Cooking Salmon on a Pellet Grill

Salmon is currently in season, and tonight, you have the perfect opportunity to whip up a delectable Grilled Traeger Salmon for dinner!

Grilled Traeger Salmon

With just a few ingredients, you can create a mouthwatering seafood dish that your whole family will adore. Imagine savoring a flavorful and expertly cooked salmon right off the grill. This Traeger Grilled Salmon is the ideal option for a light and savory dinner any day of the week.

In the Pacific Northwest, salmon is fresh and abundant during this time of year. As avid fishermen, catching salmon exemplifies the quintessential Pacific Northwest experience.

Grilling is, without a doubt, the finest way to prepare salmon in my opinion. And for this, we absolutely adore using our pellet grills. The use of woodfire adds a distinct element that truly enhances the final result.

Fresh or Frozen Salmon?

When it comes to salmon, fresh is always the way to go. However, if you happen to have high-quality, vacuum-sealed frozen salmon, it won’t significantly affect the outcome. In fact, we always keep a stash of frozen salmon in our freezer, and the salmon we caught last season tastes just as incredible as when we first reeled it in.

Whatever you do, try to avoid farm-raised salmon if possible. It falls short in terms of quality compared to the wild-caught variety.

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What Types of Pacific Salmon Are There?

Pacific salmon encompasses numerous species, but for our purposes, let’s focus on my personal favorite species.

King (Chinook) Salmon

As the largest among all the Pacific Salmon, King salmon is highly sought-after due to its rich, fatty fillets. We find King Salmon perfect for smoking and grilling, and we have an array of smoked salmon recipes on our website that you’ll absolutely love! King salmon boasts the boldest flavor among the Pacific species. Even if you claim to “hate salmon,” ocean-caught Kings could easily change your opinion. Most people who dislike salmon have only tried the inferior quality farm-raised Atlantic salmon, which doesn’t compare to what we’re discussing here. Fun fact: distinguishing between Chinook and Silver (Coho) salmon can be tricky, but one telltale sign is the color of their gums. King salmon has black gums, while Silver salmon has pink gums.

Silver (Coho) Salmon

Among the various salmon species, Coho salmon, also known as Silvers, reigns supreme as our personal favorite. Its flavor is milder compared to King salmon, making it suitable for various preparations. We’ve even savored it raw in a delicious Salmon Miso Poke Bowl.

How to Prevent Salmon from Sticking to the Grill

Many individuals struggle with salmon sticking to the grates of their grill, especially since it is a delicate fish. However, fear not, for I have a secret weapon in my arsenal: non-stick foil. This lifesaver allows you to protect the delicate flesh of your fish while ensuring thorough cooking. No longer will you have to worry about the fish sticking to the grates, and it will still absorb the delightful smoky aromas from your Traeger grill.

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Another crucial tip is to remember that salmon, like all fish, cooks rather quickly. Therefore, make sure you’re fully prepared before you start grilling. Have your aluminum foil, fish seasoning, and all necessary grilling supplies within reach. You wouldn’t want to find yourself scrambling for tongs while your fish overcooks. Prioritize a quick cook time, and your salmon will turn out superbly.

How Long Does it Take to Cook Salmon on a Pellet Grill?

The cooking time for salmon on a pellet grill depends on the size of the fillet and your desired level of doneness. On average, a one-inch-thick fillet will require approximately 8 minutes at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. For every half inch of thickness, add an extra 4-6 minutes of cooking time at the same temperature. Following this timeframe will yield a medium to medium-well doneness. The USDA recommends a minimum internal temperature of 140-145 degrees for fish.

However, let me share a little secret: we rarely cook our wild-caught salmon to an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Our preferred temperature hovers around 125-130 degrees. It’s also important to note that our pellet grill doesn’t typically reach a temperature of 500 degrees. We usually cook our salmon at around 400-425 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you plan to cook your salmon on a plank, remember to preheat the pre-soaked plank for approximately 5 minutes, or until you see it smoke or hear a crackling sound. Gently place your salmon on the plank and cook it for 12-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fillets. Cooking on a plank will extend the cooking time slightly. For a comprehensive recipe on cedar-plank salmon, take a look here.

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Should You Flip Salmon While it is Cooking?

No, flipping salmon is not necessary. If you have a grill that distributes heat evenly, simply lay the salmon down, and it will cook through in approximately 8 minutes, give or take, depending on its thickness. Many individuals appreciate the fact that you don’t have to flip the fish during the cooking process, as it is a delicate species that can easily fall apart or stick to the grill.

How Can You Tell if Your Fish is Done?

Determining the doneness of cooked salmon can initially pose a challenge. However, there are a few easy ways to tell. First, when you take a fork and gently prod the fish, it should flake apart effortlessly.

Some people may argue that it is overcooked at this point, but rest assured, your fish is perfectly done. Additionally, you can examine the color of the flesh. Initially, the raw salmon appears reddish, but as it cooks, it transitions to a delightful pink hue throughout. To be absolutely sure, use a knife to check the center of the fish. It should be cooked through and exhibit a pinkish color rather than red.

If you prefer a more foolproof method, employ a food thermometer and ensure that the internal temperature reaches a range of 140-145 degrees.

Now that you’re armed with these valuable tips, go ahead and enjoy your grilled Traeger salmon, courtesy of Hook’d Up Bar and Grill!

Cooking Salmon on a Pellet Grill