Grab your big girl (or big boy) apron, your tongs, and your attitude, because we’re conquering culinary fears with this easy, perfect, you-can’t-mess-it-up Grilled Salmon in Foil.
Even if you are intimidated to cook fish (I was for years!) or intimidated to use the grill (yep, I was scared of that too), this Grilled Salmon in Foil recipe is foolproof.
I’ve included all the best tips for how to know when salmon is finished cooking and what temperature salmon should be cooked to, ideas for ways to flavor grilled salmon, what to serve with salmon, and more! This post is your Grilled Salmon in Foil toolkit.
This recipe is based on my go-to Baked Salmon In Foil. We make it in some fashion nearly once a week. It’s received millions of views, has dozens of five-star reviews, and is the first thing I cook for company. It’s easy but impressive, and everyone loves it.
Before grilling season leaves us, I’ve had on my mind to adapt, test, and perfect that much loved baked salmon recipe to the grill. Today is the day! (After grilling season ends, I recommend switching to this Baked Cod recipe).
Read on for detailed photos and step-by-steps for how to cook Grilled Salmon in Foil. At the bottom of the post, I’ve included a recipe for Grilled Salmon in Foil with Lemon and Dill (and garlic and butter). It’s a lovely combination. You can follow those flavor recommendations or use the same grilling method with one of the other suggested variations below.
How to Make Grilled Salmon in Foil – EASY and Perfect Every Time
While you can grill salmon without foil, I find that the foil option is by far the easiest, most effective way to grill salmon.
Using foil to make a packet around the salmon traps moisture. It ensures the salmon turns out perfectly tender and flaky, not dry.
With the foil method, you also don’t need to worry about the salmon falling apart or sticking to the grill.
Avoid sad, stuck-on, dry salmon: use foil to grill!
Here’s how this recipe breaks down:
- To Make the Best Grilled Salmon in Foil, Start by Selecting The Best Fish
- Look for salmon that is bright pink in color, that smells fresh but not fishy, and, if possible, is wild caught.
- For Grilled Salmon in Foil, I like to ask the seafood counter to remove the skin for me. Again, since the foil holds the fish together, so you don’t need the skin to keep it from falling apart.
- For more information on how to pick salmon, see this Spicy Baked Salmon. I go into more detail about the different types of salmon and which I recommend for various reasons. (Also that recipe is delish. Try it sometime.)
- Lay a Large Sheet of Foil on a Baking Sheet
- You’ll want a piece large enough to fully wrap around your piece of fish, with plenty of overhang on all sides to make a foil packet.
- I recommend using a heavy-duty foil or at least slightly thicker foil, as it is less prone to tearing.
- The baking sheet is there so it’s easy to carry to your grill. When you’re done grilling, you can slide the foil packet right back onto it, then carry it straight to the kitchen (or your table).
- If you do not want your food to touch the foil directly, lay a sheet of parchment paper on top of the foil to act as a barrier. Cooking food directly in foil has been noted as a health concern by some, so do whatever makes you the most comfortable.
- Flavor Layer 1: Place Half of the Herbs and Citrus on the Foil
- Most often, I do a few sprigs of dill and lemon, but you can use any mix of fresh herbs and citrus that you like.
- If you use a stronger herb like rosemary or dill, be more sparing on the herbs. Herbs like parsley or cilantro are more delicate, so you can be more generous.
- For citrus, use lemon, lime, or orange (or try all 3!). Of these, lime is the strongest.
- Grapefruit is quite bitter, so I don’t recommend it for this particular grilled salmon recipe.
- Arrange the Salmon on Top
- Add Butter, Garlic, and Season
- For Grilled Salmon in Foil, I’ve been loving the flavor of melted butter. Two tablespoons are all you need for a full 1 ½ pounds of fish. Worth it!
- If you prefer not to use butter or need the Grilled Salmon in Foil dairy free, you can use olive oil or another cooking oil of choice.
- For seasonings, I like minced fresh garlic, along with plenty of kosher salt and black pepper.
- Be generous with the salt and pepper! The more fish you have, the more you need.
- Flavor Layer 2: More Herbs. More Citrus.
- Again, the stronger the herb, the less you will need.
- Seal the Foil Packet and GRILL!
- Salmon should be grilled over medium heat, about 375 to 400 degrees F. This recipe is written for Grilled Salmon in Foil on a gas grill, and it also works for a charcoal grill, Traeger grill, or Big Green Egg.
- Once you close the grill, the salmon should cook for 14-18 minutes, until almost completely cooked through at the thickest part. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your salmon.
How to Tell When Salmon is Finished Cooking
The eternal question! The greatest of salmon crimes (in addition to under seasoning) is overcooking. Here are the best tips to tell when your salmon is done.
- You can check for doneness by taking a sharp knife and peeking into the thickest part of your Grilled Salmon in Foil. If it is beginning to flake, but still has a little translucency in the middle, it is done.
- You can also quickly insert a butter knife into the thickest part of the salmon after about 6 minutes of cooking. Then, remove it and check the temperature of the knife by feeling it. If the knife is lukewarm, the salmon needs more time, but if the knife is medium warm, the salmon should be ready to remove (I still recommend cutting into it to check for color).
- If your piece is thinner (around 1-inch thick) check several minutes early to ensure your salmon does not overcook. If your piece is very thick (1 1/2 inches or more), it may need longer.
- Best option: Use an instant read thermometer like this one (more details below).
What Temperature to Cook Salmon
- The surest way to determine if your salmon is finished cooking is to use an instant read thermometer. to measure it for doneness at the center.
- The FDA recommends cooking fish to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. This is great on paper.
