How To Cook Salmon Perfectly, 4 Ways

Gourmet portion of thick juicy fresh salmon grilling on a griddle seasoned with lemon zest, herbs and spices in a low angle view with copyspace and rising steam

How To Cook Salmon Perfectly, 4 Ways

If you’re looking for a healthy meal for the whole family, salmon is the perfect choice for your main dish. This popular fish has numerous benefits and you can include it in a variety of recipes. While fish isn’t everyone’s favorite meal, when cooked and seasoned properly, salmon can be both tasty and nutritious. If you’re looking for ways to include more salmon in your diet, let’s look at how to cook salmon perfectly in 4 different ways.

Salmon, like many types of fish, has so many nutrients that it’s recommended to include fish in your meal plan twice a week. If you’re looking for a tasty and healthy meal the whole family will love, consider cooking salmon for dinner or even a quick lunch.

Sock eyed salmon with green beans and lemon
Once you get the hang of it, salmon is simple and easy to prepare.

©Miro Vrlik Photography/Shutterstock.com

Preparing Your Salmon for Cooking

If you’re not used to cooking fish, you might wonder how to prepare it. You can purchase fish frozen or fresh at your local fish market or grocery store. No matter what form you buy it in, the preparation for salmon is pretty simple.

The most common way to purchase salmon is fresh from your local grocery store or fish market. Here’s how to prepare your salmon for cooking:

  • Check the salmon for any bones
  • Pat the salmon dry before cooking
  • Season the salmon, including the skin

Your salmon fillets will likely come with the bones already removed. However, you will need to check for pin bones, which actually aren’t bones at all. Pin bones are small calcified pieces of nerve endings. While pin bones are actually safe to consume, they can present a choking hazard so check your fillets, especially if you’re serving the salmon to your kids.

You can easily remove any bones you find with tweezers. Simply run your fingers along the filet to locate any pin bones and pull out any that you find.

You can also purchase salmon with the skin on or with the skin removed. It’s perfectly fine to leave the skin on, though it’s recommended that you season the skin before cooking. While not everyone prefers eating the skin, a lot of the omega-3 fatty acids are concentrated in the skin.

Benefits of Salmon

If you’ve got picky eaters in your family, you might struggle to get them to eat things like salmon fillets. But it’s worth the struggle to get your kids to like salmon since there are so many benefits to eating it.

Here are a few of the benefits of salmon:

  • High in omega-3 fatty acids
  • High in protein
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Low in saturated fat and cholesterol

Salmon can be a healthy, protein-packed meal that’s relatively low in calories as well. It’s full of healthy fats and other nutrients such as vitamin A and vitamin B12. There are plenty of healthy recipes out there as well, and it’s simple to cook at home with just a few kitchen tools.

You don’t have to be intimidated by cooking fish at home and it’s simple enough to include in your meal rotation as a healthy and filling meal. Let’s take a look at some of the best and easiest ways to cook salmon at home.

How to Roast Salmon in the Oven

One of the best-tasting and simplest ways to cook salmon for dinner or a quick lunch is to roast it in the oven. Here’s a simple way to roast salmon in the oven:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F
  • Spray a large baking sheet or shallow baking pan with cooking spray
  • Place your salmon fillets on the baking sheet
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is flaky
  • Top with herbs, seasonings, and lemon juice if desired

To bring some extra flavor to the salmon, you can coat the fillets in olive oil and lemon juice before baking as well. Lemon juice and fish go extremely well together, so it’s great to have some on hand no matter what method you’re using to cook your salmon.

How to Poach Salmon

Another common way to cook salmon is poaching it. This is a simple way to cook it while bringing some extra flavor to it as well. Here’s the best way to poach salmon for a healthy meal:

  • Place your poaching liquid in a large saucepan. You can use olive oil or white wine and lemon juice
  • Simmer the liquid over medium heat
  • Pat each fillet dry with paper towels.
  • Season your salmon fillets with salt and pepper as well as any other desired seasonings
  • Place the salmon in the saucepan and lower the heat to a simmer
  • Cook for about 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of the salmon and how well done you prefer it
  • Remove the salmon from the saucepan and top with your desired seasonings, toppings, or garnishes

Poaching can be a tasty yet uncomplicated way to cook your salmon. If you’re looking for a way to bring extra flavor, you can also add more seasonings to the liquid before poaching or switch up the ingredients for something more unique.

Delicious fried salmon fillet, seasonings on blue rustic concrete table. Cooked salmon steak with pepper, herbs, lemon, garlic, olive oil, spoon. Grilled fresh fish. Fish for healthy dinner. Close-up
Searing salmon fillets is a simple yet delicious way to cook them.

©Elena Eryomenko/Shutterstock.com

How to Sear Salmon

If you’re looking for a way to cook salmon easier but give it a more crispy exterior, searing may be the way to go. Searing is simple with just a skillet on hand and some seasonings. Here’s the simplest way to sear your salmon:

  • Season your salmon with salt and pepper
  • Add olive oil or another type of cooking oil to a skillet
  • Heat it to medium-high heat
  • Add the salmon to the skillet once hot and cook it with the skin facing up for about 4 minutes
  • Flip the salmon over in the pan and reduce the heat to medium
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes more until cooked through

Searing the salmon fillets in this way creates a delicious crispy crust on the top of the salmon. The key to achieving this tasty salmon is not messing with the fillets as they sear. Instead, wait until the top of the salmon is done cooking before flipping it over.

How to Grill Salmon

Like most ingredients, one of the best ways to achieve the ultimate flavor is by throwing them on the grill. This is true of salmon as well–grilling your salmon is a tasty way to enjoy fish. It may even be the key to getting your kids to love salmon! Here’s the best way to grill salmon fillets:

  • Preheat the grill to about 450 degrees F
  • Add a neutral oil to the salmon fillets and season with salt and pepper
  • Place the salmon skin side down on the grill and cook for about 5-8 minutes
  • Flip the salmon over and cook for 2-4 more minutes
  • Remove the salmon from the grill and allow the fillets to rest for 1-2 minutes

When grilling your salmon, it’s best to cook it with the skin on, although you can remove the skin afterward if you prefer. It’s also best to use a neutral oil like grapeseed oil so it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of the salmon.

Alternative Ways to Cook Salmon

There’s no limit to the ways you can cook salmon, even aside from searing or roasting it in the oven. If you have additional kitchen tools that you want to try out, you can also cook delicious salmon using a:

  • Sou vide
  • Air fryer
  • Instant pot
  • Slow cooker

You can keep your salmon simple or you can make an extravagant meal with salmon as the main event. Either way, the key to cooking salmon perfectly is to season it properly and not overcook it.

Cooking the Perfect Salmon Fillets

Salmon can be a delicious way to add healthy fats to your diet as well as many other nutrients. If you’re not sure how to cook salmon or what kind of kitchen tools you need, remember it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want.

Whether you’re looking for a healthy dinner or if you specifically want to include more fish in your diet, salmon is simple to steam, roast, sear, or even grill. With just a few simple tools and seasonings, you can have a delicious meal of salmon fillets at home.

Salmon Recipes

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