Grilling Salmon on a Charcoal Grill

grilling salmon on charcoal grill

Salmon has a light texture and mild flavor which pairs well with many different flavors. Use a rub or seasonings that complement the salmon.

Grilled salmon is a healthy and easy meal to prepare. Use a thermometer to check the salmon for doneness. If the fillet is not opaque throughout, remove it from the grill immediately.


You can grill salmon indoors on a gas or charcoal grill or outdoors on a traditional charcoal grill. If using a traditional grill, make sure it’s clean and lightly greased to prevent the salmon from sticking. To get the most flavor, marinate the fish in a simple mixture of fat and acid in a 3:1 ratio with salt and an aromatic. Ina Garten’s Asian Grilled Salmon, for example, has hundreds of five-star reviews and uses olive oil (the fat), Dijon mustard (the acid), soy sauce (the salt) and garlic (the aromatic).

If you are using fillets with skin, cook them skin side down over the hot zone of the grill to develop a crisp crust without overcooking. When the skin turns opaque, flip and cook on the other side for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on thickness, until the fish reaches an internal temperature of about 130 to 125 degrees F as measured with an instant read thermometer.


When grilling salmon, it is important not to overcook the fillets. Overcooked fish can become dry and tough. Using an instant-read thermometer will help you achieve perfectly moist and tender fillets every time.

We also recommend brining the salmon before you grill it. It gives the salmon a richer, more flavorful texture, and it is also very easy to do.

You can use any kind of citrus juice to brine salmon, but I prefer lemon juice because it pairs well with fish. If you don’t have any fresh herbs, try substituting with a little bit of dried dill or parsley.

When grilling salmon, it is best to cook it with the skin side down until grill marks appear and the fish easily releases from the grates. Then, turn the fillets over to cook with the skin side up. This will give you a nice, crispy crust while the heat transfers up through the fish to create a juicy texture.


Grilling salmon over a charcoal grill with a light coating of oil produces a flavorful entree that is healthy and easy to prepare. The salmon is quickly cooked and can be paired with a variety of dishes, including grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes.

Before grilling, rinse the salmon filets and pat dry with paper towels. Brush the salmon with a neutral cooking oil, such as vegetable or olive, to prevent sticking on the grates.

Build a two-zone fire, placing the coals in one area of the grill and placing a pan filled with water on the cool side of the grill to create an indirect heat zone for smoking. Place the salmon skin-side down on the cooler side of the grill, close the lid and smoke until it flakes easily when pierced with a fork.

Remove the salmon from the grill and serve with lemon slices or a sprinkle of fresh herbs. This smoked salmon recipe is simple and quick, making it an ideal dinner entree for busy weeknights.

Cooking Time

The length of time needed to grill salmon depends on the thickness. A 1-inch fillet will cook to a medium done-ness in about six minutes per side, and it should flake when pierced with a fork. A thicker steak may take longer.

Build a two-zone fire using Kingsford charcoal with applewood, and allow it to preheat for 3-5 minutes. Oil the grates of your grill with a few drops of vegetable oil, or dip crumpled paper towels in a little oil and wipe the grates to prevent sticking.

Gently place the salmon SKIN-SIDE DOWN on the oiled grill grates for gorgeous, caramelized grill marks, and to prevent the skin from burning. Cook for 3 to 6 minutes over indirect heat (covered) and check for doneness by inserting an instant-read thermometer into the center of a thick section of the fillet, or by gently squeezing the flesh to see if it becomes opaque.

Use fresh lemon juice for the best flavor, or bottled juice in a pinch. Wholesome Yum Zero Sugar maple syrup is the healthy choice if you have it, but regular cane sugar works well too.