How to cook perfectly done salmon

Salmon with fresh tomato avocado - Paleo, Whole30

Here is how I make sure my salmon is perfectly done, every time. This method works for me whether I’m broiling the salmon, baking it in the oven at 450 F, or cooking it on the grill.

Note: I’ve also made a video showing how to perfectly pan-sear salmon — now my favorite method!

Measure the thickness of the salmon at its thickest point. You want to be accurate to within 1/4″. To do this, I push a toothpick into the thickest point of the salmon, then pinch the toothpick so my thumb and finger just touch the top of the fish. The white mark in the photo below shows where I would hold it.

using a toothpick to measure salmon's thickness

Then, keeping my fingers in the same place on the toothpick, I remove it from the fish and move it to a measuring stick. Make a mental note of the measurement in inches. Or a written note, if you have a short memory! 🙂

toothpick and ruler

When you get ready to put it in the oven or grill, cook your salmon for 10 minutes for every inch of thickness.

So if your salmon is:

  • 3/4″ thick, cook it for a total of 7-and-a-half minutes
  • 1″ thick, 10 minutes total
  • 1.25″ thick, 12-and-a-half minutes

And, turn it over once, half way through baking.

To test, poke a fork into it gently from the side, near the thickest part. It should flake apart easily but still look moist and tender.

This beautiful photo by Tori Avey shows how perfectly-done salmon flakes apart in big chunks. (Click through to her site to see how to pan sear salmon.)

perfectly done salmon

But I think this photo by Recipe Resolution shows better the color and moistness you should be looking for in the center. It shouldn’t be a super-pale peach, or a deep orange, but just a little lighter than the color it was before cooking:

perfectly done salmon

If you have a fear of getting salmon right, buy some cheaper salmon and practice on one filet at a time until you get it figured out. With a little practice, you’ll be able to nail it every time! It’s such an easy, healthy meal.

Here are some of my favorite salmon recipes:

  • Salmon with avocado salsa — I make this often in the summer, when tomatoes are best and the light flavor seems perfect for summer.
  • Herb-crusted salmon — Some chopping of herbs is the only slightly hard thing about this restaurant-worthy dish.
  • Ancho-crusted salmon with avocado crema — This is another dish that looks impressive but is super simple. (Don’t like avocado or guacamole? Use jarred salsa!)
  • Balsamic-glazed salmon — The hubs is not such a vinegar fan, so when I’m cooking dinner for just me, I often make this. I LOVE it! Another possibility: swap out soy sauce or tamari for the vinegar.
  • Salmon cakes — Completely different from the dry, canned-salmon cakes you may remember from childhood, these are quick to throw together when you have some already-cooked salmon on hand. (Which is why they’re filed under “easy lunches”!) Scroll down part way to see the instructions.

(Follow me on Instagram for more quick, easy healthy food ideas.)

What’s your favorite way to fix salmon?

one easy trick for perfectly done salmon every time


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