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How to Cook Salmon Perfectly Every Time

How to Cook Salmon Perfectly Every Time
Credit - CA Creative - Unsplash Credit: Unsplash

It will take time before you get the routine down on how to cook salmon perfectly every time. Cooking salmon can be difficult until you learn to cook it to your liking. In this article, we suggest all of the different ways to cook salmon, whether it be baking, grilling, or frying.

The Different Cuts of Salmon

Before you cook salmon, it’s important to know what type of salmon to buy. There are four main cuts of salmon that you can buy in the grocery store:

  1. Side – Cut from the side of the fish, so you will get a single piece of salmon.
  2. Fillet – The fillet is cut horizontally from the side of the salmon and is a single serving portion.
  3. Steak – The salmon steak is cut horizontally from the side of the whole fish. 
  4. Sushi – Salmon sushi is cut into small slices from a skinless salmon fillet.

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How Do You Cook Salmon Without Drying It Out?

If you want to learn how to cook salmon without drying it out, we have the best method for you. You will want to cover the salmon with foil as tightly as you can before cooking. This is the secret to keeping the moisture looked in and not letting it evaporate while you cook the fish.  

What Temperature Should You Use to Bake Salmon?

  • If you want your salmon to be well-cooked, but not necessarily crispy, then you should use 350 degrees for twenty to twenty-five minutes. 
  • If you’re baking salmon wrapped in foil, you will want the temperature to be 375 degrees for about fifteen to twenty minutes. 
  • If you want crispy skin, you will want the temperature to be 400 degrees and bake the salmon with no foil on a baking sheet for about fifteen minutes.

How to Cook Salmon in the Oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and have a baking sheet ready to place the salmon on
  2. Prepare the salmon depending on what you use to season
  3. Place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet with parchment paper
  4. Bake the salmon for about twelve to fifteen minutes  or until the inside of the salmon looks to be a pink-red color and it feels flaky on the outside

Cooking Salmon in the Oven with Foil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  2. Add your seasoning
  3. Place the skin side down on the foil, wrap the salmon up tightly, and place it on the center of the rack
  4. After twenty to thirty minutes, remove it from the oven, carefully open the foil, and serve

Should You Cook Salmon In Foil?

If you are worried about your salmon dish coming out too dry, you should use foil to lock in the moisture. That way, it doesn’t turn out dry or overcooked. It will ensure your salmon turns out flaky, moist, and tender each time you cook it.

Cooking Salmon In The Oven With Parchment Paper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and move the oven rack to the lowest placement
  2. Place the salmon skin side down in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper
  3. Season your salmon and cut three slits into it to help crisp up the skin
  4. Spray the salmon with cooking spray
  5. Optional: Place slices of lemon or herbs on top
  6. Fold the parchment paper over several times to seal the salmon inside a pocket
  7. Place the salmon on a baking sheet and put it on the bottom rack
  8. Bake it for twenty-five minutes until it is flaky and pink

How to Cook Salmon in a Stovetop Pan

How to cook salmon perfectly every time
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  1. Bring the salmon to room temperature for ten minutes before cooking
  2. Warm a large nonstick skillet with oil on medium-low heat
  3. Season the fish with salt and pepper and place the salmon skin side down in the pan
  4. Cook until golden brown on one side for about four minutes, then flip it over for three more minutes
  5. You can remove the skin or keep it if you like
  6. Move the salmon to a plate and enjoy your freshly cooked fish

Should I Cook Salmon in Butter or Oil?

When it comes to cooking salmon, you can use either butter or oil. One is not better than the other. They are even excellent when you add them together. Both will provide flavor to the salmon and prevent it from sticking to your pan while you sear it. The butter gives it a smooth, creamy look, and the olive oil adds a unique flavor. 

Does Salmon Cook Better in the Oven or on a Pan?

Cooking salmon in the oven is slightly better because it doesn’t require you to pay constant attention to it. For that reason, it is easier and does not burn as quickly. If you want crispy skin and don’t mind waiting by the stovetop, then this is the best method of cooking for you.

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Which Side Do I Cook the Salmon on?

When cooking salmon, you will want to always start with the skin side down. The skin is tough and can handle more time on the hot pan, and it won’t overcook. You will flip the fish and cook both sides of the salmon, but the skin takes the longest, so that’s the best place to start.

Do You Flip Salmon When Cooking on the Stove?

Yes, you will flip the salmon while cooking on the stovetop. The skin side of the salmon needs to be placed first since it will take a bit longer to cook. You want the skin to be crispy but not burnt, so once you see the skin looking to your liking, you can flip your salmon over letting the other side cook. There is also no limit to how many times you can flip salmon while cooking it. Twice is the minimum, but use your own best judgment to see when the salmon is cooked through.

How to Cook Salmon on the Grill

Grilling salmon
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  1. Brush your grill with oil to prevent the salmon from sticking
  2. Place the salmon skin side down and close the grill lid
  3. Grill the salmon for about six to eight minutes
  4. Flip the salmon and cook it for another six to eight minutes
  5. Remove it from the grill when it flakes easily and is cooked thoroughly

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How to Cook Salmon That Has No Skin?

Sometimes you can purchase raw salmon without the skin as the store has already peeled it off. Usually, the skin adds flavor, but no worries if you’d rather not cook with it.

In this case, you would cook salmon the exact same way and can bake, grill, or sear it. The main difference is that you will not have to spend as much time cooking it because the skin takes the longest to transfer heat. Keep an eye out so that your salmon doesn’t burn, but it should be an even amount of time cooking on each side.

