Grilled Salmon

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One of my favorite things about summer is cooking dinner outside on the grill. This recipe for grilled salmon is a family favorite and something I can have on the table in less than 30 minutes.

The recipe also has a flavorful spice rub that can be made up quickly each time or in a big batch to store for later. 

Ingredients

Grilled Salmon Ingredients (See Text below for details)
  • 1 to 1-½ lb. salmon
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

How to Tell When Salmon is Fully Cooked

Cooked Grilled Salmon: The salmon parts easily and is light pink inside

There are a couple of ways to tell when your salmon is done. The best and most accurate is with a food thermometer. I prefer digital probe thermometers for grilling. The best grilled salmon temperature is between 125°F (52°C) and 145°F (63°C).

You can also tell by using a fork and testing to see if the fish flakes easily. If the fish separates easily, it’s ready to eat. 

The color change is another indicator that you’ve reached the correct grilled salmon temperature. Rather than the dark pink of raw salmon, fully cooked salmon will turn a light pink with a hint of white. 

Instructions

Here’s how you can prepare my favorite recipe for grilled salmon. The rub is sweet and smoky and goes well with the richness of the grilled fish.

Step 1 – Make the Spice Rub and Preheat the Grill

Spices for Grilled Salmon in a bowl

Preheat your grill to 400°F (204°C).

Mix together the brown sugar, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garam masala, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Step 2 – Cut the Salmon Into Small Filets

Four raw salmon fillets, ready to cook

I divide a 1-pound cut of salmon into 4 smaller filets for each serving. If you were to get 1-½-pounds, I would still cut it into 4, with slightly bigger serving sizes.

Step 3 – Coat the Salmon with Olive Oil and Spice Rub

Four raw salmon fillets with spices on, ready to grill

Coat the salmon in olive oil on both sides. I only season the non-skin side, but since you’ll grill both sides, you want both sides to be non-stick. 

You could also use grapeseed oil instead of the extra virgin olive oil here, as they both have high smoke points. 

Once you’ve coated the salmon in oil, you can sprinkle the spice rub on the flesh side of the fish. I used about a teaspoon to 1-½ teaspoons per filet. Press the rub into the salmon, so it sticks.

Step 4 – Grill the Salmon

Salmon fillets being grilled

Grill your salmon at 400°F (204°C) with the skin side down first. Grill for about 5-7 minutes and then flip.

Grill the second side for 2-3 minutes more until you reach your desired doneness. I prefer mine to come off the grill right at 140°F (60°C), but a salmon filet cooked to medium would be about 130°F (54°C).

You can serve it with the skin on and just flake the meat away from the skin as you eat, or you can gently peel the skin off each filet before serving. 

Cookware Used

This is a super simple recipe, but there are a couple of tools I prefer to make the cooking process easier. 

Flexible cutting board: I coated my salmon in oil and the spice rub on the cutting board and brought it out to the grill with me. I didn’t lose any flavor or oil while transferring the fish.

Metal grill spatula: A spatula is the best way to flip grilled salmon. If you use tongs, you risk the skin sticking to the grates and your salmon filet becoming a giant mess in your grill. 

Digital probe thermometer: I always use a digital thermometer to make sure I get the perfect grilled salmon temperature. 

Small ramekin: I like to mix my spice rubs in little ramekins rather than larger bowls. It makes scooping out the spice mixture easier.

Should You Always Grill Skin Side Down?

Yes. The skin is left on because it gives the fish some stability when you cook it. If you were to cook the fish flesh directly on the grill, it would likely stick and flake off, and you’d have to plate a pile of salmon rather than a nice filet.

Do You Have to Remove Salmon Skin Before Eating?

Nope! I removed it for this recipe for grilled salmon because it does get a little well-done and blackened. However, if your salmon skin ends up nice and brown and crispy on the grill, go ahead and eat it up.

I recommend salting the skin side of the salmon after coating it with oil for better flavor if you plan to eat it. 

How to Do a Salmon Marinade for the Grill

If you prefer a salmon marinade to a spice rub, it requires a tiny bit more preparation time. 

In the recipe above, rather than whipping up the spice rub in step 1, you’ll make up your marinade instead. A favorite salmon marinade of mine uses soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, and lime juice.

Before you preheat your grill or do any fish preparation, let the salmon marinade and salmon do their thing in the fridge for 2-3 hours. Then you can follow the same cooking process in step 4 above. 

Now It’s Your Turn

Grilled Salmon Ready to Serve

It’s time to heat up your grill and make this easy salmon recipe. I highly recommend using the spice rub I shared above. It is sweet, smoky, and so delicious. Don’t forget that you can make it in a big batch and store it. I’ve used it on chicken as well, and it’s equally tasty.

Use a digital thermometer and check your salmon temperature often, and you’ll end up with a perfectly flaky, flavorful salmon filet in just a few minutes!

Print

Grilled Salmon

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

  • 1 to 1-½ lb. salmon

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

  • ½ teaspoon cumin

  • ½ teaspoon garam masala

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

Make the Spice Rub and Preheat the Grill

Preheat your grill to 400°F (204°C).

Mix together the brown sugar, garlic powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garam masala, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

Cut the Salmon Into Small Filets

I divide a 1-pound cut of salmon into 4 smaller filets for each serving.

Coat the Salmon with Olive Oil and Spice Rub

 Coat the salmon in olive oil on both sides. I only season the non-skin side, but since you’ll grill both sides, you want both sides to be non-stick. 

Once you’ve coated the salmon in oil, you can sprinkle the spice rub on the flesh side of the fish. I used about a teaspoon to 1-½ teaspoons per filet. Press the rub into the salmon, so it sticks.

Grill the Salmon

Grill your salmon at 400°F (204°C) with the skin side down first. Grill for about 5-7 minutes and then flip.

Grill the second side for 2-3 minutes more until you reach your desired doneness.

Tried this Recipe?

Let me know how you did on Twitter: @clan_kitchen