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How to know when salmon is done and fully cooked? This guide and timing chart provide a foolproof reference for multiple salmon cooking methods!

How to know when salmon is done

Cooking salmon and not sure how to tell when it’s done? This fish can be tricky to cook perfectly: undercook it and it’s rare on the inside, or go to far and it’s dry and chewy. Salmon comes in different varieties and thicknesses, and each of them cook differently! Here’s how to tell when salmon is done, and a handy cook time chart for the most popular ways to cook this fish.

How to know when salmon is done

How to tell when salmon is done? A food thermometer is the best way to get a precise reading on whether fish and meat are cooked. There are several varieties of salmon (Coho, Atlantic, King, etc.) that come in different thicknesses, so each piece will cook differently. No two pieces of fish are alike, so the exact timing will vary every time you cook it. Here’s how to know when salmon is done:

  • Salmon is done when the internal temperature measures 125 to 130°F at the thickest point for medium cooked salmon. For medium rare, you can stop cooking at 120°F. The fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. To ensure full safety, the FDA recommended temperature for seafood is 145°F or well done.
  • Or, salmon is done when it flakes when pricked with a fork. If you don’t have a food thermometer, you can use visual cues. Cook the fish until the salmon just starts to flake when gently pricked with a fork (the pieces of flesh separate easily).
  • Either way, be careful not to overcook. There’s nothing worse than a dry piece of fish. We prefer our salmon cooked to medium. Keep an eye on it and don’t go too far.

Time table for cooking salmon

There are several methods for how to cook salmon, like seared, baked, broiled, poached, and grilled. Every piece of salmon is a different type and thickness, so the timing will range every time you cook it. Here are the approximate cook times for these methods:

Salmon Cooking MethodCook Time (depends on thickness)
Pan Seared Salmon4 to 8 minutes on medium high heat
(2 to 3 minutes skin side up, then flip for 2 to 5 minutes more)
Baked Salmon10 to 16 minutes at 400°F
Broiled Salmon4 to 5 minutes for very thin, or 7 to 10 minutes for 1-inch thick salmon
Grilled Salmon7 minutes on medium high heat (375 to 450°F)
(5 minutes skin side down, then flip for 2 minutes more)
Poached Salmon7 to 10 minutes

More salmon recipes

Cooking up your salmon using a favorite recipe? Here are a few more salmon recipes to make with this popular fish:

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Pan seared salmon

Pan Seared Salmon

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Here’s how to make pan seared salmon! It’s an easy way to cook it up in a flash, and the pan fried flavor is unbeatable.


  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on (wild caught if possible)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for brining
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus one drizzle
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus a few lemon wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (if desired)
  • Optional seasonings: Blackened Seasoning or Magic Salmon Seasoning


  1. Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Rub it generously with oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt and generous grinds of fresh ground pepper. (Optional: Use 1/2 kosher salt and season with 2 tablespoons Blackened Seasoning or Magic Salmon Seasoning.)
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When butter is melted, add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about halfway to center of thick part of salmon.
  3. Reduce to medium heat and flip the salmon (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then drizzle with the lemon juice and add the minced garlic. Continuously baste the salmon by spooning the garlic butter over the salmon and cook and additional 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130°F in the center when removed).
  4. Remove from the heat. Spritz with juice from a few additional lemon wedges and  chopped fresh parsley (if using) and serve.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Seared
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: How to know when salmon is done, how to tell when salmon is done

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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