- In real life: carry over cooking. I find that salmon and other fish will continue to “cook” as they rest. I typically remove my salmon early (anywhere between 137 and 140 degrees F), cover the salmon with foil, then let it rest for about 5 minutes. The resting time allows the fish to come up to 145 degrees F.
What to Serve with Grilled Salmon in Foil
- Grilled Portobello Mushrooms. Grilled mushrooms are a delicious, easy side dish that offers a meaty flavor. Try my Grilled Portobello Mushrooms recipe.
- Grilled Sweet Potato Fries. Serve your Grilled Salmon in Foil with these Grilled Sweet Potato Fries for a fun and easy summer dinner!
- Grilled Asparagus. Most often, we do Grilled Salmon in Foil with asparagus. You can cook it right alongside the salmon. Trim the asparagus spears, arrange them on a grill basket like this one, then toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper. Grill beside the salmon for 8 to 12 minutes, or until tender. The exact time will vary based on the thickness of your spears.
- Rice. Serve your Grilled Salmon in Foil on top of a bed of rice! This Lemon Rice would complement the lemon on the salmon.
- Roasted Vegetables. Roast a hearty side dish of vegetables in the oven to serve with your Grilled Salmon in Foil. Roasted Potatoes and Carrots, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic, and Roasted Zucchini would all pair nicely.
More Ways to Flavor Grilled Salmon in Foil
In addition to the dill and lemon Grilled Salmon in Foil below, here are more tasty suggestions to keep the recipe feeling fresh:
- Grill Salmon in Foil with Capers. For a bright, slightly Italian spin, use a few sprigs of thyme in place of the dill and reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon. Sprinkle the finished fish with 1 to 2 tablespoons of drained capers.
- Grilled Salmon in Foil with Lime. Use lime for the lemon and cilantro in place of dill. Enjoy alongside a Skinny Margarita.
- Grilled BBQ Salmon in Foil. Instead of the melted butter and garlic, brush 1/4 cup of BBQ sauce (try this homemade barbecue sauce) on the salmon before grilling. Top with lemon slices as directed.
- Grilled Salmon in Foil with Soy Sauce. For an Asian spin on your Grilled Salmon in Foil, swap out the melted butter for 1/4 cup of soy sauce. Drizzle the soy sauce over the salmon and top with garlic as directed before placing on the grill. Because of the high sodium content in soy sauce, you can also omit or reduce the added salt. This version would be delicious served with Asian Noodle Salad.
- Grilled Salmon in Foil with Brown Sugar. A sweet twist on this Grilled Salmon in Foil! Stir 1/4 cup brown sugar into 1/4 cup melted butter, and brush evenly over the salmon. Top with the garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon as directed.
More Ways to Cook Salmon
Yes, we adore baked or grilled salmon in foil, but there are also many other healthy salmon recipes that don’t use foil.
- Lemon Pepper Salmon
- Whole30 Salmon
- Soy Ginger Salmon
- Garlic Salmon
- Salmon Patty Recipe
- Teriyaki Salmon Quinoa Bowls
Have you made Grilled Salmon in Foil before? If you try this recipe or have other salmon grilling tips, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Grilled Salmon in Foil
- 1 1/2 pound side of salmon boneless with skin removed
- 1 small bunch of fresh dill divided
- 1 medium lemon plus additional for serving
- 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter or canola oil or olive oil
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Remove the salmon from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Preheat an outdoor grill to medium (about 375 degrees F). Line a rimmed baking sheet (large enough to hold your piece of salmon) with a large piece of aluminum foil. If you prefer your food not to touch the foil directly, lay a piece of parchment paper on top (be sure none of it pokes out when the packet is sealed).
- Lightly coat the foil with baking spray. Then, arrange a few sprigs of dill down the middle. Cut the lemons into thin slices and arrange half of the slices down the middle with the dill. Place the salmon on top.
- Drizzle the salmon with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Scatter the garlic over the top, then lay a few more springs of dill and the remaining lemon slices on top of the salmon. Chop a tablespoon or so of the remaining dill and reserve for serving.
- Fold the sides of the aluminum foil up and over the top of the salmon until it is completely enclosed. If your piece of foil is not large enough, place a second piece on top and fold the edges under so that it forms a sealed packet. Leave a little room inside the foil for air to circulate.
- Carefully slide the wrapped salmon onto the grill. Close the grill and grill the salmon for 14-18 minutes, until the salmon is almost completely cooked through at the thickest part. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your salmon side. If your piece is thinner (around 1-inch thick) check several minutes early to ensure your salmon does not overcook. If your piece is very thick (1 1/2 inches or more), it may need longer.
- Open the grill, and carefully open the foil so that the top of the fish is completely uncovered (be careful of hot steam). Close the grill, and continue grilling until the fish is cooked through completely, about 3 minutes more. Watch the salmon closely to make sure it doesn’t overcook. Remove the salmon from the grill (I like to use the foil to lift it right back on top of the baking sheet). If it still appears a bit underdone, you can wrap the foil back over the top, and let it rest for a few minutes. Do not let it sit too long—salmon can progress from "not done" to "over done" very quickly. As soon as it flakes easily with a fork, it's ready.
- To serve, cut the salmon into portions. Remove the topmost sprigs of dill and discard. Sprinkle with freshly chopped dill and top with an extra squeeze of lemon as desired.
- This recipe is best enjoyed the day that it is made, as salmon usually dries out when reheated. If you have leftover salmon, try serving it room temperature over a salad the next day or flaking and scrambling it with eggs.
- TO MAKE DAIRY FREE: Swap olive oil or the oil of your choice for the unsalted butter.
- TO MAKE WHOLE30/PALEO: Swap olive oil or the oil of your choice for the unsalted butter
- For more tips about how to tell when salmon is done or ideas to vary up this recipe to different tastes, see blog post above.
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