Follow these easy grilling tips for the best simple smoked salmon recipe that’s about to become your new favorite healthy summertime dinner.
There may not be another summertime recipe that hits our grill more often than this one, and that alone has made my husband the master of his Domaine: cooking salmon on the grill.
My main man GDawg (aka my husband) has years of experience perfecting the recipe for grilling a simple, bare-bones salmon. Although to be honest, it isn’t as much a recipe as it is a method. Either which way, this smoked salmon truly is the best because it’s easy, fast, healthy, and flavorful.
The Best Salmon for Grilling
This recipe for grilled salmon doesn’t call for fancy marinades or mercurial methods. All that’s needed is quality ingredients and a hot grill.
The main question asked is which salmon is best?
I prefer wild-caught salmon because it has more flavor, but if you’re dealing with eaters who are mild fish fans, a quality farm-raised salmon will have a more mellow flavor. Like any protein, higher fat fish yields a more buttery bite. Salmon caught in the wild have to work harder than farm-raised, so they tend to be leaner and more fish-like in taste.
The only other ingredients needed are a quality oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grape seed oil for it’s high smoke point, or an extra virgin olive oil, will both work well.
How to Master the Charcoal Grill
Gas grills are popular for their convenience and ease in heat control, but a charcoal grill is where you’ll really find that smokey flavor and aroma that makes the neighbor’s noses twitch with envy, wishing they were invited over for dinner.
Weber’s kettle BBQ grills have come a long way from the classic Weber everyone knows of. Our Weber Performer Premium Charcoal Grill comes with a heavy-duty steel cart, side table, propane starter, built-in thermometer, LCD timer, and a handy bin attached underneath the cart to keep charcoal within reach but out of the elements.
My favorite part is the tuck-away lid-holder so there’s a place to set the hot lid other than the ground. After cooking, cleaning up is easy in just one-step with the removable charcoal ash bin underneath the kettle.
This Weber charcoal grill also boasts a hinged, removable center cooking ring to set the charcoal starter directly inside the kettle (no stinky charcoal fluid needed!) and accommodates other Weber cooking components like a BBQ pizza stone, BBQ griddle, or a wok.
How to Grill Salmon
Choose your charcoal fuel. I like all-natural briquettes made from pure hardwoods but shaped in the familiar pillow shape, that burn at a higher temperature and have none of the questionable fillers or binders. From hardwood to lump charcoal or briquettes, there are many types of charcoal available these days and each imparts a different flavor and ease in lighting—and lasting. Briquettes now come in a variety of flavors that emulate hardwood flavors like cherry or oak, hickory, mesquite, and more.
No lighter fluid required. Avoid using charcoal fluid and it’s chemical taste. Instead, use a charcoal chimney starter with a few wadded up pieces of newspaper at the bottom then top with briquettes. Light the newspaper and watch as the fire and heat rise to start the briquettes naturally. Once the briquettes are lightly covered with white ash, use barbecue mitts to empty the chimney starter and distribute the briquette coals on the bottom rack of the kettle.
TIME TIP: Plan on about 20 minutes for the charcoal to be grill ready.
Preheat the grill. Once the coals are in place, top with the lid and preheat the grill grates for about 10 minutes so the temperature will rise, just like you would when preheating the oven.
Grill the salmon on a 450°-500° F hot grill. A smoking hot grill is the number one way to ensure success when grilling fish. Hot grates ensure the fish (or any other protein) won’t stick to the grates and will lift easily away once it’s cooked skin-side down, for about 6-8 minutes.