We love grilled salmon in our house. It’s flavorful, it’s nourishing, and maybe best of all—it’s the speediest weeknight dinner EVER! After just a few minutes on the grill, salmon is flaky, tender, and ready to be enjoyed with a pile of fruity and tangy mango salsa.
This recipe works wonderfully with both fresh and frozen (and thawed) salmon filets, so we make sure to always have salmon filets stocked in our freezer. The resulting dinner is easy enough for your busiest weeknight, but impressive enough to serve to company.
What kind of salmon should I buy?
Wild Alaskan sockeye or pink salmon is your best bet because it has the best flavor, best nutrition, and is the highest quality, but any wild salmon is a good choice. If Wild Alaskan salmon is out of your price range, we recommend checking Seafood Watch to find more affordable options that are high quality and sustainably sourced.
How do I make grilled salmon?
A lot of folks are intimidated by grilling fish because they are afraid it’ll stick or fall apart. Here’s our method for grilling perfect salmon filets:
- Heat the grill to medium-high to high heat.
- Liberally oil the grill grates.
- Place the fish on the grill. If the filet has skin, put the skin side UP.
- Don’t touch the salmon! You’re waiting for the salmon to caramelize and sear where it is in contact with the grill grates, which will take 2-3 minutes. The salmon will naturally release from the grill when it is properly seared.
- Flip the filet and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes (or a touch more if you have thick filets), until the salmon is opaque and flaky.
Once the salmon is on the grill, DON’T move it until it is time to flip the filets. You’ll end up with flakes of salmon all over your grill, instead of on your plate.
How do I keep the fish from sticking to the grill?
Liberally oil both the grill and the salmon before you put the filets on. Then, don’t try to move the salmon at all while it is cooking. The surface will cook and caramelize, and release naturally when it is seared properly.
How long does grilling salmon take?
Do not—I repeat, DO NOT—walk away from the grill once you’ve started cooking. Salmon cooks pretty fast, so it will be ready to flip in just a few minutes. Start-to-finish, your salmon will be done in 4-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the filets.
How do I know when the salmon is done?
Salmon cooks quickly, and it’s best to tell when it’s done by flakiness. The thickest part of the filet will flake and be opaque when finished.
The best way to test for doneness in salmon is the flake test. Take a fork and scrape it across the thickest part of a filet. If it easily flakes way, it’s ready! If it takes some effort to break off a piece, it needs a minute or two longer to cook.
Talk to me about this salmon rub!
The spice rub for this grilled salmon is so simple, but it adds so much complex flavor to the fish! Bonus: you probably already have all the spices in your pantry. You’ll need:
- Garlic powder
- Cumin powder
- Ground cayenne pepper
- Sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
Once you’ve mixed all the spices together, just rub it all over the salmon right before grilling. See? Easy peasy.
Can you make the mango salsa ahead of time?
Absolutely! Make the salsa up to a day in advance, and then cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use it. We recommend using the salsa within 2-3 days.
This salsa is so good, you’ll want to eat it on more than just salmon! Double the recipe, and serve the extra with tortilla chips or on taco salads.
I don’t have a grill—can I bake the salmon in the oven instead?
You sure can! Bake at 425°F for 4-6 minutes, or until flaky and opaque. You can also cook this salmon on a grill pan on your stovetop until flaky and opaque. Or to really mix it up, try these air fryer salmon bites!