The Only Way to Grill Salmon, According to a Food Editor

This method—perfect for salmon—works with fish of all kinds.

<p>Simply Recipes / Nick Evans</p>

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

My family didn’t do a lot of grilling when I was growing up, nor did we eat a lot of fish or seafood. Hence, while I very much enjoy eating both of these things (and their intersection: grilled fish), I remained pretty clueless when it came to preparing them myself.

Last summer, that started to change. I moved into a house with a yard and finally (finally!) had enough space for a grill of my own. Over the next few months, I taught myself to grill everything from vegetable skewers and juicy summer peaches to chicken thighs and carne asada.

By August, I felt proud of my grilling journey but also had to admit to myself that there was one thing I had been studiously avoiding—grilled salmon. I was nervous and wanted a surefire win, so I turned to Simply Recipes’ very own article on How to Grill Salmon by Elise Bauer. With over 100 reviews from fellow grilling enthusiasts and a solid 5-star track record, I felt certain I was in good hands.

<p>Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe</p>

Simply Recipes / Ciara Kehoe

The Trick to Easy Grilled Salmon

Elise’s technique for cooking the salmon in this recipe feels a little counterintuitive but is frankly brilliant. To keep the fish from sticking to the grill as it cooks, she recommends first cooking it skin-side up. You let it sear for a minute or so before flipping it skin-side down for the remainder of cooking.

This puts the flesh in direct contact with the grill grates at the beginning of cooking while it’s still firm and before it becomes flaky. (Helloooo, grill marks!) Once flipped, the skin helps hold the salmon together and keep it from falling through the grates. It’s also easy to glide a spatula under the skin and lift the entire fillet off the grill once it’s done cooking.

As Elise mentions several times, a clean, well-oiled grill is also key to this process. When removing the salmon from the grill, I also found it helpful to gently grip the fillet lengthwise with tongs while sliding a spatula underneath, and then lift everything together.

Not only have I been grilling salmon this way ever since, but I use this approach with all kinds of fish fillets. The exact timing will vary based on the type of fish and the thickness of the fillets, but the basic trick of a quick sear with the fillet skin-up followed by a few more minutes skin-side down works like a charm every time.

<p>Simply Recipes / Nick Evans</p>

Simply Recipes / Nick Evans

How To Flavor Your Grilled Salmon

Once I had this technique down pat, I experimented with marinades and other ways to flavor my salmon. Elise gives a few Japanese-inspired marinades in the recipe, and I particularly like the basic teriyaki one. I also love a simple dry rub (this blend picked up on a recent trip to Joshua Tree is a new favorite). When I’m feeling even lazier, I’ll grill the salmon with just oil, salt, and pepper, and then spoon jarred pesto over top to serve.

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