Want an easy method for cooking salmon—especially drier types of salmon like sockeye and coho salmon—without breaking a sweat? Get step-by-step guidance and photos on how to broil salmon, which is a fast, easy, and clean way to cook salmon while keeping it moist and flavorful.
Sockeye and coho salmon can be dry if not correctly cooked (frying and grilling are likely to dry out these varieties of salmon). Not everybody has the time and patience to poach salmon.
That’s why this method of broiling salmon is a fantastic technique to add to your tool belt. You can have salmon broiled in 5 minutes to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less.
This recipe came from an NPR interview with journalist Paul Greenberg who offered his favorite way to enjoy sockeye salmon.
You can serve the salmon with a side of green vegetables or flake it for a topping over a garden salad or tossed Cobb salad.
What’s the best salmon to broil?
Following Paul Greenberg’s recommendation, I prefer to broil drier varieties of salmon, such as sockeye salmon, coho salmon, and pink salmon. I leave the fatty, expensive varieties like king salmon (Chinook salmon) for pan frying and grilling because king salmon is less likely to dry out.
In terms of cuts and shapes, you can broil salmon filets, steaks, and tails. Thicker cuts like salmon steaks might require 1-2 minutes longer than thinner cuts like the tail.
TIP: The cut of salmon doesn’t matter as much as having equal sized pieces of similar thickness. If you have a smaller, thinner piece of salmon compared to the other pieces, it might get overcooked. If you’re worried about this, you can remove the thinner slice from the oven earlier than the other pieces.
Do you need a marinade to broil salmon?
In this recipe, I drizzled a thick Beurre Blanc sauce over the broiled salmon before serving. To avoid interfering with the rich, buttery flavor of the French butter sauce, I chose to keep my salmon marinade free. This makes cooking easier because there are fewer steps to prepare the salmon for cooking.
But if you’re not planning on serving the salmon with a sauce or you don’t love the flavor of salmon and would like to add some herbs and sweetness to it, you can marinate your salmon before broiling it.
To marinate the salmon:
- Prepare a marinate. (See ideas below.)
- Add the pieces of salmon to the marinate. Coat the salmon with the marinade. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Move the salmon to your baking tray.
- If you’re preparing a glaze, place the salmon on your baking tray. Brush the glaze on top of the salmon.
- Broil the salmon according to the recipe instructions.
- Easy marinades
- Simple: Olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon wedges
- Herbaceous: Olive oil, chopped dill, Italian parsley, green onion, herbes de provence, or your favorite herb mix
- Spices: Olive oil with lemon pepper, pepper, garlic powder, Dijon mustard, and/or grated ginger.
- Lemon: Grated lemon zest with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
TIP: Mix and match the above ideas for the marinade. For example, you can combine the ingredients for the simple marinade with honey glaze. If you’re adding spices, herbs, or grated aromatics, it helps to brush on a teaspoon of oil to help these spices to stick to the fish.
What’s the best temperature to broil salmon?
The best temperature to broil salmon is on the high broil setting. That’s about 500 ºF / 260 ºC for the typical home oven.
Is it better to bake or broil sockeye salmon?
Broiling is like cooking on an upside down grill where the broil element sends infrared radiation (heat) that hits the salmon with heat from above.
This is a fast and efficient way to cook thin food that you want to avoid drying out (especially when broiling at high heat). That’s our goal with salmon.
Although baking also uses dry heat like broiling, it surrounds the food with hot air and typically at a lower temperature. Baking would take longer to cook salmon, risking drying it out.
That’s why broiling is a better technique for quickly cooking salmon while keeping it moist.
Do you need to remove the skin when broiling salmon?
No need. If the salmon still has its skin, leave it on. You can eat the skin, especially you descale it (you can also eat the skin with scales on).
If your salmon has the skin, put the flesh side down on the baking tray with the skin facing up. This gets the skin dry and crispy, which adds a great texture. The skin can protect the salmon from drying out when it’s broiling.
TIP: If you hate eating the skin, as Alex does, remove the skin after broiling the salmon. Raw salmon skin is difficult to remove whereas cooked salmon skin is a breeze to lift off.
