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This salmon marinade recipe makes one perfect piece of fish! Salty, tangy, garlicky and a little sweet, it works any cooking method.

Salmon marinade
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Want to step up your salmon game? This flavor-popping salmon marinade recipe is salty, tangy, garlicky, and a little sweet, making each tender bite positively burst with flavor! It’s made with ingredients that you likely already have on hand, making it extremely easy to whip up. The salmon comes out tender and crisp on top, whether you try it grilled, pan seared, or broiled. Come, experience the magic!

Ingredients in this salmon marinade recipe

There’s no one way to make a salmon marinade: you can use anything from lemon and olive oil to teriyaki to brown sugar. This marinade recipe uses a mixture of soy sauce, oil, vinegar, and seasonings to infuse big flavor into the tender fillets. True to form, we kept things relatively simple (since we wrote the book on simple cooking!). All you’ll need are pantry and refrigerator ingredients that are on-hand in most kitchens. The ingredients in this salmon marinade are:

  • Soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Rice vinegar
  • Brown sugar
  • Mustard powder
  • Garlic
  • Hot sauce
  • Salt
Salmon marinade recipe

How to marinate salmon

There are a few tips for how to marinate salmon, no matter what ingredients you’re using! Here are a few things to know:

  • Place the salmon in shallow dish, then pour in the marinade mixture. The recipe below makes about ¾ cup marinade which works for 1 pound of salmon.
  • Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. You also can allow the salmon to marinate for up to 3 hours refrigerated. If you do, allow it to stand at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking.
  • Tap off excess marinade and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Removing excess marinade is important if you’re pan searing so the pan won’t spit (it’s not as necessary for grilling, since excess marinade can fall between the grates).
  • Cook using your favorite cooking method. Broil, pan sear, or grill the salmon.

3 ways to cook salmon

Once you’ve got that salmon marinated, it’s time to cook! Interestingly, we’re not huge fans of baked salmon: it often turns out soft and even mushy. We prefer salmon with a nice crispy top! The best methods? Here are links to our favorite ways to cook salmon:

  • Pan seared: Go to Easy Pan Seared Salmon. This method is fast and easy, and gets a beautiful browned top. Some drawbacks? It’s a little messy, and you have to adjust the temperature to make sure the salmon gets fully cooked. But done correctly, it’s perfection! (It’s what’s pictured in the photographs.)
  • Broiled: Go to Quick Broiled Salmon. Broiling is perfect for salmon because it both cooks it through quickly and gives it a nice browned top. Just make sure to keep an eye on it because it cooks fast!
  • Grilled: Go to Easy Grilled Salmon or Grilled Marinated Salmon. This is a favorite method because it’s easy and the grill infuses delightfully smoky flavor. The only drawback? It’s not always grilling season. But when it is, this one is tops.

Another option is making baked marinated salmon. Bake the salmon according to this recipe, then broil the top for the last 2 minutes to get it crispy and browned. However, we prefer broiling for the entire recipe because it’s quicker and you can skip the preheat time.

Marinade for salmon

How to know when salmon is done

The best way to know when this marinaded salmon is done is with a food thermometer, which gets a precise reading on whether it’s cooked. Salmon comes in many different thicknesses. No two pieces of fish are alike, so the exact timing varies every time you cook it. Here’s a rule of thumb:

  • The internal temperature should measure 125 to 130°F in the center for medium cooked salmon. If you prefer medium rare, you can stop cooking at 120°F. Make sure you insert the probe into the thickest spot. 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, flake it with a fork to assess doneness. Cook the fish until the salmon just starts to flake when pricked with a fork.
  • Either way, be careful not to overcook. There’s nothing worse than a dry piece of fish. Keep an eye on it and don’t overdo it!

Type of salmon to buy

This salmon marinade is best with a high-quality piece of salmon. Low quality fillets can taste fishy and have a mushy texture. They can also ooze the “white stuff” (called albumin) when cooked. It’s not harmful, but it doesn’t look appetizing! Here’s what to know when shopping for salmon:

  • Find 1 to 1 1/2-inch thick fillets. Thick pieces of salmon are perfect for this marinade; you might find it labeled center cut at the store. The recipe also works with thinner fillets.
  • Look for wild caught salmon. Fish that is wild caught in your country is usually a sustainable choice. (There are also quality options in well-regulated farms; see Seafood Watch Consumer Guide.)
  • Buy fresh salmon. Salmon that’s fresh from the fish counter usually has the best flavor. Frozen can work too, but try to find highest-quality frozen salmon. Avoid big economy-sized bags, which is generally thinner and can have a fishy flavor.

Sides for salmon

We hope you love this salmon marinade recipe: it makes a simple meal out of any piece of fish! Here are a few easy sides for salmon to pair with this recipe:

This salmon marinade recipe is…

Gluten-free and dairy-free.

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Salmon marinade

Easy Salmon Marinade


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: Varies
  • Total Time: 4

Description

This salmon marinade recipe makes one perfect piece of fish! Salty, tangy, garlicky and a little sweet, it works any cooking method.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 4-ounce salmon fillets*, skin on (wild caught if possible)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, olive oil, water, rice vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, and grated garlic.
  2. Place the salmon in a large dish or container skin side up, and pour in the marinade. Marinade for at least 30 minutes at room temperature (or up to 3 hours refrigerated; if so, allow to sit at room temperature 30 minutes before cooking).
  3. After marinating, place the salmon on a baking sheet, making sure to tap off excess marinade before cooking if you are pan searing. Brush it liberally with the marinade if you are grilling, then discard the remaining marinade. Sprinkle with the kosher salt (split between the fillets) and fresh ground pepper.
  4. Cook the salmon using one of the following methods: pan seared salmon (pictured; watch out for spitting of the marinade), broiled salmon, or grilled salmon.
  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Sauce
  • Diet: Vegan

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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1 Comment

  1. Melissa Meacham says:

    This looks delicious and so versatile! I wanted to alert you to a typo so it could be fixed straight away. I clicked on the link to this recipe from your newest post about the salmon rice crunch bowl and the word “marinaded” is misspelled. As a verb, it is spelled “marinated” (easy to confuse). Have a great day!