we toss the cooled, poached salmon with celery, red onion, capers, fresh dill, and extra virgin olive oil, along with lemon juice and zest.

Poach the salmon for the best results

While you could use leftover cooked salmon from a summer barbecue for this salmon salad recipe, it’s easy enough to poach it. Poaching allows you to have more control over how long to cook the salmon.

You want to cook the salmon just enough to be barely cooked through. That way it will be tender. Over-cooked salmon is dry and tough.

How to make Salmon Salad

Tips for the best salmon salad

  1. Freshness is everything. Use the freshest fish possible (or cook it as soon as you defrost frozen fish). Fresh fish degrades in quality every day after its caught. So cook the fish the day you buy it.
  2. Use quality salmon. Wild salmon tastes better than farmed salmon. That said, farmed salmon (properly farmed) can be a sustainable, and more budget-friendly option. Check the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch for the best salmon to buy, or buy from reputable sources.
  3. Do not overcook it! Fish is best when it is just barely cooked through. Past that, it starts to get dry.
  4. Eat it up. This salad will last a day or two in the fridge but is best eaten the day it’s made.


Fresh Salmon Salad Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 9 minutes
  • Chilling time time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Salt and chill the salmon fillet first, before prepping the other ingredients.


For the salmon:

  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (for the rub)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (for the poaching liquid)
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, peeled, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon capers (strain out the pickling juice)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 Prep the salmon fillets: Rub the salmon fillets all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator while you prep the other ingredients.

2 Make the dressing: Combine celery, red onion, capers, lemon zest and juice, dill, olive oil, black pepper in a large bowl. Set aside for the flavors to blend.

3 Poach the salmon: Put 4 cups water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and a slice of lemon in a pot wide enough to hold the salmon. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the salmon to the pot. Return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes at a bare simmer.

4 Cool and break up the salmon: When the salmon is just cooked through, remove it from poaching liquid and put it in a bowl. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Once it has cooled to touch, break the salmon gently into chunks.

5 Make the salad: Add the salmon to the bowl with the celery, onions, and capers. Gently toss to combine. Serve as is, or over mixed greens or butter lettuce.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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7 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Michael

    I made two slight modifications… extra olive oil (as I am an olive oil pig), and a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. The latter put the deliciousness through the roof – try it! Yum.

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Melanie

    A thank-you is long overdue, Elise! This has been my “summer staple” since you posted it – I just can’t get enough!

    Over the years I’ve made just a couple changes – I thinly slice (like paper thin) a bit of English cucumber if I have it, and I also plop my red onion slices in a pot with boiling water and a decent amount of vinegar for just a few minutes – it cuts the bite of them a little AND they turn hot pink!

    Everyone I serve this to swoons over how tasty and pretty it is, and I have you to thank! So, THANKS!

    – Longtime lurker ;)


  3. Carolyn

    What’s the recipe for the dressing mixture?

    The dressing mixture is the celery, red onion, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh dill. ~Elise

  4. Mc Muffin

    Really easy to do and super delicious! Thank You for this one.


  5. claire

    This was wonderful. My husband asked if it could go into regular rotation. Thanks for sharing.


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