Should You Fry Or Bake Salmon?

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The perfectly prepared fish is moist, flavorful, and succulent. Salmon is no exception. When fish is overcooked, it dries out and loses delicious flavor. If you’ve ever had a doubt in your mind on how to cook your salmon perfectly, this article has all you’ve been looking for! Below are tips on how to fry, bake, grill, and more with your salmon.

Should you fry or bake salmon? The answer is yes! You can fry or bake salmon, but you can also grill, poach, and broil it. All of these cooking options will leave your fish tasting amazing. 

Keep reading below for examples, tips, and tricks on how to cook your salmon!

Salmon fillets on a grill plate, Should You Fry Or Bake Salmon?

Pan Frying Your Salmon

If it’s not grilling season or you’re only making a few servings, then pan-frying or sauteeing is a great option to cook your salmon. This method is fast and easy—it only takes 6-8 minutes.

If you add a salad or greens and rice, you’ll have a delicious, healthy meal in 20 minutes. One of the great things about salmon is how simple you can prepare it and still have it be delicious. There’s no need for sauces or cheese to make it amazing.

Frying salmon in pan in the kitchen

Here is an easy-to-follow recipe on how to fry up your salmon.

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your pan to medium-high.
  • Rinse and pat fillets dry and rub with olive oil, salt, and your chosen seasonings.
  • Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil to the pan.
  • Place your salmon skin side up (this is important!) and set a timer for 3 minutes.
  • You always start skin side up because dry spices on the flesh can burn if cooked longer than 3 minutes.
  • Flip the fillet and reduce the heat slightly (to about medium), and cover the pan with a lid.
  • Set the timer for another 3 minutes. If it’s a thicker piece and is not done in 3 minutes after flipping, set the timer in 1-2 minute increments until done. If it’s a thinner piece, it may only require 2 minutes of cooking after flipping.

Baking Your Salmon

Baking salmon is one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen! This method of cooking salmon is easy and only takes about 2o minutes. Pair it with a veggie and rice or noodles, and you’ve got a 5-star meal. Just follow these easy steps to get cooking! Check out this recipe here!

Close up on chef putting plate with char-grilled tuna steaks into the oven

Step-by-step:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  • Make an easy salmon rub by mixing 1 tbsp of brown sugar, 2 tsp of salt, 2 tsp of paprika, and 2 tsp black pepper.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil for a much easier clean-up. Place the salmon fillet on the baking sheet, skin side down.
  • Brush the salmon with olive oil and your spice mixture.
  • Bake the fillet for 10-15 minutes.

More Salmon Cooking Options

Grilling Salmon

When grilling fish, you have to remember these few tips before getting started: fish cooks best over a medium-hot fire, make sure the grill is hot before you start cooking, and liberally brush oil on the grill just before cooking. Check out these recipes here!

How-To Grill Salmon

  • Cut fillets into meal-size portions before grilling.
  • Oil and salt the salmon lightly before grilling.
  • Place the salmon skin-side down on the grill; there is no need to flip.
  • Grill approximately 8 minutes per inch of thickness.
  • When removing the salmon from the grill, slip the spatula between the meat and the skin to easily lift it off. The skin will stick to the grill and can be removed later.

Poaching Salmon

  • Bring poaching liquid to a boil in a deep fry pan or saucepan.
  • Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Add the salmon and cook for 6-8 minutes depending on thickness.

Broiling Salmon

  • Preheat your broiler to medium-high.
  • Rinse and pat fillets dry.
  • Oil and salt the salmon lightly before cooking.
  • For easy clean-up, line a non-metal dish with parchment paper.
  • Broil 4-6 inches from the heating element for 5-7 minutes. There is no need to flip it.

How Do You Know When Salmon Is Done?

It’s very easy to overcook salmon, and most people think they don’t like salmon because they’ve always overcooked it or have been served overcooked salmon. One of the ways you can check if your salmon is cooked thoroughly is by knowing what doneness you prefer.

