A large platter of grilled salmon with blueberries on the side.

How to grill salmon and fish – 4 easy tips


Get four easy tips on how to grill salmon or fish. Juicy succulent salmon or fish is possible on the grill. Grilling fish isn’t as scary as it sounds. With these four easy tips, you’ll be grilling salmon or other fish like a pro.

A large platter of grilled salmon with blueberries on the side.
Grilled salmon served with lemon and fresh blueberries

Salmon is one of my family’s favorite kinds of seafood to eat. There are many ways to cook salmon or fish including frying, oven baking and poaching in a small amount of liquid. However, grilling the fish is always our go-to favorite. The little bit of smoky flavor from cooking it on the grill really adds to the overall taste and experience. Halibut and Pacific cod are also really tasty cooked on the grill. The “meatier” the type of fish, the easier it is.

Season both sides of the fish

Getting the fish ready for the grill is the first and one of the most important steps. If you have a large fillet, cut the fish into manageable portions. This makes it easier to flip the fish or move it in case of a flare up. I always start by adding oil (extra virgin olive oil) to the flesh and the skin of the fillet. Then season the fish with fine sea salt, pepper and any herbs or seafood seasoning you like. Set it aside.

Start with a clean grill

Before the salmon or fish hits the grill, you must prepare the grill. Heat the grill to medium-high heat. We achieve the best results with medium-high heat. If the grill is too hot, you are more likely to burn the delicate fish. Use a BBQ brush to remove any debris. Next, get tongs and a paper towel. Fold the paper towel into a small square. Dip it into a bowl containing neutral vegetable oil (sun flower, canola etc). Then using the tongs, rub the grill with the oiled paper towel.

Diagonal on the grill, skin side down

Placing the fish diagonally on the grill with the skin side down allows the skin to “crisp” up. A crispy skin is much more appetizing on a plate, even if you don’t plan to eat it. Aim to flip the fish only once. The majority of the cooking time is on this first side. How long you cook the fish depends entirely on the thickness of it. So, it’s hard to say cook it for two minutes or three minutes only. Just keep in mind that seafood in general doesn’t take long to cook. Never walk away from it. If the piece of fish is particularly thick, start out on medium-high heat and then lower the heat to low. This helps prevent burning, scorching and encourages a more even cooking.

Flip once

You may have heard this grilling rule before to prevent the meat from drying out. It applies to seafood as well. Flip the fish only once. 75% of the cooking time is on the first side. Keep the lid closed the majority of the cooking time. (It’s ok to peek inside once in a while, since you want to avoid flare ups.) Use a fine edged metal spatula for the best flipping results. This is the tricky bit. You want to get that spatula all the way under the fish and flip. A tip is to use two spatulas! Place the second one on top to help guide the fish gently in the flip.

145 F

How do you know when the fish is done? You can use an instant-read or meat thermometer to obtain the internal temperature. 145 F is the recommended safe internal temperature for cooked fish. You can also use a knife to cut into the thickest part of the fish and check. The fish will look opaque and flake easily. The hardest part is not over-cooking the fish. You can always take it off the heat a minute early. Cover it with foil and the residual heat will continue cooking it through as it sits for another minute or two.

Practice makes perfect

Remember, it takes time and practice to get it just right. Grilling fillets of fish gets easier each time you do it.

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Helpful tools:

Stainless Steel Tong/Turner Combination
Barbecue Tongs


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