There are plenty of opportunities to show off your grilling prowess with burgers, brats and hot dogs, but we suggest branching out and learning how to grill salmon this year.
There’s a lot to love about grilled salmon.
Salmon is a meatier fish, which means it holds up well to higher grill temperatures than more delicate white fish.
It’s also easy to infuse flavor into salmon fillets with a variety of methods (we’ll get to that in a minute).
No matter what flavor you choose, you must have the steps down.
Here’s your guide on how to grill perfectly moist, flaky salmon.
1. Choose the right salmon
Ashley Nader, RDN, Founder of Be Well by Ashley Noellesuggest trying to find a wild salmon, ideally from a local fish market.
Wild salmon fillets tend to have less fat than farmed salmon.
Although farmed salmon has a slightly higher content of heart-healthy omega-3s than wild salmon, it also has much more omega-6less healthy fat.
2. Decide how you will cook it
Specific salmon recipes require some planning.
If you want to cook your salmon on planks, remember to soak it in water for at least an hour before placing the plank on the grill, says Holly McKee-Clark, Beachbody Culinary Specialist.
If you’re curious about using planks, try our Cedar Planked Salmon with Maple Glaze.
If your salmon fillets have no skin and you’re not using a plank, use aluminum foil so you don’t place the fish directly on the grill.
3. Clean your salmon and dry it
When you’re ready to start preparing your salmon, Nader recommends rinsing it in the sink and drying it completely before marinating or seasoning it.
It’s also not a step to skip if you’re working with salmon with the skin on.
The fillets need to be completely dry to get a nice crispy skin, she says.
4. Clean your grill
Scrape your grill before placing your salmon, even if you use foil pouches.
It’s better to do the work up front than to lose a crispy salmon skin or fight with a foil pouch because it sticks to the grill.
5. Flavor your salmon
If you opt for a marinade, you will need to add more prep time.
Nader suggests adding the marinade to the fish and placing it in the refrigerator for a few hours before grilling.
Her favorite marinade combines coconut aminos (a gluten-free soy sauce substitute) and honey to balance out the spiciness of the aminos.
But you can also sprinkle the salmon with salt and spray with oil, then let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling, says McKee-Clark.
This preparation ensures even cooking of the salmon.
6. Preheat and Oil Your Grill
You should set a gas grill between 450-500°F for the salmon.
If you’re working with charcoal, allow the grill to preheat for about 20 minutes before placing your salmon on it.
Oiling your grill reduces the risk of your fish sticking to the slats.
7. Grill your salmon
Finally, this is where the magic happens. If you’re using skin-on salmon fillets, there’s no need to flip them, says McKee-Clark.
You will, however, need to choose the Goldilocks location on your grill for best results.
“Choose a spot on the grill that’s equidistant from the hottest and coldest part of the embers,” she suggests.
You’ll need to flip the skinless fillets, but that means you have the option of brushing a flavorful marinade on both sides.
(We love the citrus and spice in our Grilled Salmon with Orange Marinade recipe.)
The cooking time depends on the thickness of your fillets, but you don’t need a timer.
You can also cook it until the tenderloin flakes with a fork, says Nader.
8. Let your salmon rest
However you like your fish cooked, McKee-Clark suggests covering it with foil after removing it from the grill.
The tent helps ensure that the meat has a chance to rest and ensures even cooking.
Once it has reached a doneness level you are happy with, you can add additional flavorings.
McKee-Clark likes to use “either a combination of fresh dill and lemon juice or miso paste, soy sauce and fresh ginger”, which she adds just before serving.
Looking for more expert cooking tips and nutritional information?