Sockeye Salmon Recipe (Grilled)
This is the Best Grilled Salmon Recipe because it takes the fear out of grilling fish by giving you an action plan to cook it perfectly without it sticking to the grill or falling apart.
This Grilled Sockeye Salmon recipe is flavorful and fast!
Making grilled salmon 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.
The two main keys to this grilled sockeye salmon recipe are simple: a clean grill and oil. I’ll also tell you everything else you need to know to become a salmon grilling pro.
Why you will love this Grilled Salmon Fillet
- The pineapple salsa can be made in advance, make this a lightning fast weeknight dinner.
- Feel free to buy pre-chopped veggies at your grocery store if you want to make this even faster – judgement free zone here!
- As fast as this grilled sockeye salmon recipe is, it doesn’t skimp on flavor.
Best Grilled Salmon Recipe ingredients
- salmon – one skin-on sockeye salmon fillet that is about 1-1/4 pounds is what we’re looking for. More on this below!
- nonstick cooking spray – SUPER important for coating the grill grates.
- chili powder, salt and pepper – for seasoning the fish.
- pineapple – the base of the juicy, tropical salsa.
- red bell pepper – adds a pop of vibrant color to the salsa.
- red onion – infuses the salsa with a pungent bite of onion.
- cilantro – elevates the freshness of the salsa.
- lime juice – adds a zesty, citrusy kick.
How to buy the best fish for this Grilled Salmon Fillet
While for recipes like salmon stuffed with crab and salmon piccata, 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 (4 servings).
How to make the Best Grilled Salmon
- MAKE THE SALSA. Stir together the bell pepper, onion, pineapple, cilantro, lime juice and salt and let it stand until you’re ready to eat.
- PREP THE GRILL. Very throughly clean your grill with a wire brush, and then preheat the grill.
- PREP THE FISH. Drizzle both sides of the salmon with olive oil, and then sprinkle the flesh side with salt, pepper and chili powder.
- GRILL. Place the salmon, skin side down, directly on the grill grates. Cover the grill and cook 4 to 6 minutes or until the salmon skin is very crisp and the fish is beginning to turn opaque.
- FLIP. Using two heatproof spatulas if necessary, carefully flip the fish. Then, cover and continue grilling a few minutes longer until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145 degrees F.
- SERVE. Cut the fish crosswise into 4 portions and serve it topped with the pineapple salsa.
How long to cook Grilled Sockeye Salmon
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.
Make ahead instructions for the Pineapple Salsa
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, 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.
Salmon Grilled Home Chef Tips
- Start with a clean grill. If you don’t have a wire grill brush, run to the hardware store right now and get one. 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.
- You will 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 to store Grilled Sockeye Salmon
Allow any leftover grilled salmon to cool and then place in an airtight container. Refrigerate up to 2 days or freeze up to 2 months. Store the salmon separately from the salsa.
What to serve with the Best Grilled Salmon Recipe
This grilled sockeye salmon pairs well with a wide variety of side dishes. Some of my favorites include:
Sockeye Salmon Recipe Grilled FAQs
For optimal flavor and texture, grill the salmon directly on the grill grates! This allows the smoky essence of the grill to penetrate the flesh of the fish.
To grill salmon without it flaking apart excessively, ensure that your grill is properly preheated, and carefully handle the fish with a wide spatula (or two, if necessary).
Yes, flipping the salmon is essential for even cooking.
This is not necessary, and it can also spread bacteria and compromise the fish’s texture and flavor.
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