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How to Cook Salmon on Your Gas Grill

It’s Summer, and here in the Bay Area that means it’s finally grilling season! No matter where you live, Summer is a great time to get outdoors and do some grilling. Lots of people swear by charcoal, but for even and consistent grilling, a solid gas grill can’t be beat.

Personally, I have a Weber Genesis II grill right outside the door of my Bay Area kitchen. California living is all about blending indoors and outdoors, and it’s great to be able to season things in my kitchen, step outside the kitchen door, and cook right on the grill. I even grow some of my own herbs in my garden right nearby.

If you’re trying to eat healthy this Summer, fish is a great bet. Lots of people assume that cooking salmon on the grill is challenging (fish does have a tendency to stick), but if you do it right, it’s actually really simple. Here’s how to grill salmon on your gas grill.

Preheat and Prepare

To start, light your grill and set the burners to a medium setting.

Setting your burners to Medium

Close the lid, and let the grill preheat to around 400 degrees.

Get your grill preheated

Now, get your salmon filets ready! I like to use filets that are about two inches wide. Either wild-caught or a high-quality farm-raised salmon works well. I like to get mine at Whole Foods here in the Bay Area.

Season your filters with a herb rub of your choice. I like to use dill, oregano, basil, salt and pepper for a simple rub. Keep the skin on your filets. Spray the top of the filets with cooking spray to help stop them from sticking later on.

Season your filtets

Sear Your Filets

Once your grill is ready, put your filters on using tongs. Start skin side down.

Start skin side down

Close the lid of your grill and cook for 3-5 minutes. Wait until the edges of the filter on top are just starting to cook. Then scoop under the filters with a big grill spatula and carefully flip them over. The cooking spray you added earlier will help stop them from sticking.

Flip to get some nice grill marks

Cook for another 2-3 minutes. You’re really just trying to get some nice grill marks here.

Make Your Grill Like an Oven

Next, turn one of your burners off to create a colder section within your grill while keeping the others on. If you only have one burner on your grill, turn it to a low setting.

Create a cold section by turning off a burner

Flip your filets back over and move them to the colder section of the grill, above the switched-off burner. Leave the other burners on, and close the lid. This effectively turns the grill into an oven. Your salmon will continue to cook, but it won’t blacken because the burner directly below it isn’t on.

Place your filets in the cold section and close the lid

Adjust the burners to maintain a temperature around 400 degrees. Check the filets every few minutes. They’re done when they’re solid and light pink all the way through. You can test with a thermometer if you like. I also like to separate out a few flakes with a knife and check to make sure the light pink color extends all the way through the filet.

Check frequently, as salmon can get overdone very quickly!

Cut into a filet to make sure it’s cooked all the way through

When the filets are done, carefully lift them off the grill and into a serving dish. I like to make a simple yogurt sauce with Greek yogurt, tarragon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to go with them. I usually remove the skins, which tend to get blackened. Some people like to leave them on, though.

Enjoy your salmon!

Enjoy your filets, and a tasty summer of grilling!

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

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