Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Pineapple Salsa
This Grilled Sockeye Salmon recipe takes the fear out of grilling fish. Pair it with fresh pineapple salsa for a healthful and fast summer dinner that’s gluten-free and dairy-free.
Sometimes unexpected things happen around here, and my lemon herb baked sockeye salmon recipe has become one of my most popular recipes on this website.
I mean, I can understand why – it’s simple, healthy and delicious. But I guess I didn’t realize it would make it onto so many people’s dinner tables!
Between that and my creamy salmon pasta, it’s clear that lots of you out there love salmon just as much as I do. We have it at least weekly. It’s such a nice alternative to chicken or red meat.
And while my baked pesto salmon and salmon pesto pasta are great for fall and winter months where you don’t mind having the oven on, or standing in front of the stove, I wanted to create a salmon recipe that only uses the grill.
This Grilled Sockeye Salmon with Pineapple Salsa has been on repeat in my meal plan for weeks now, and I hope it finds a spot on your dinner table, too! In this post, we’ll also be covering how to cook salmon on the grill and how long to cook salmon on the grill.
This grilled sockeye salmon recipe is flavorful and fast!
The most time consuming part of this salmon with pineapple salsa will be chopping the fruit and veggies for the pineapple salsa, but that can even be done in advance, as I explain below.
Feel free to buy pre-chopped veggies at your grocery store if you want to make this even faster – judgement free zone here!
But as fast as this grilled sockeye salmon recipe is, it doesn’t skimp on flavor. Sockeye salmon is so rich and flavorful to begin with, and the simple ingredients in the salsa add big, juicy flavor to your plate.
The simple spices rubbed onto the grilled salmon with skin add another layer of flavor, too.
The salsa for this pineapple salmon recipe can be made in advance!
One way to make sure that this grilled sockeye salmon recipe comes together as fast as humanely possible on a busy weeknight is to make sure the ingredients are clean and ready to use.
Meaning, the cilantro is washed, the pineapple is butchered (if you bought a whole one), and so on. Having the ingredients prepped and ready goes a long way to getting this on the table fast.
But beyond that, you can actually make and stir together the entire salsa for this pineapple salmon recipe up to 24 hours in advance. The lime juice will keep everything fresh, and in fact, the flavor only improves when it sits in the fridge for awhile.
So, if it’s easier for you to make the salsa the night before, go for it! Just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the salmon with pineapple salsa.
How to buy the best fish for grilled salmon with skin:
While for recipes like crab stuffed salmon, I purchase thick, individual fillets of salmon (so, 4 separate fillets for 4 servings), I love doing a large fillet of salmon on the grill.
At the grocery store, butcher, or seafood market, ask them for a whole fillet of sockeye salmon with the skin on for this grilled sockeye salmon recipe. Because sockeye are one of the smaller species of salmon, it should come out to be about 1-1/4 to 1-1/3 pounds or so.
This grilled salmon with skin is enough to serve 4 people, and you may even have a little bit of leftover fish that you can use to make salmon cakes.
If you can’t buy fresh seafood locally, buying fish online seems to be very popular these days! Full disclosure: I have not tried any of these sources, and this is NOT sponsored, but The Kitchn has a nice list of the best places to buy seafood online, including several places that sell wild salmon that would be perfect for this pineapple salmon recipe!
How to cook salmon on the grill:
Cooking grilled salmon with skin doesn’t have to be scary. But I admit, I was intimidated the first time I tried it, and I even went to culinary school! It just SEEMS like it’s going to stick to the grill, right?
Don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through how to cook salmon on the grill successfully every time. There are two keys to this grilled sockeye salmon recipe: a clean grill and oil.
Let’s start with the clean grill. If you don’t have a wire grill brush, run to the hardware store right now and get one. The salmon will wait until you get back.
Really scrub that grill to get off ALL the crumbs and crusty bits, because those bits are what the fish will stick to. Fish will NOT stick to clean grill grates as much.
Then, we need oil. You’ll be using olive oil to throughly oil both sides of the salmon (the skin side and the flesh side). You will ALSO be spraying those clean grill grates with nonstick cooking spray to add another layer of nonstick protection.
Preheat your grill to medium-high and don’t spray the grill grates until JUST before you place the fish on the grill.
How long to cook salmon on the grill:
Cooking salmon on the grill takes 6 to 8 minutes or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F.
First, place the salmon, skin side down, directly on the clean, oiled grill grates. Cover the grill and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until skin is very crisp and the fish is beginning to turn opaque.
Now it’s time to flip. I’ve had the most success by using two heatproof fish spatulas – one in each hand. But I’ve also been able to make it work with just one spatula.
One thing I learned in culinary school (this is more about flipping an egg with just a flick of the wrist, but it applies here, too) is that CONFIDENCE is your best tool.
Don’t hesitate when flipping, and don’t freak out. Take a few deep breaths, and just get in there and quickly and confidently flip the fish.
Once the fish is flipped, cover the grill again and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer.
If you have an instant read thermometer, the easiest way to check for doneness is to check for an internal temperature of 145 degrees F in the thickest part of the grilled salmon with skin. Having a thermometer is the easiest way to determine how long to cook salmon on the grill.
What to serve with grilled sockeye salmon with pineapple salsa:
I’ll serve this grilled sockeye salmon recipe with Israeli couscous when I have some in my pantry. Acini de pepe pasta salad is very similar in shape to couscous, and would also be great here.
Simple roasted potatoes and sauteed green beans (or green beans and tomatoes) are also a good choice to pair with this pineapple salmon recipe.
You can also use grilled salmon (skip the salsa) to make my salmon alfredo.
For the Pineapple Salsa:
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 cups fresh pineapple (1/2-inch cubes)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Grilled Sockeye Salmon:
- 1 skin-on sockeye salmon fillet (about 1-1/4 lbs)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Make the Pineapple Salsa: In medium bowl, stir together bell pepper, onion, pineapple, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Let stand at room temperature up to 1 hour until ready to serve or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.
- Make the Grilled Sockeye Salmon: Brush grill with wire brush to remove any crumbs or crusty bits, then preheat grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.
- Drizzle both sides of salmon with olive oil. Evenly sprinkle flesh side of fish only with chili powder, salt and pepper. Rub gently to distribute spices.
- Spray grill grates throughly with cooking spray. Place salmon, skin side down, directly on grill grates. Cover grill and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until skin is very crisp and fish is beginning to turn opaque. Using two heatproof spatulas if necessary, carefully flip fish. Cover grill and cook 2 to 4 minutes longer or until internal temperature of fish reaches 145 degrees F.
- Cut fish crosswise into 4 portions and serve topped with pineapple salsa.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 432Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 89mgSodium: 425mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 3gSugar: 12gProtein: 33g