Food and Recipes Seafood Fish Salmon How To Tell When Salmon Is Done This gives you just the right amount of insight into how to cook salmon properly and deliciously. By Lisa Cericola Lisa Cericola Lisa Cericola has been on staff at Southern Living since 2015. As Deputy Editor, Lisa manages the food and travel departments and edits those sections of each issue, as well as digital content. Previously, she was the features editor at Food Network Magazine and has more than 15 years of experience writing, editing, and managing photo shoots for print and digital lifestyle brands. Southern Living's editorial guidelines Updated on May 22, 2023 Medically reviewed by Jerlyn Jones, MS, MPA, RDN, LD, CLT Fact checked by Jillian Dara Fact checked by Jillian Dara Jillian is a freelance writer, editor and fact-checker with 10 years of editorial experience in the lifestyle genre. In addition to fact-checking for Southern Living, Jillian works on multiple verticals across Dotdash-Meredith, including TripSavvy, The Spruce, and Travel + Leisure. brand's fact checking process Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Salmon Internal Temperatures What is Albumin? How To Cook Salmon How To Test if Salmon Is Done Frequently Asked Questions Whether preparing it on the grill, in the oven, or on the stove-top, salmon is an easy, quick-cooking protein that is also delicious. The only trick is cooking it correctly. Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Claire Spollen; Food Styling: Torie Cox Salmon Internal Temperatures Like a piece of steak, you can cook salmon to varying degrees of doneness—whether you have fillets, steaks, or a whole side of salmon. Also, like a steak, salmon can go from raw to well-done or overcooked in minutes, especially if you are using high heat. This quick cooking time means you must keep an eye on it as it cooks. (Unless you're preparing it in a slow cooker. In that case, feel free to walk away!) Here is a guide to knowing when salmon is cooked and ready to enjoy. Cook times depend on two things: the thickness of the salmon and how you like it prepared (medium-rare, medium, or well-done). According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the thickest part of a piece of cooked salmon should have a minimum internal temperature of 145°F—which will be a very firm, well-done piece of fish. For medium to medium-rare, aim for a temperature of 125°F to 135°F when you remove it from the heat. The fish will continue cooking a bit after it comes off of the heat but remain tender and moist inside (according to the USDA, it should still reach 145°F). If your piece of salmon still has the skin on, cook it skin-side-down first to prevent albumin from appearing. What is Albumin? At a temperature of 135°F, you're more likely to see albumin, a white substance that appears when cooking a piece of salmon (it's the most abundant proteins in salmon liver), and the muscles contract. Albumin typically oozes out of the fish when overcooked. It's safe to eat but doesn't look appetizing, so you want to avoid it if possible. Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall How To Cook Salmon Cook Salmon Skin Down When your salmon still contains the skin, place that side down while cooking—this helps moderate the temperature. Another preparation consideration is to salt just before placing it in the oven. Salt adds and complements the fish's flavor and taste, but using salt before preparing to put it in the oven will draw out the fish's moisture, leading to overcooked fish. Cook Salmon at the Correct Temperature Cooking methods impact the time expected to have fully cooked salmon. Baked salmon takes the longest cook time, around 15 minutes, while pan-seared salmon can cook in about five minutes. Cook Salmon with Similar Thickness When selecting salmon filets, try to purchase fish with relatively the same thickness. Similar to meat, fish size varies, affecting certain spots' cooking times. Arrange your salmon filets and make trims or adjustments before cooking to eliminate half-baked fish. How To Test if Salmon Is Done Use a Food Thermometer To test the salmon's internal temperature, consider purchasing a food thermometer to insert directly into the thickest portion of the salmon filet. This test will indicate whether you've reached an ideal temperature to take the salmon out of the oven to continue cooking while it rests—usually five to 10 minutes. Test for Flakiness Flakiness is another sign of doneness. Use a salad fork or the tip of a paring knife to test whether the top of the fish flakes apart easily. It's done cooking if it's flakey. If salmon is hard to the touch and doesn't flake when testing it with a utensil or finger, it needs to cook a little longer. Test its Color When testing the salmon's texture, you can also examine its color. It should appear slightly pink or translucent when finished. Too translucent, the fish is undercooked, opaque, or cloudy, and it is overcooked. Frequently Asked Questions How many ways can you prepare salmon? There are a few ways to prepare salmon, including pan-frying, searing, oven-roasting, grilling, grilling in a foil packet, poached, or in parchment paper referred to as “en papillote” in French. What is the most accurate way to tell the temperature of salmon? Using a food thermometer is the most accurate way to determine the internal temperature of salmon. When assessing the salmon, choose the thickest section of fish to insert the food thermometer. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources Southern Living is committed to using high-quality, reputable sources to support the facts in our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we fact check our content for accuracy. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Safe minimum internal temperature chart. Updated May 11, 2020.