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How to Grill the Perfect Salmon [Tips Included on How to Choose the Right Salmon]

by Outdoor Cooking Pros July 08, 2021

How to Grill the Perfect Salmon [Tips Included on How to Choose the Right Salmon]

Grilled salmon is one of those favorites a lot of us have admittedly forgotten about. Allow our grilling experts to guide you back to the path of getting this spectacular dish on the table!

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to grill a salmon that’s going to make you come back for more!


You don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a salmon taste great. What DOES matter is choosing the right salmon (more on this later).

Now, prep the following:

  • 6-8 ounces 1-inch thick skin-on salmon fillets (wild caught variety)
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon (cut into wedges)

How to Grill a Salmon: Step by Step Guide (5 Steps) 

Here’s a step-by-step guide to grilling that salmon!

Prepare the Grill

To begin the actual cooking process, prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat, a temperature within the range of 450 F to 550 F is ideal. 

The high heat PREVENTS it from sticking. 

Preheat it for 10 minutes, and you’re now one step closer to getting that grilled salmon! Some say to brush the grates with oil, while others prefer not to. For us, we prefer to oil our grates. 

Season the Salmon Fillets

What’s grilled salmon without flavor?

The next and most important step is to GENEROUSLY coat the flesh of the salmon with oil, and season evenly with kosher salt[1] and black paper.  

salmon seasoned with spices

Salmon is very easy to underseason, so season to your heart’s content! 

We PROMISE you’ll know by your gut instincts once it’s enough. 

Grill the Salmon Skin Side Down

Open up that grill!

Now grill the salmon with its skin side down on direct high heat with the lid closed, for about 6-8 minutes.

Afterwards, check for the following:

  • The fish has lightened in color
  • Salmon is firmer to the touch
  • You can lift the fillets without any sticking

Flip the Salmon

Checked off the 3 item list? Great!

Now turn the salmon over. 

Once again, close the lid, and allow it to cook to 130 °F or about 2-4 minutes for medium rare. 

Adjust to a longer time depending on how well-done you desire your salmon to be! 

Let the Salmon Rest

Transfer your grilled salmon to a platter and allow it to rest for 1-2 minutes. 

Afterwards, slide the salmon skin away from the fillets and serve with those lemon wedges. Sprinkle some salt too!

And finally, DIG IN!

How to Grill a Delicious Salmon: Tips and Tricks

Is it possible to make the perfect salmon even BETTER? Absolutely! Just remember these tips. 

Flip Once and Leave

This is a mistake a lot of people commit on their first try.

Listen well and clear: Once that first flip is over, you’re done. 

This ensures your salmon holds together and doesn’t fall apart or stick to the grates by the end of the cooking process.

salmon on grill

Granted, the fish will stick to the grates during the first contact. Don’t worry, just leave it. 

We can assure that after about 6 to 8 minutes, the skin will come to a crisp and you won’t have a problem about flipping the salmon to the other side!

Grilling the Right Side

ALWAYS grill your salmon skin side down at first. If anything, 90% of the cooking time is supposed to be spent with your salmon with its skin down. 

This is because you want to allow the salmon skin to provide a safety layer between the cooking grates and the flesh during the grilling process. 

Believe us, it’s MUCH easier for you to flip the salmon when it’s skin side down. 

This should also make peeling the skin off easier!

Choose the Right Salmon

The best-tasting salmon are wide-caught varieties. These pack the strongest flavor and are lean meats you want in your belly. 

Of course, your salmon should be bright pink. 

Wild caught varieties include King, Sockeye, and Coho. 

King is much thicker and richer in taste compared to all three, BUT the most expensive. Sockeye packs the strongest flavor and leanest cut. Coho is a balance of the two. 

If these don’t sound appealing to you, get farm-raised Atlantic salmon. It’s milder in flavor and might suit your preference. 

Finally, get a thick cut. Thin cuts tend to dry out faster making it easier to overcook. 


Cooking the perfect salmon doesn’t have to be as hard as you think it is!

All you need is a little bit of salmon, fire, and a LOT of seasoning!

Learn more about grilling and food below:

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