How to cook salmon on the grill so it's perfect every time

There are few things better than throwing back a few brewskis and lighting up the grill come summertime. Rather than going with greasy burgers and questionable hot dogs, however, why not try a healthier option like fish? Grilling salmon gives it a smokier, lighter flavor and extra crispy skin. Here's how to grill salmon so it's cooked perfectly every time. 

29 PHOTOS
Good Eats: 30+ ways to cook salmon
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Good Eats: 30+ ways to cook salmon

10-Minute Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Gremolata by Cotter Crunch

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Baked Salmon by Jessica Gavin

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Asian Stick Salmon in Foil by Oh, Sweet Basil

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Superfood Salmon Salad by Eating Bird Food

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Deviled Salmon by Food & Wine

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Salmon Tacos + Homemade Salsa by The Toasted Pine Nut

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Mustard Salmon with Cannellini Bean Ragù by Food & Wine

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Crisp Salmon with Sesame-Cumin Eggplant Panzanella by Food & Wine
 

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Caraway Salmon with Rye Berry-and-Beet Salad by Food & Wine

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Brown Rice with Salmon, Avocado, and Toasted Nori by Martha Stewart

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Cookie-Tin Smoked Salmon by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Grilled Salmon with Greek Salad by Curtis Stone

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Pasta Salad with Salmon, Peas and Herbs by Ellie Krieger

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Ritz Cracker Salmon Cakes by The Daily Meal

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Salmon with Mashed Peas and Tarragon Butter by Food & Wine

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20-Minute Skillet Salmon by Philadelphia Cream Cheese

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Crispy Salmon With Fennel Slaw by Food & Wine

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Baked Spiced Salmon with Basmati Rice and Asparagus by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Smoky Salmon with Miso-Dressed Vegetables by Food & Wine

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Salmon With Cream Dill Sauce by Swanson

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Salmon Club Sandwiches by Food & Wine

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Seared Ginger-Balsamic Salmon with Hot and Sour Slaw by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Salmon with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce by Cooking Classy

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Honey Mustard Salmon in Foil by Gimme Some Oven

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Herb Packed Paleo Salmon Cakes by I Heart Umami

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Copper River Salmon Salad With Creamy Avocado Dressing by Chez Us | Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira

Baked Honey Mustard Salmon by Best Bites

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Step 1: Prepare the grill

Before grilling, you'll want to make sure your grill is well-seasoned to keep the fish from sticking and to help it cook evenly. First, with the grill off, clean the grates using a wire grill brush. Next, coat the cold grates evenly with a light layer of high heat cooking oil, like canola. Then, ignite the grill and heat for about 15 minutes, or until the oil burns off and the grill begins to smoke.

Note: If your grill has porcelain grates, you don't need to season it.

Step 2: Prepare the salmon

Pat the salmon with a paper towel until it's dry. (If it's wet, the salmon will steam rather than sear on the grill.) Then, brush both sides of the fish with oil and season with coarse Kosher salt.

If you want to use a marinade on your salmon, only let it marinate for 30 minutes to an hour, otherwise the acid could alter the soft texture of the fish and make it tougher.

Note: Make sure you're using skin-on salmon, as this will help hold it together on the grill. 

Step 3: Place salmon on the grill

Place your salmon on the grill set to medium heat diagonally—this will make it easier to flip later. If you prefer crispier skin, place the fish skin-side down first. If not, cook it flesh-side down first. 

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Once you've placed your salmon on the grill, don't touch it! Cover the grill and let it cook for about 5 minutes or until the side you've placed on the grill has a nice, golden sear. You can check it by gently lifting up an edge with a spatula. 

Step 4: Flip the salmon

When it's ready to flip, use a flat spatula to flip it over. If it has a nice sear to it, it shouldn't stick and should be easy to flip.

The length of time it takes your fish to cook will depend on its size. A 1-inch thick piece of salmon will take roughly 8-10 minutes to cook. Once it's done, it should be firm and crispy on the outside, and flaky and opaque on the inside.

Step 5: Let it rest

Once your salmon is done, take it off the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice if desired.

For some of our favorite seafood recipes, check out the slideshow below:

35 PHOTOS
Good Eats: 35 seafood recipes
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Good Eats: 35 seafood recipes

Crispy Fish Sandwiches with Herb Remoulade by Food & Wine

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Lobster Tacos with Toasted Ancho Chile Sauce by Hola Jalapeño | Kate Ramos

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Baked Shrimp Risotto by Food & Wine

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Pan Fried Fish with Creamy Lemon Sauce for Two by Philadelphia Cream Cheese 

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Deviled Salmon by Food & Wine

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Grilled Shrimp with Black-Eyed Peas and Chimichurri by Food & Wine

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Pan-Seared Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes & Basil by Food & Wine

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Grilled Swordfish with Miso Sauce by Food & Wine

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Mussels, Clams and Shrimp Over Linguine by Haylie Duff

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Pan-Seared Halibut with Citrus-Jalapeño Salsa by Domesticate ME! | Serena Wolf

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Clams Broiled with Lemon, Thyme and Parmesan by food & Wine

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Homemade Hot Buttery Lobster Roll by Chez Us | Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira

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Crab, Avocado and Citrus Crêpes by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Crisp Mashed Potato Fish Cakes by Kitchen Belleicious | Jessica Maher

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Grilled Cilantro-Lime Shrimp with Yuca by Food & Wine

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Scallops with Grapefruit-Onion Salad by Food & Wine

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Fusilli with Shrimp and Lemon Butter by Food & Wine

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Whole Wild Salmon Filet with Mustard Sauce by Food & Wine

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Grilled Shrimp with Citrus-Sambal-Oelek Dressing by Food & Wine

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Fisherman's Chowder by Philadelphia Cream Cheese

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Crab Cakes and Curry Mayonnaise with Apple Salad by Food & Wine

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The Classic Maine Lobster Roll by Kitchen Daily Editors

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20-Minute Skillet Salmon by Philadelphia Cream Cheese

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Salmon and Quinoa Bowls with Kale and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce by Feed Me Phoebe | Phoebe Lapine

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Sea Scallops Florentine Fettuccini with Mushrooms and Tomatoes by Chef Billy Parisi

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Lobster Shortcake with Rum Vanilla Sauce by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Mussels with Caramelized Fennel and Leeks by Food & Wine

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Roasted Halibut with Fennel and Potatoes by Kitchen Daily Editors

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Fish Tacos with Jalapeño-Tomatillo Salsa by Food & Wine

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Masala Fried Shrimp by Food & Wine

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Spaghetti with Clams and Garlic by Food & Wine

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Scallops with Potato Pancakes and Caviar Sauce by Food & Wine

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Lemon Fish with Herb Rice by Campbell's Kitchen

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Creamy Seafood Risotto by Food & Wine

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Valencian Seafood Paella by Kitchen Daily Editors

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