Salmon has become a superstar superfood in the past few years. Not only is salmon delicious and nutritious, but it's also a versatile, quick, and convenient fish to work with. With all these pros, is it any wonder salmon filets have been flying out of supermarkets recently?
However, since salmon is a naturally pink fish, many new chefs are concerned about whether their salmon fillets have cooked through. If you're wondering how long to cook salmon on the pan or stove, then you've got to read the research we've done on this topic.
Typically, salmon filets take about 8 - 12 minutes to cook through on the stove or in the oven. However, your heat settings and the size of your salmon filets will alter the total cooking time. Please check for an internal temp of 145° F before serving salmon.
Determining when your salmon is cooked can take a bit of practice. If you're new to working with this gorgeous pink fish, you should read the pro tips we've compiled in this post.
How Long Does It Take To Cook Salmon In A Pan?
There's no set time for cooking a salmon filet on the stovetop. Factors like your pan type, heat setting, and salmon thickness will influence how long it takes to cook your salmon.
However, most chefs recommend cooking thick salmon filets for at least eight minutes and thinner filets for no less than six minutes. This doesn't mean your salmon will be "done" at these times, but it's likely your salmon will be raw if you pull them off beforehand.
Flip your salmon filets after about four minutes of pan-frying and wait about three minutes before testing your salmon with a high-quality meat thermometer. Fully-cooked salmon should register 145° F. Please keep cooking your salmon on the stovetop until it reaches this temp.
Please watch this video guide to learn more about safely cooking salmon on the stovetop:
How Long Does Salmon Take To Bake In The Oven?
Most baked salmon recipes recommend putting these filets in the oven for eight to ten minutes at a heat setting of about 425° F.
Again, the "ideal time" for baking your salmon filets may differ depending on how big your salmon is, your oven's heating style, and whether you just pulled your filets out of the freezer.
Generally, convection ovens cook faster than non-convection units. So, check your oven's specifications if you're unsure how it works. FYI: You can learn more about the science of convection-style heating in our post "Do Convection Ovens Bake Faster?"
The thicker your cuts of salmon are, the longer you'll have to wait for them to heat through. Also, while you could use non-defrosted salmon from your freezer, it will take a few extra minutes for these frozen filets to reach a safe internal temp of 145° F.
If you want more tips on baking a delicious salmon, please read our post, "How Long Should You Bake Salmon?"
How Do You Tell Salmon Is Done Cooking?
The only way to know salmon is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. According to the USDA, the safe internal temp for all seafood is 145° F. You should use this fact to evaluate the safety of a salmon filet.
However, there are a few other features you could look for to determine your salmon's doneness. Most chefs recommend putting your fork in the center of your largest filet and pulling it away to inspect the center.
Take note of the texture of your salmon as you're pulling with your fork. Typically, a "well-done" filet should be slightly flaky with minimal give.
When you look at the center of your salmon, it should have a whitish-pink color rather than the deep pinks and reds of raw salmon. The outside of your salmon should also be lighter and whiter than before.
If you want more precise instructions on testing cooked salmon, be sure to watch this video:
Is It OK If Salmon Is Pink In The Middle?
Salmon stays pink throughout the cooking process, unlike white fish like cod, snapper, and halibut. So, it's unavoidable that the center of your salmon will have some pink to it.
However, that doesn't mean it's always healthy to eat a pink filet of salmon. Typically, the darker your salmon filet's interior is, the more time it needs in the oven. Well-done salmon filets should have a light shade of pink in the center.
If you're having difficulty distinguishing between undercooked pink and well-cooked pink, you must rely on a food thermometer. Wait for the thermometer to register 145° F and take note of the color of your salmon. This will help you recognize the color of safe salmon.
What Happens If You Eat Undercooked Salmon?
Even if your salmon is slightly below 145° F, it could trigger food poisoning. People who experience this symptom may report issues like digestive upset, nausea, or chills.
Seek medical attention ASAP if you suspect you're suffering from food poisoning. Also, please be sure to stay well-hydrated if you're suffering from symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea.
Can You Overcook Salmon?
Overcooked salmon isn't as dangerous as undercooked salmon, but it's usually "inedible." Most people describe overcooked salmon as having a "leathery" texture with an unappealing dry taste.
Since salmon cooks fast, you must stay close by when cooking or baking this fish. Have your meat thermometer ready to inspect your salmon, and always test your fish slightly before the recommended cook time.
Remember: you can always cook your salmon for a little longer, but you can't un-cook it!
To learn more about how to fix common salmon issues like overcooking, be sure to watch this video:
Is Baking Salmon Better Than Pan-Frying Salmon?
Everyone has a different opinion on whether baking or pan-frying salmon is better. Generally speaking, baking salmon is the healthier option since you don't need to add extra fat to your fish. Also, frying tends to deplete nutrients in food.
However, some people enjoy the crispier texture pan-fried salmon takes on. It's more challenging to achieve a crispy "smoked" char on oven-baked salmon — especially if you leave the salmon's skin on.
It would help if you tried different recipes and styles of cooking to figure out what salmon satisfies your tastebuds.
If you're struggling to choose between baking or pan-frying salmon, you've got to check out our previous post, "Should You Fry or Bake Salmon?"
What Side Of Salmon Should You Cook First?
It doesn't matter what side you cook your salmon on if you take the skin off. However, most chefs recommend starting with the skin-side down if you like to eat your salmon with the skin on.
Honestly, there's no "rule" that says you must cook salmon skin-side down first. However, it's usually easier to scoop the skin side with a spatula. Plus, many people like to start with the salmon's skin against the hot pan to create a crispy texture and slight blackening.
To learn pro tips on cooking salmon with super crispy skin, you've got to watch this ingenious kitchen hack:
How Long Should You Cook Salmon In An Air Fryer?
Air fryers aren't technically "frying" or "baking," but they are popular devices for cooking salmon filets. Most air frying recipes recommend cooking a salmon filet for about eight minutes at a temperature of 400° F.
As always, you need to check your salmon with a meat thermometer to see if it registers 145° F. Please never rely on a recipe's recommended time to tell you when salmon is safe to eat.
Please watch this YouTube clip for more details on cooking salmon with an air fryer:
If you're new to cooking with air fryers, you may want to read our guide to the "7 Best Oils For An Air Fryer."
Take Care Timing a Tasty Salmon Filet!
Salmon is a delicate fish that doesn't take long to cook. Whether you're pan-frying or baking in the oven, this fish will probably only need eight or ten minutes to be safe to eat. However, please remember that a recipe's "suggested time" can't guarantee your salmon will be safe to eat.
Always check your salmon with a meat thermometer before serving for the best results. The safe internal temp for salmon is 145° F. You could also rely on visual clues like the salmon's color and "flakiness" to help you determine when it's done for lunch or dinner.