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Grilled Whole Salmon

Grilled Whole Salmon
Wild caught Coho, sockeye, and pink salmon are all great on the grill, but the species range in size and are seasonal, so consider the number of guests when picking a fish and most of all be flexible. Ask the fishmonger for advice! Account for about 3/4 lb whole fish per adult. Coho and sockeye tend to be larger fish and are great for a crowd. Pink salmon is small and perfect for an intimate date night or a small gathering. This recipe serves eight guests, so we recommend using a 6 lb wild caught coho or sockeye salmon. That said, the principles are the same for grilling smaller or larger fish; simply adjust the cook time using the "rule of thumb." The "rule of thumb" method is to cook fish 10 minutes per 1 inch of thickness. Measure the fish through the thickest part of the piece, multiply that by 10, and you've got your cooking time.
  • Serving Size


  • Cook Time

    40 minutes

  • Total Time

    1 hour


  • 1 whole wild caught salmon (around 6 lb for eight guests), dressed

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 small bunch of fresh parsley or dill, rinsed

  • 1 bulb fennel with fronds, washed and thinly sliced

  • Olive oil

  • Lemon wedges


  1. Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.
  2. Rinse the whole salmon inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place salmon on a large platter or baking sheet.
  3. Make three to four angled cuts or slits into the salmon along both sides, about 3/4 inch deep. Be sure not to cut all the way through. The slits are used to create an opening from the outside of the fish to better season it.
  4. Liberally season the cavity of the fish, the slits, and the skin with salt and pepper.
  5. Stuff the cavity with sliced fennel bulb, fennel fronds, lemon, parsley, dill, or a combination of the two.
  6. Tie the fish closed with butcher twine in 3-4 spots to help hold the aromatics in, then brush the fish with olive oil.
  7. Place the fish directly on the grill. If you feel nervous about putting the fish directly on the grill, lightly wrap the salmon in one layer of aluminum foil, and poke a few holes in the foil so it can take on some of the smoky flavors of the grill.
  8. Close the grill cover and make sure the vents are open if using charcoal. Once the skin is browned on the first side, about 20 minutes, use 2 spatulas (a friend can help too) to loosen the skin from the grate and carefully turn it over.
  9. Continue cooking until the fish is cooked through. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145°F.
  10. Remove the fish from the grill onto a platter and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before serving. 
  11. Remove the butcher's twine and the flesh will easily pull away from the bones. Serve with lemon wedges. Optional: Complement this dish with a homemade tartar sauce or an herb salsa verde.
Dinner Grilled Seafood