How to Poach Salmon

  1. Prepare the poaching liquid by adding wine, water, parsley, and onions to a pan
  2. Bring your mixture to a simmer on medium heat
  3. Add the salmon to the pan skin side down and cover the pan
  4. Cook for five to ten minutes, depending on the salmon’s thickness
  5. Once ready, take it out of the pan and place it on a plate to enjoy

How to Cook a Cedar Plank Salmon?

  1. Soak the cedar planks for about one to two hours before grilling in either wine, cider, or water
  2. Heat the gas or charcoal grill until it reaches 350 degrees
  3. Lay the planks on the grill grates in a single layer and not on top of one another so that air can flow between them
  4. Place the salmon on the planks and season on top of each piece
  5. Grill the salmon for about twelve to fifteen minutes

How to Cook Salmon That Has Been Marinated

If your salmon has been marinated, the best way to cook it is by grilling. You will want to marinade the salmon for about six hours to let the seasoning really soak into the salmon. Follow the steps we outlined above for how to cook salmon on a grill after you let it marinate. 

How to Cook Salmon in an Air Fryer

  1. Cut the salmon into even sizes and preheat your air fryer to 380 degrees
  2. Season each piece of salmon with garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper
  3. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top
  4. Bake for seven to nine minutes while periodically checking on it to make sure the salmon isn’t overcooking (this depends on the thickness of each piece)
  5. Once finished, it is ready to serve

How to Cook Salmon in the Microwave

  1. Rinse the salmon with cold water and then pat it dry
  2. Place the salmon skin side down in a microwave-safe container
  3. Season the salmon
  4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and microwave for three and a half minutes
  5. Check the center of the salmon with a fork and see if it is done
  6. Add time if needed
  7. Once done, place it on a plate ready to eat

How to Cook Frozen Salmon

You will rinse the salmon under cool water in order to start safely and slowly thawing it. We don’t recommend leaving the salmon out at room temperature because you want to monitor its temperature before cooking so that it is safe to eat.

If the salmon has ice that has formed on the outside, do not remove it. Dry the ice off with a paper towel. After it has thawed slightly, you can cook it the same ways we have explained previously. The important thing to remember is that the salmon will need more time to cook, especially in the center of the fish, since it is frozen.

How to Reheat Salmon Safely

Reheating salmon takes time so that it can come out as if it was just freshly cooked. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and you will want to leave it in the oven for about fifteen minutes. The key is that the lower and slower it is cooked, the juicier and better it will be. 

Safety Tips for Cooking Salmon

The safety tips for cooking salmon are simple, but very important so that you can enjoy your dinner.

  1. The internal temperature of the salmon should be 145 degrees F before eating
  2. You can freeze it if you are not cooking it, but we recommend you eat it within 3-6 months of freezing it to ensure freshness

We suggest that you get a thermometer to check your salmon. That way, you know exactly when it is done cooking according to the FDA safety standards. This can help you avoid overcooking your salmon, too.

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How to Know if Your Salmon Is Cooked?

There are a few ways to know if your salmon is cooked all the way. First, you can gently press down on the top of the filet with your finger and see if it starts to flake. If it does, double check that the color has become more light pink than dark pink when it was raw.

Another way to check is to fork the skin of the salmon and it should separate easily along the white lines. Again, the color is important because cooked salmon looks more white and light pink than it does raw.

Lastly, as we mentioned, the easiest way to see if salmon is done is to use a “meat” thermometer and make sure it has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

3 Top Products That Make Cooking Salmon Easy

We have listed our top three products that will help make your life easier when you want to cook salmon perfectly next time.

Vinchef Nonstick Deep Frying Pan Skillet, $50 

Frying skillet
Credit – amazon.com

The Vinchef Nonstick Deep Frying Pan Skillet is the best pan you can use if you are cooking the salmon on a stovetop. It’s also a very affordable option similar to the Always Pan. It also comes with a lid if you want to poach the salmon.

NUTRIUPS Glass Baking Dish, $40 

Baking dishes
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The NUTRIUPS Glass Baking Dish has three different sizes, so if you have more than one piece of salmon to cook, you can place them in a bigger dish. Glass baking dishes are ideal for baking salmon because they are easier to clean or you can put them in the dishwasher. 

Alpha Grillers Instant Read Thermometer, $16

Meat thermometer
Credit – amazon.com

The Alpha Grillers Instant Read Meat Thermometer is excellent if you want to check the temperature inside the salmon and make sure it is thoroughly cooked. For only $16, it’s worth it for how much easier it makes the cooking process.

What Is the Healthiest Way to Cook Salmon?

The healthiest ways to cook salmon are baking, roasting, grilling, or poaching. These methods are especially healthy because they do not use excessive oil in the process, but mainly rely on heat to do the cooking. That’s not to say that pan-searing salmon isn’t healthy depending on what you eat with it, but it can use more oil than the other methods.

As you can see, there are various healthy ways to cook salmon. In addition to this consideration, it is helpful if you try a bunch of different types of cooked salmon and see which way you prefer eating it. For example, if you like the flavor the grill provides or the crispy skin that comes from searing. This way, you can always cook it the way you like to eat it.

Recipe Recommendations?

Lastly, we will leave you with two of our recipe recommendations:

Baked Sesame Salmon: Recipes Worth Cooking 
Keto Arugula Salmon Roll: Recipes Worth Making

    These are worth checking out if you are looking to try something new. The first uses the same baking method mentioned in this article and the second includes smoked salmon that you can buy pre-made from a grocery store. Ultimately, salmon is something you can make with pretty much any recipe depending on how you like it cooked and seasoned.

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