I’ve cooked salmon every which way to Sunday, and Poached Salmon is the quickest, easiest, and sneakily swankiest of them all. It’s simply simmered until it reaches tender perfection—and it’s done in just 15 minutes!
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Why You’ll Love This Poached Salmon in Water Recipe
- Poached to Perfection. Poaching is a method of cooking in which food is submerged in a liquid (water, broth, milk, or white wine) then cooked through gently. Poaching is ideal for foods that are prone to drying out, like eggs and poultry (I use poaching in my post for How to Cook Shredded Chicken). Unlike Pan Seared Salmon or Baked Salmon, poaching uses a lower temperature.
- A Lighter Way to Enjoy Salmon. Poaching is healthy! You don’t need any oil, and your salmon comes out nice and moist.
- Quick, Easy, and Elegant. Poaching sounds pinkies-up fancy, a description I now find amusing since I discovered how simple it is. Poached salmon cooks FAST—we’re talking 3 to 5 minutes for a single fillet. You can make it for a healthy weeknight dinner when you don’t have time for Instant Pot Salmon, but you can also serve poached salmon for a dinner party and get a wow factor with less effort than you need for Salmon Wellington or Stuffed Salmon.
- Fish Without the Odor. Bonus! Poached salmon doesn’t leave any lingering smells in your kitchen, unlike other stovetop fish recipes like Blackened Salmon.
5 Star Review
“I needed cooked salmon for another dish, looked up a poaching method, and found this one! It turned out SO GOOD.”— Caitlin —
How to Make Poached Salmon
- Salmon. Packed with omega-3 fatty acids and lean protein, salmon fillets are both healthy and delicious. I love using a poaching method for salmon because it makes it incredibly tender and moist.
- Water. The easiest, most convenient liquid for poaching salmon.
- White Vinegar. For a little acidity in the poaching liquid.
- Honey. For a touch of sweetness to balance the acid.
- Salt. A few teaspoons salt helps give the poaching liquid (and salmon) flavor.
- Dill. With fresh, almost citrus-like flavor, dill is a delicious addition to this poached salmon.
- Peppercorns. Whole peppercorns add subtle spice to the poaching liquid.
- Bay Leaf. Another subtle ingredient that completes this dish. The bay leaf imparts a freshness and lightness into the poaching liquid that you don’t want to skip.
- Lemon. Use lemon wedges or lemon slices to top off the finished dish.
- Get Started. Whisk vinegar, honey, and salt together in a large pan.
- Add the Salmon. Pour in water next, barely covering the salmon.
- Add Herbs and Spices. Top with the dill, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
- Poach. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then let simmer 2 minutes. Check the salmon for doneness, and cook longer if needed. Remove the salmon to a serving platter. Cover and let rest for a few minutes. Enjoy hot, sprinkled with additional aromatics, then ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate poached salmon in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the fridge.
- To Reheat. Very gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave. Or, skip the reheating and enjoy the leftover salmon cold or at room temperature.
Use leftover poached salmon in this Salmon Salad instead of baking the fish. It makes a simple, delicious lunch, especially on a sandwich or served over a bed of spring greens!
What to Serve with Poached Salmon
- Roasted Vegetables. Roasted veggies are a delicious side dish for poached salmon. Try it with these Oven Roasted Vegetables or Roasted Fingerling Potatoes.
- Grilled Vegetables. Prefer grilled veggies instead? Give Grilled Broccoli, Grilled Asparagus, or Grilled Eggplant a try.
- Rice. Poached salmon with Lemon Rice would be scrumptious.
- Pasta. Pasta al Limone and poached salmon are a perfect match.
- Salad. Serve poached salmon with Arugula Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Sauté Pan. Perfect for making poached salmon.
- Instant Read Thermometer. My #1 choice for checking salmon for doneness.
- Fish Spatula. I love this spatula for fish, veggies, and more.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Make It Your Own. I doctor my poaching liquid up with a little vinegar, honey, and lots of fresh dill. Feel free to experiment with other herbs and flavors like garlic cloves, onions, or leeks.
- Leave the Skin On. The skin helps keep the salmon intact while it poaches. You can easily remove it when the poached salmon is finished cooking.
- Know When It’s Done. Poached salmon cooks FAST so when in doubt, check early. Individual fillets will cook in as few as 3 minutes; a larger fillet will be ready in 15. The best way to know if salmon is done cooking is to use an instant read thermometer like this or this. Salmon is considered cooked at 145 degrees F. I remove mine at 135, then let it rest. The temperature will continue to rise as it sits.
- Remedying Dry Salmon. Your best bet if you overcook salmon is to cover it with a poached salmon sauce. Hollandaise is of course delicious with baked salmon and poached salmon alike. You also can drizzle it with browned butter, or a lemon butter sauce like the one on this Lemon Butter Chicken recipe.
- Fill a saute pan wide enough to hold the salmon in a single layer without overlapping the fillets and tall enough to cover the salmon with water about 1/4 of the way to the top. Add the vinegar, honey, and salt. Whisk to combine.
- Carefully lower the salmon fillets into the pan in a single layer. Add more water so that they are just barely covered.
- Scatter the dill, peppercorns, and bay leaf over the top.
- Bring the water to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Simmer the salmon, adjusting the heat as needed so that you maintain a steady simmer but not a rapid boil. Let cook 2 minutes.
- Check the temperature of the salmon using an instant read thermometer. It should be around 135 to 140 degrees F, no more (fish is considered cooked at 145 degrees F, but the temperature will continue to rise as it rests). If needed, cook it 1 to 2 minutes more. DO NOT overcook or your salmon will be dry.
- With a wide spatula, gently lift the poached salmon out of the water and place it on a plate (discard the poaching liquid). Cover and let rest 4 minutes. Enjoy hot, sprinkled with additional chopped dill, cracked black pepper, and a squeeze of lemon as desired.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate salmon in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Very gently rewarm leftovers in a skillet on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
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