Grilled Salmon Recipes - Tips on Preparing Tasty BBQ Salmon

There are scores of grilled salmon recipes. Salmon is actually a fast, easy meal to prepare on the barbecue - but it can be even easier with a few preparation tips! Here are a few handy tips to help with your BBQ salmon recipes.

Marinating the Salmon

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  • Remove the skin before marinading.

  • Put the fish and the marinade in a big ziplock bag and turn a few times to coat. Then put the whole thing in the refrigerator.

  • It doesn't take long for fish to marinade. We normally marinade salmon about 15-20 minutes.

  • When you're ready to grill, remove the fish from the marinade. You can discard the leftover marinade, but we often put it on the stovetop and reduce it into a sauce. Make sure you bring it to a boil to thicken the sauce as well as kill any bacteria. It's delicious to have extra sauce spooned over a piece of freshly grilled salmon!

Placing the Salmon on the Grill

  • Salmon is notorious for sticking to the grill. To prevent sticking, grease the hot grill, not the fish. Bring the grill up to temperature. Then place an empty disposable foil pan upside-down over the grill (the foil pan should be large enough to cover the cooking surface you need for the fish). Leave it there for 10 minutes or so, to really help heat things up. In the meantime, soak a piece of paper towel with olive oil. Remove the pan, and, using tongs, grasp the oiled paper towel and thoroughly grease the grill. Then you can gently put the fish on the grill.

  • If you're grilling a fillet with the skin still on, place the salmon skin-side-down on the grill.

Grilling the Salmon

  • Grill at medium / medium-high heat. We normally cook at around 350 Farenheit.

  • Don't grill too close to the flames. Leave at least 4-6 inches between the charcoal and the grill.

  • If you are able to cook with 'indirect' heat, try it -- we like it because the fish cooks evenly and quickly.

  • Salmon takes about 8-10 minutes to cook per inch of thickness, at medium-heat high.

  • Salmon is done with the flesh is firm, link pink in color, and flakes easily with a fork. The more you grill salmon, the easier it will be to figure out when it's grilled to perfection.

Flipping the Salmon

  • Fish flakes easily and can fall through the grill if you're not careful. To flip a piece of salmon, gently loosen the edges of your salmon first before slipping a spatula under the entire piece of fish. You want to flip the fish like you would flip the page of a book.

  • Salmon fillets don't have to be flipped. But if you like the sear marks, gently flip them a couple of minutes prior to them being done.

  • Salmon steaks should be flipped.

  • Whole salmon may or may not need to be flipped, depending on the size / thickness of the fish. To flip an entire salmon:

Wrapping Salmon in Foil

  • Wrapping salmon in foil is a popular way to cook salmon, since it keeps the fish moist. The salmon basically poaches or steams in its own juices.

  • Convenient because you don't have to worry about the fish falling through the grill, or sticking to the grill.

  • Don't wrap the foil too tightly around the fish - you want some air around the fish so that it can steam.

  • Use a piece of foil that's a few inches longer and wider than the fish. Place the salmon in the middle, and then bring the edges together to form a pouch. Roll the edges tightly to create a seal. You can then put the pouch directly on the hot grill. Careful when you open the pouch -- hot steam will escape and you don't want to get burned.

Grilling Salmon on a Wood Plank

  • Grilling salmon on a wood plank infuses the fish with a wonderful smoky flavor.

  • Cedar planks are the type that's most commonly used (and easily available). If available, you can try alder planks too.

  • Soak the plank at least 4 hours or overnight prior to use. Place the plank in your sink or a big container and fill with warm water. You might need to put something heavy on the plank to keep it under water.

  • You don't have to soak it in just water... you can add stuff to the water too for extra flavor. We sometimes add a bit of apple or orange juice, but you can experiment with other stuff too.

  • Before using, dry off the plank by wiping it thoroughly with a clean towel. Then lightly oil the plank with olive oil. Place the plank (without the salmon) on the hot grill to heat it up, approximately 10-15 minutes. Then you can then place the salmon on the plank, and the plank back on the grill.

  • Again, if you're grilling a skin-on fillet, then the skin side goes down on the plank.

  • If you're feeling a little more adventurous, you can lightly rub the plank (before putting the salmon on) with salt (sea salt is especially yummy), crushed fresh garlic, or a herb mixture.

  • It's okay if the plank starts to smoke or smoulder ... you want this to happen! It's what helps to give the salmon the smoky flavor (if it catches on fire, though, be sure to put out the flames!).

Adding 'Smoke'

  • Depending on the type of barbecue you have, you may need to use either a smoker box (in which you can place the wood smoking chips), or you can just throw a handful of wood chips on top of the charcoal.

  • Soak wood chips for at least an hour or two before using. You want them nice and wet so that they'll give off lots of smoke.

  • Use smoking chips sparingly, at least at first. We normally only use a handful or two of chips for a whole salmon. Once you know how much smoke flavor you like, then you can adjust the amount of wood chips up or down to suit your taste.

  • Cedar and alder wood chips both give salmon an extra delicious flavor.

  • Keep the lid of your BBQ closed if you can... it helps to maximize the smoke as well as keep moisture in the salmon.

Serving the Salmon

  • Serve immediately, since fish cools quickly.

  • If you're serving sauce with the salmon, drizzle a small amount on top or put the sauce on the side so your guests can take as much (or as little) as they like.

  • Garnish the salmon with fresh lemon slices or wedges.

  • Sides dishes that go well with salmon include roasted baby potatoes, rice, grilled corn-on-the-cob, grilled veggies, and fresh green salads.

Now that you're armed with these handy tips, it's time to go try your hand at some grilled salmon recipes!



This website offers tips on how to BBQ as well as some of our favorite barbecue recipes. We barbecue with a charcoal grill in an outdoor kamado-style cooker called The Big Green Egg. We love food and we love the grill, and hope you enjoy our recipes!