Grilling fish may be challenging, but once you master it, you won’t want to cook salmon and other fish any other way. Not only do you get to enjoy smoky, chargrilled flavor you can only get from grilling, you keep the smell and the mess outside.
A clean, lightly oiled grill grate is especially important when grilling fish. Rub the grate with a thin layer of oil and heat the grill to 400° to 500°F. A properly heated grill will help keep the fish from sticking to the grate and falling apart while cooking. Wait for your grill to preheat all the way to your target temperature before loading your salmon.
What is the best grill for salmon?
Whatever your preference – gas, electric or charcoal, a smoking hot grill between 400° and 500°F is the best grill for grilling salmon. Hot grates ensure the fish won’t stick to the grates and will lift away easily once it’s cooked.
Here are some of our favorite techniques for grilling salmon.
Kabobs: Cut your salmon into one to one and a half inch cubes and marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. Thread marinated salmon and veggies onto skewers and arrange salmon kabobs on hot grill grates. Close the lid and cook for three to four minutes per side until they’re opaque, flaky and tender.
Cedar Plank: Cedar planks insulate delicate fish from the direct heat of the grill, allowing it to steam gently in the heat of the grill, staying incredibly tender and moist. It picks up smoky flavors from the grill and woodsy flavors from the cedar, along with the liquid you soak the planks in.
Grilling Basket: Keep your salmon from falling through the cracks with a non-stick grilling basket that has a locking lid. Place salmon in the basket and set the basket on top of the grates. When it’s time to flip, you can flip the grilling basket with worrying about your fish falling apart.
Foil: Grilling salmon in foil helps to protect your salmon from the intense flames of the grill while still providing that great chargrilled flavor you want. Place the fish in the center of a sheet of foil and add seasoning. Fold the foil over the top and mold the foil into a sealed packet. Set it on the grill grates and cook over indirect heat for 10-12 minutes. After letting it rest for five minutes, open carefully to avoid hot steam as it escapes the packet.
Should you grill your salmon with the skin on or off?
Either way works great. Leaving the skin on salmon helps to keep it from breaking apart when grilling directly on the grates. Place the salmon skin-side down on the hot grill, cover and cook undisturbed. Use a spatula to remove the fish from the grill.
For skinless salmon, you can use aluminum foil to form a thin barrier between the fish and the grill. The layer of skin or foil (along with cooking oil) will help keep the fish from sticking and over-cooking.
Do you have to flip salmon on the grill?
No. You do not have to flip salmon when grilling. If you prefer grill marks on both sides of your fish, place salmon on oiled, heated grill. Once the salmon releases itself from the grates, flip gently using a wide spatula.
Do you cook salmon on both sides?
Whether you cook salmon on both sides is really about personal preference. When grilling salmon with skin, always start with the fillets skin-side down and there’s no need to flip. The skin is more durable than the flesh and can withstand more time on the hot surface of the grill without overcooking while protecting the tender flesh from the direct heat of the grill.