How long to broil salmon for
NOTE: According to the USDA, the safe minimum internal temperature for fish is 145 °F / 63 °C.
5 minutes: This gives you salmon that reaches about 125 ºF / 52 ºC in thick areas and closer to 140 ºF / 60 ºC in thinner areas. This is medium-rare salmon, which some people like because it’s tender and juicy, albeit a bit raw.
5-8 minutes: Depending on the size of your salmon, this gives you medium-done salmon if your salmon is thick or well-done salmon if it’s thin. It will be about 125-145 ºF / 52-63 ºC.
10+ minutes: This usually 145+ ºF / 63 ºC well-done salmon. It might be a bit too dry and overcooked for most people’s standards. I would only cook for 10 minutes if I had a huge piece of salmon (2+ pounds / 1 kg) that’s very thick. This is usually too long for sockeye or coho salmon, which end up dry.
TIP: If I’m planning for leftovers, I only broil for 5 minutes to avoid overcooking the salmon when I reheat it.
Do you need to flip salmon when broiling?
No need. Leave the salmon on the same side during the whole broiling process.
How do you know when broiled salmon is done?
The salmon will no longer be a bright pink color with a translucent flesh. It will turn a muted pastel pink color and become opaque. You should be able to easily flake it with a fork.
If you are broiling with the skin on, facing up, the salmon is done as soon as the skin begins to bubble and blacken.
I like to broil my salmon on a cookie sheet or a baking tray. I usually don’t put parchment paper underneath because the salmon is oily enough that it usually doesn’t stick. Also, there’s likely already oil from my seasonings or marinade.
NOTE: If you’re using a cast iron skillet or a sticky surface, you can use parchment paper or oil your pan to avoid your fish sticking to it.
Can you broil salmon in a toaster oven?
Yes, you can broil the salmon in a toaster oven. In case your toaster oven doesn’t put out as much heat as a full-sized home oven, you’ll want to monitor the fish to make sure the salmon is cooked enough before you serve it.
Tips for success
- Pat the salmon dry before broiling so the fish doesn’t steam in its own juices.
- Removing the salmon with a spatula from the baking tray keeps the salmon in one piece and reduces the chances of breaking it when transporting it to the plate.
- Let the salmon rest for a few minutes before serving.
Easy & quick broiled salmon ready in 5 minutes
- Baking Tray
- fish turner
- Preheat your oven on the high broil setting.
- Gather the ingredients.
- Pat dry the salmon.
- If desired, prepare a marinade and marinate the salmon for 5-10 minutes. If you're using salt & pepper as the seasoning, move the salmon to your baking tray. Brush or rub the oil onto the salmon and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
- Squeeze the lemon juice from your lemon wedges over the salmon. Place the lemon wedge on top of the salmon.
- Place the salmon in the oven. Broil for 5 minutes for medium-rare salmon or 1-2 minutes longer for well done salmon.
- Remove the salmon from the oven. Rest for 3 minutes. Cut up the salmon if it's 1 big piece to divide it into smaller portions.
- Serve the salmon with a sauce and some green veggies. Enjoy your broiled salmon!
Can it be made in advance?
How to store it
Store the cooled leftovers in the fridge in a sealable container. I recommend eating it within 3 days of storing in the fridge.
How to reheat it
I zap the salmon in the microwave for 30 seconds. I cover it when I microwave it because it splatters.
The goal is to get the fish to room temperature so I reheat the fish for 30-second intervals as many times as necessary, checking after each interval until the fish is warm enough for my tastes.
TIP: I avoid zapping it for 2 minutes nonstop in case I overcook it.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, you can broiled poached salmon. Store it in a resealable airtight plastic bag to freeze. Defrost frozen salmon in the fridge overnight.
NOTE: Freezing salmon might give it a mushier texture upon defrosting.
What to do with leftover salmon
There are ideas for using up leftover salmon in my Poached salmon article. You can use leftover broiled salmon in the same ways, including this salmon cream cheese dip, as a quiche filling, and a topping for savory oatmeal.