How to Cook Perfect Salmon Every Time

Salmon is versatile, delicious, and healthy.

If you like to serve seafood and have already mastered the art of preparing lowcountry boils and catfish fries, it is time to go one step further and try your hand at salmon. We get it–salmon can be a bit more intimidating than your average fish. Do you leave the skin on or take it off? Which side do you cook first? How do you know when it is done? A minute too soon and it's still too rare, but a minute too late and it's overcooked. While salmon isn't native to the warm Gulf waters of the South, we still have lots of tasty Southern ways to cook up this delicious fish. Read on for three easy methods for preparing salmon, and then start adding it to your weekly meal rotations.

Honey-Mustard Salmon with Vegetables

Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Tina Bell Stamos

How to Cook Salmon in the Skillet

You don't need to go to a restaurant to get a salmon fillet with a golden crust and crispy skin. You can achieve that right in your own kitchen when you cook salmon in a skillet.

Heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and coat the bottom of the skillet with the fat, such as olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter. Once the pan is hot, place the salmon fillets skin side up and cook about 6 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. At this time the crust should be fully formed, the fillets will easily release from the pan, and you can flip them, skin side down. If the salmon does not easily release, let it cook a few seconds longer.

After flipping, cook for about 4 more minutes while the skin gets crispy. Sometimes the middle of the fillet is thicker than the ends. If the skin is getting too crispy but the center of the salmon is still a little pink and firm, put the skillet in a 350° oven and roast for 5 minutes.

How to Broil Salmon

For an easy, hands-off method to preparing salmon, choose broiling. Preheat your broiler to high and place on oven rack in the top third of your oven, so that the salmon will be about 5 inches away from the coils of your broiler.

Put the fillets on a parchment paper or aluminum foil-lined baking sheet (this prevents sticking and makes for easy cleanup), and season with salt, pepper, and any other desired herbs and seasonings. Broil 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of your fillets and your desired degree of doneness.

How to Bake Salmon

For another easy method of preparing salmon, this sheet-pan supper of baked salmon and vegetables gives you an entire meal while using just one pan. If you aren't following a recipe, try these simple instructions: Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Season as you like. There are many options for seasoning the fish, such as garlic, honey, spice rubs, citrus, or herbs. Bake the salmon skin side-down for 12 to 15 minutes, or until pink and opaque.

How Long to Cook Salmon

According to the Food and Drug Administration, salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°. If you don't have a meat thermometer, you can also check for doneness with a fork, just be sure and test the thickest portion of the fillet. Once the salmon easily flakes with a fork, it is ready to be served.

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