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This easy grilled salmon recipe is the only one you’ll ever need! It’s the one I come back to over and over (and over) all summer long. I’m sharing all my tips for how to cook salmon on the grill (hint: it’s a lot like grilled cod or tuna steak!), including what kind of salmon to buy, the best tools, tips to prevent sticking and avoiding dry salmon, and answering all the grilling questions you might have.
Among my many fish recipes, salmon is probably my favorite of all. From homemade salmon lox and quick salmon patties to flaky baked salmon, fast air fryer salmon, and salmon foil packets, there are so many tasty ways to cook it.
Why You’ll Love This Grilled Salmon Recipe
- Sweet maple flavor
- Flaky, buttery texture
- Simple ingredients
- Cooks in less than 10 minutes
- Quick and easy dinner
Ingredients & Substitutions
This section explains how to choose the best ingredients for cooking salmon on the grill, what each one does in the recipe, and substitution options. For measurements, see the recipe card below.
How To Choose The Best Salmon For Grilling:
You can grill any variety of salmon, but here is what I recommend looking for:
- Individual-sized salmon fillets are best for grilling – 5 or 6 ounces is a good size. Grilling a large piece of salmon is difficult, as it’s nearly impossible to flip and you risk it breaking apart. Plus, individual fillets will cook more evenly.
- Get skin-on salmon fillets if you can – This makes the salmon more flavorful, and you can always remove the skin afterward if you prefer not to eat it. The skin also helps prevent the salmon from breaking apart and falling through the grates.
- Check appearance – The best salmon is firm, fresh, and bright pink-orange in color. To test firmness, gently poke the fillet with your finger: the salmon should spring back and you should not see a fingerprint left behind.
- Farm-raised vs. wild-caught salmon – I prefer wild-caught, but this is up to you. Wild caught salmon is lower in calories and saturated fat, and has fewer contaminants and pollutants [*]. On the other hand, some people prefer the milder flavor of farm-raised salmon.
Grilled Salmon Marinade:
For tender, moist, and flaky grilled salmon, I highly recommend marinating it first. It takes just 30 minutes to do. I use my favorite salmon marinade recipe for this:
- Oil – Since the grill is very hot, it’s important an oil that can stand up to the heat. Regular (not extra virgin) olive oil or avocado oil are good candidates.
- Lemon Juice – The acid helps to tenderize the salmon, plus the tang of citrus pairs very well with fish. Fresh lemon juice tastes great if you have time, but bottled also works for convenience.
- Maple Syrup – I use Wholesome Yum Zero Sugar Maple Syrup, which is naturally sweetened, sugar-free, and tastes just like real maple syrup. But you can use regular too if that works for you, or substitute honey.
- Fresh Herbs – This grilled salmon recipe uses dill and parsley, as these summer herbs work well on fish. Dark green will have the most flavor. You could use dried herbs in a pinch (1/3 the amount of fresh), but fresh taste a lot better here.
- Garlic – Use fresh minced garlic, or 1/2 teaspoon of jarred garlic for a time-saving shortcut.
- Sea Salt & Black Pepper
VARIATION: Skip the marinade and use simple seasoning.
If you don’t have time to marinate, use a simple grilled salmon seasoning instead. Brush the fish with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
How To Grill Salmon
This section shows how to cook salmon on the grill, with step-by-step photos and details about the technique, to help you visualize it. For full instructions, including amounts and temperatures, see the recipe card below.
- Make the marinade. Find the directions and amounts for salmon marinade here, and make it.
- Marinate the salmon . Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Place the fish and marinade into a large zip lock bag or bowl. Seal or cover, and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Grill skin side down. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat with the lid closed. Cook salmon on grill, skin side down (flesh side up). Close the lid and grill for 6-8 minutes.
- Flip and grill the other side. Use large tongs or a fish spatula to carefully flip the salmon. Grill until the internal temperature reaches your desired doneness. (See below for how to check that salmon is done!)
- Rest. Let the salmon rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. (This is less critical than when you are cooking a steak, but still helps lock in moisture for the best grilled salmon.)
How Long To Grill Salmon?
Salmon grill time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your fillets, but a rule of thumb is 6-8 minutes skin side down, followed by 2-5 minutes skin side up. Grilled salmon recipes work best over a medium-high heat, which is a grill temperature of approximately 400 to 425 degrees F.
What Is The Right Grilled Salmon Temp?
A common recommendation for fish is that it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork, but it’s also easy to overcook it this way. The ideal internal temperature for moist and flaky grilled salmon is no more than 135-140 degrees F.
For best results, use a meat thermometer to ensure perfectly cooked salmon and check the internal temperature every couple of minutes after you flip it:
- Medium rare – 125 degrees F (51 degrees C)
- Medium – 130 degrees F (54 degrees C)
- Medium well – 140 degrees F (60 degrees C)
Let the salmon rest for 3-5 minutes before serving, as the internal temperature will rise 3-5 more degrees while resting.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, you can use my time estimates above and flake the edge of the fish with a fork to test for doneness.
Tips For Grilling Salmon
Grilling salmon isn’t difficult, but following these tips will get you the best grilled salmon recipe every time.
