No-fail grilled salmon recipe with the perfect marinade! Juicy, flavor-packed salmon every time.
One of the perks of living in Atlanta is that you can use the grill pretty much any time of the year.
We’ve been doing more and more fish on the grill lately, and we found that one of the best grilled fish options is salmon. Because it's oily and sturdy, salmon can stand up to heat very well.
Today's grilled salmon recipe is a family favorite, and between the salmon marinade and the fresh mint-mango salsa, it is next-level delicious!
Don't skip the salmon marinade!
No surprise, the salmon marinade here begins with three Mediterranean suspects: extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. To add brightness and impart more flavor, I like to mix in fresh herbs--in this case, mint--with favorite earthy spices like coriander and cumin. If time is of the essence, you can marinate the salmon for 20 minutes or so while you make the salsa and prepare the grill. But if you're not in a rush, for even more flavor, cover the salmon and let it marinate in the fridge for an hour or 2.
I do not recommend marinating fish overnight though, but an hour or two for a hefty fish like salmon will add flavor and help it remain tender as it cooks over direct dry heat.
How to Grill Salmon Perfectly Every Time!
I wrote an entire post on how to grill salmon with two different methods to follow (you should check it out when you have time). But a few tips are important to repeat here. Aside from marinating the salmon, which will make it delicious and moist, here are a few more tips to keep in mind when cooking salmon on the grill:
- Start with high direct heat, then switch to medium heat.
- Use thicker salmon fillets with the skin on! The skin holds the salmon together as it cooks over dry heat. The skin also imparts good flavor as it releases fat
- Cook the salmon flesh-side down first (in other words, skin should be facing you). The reason being is that, while salmon is raw, the flesh is still firm and there is less chance of it falling apart. Make sure you sear the flesh side first and do not disturb it or move it until grill marks start to show. Salmon fillets will begin to release a bit of their fat and a thin layer (closest to the heat) will turn opaque. That’s when you have permission to carefully turn the salmon fillets over to the skin side, then lower heat to medium and close the grill cover. At this point, the skin does the work holding the fish together while finishing over lower heat (another 2 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of your salmon fillets.)
- Do not overcook your fish. No one likes dry salmon! And remember, you can always put it back on the grill if you really need to, but there is nothing you can do about over-cooked fish.
How long does salmon need to be on the grill?
Salmon will cook quickly on the grill over direct heat, so you'll want to keep a close eye on it. The cooking time will vary depending on how thick your fish is and the temperature you used. In this recipe, the salmon took me about 8 minutes in total. First the salmon will cook 1 to 3 minutes, flesh side down over direct heat, then it will finish cooking on the other side over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes.
How to make this grilled salmon recipe:
This easy recipe begins with marinating the salmon and then cooking it on the grill for 6 to 8 minutes! To serve, you'll top the grilled fish with my delicious mango salsa! I've included some photos to show you the steps, and feel free to refer to the full printable recipe just below:
- Season and marinate the salmon.
Season the fish with kosher salt and black pepper and place it a deep dish, skin side down so that the flesh is facing you. To make the marinade, mix the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mint, garlic, and spices and pour all over the salmon. Let it sit briefly or, if you have the time, cover and refrigerate for a couple hours.
- Heat the grill and make the Mango Salsa
Heat the grill to high, it's ready when you can hold your hand one inch above the grates for only 1 to 2 seconds. Make sure grates are generously oiled (this is important so that the salmon does not stick.)
To make the salsa, in a bowl, mix together the diced mango, cucumbers, red onions, fresh mint, and lime juice
- Grill the fish
Place the salmon fillets on hot grill flesh-side down first (like I mentioned earlier, this is important so that the salmon gets some nice grill marks, while the flesh is still firm.) Close the grill lid. Cook for 1 to 3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are. DO NOT move the salmon fillets until you are ready to turn them over.
When ready, turn the salmon over (I use a pair of tongs and a metal spatula to turn it over very carefully). Reduce the heat to medium . Close the grill lid and cook for another 2-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets.
How do you know when it's ready?
You'll know your salmon is ready when it changes color from translucent red to an opaque pink. After it has cooked for 6 to 8 minutes on the grill, you can check the salmon for doneness by poking it gently--in the thickest part--with a sharp knife. It should begin to flake easily when it's done. The internal temperature of cooked fish should be around 145 degrees F, but to be sure you don't overcook it, take the salmon fillets off the grill when the internal temperature reaches somewhere around 130 degrees F, then you can cover it for a couple minutes. It will continue to cook as it sits and the temp will rise.
Serve it with
When I first started putting ingredients together for this salmon recipe, I was planning to use my Mediterranean homeamde tomato salsa, but I had a couple of ripe mangoes and decided to put them to good use in a bright mint and mango salsa creation! Either salsa option is absolutely fine to use on top of these grilled salmon fillets.
Not in the mood for salsa? You can do a number of other salads or sides to go along with this salmon.
More salmon recipes to try:
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Grilled Salmon Recipe with Mint Mango Salsa
- 4 salmon fillet pieces, skin on (about 6 ounces each)
- Kosher salt
For Mint Mango Salsa
- 2 mangoes diced
- ½ seedless English cucumber hot house cucumber, chopped
- 20 fresh mint leaves chopped
- ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Season salmon with kosher salt on both sides and place, flesh side up, in a casserole dish deep enough to hold the marinade (I used this dish).
- Make the marinade. In a bowl, add extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mint, garlic, spices, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Pour marinade over the salmon and let sit in room temperature for 20 minutes (or, if you have the time, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.)
- Meanwhile, make the mango salsa. In a bowl, add mangoes, cucumber, fresh mint, red onions, and lemon juice. Toss to combine. Set aside for now. (If you don't plan to eat for a few hours, cover salsa and refrigerate until ready to use.)
- Heat an outdoor gas grill on high (grill is ready when you can hold your hand one inch above the grates for only 1 to 2 seconds). Make sure grates are generously oiled (this is important so that the salmon does not stick.)
- Arrange salmon fillets on hot grill, flesh side down first (this way, they'll get some nice grill marks while the fish is still firm.) Close the grill lid. Cook 1-3 minutes on the first side, depending on how thick the fillets are. DO NOT move the salmon fillets until you are ready to turn them over.
- Look for grill marks on the fish, and where the fish is closest to the grill, you should see a small layer of opaque (cooked) flesh. Using tongs and a metal spatula, carefully turn the fish over so it is now skin-side down. Now, turn heat down to medium. Close the grill lid. Cook for another 2-5 minutes, again depending on the thickness of the fillets. Salmon is ready when it is barely opaque throughout.
- Remove from the grill and serve with the mango salsa!
- Do not over cook the salmon! Salmon is ready when it turns opaque pink and flakes easily at the touch of a fork. The internal temperature of cooked fish should be around 145 degrees F, but to be sure you don't overcook it, take the salmon fillets off the grill when the internal temperature reaches somewhere around 130 degrees F, then you can cover it for a couple minutes. It will continue to cook as it sits and the temp will rise.
- Other Side Options to Go with this Grilled Salmon: Grilled Brussels Sprouts, Mediterranean Grilled Zucchini, Fattoush Salad; Tzatziki sauce, and roasted garlic hummus
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*Note: This post originally appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in July of 2018 and has recently been updated with new information and media for readers' benefit. Enjoy!