Salmon can be a bit like steak in this aspect- everyone likes something a bit different. Do you like well-done, rare, or medium? Once you know what perfectly cooked salmon looks like to you, you’ll be able to tell if salmon is done by checking the salmon’s internal temperature.

Checking the thickest part of the fillet with an instant-read thermometer or meat thermometer, you can watch for the following temps:

115-125 degrees is medium rare

125-140 degrees is medium to well done

Once you see 140 on the thermometer, your salmon is done! 140 degrees should be the cut-off, or you’ll risk overcooking it if you leave it in longer.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you can check doneness by poking the salmon fillet with a fork. The salmon should be able to flake a bit with the fork. This method can be tricky for beginners as it relies on a certain feel that develops over time based on memory and personal preference. Practice makes perfect!

Check out this instant-read thermometer on Amazon.

Is It Healthier to Bake or Pan Fry Salmon?

Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart and brain healthy without being high in total fats. It’s rich in B-complex vitamins, minerals and can add a good amount of vitamin D to your daily intake. Sometimes, preparing foods in specific ways can add calories from extra fats or sugars.

Baking salmon is the healthier option over pan-frying. Baking is healthful because it doesn’t add any extra fat or calories to the fish- as long as you cook it with simple seasonings. Using heavy, high-calorie sauces can change your fish’s nutritional value and make staying within your dietary guidelines more challenging.

Baking does take longer than other cooking methods, however, so expect your fish to spend about 20 to 30 minutes in the oven, depending on the temperature you set and the thickness of the fillet.

Do You Season Salmon Before Cooking?

It is recommended not to season fish until right before you are going to be cooking it. If you leave it to marinate or in sauces too long, they can become squishy or soggy in texture.

What Flavors Go Best With Salmon?

There are plenty of flavor combinations that would work well with salmon, but here are five seasoning ideas that are great for salmon:

Garlic Butter Salmon Seasoning

  • Minced fresh garlic
  • Melted butter
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper

Herbs and Citrus Salmon Seasoning

  • Dill or rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Juice of lemon, lime, or orange or all 3

Sweet and Savory Salmon Seasoning

  • Brown sugar
  • Lemon zest
  • Parsley leaves, chopped
  • Thyme leaves, chopped
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

Cajun Salmon Seasoning

  • Ground paprika
  • Ground cayenne pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried basil

Italian Salmon Seasoning

  • Dried basil
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Garlic Powder
  • Fresh dill
  • Red chili flakes

Do You Need To Flip Salmon When Baking?

Typically when baking salmon in your oven, you don’t need to flip it at all. Flipping is not required when baking, grilling, or broiling.

Do You Flip Salmon When Frying?

It is essential to flip your salmon after about 3 minutes when pan-frying or sauteeing your fish. This ensures that the spices outside do not burn and your delicate fish do not become overcooked.

How Do You Keep Salmon Moist When Pan-Frying?

Fried salmon cooking on the hob and adding herbs and spices

The number one tip to keeping your salmon moist is not to overcook it! Cooking fish for too long can take too much moisture out of it, leaving it dry. Remember, salmon is done when it’s opaque and easily flakes from your fork. This typically only takes about 3-5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the fillet.

Another way to avoid dry salmon is by checking what kind of salmon you have. Wild salmon has less fat than farmed salmon and therefore needs less time to cook. Farmed salmon can contain up to twice as much fat as wild, which keeps it moist as it cooks and makes it less likely to dry out.

Lastly, consider brining your salmon in saltwater. Not only does it help the fish retain moisture, but it also seasons it and eliminates that white stuff (coagulated protein) that often seeps out of salmon.

Fortunately, if your salmon has already become overcooked and dry, there are other ways to eat it! You can break it up and stir it into soups, add it to grain bowls, or form it into patties!

In Closing

Cooking salmon is fun and easy if you’re short on budget and time during the week! We hope this article helps you conquer those midweek meals (or even a romantic weekend meal) with confidence. Don’t forget to check out some of our other articles about baking, frying, and grilling:

How Hot Should A Grill Be For Steak?

Can You Bake Hamburger Patties In The Oven?

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