- Marinate for only 30 minutes. Marinating fish or meat too long causes the meat and flesh to start to break down and become mushy. Marinating for 30 minutes is the perfect amount of time.
- Don’t move the fish around while grilling. Constantly moving the fish will prevent a good sear and grill marks, increases the risk of tearing, and will cause your fish to stick to the grill. It will also make it harder to cook the salmon evenly since the heat source is constantly changing.
- Grill skin side down for most of the time. Grilling salmon skin side down first has several benefits. The skin protects the more delicate flesh from the high heat, crisps up better by being direct to the heat for most of the time, and is much easier to flip without sticking.
- Flip at the right time. Only flip your salmon once, in the last 1-2 minutes of grilling. It should be 70-80% done before you flip.
- Keep the grill lid on. Keeping the lid on creates an even source of heat (like an oven would!), so that your salmon can cook evenly.
- Use the right tools. Because fish can be fragile, use a fish spatula like this to flip. This tool is thin enough that it can slip in between the layer of fragile fish and the grill without tearing the fish, and large enough to hold your entire grilled salmon fillet on it.
How To Prevent Grilled Salmon From Sticking To The Grill?
There are a few things you can do to prevent the salmon from sticking:
- Preheat the grill well before adding the fish. A hot grill will create a sear on the salmon flesh so that you can flip it without tearing, and it also ensures even cooking and nice grill marks.
- Keep your grill clean. Always scrape down and clean your grill before heating, so that what you’re cooking doesn’t stick to old burnt food.
- Coat fish with oil (not the grill). It may be intuitive to coat your grill grates with oil, but it’s actually not necessary and much more effective to have your fish covered in oil instead. The salmon marinade I use has plenty of oil and is perfect for this purpose, but if you’re not marinating, be sure to coat your fish generously in oil before grilling.
- Cook skin side down first. It’s easier to flip the skin side of the salmon and get the spatula in between.
- Store: Keep leftover grilled salmon in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or use it to make a salmon bowl.
- Meal Prep: Grilled salmon fillets are actually delicious served chilled or at room temperature, so you can make them ahead.
- Reheat: Warm up salmon on the grill, in a hot skillet, or in the oven. It’s easy to overcook so remove as soon as it’s warm. Microwaving is not recommended.
- Freeze: Keep salmon in a zip lock freezer bag or airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What To Serve With Grilled Salmon Recipes
What side dishes go well with this grilled salmon recipe? You have lots of options! Here are some ideas:
- Toppings – You can enjoy it on its own (delicious!) or top it with a sauce for grilled salmon such as hollandaise sauce, smooth tomatillo avocado salsa, herby pesto sauce, silky lemon garlic aioli, or a simple lemon butter sauce for fish.
- Vegetables – Recipes like sauteed asparagus (or grilled asparagus, shown in the photos above), quick stir fry veggies, or perfectly charred grilled broccoli all work well.
- Salads – Try fresh summer salad recipes like Caprese salad, tangy Greek salad, or a cookout-friendly creamy cucumber salad.
- Starches – Roasted potatoes or rice are classic options, but I prefer lighter swaps like cauliflower rice or tender cauliflower potato salad.
- Quality Outdoor Grill – This comes from my trusted brand and has options for gas or propane. Of course, you can also use a charcoal grill.
- Indoor Electric Grill – If you want to grill salmon during the cooler months, this is perfect for that. You can use the same method!
- Meat Thermometer – The best way to ensure your salmon is cooked perfectly each and every time.
- Fish Spatula – This is my secret for flipping fish while grilling, so that it doesn’t break.
Grilled Salmon (Perfect Every Time!)
Learn how to grill salmon perfectly with this easy grilled salmon recipe! Use these tips and simple ingredients for buttery, flaky fish every time.
Recipe VideoTap on the image below to watch the video.
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Tap underlined ingredients to see where to get them. Please turn Safari reader mode OFF to view ingredients.
Tap on the times in the instructions below to start a kitchen timer while you cook.
Pat salmon fillets dry on both sides with paper towels. Place the fillets into a bag or bowl with marinade and turn to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
Toward the end of marinating time, preheat the grill to medium-high heat with the lid closed.
Remove the salmon from the marinade. Place onto the grill, skin side down. Close the lid and grill for 6-8 minutes, until the salmon color turns lighter pink and doesn't stick when you try to flip it.
Use large tongs or a fish spatula to carefully flip the salmon. Grill for 2-5 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches your desired doneness: 125 degrees F (51 degrees C) for medium rare, 130 degrees F (54 degrees C) for medium, or 140 degrees F (60 degrees C) for well done. (Internal temperature will rise a few more degrees while resting in the next step.)
Use a meat thermometer for the best grilled salmon done perfectly. If you don't have one, another doneness indicator is the fish will flake with a fork, but sometimes it's overcooked by the time it gets to this point, and you'd give up the resting step by flaking it to test for doneness.
Remove the fish from the grill and rest for 3-5 minutes before serving. If desired, you can remove off the skin (it should peel off effortlessly).
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Serving size: 1 6-oz salmon fillet
Only 1/4 of the marinade is included in the nutrition calculation, as a lot is discarded after marinating the salmon.
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy. Have questions about calculations or why you got a different result? Please see our nutrition policy.
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