Is there really one best way to cook salmon? I would say there is not one best way, but multiple great ways to cook salmon. Each method has its own advantages, and different time and equipment requirements. Keep reading to learn about each of these methods, and you’ll be cooking salmon like a pro in no time!
The best ways to cook salmon
Pan frying Salmon
Pan frying is an excellent technique for preparing salmon. I would recommend using skin on fish to add texture to your dish, and getting a nice caramelization on both sides of the salmon. To achieve this effect, sear the salmon skin side down in a smoking hot oven-safe pan. When the skin is crisp, turn the fish over and place it in the oven until done. I like to shoot for an internal temperature of 125°F.
Steaming is a great way to gently cook salmon while keeping it moist. Since you’re not handling the fish very much, the odds of it falling apart is slim. You can add aromatic ingredients in your steaming liquid to help season the fish, like citrus and herbs.
Grilling wraps are a fantastic option for steaming fish while providing some additional flavor. A grilling wrap is a thin sheet of wood that is soaked in water and wrapped around the fish, forming a package that delivers an aromatic steam from all sides. Grilling wraps can be used on the grill, in the oven, or in a steamer.
If I had to choose just one method, I would say grilling is the best way to cook salmon in my opinion. The fast cook time and high heat allows the fish to retain some moisture while picking up those familiar smoky flavors that can only come from cooking on a grill.
One of the downsides to cooking salmon on a grill is it needs to be turned over and the chances of the fish falling apart are greatly increased. One sure fire way to keep this from happening is by using grilling planks and avoiding the step of flipping the fish altogether. The wooden plank creates a protective barrier between the heat and fish while introducing that delicious fresh wood flavor. While we have several wood flavors available, the classic Cedar Grilling Plank is what I typically recommend for salmon.
Smoked Salmon has the longest cook time, but the tasty results are worth the wait. Hot smoked salmon is cooked at a temperature around 120°F and results in a fully cooked product. Cold smoked salmon, often called lox, is prepared at a temperature below 80°F. The resulting product has the texture of raw salmon but is essentially cured by the smoke.
So, there you have it, those are the best ways to cook salmon in my opinion. If you follow a few basic rules you can’t go wrong with any of them. Check out our full archive of salmon recipes for some dinner inspiration and let us know which method is your favorite!
Matt worked his first kitchen job in the country of Malta at the age of 15. He has worked as a restaurant Chef in Arizona, Maine, Spain, the UK, Oregon and finally North Idaho. Now the Executive Chef at Wildwood Grilling, he thoroughly enjoys his day job.