Salmon is one of the most popular fish in America, and for good reason. The fish can be readily found all over the country and has a pleasantly fatty texture and a flavor that is robust but not overly fishy. Salmon is also extremely versatile. It can be pan-seared, poached, broiled, or served raw. Depending on your mood, it can be seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper or aggressively sauced without getting lost. To show you what I mean, I’ve rounded up 15 of our favorite salmon recipes—basic seared fillets, poached salmon with dill-yogurt sauce, salmon burgers, and more.
If you only learn one salmon-cooking technique, this should be it. Pan-searing is an easy way to prepare salmon with tender flesh and crispy skin. The key is starting the fish skin-side down and cooking it almost entirely that way—the skin protects the fish from overcooking.
After mastering a basic pan-seared salmon fillet you can start thinking about what to serve it with. Here we pair the fish with curried leeks and a creamy yogurt sauce. This is a slight variation on the previous technique—we sear the salmon just long enough to crisp the skin and then finish it in the oven on top of the leeks.
Good salmon is expensive, and if you want to be sure you don’t mess it up, then sous vide is the way to go. Going with sous vide also gives you the opportunity to play with textures you won’t get in a pan. Sous vide salmon is particularly good chilled, but you can also finish it in a pan, crisp up the skin, and serve it hot.
Baking salmon is appealing because it is easier than using the stovetop, but without high heat, you won’t sear the surface of the fish appropriately. The broiler has higher heat, though, so it’s a great hands-off alternative to pan-cooking. Here we use the broiler to cook skinless salmon fillets insulated with a layer of chili-lime mayo.
We use the same technique here, this time flavoring the mayonnaise with dill. We serve the salmon on a bed of “dilly beans”—blistered green beans pickled with dill, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
The key to perfect poached salmon is to start it in cold water—cold-start poaching is just as fast as conventional poaching, but it cooks the fish more evenly. Here we poach the salmon in court bouillon and serve it simply with a dill-yogurt sauce. This dish tastes equally delicious warm, room temperature, or chilled.
Poached salmon has a light, clean flavor and delicate texture—perfect for flaking and mixing with other ingredients. This hearty salad pairs the salmon with plump cranberry beans and peppery arugula. Mix everything besides the salmon thoroughly first and then gently incorporate the fish at the end, so that it doesn’t break up too much.
As easy as it is elegant, salmon rillettes is a French spread made by folding poached and shredded salmon with mayo, cooked shallots, chives, and spices. You want to use fatty pieces of fillet, which means you’re probably best with farm-raised salmon.
Salmon isn’t a traditional Hawaiian fish, but we love it in poke anyway. The fatty, robust fish can stand up to hearty mix-ins, so in this recipe, we pair it with sweet onion, scallions, sesame seeds, and crunchy macadamia nuts. A more delicate poke is best on its own, but we like this one over rice.
Looking for a more affordable alternative to lox? Gravlax—Scandinavian dill-flavored cured salmon—can be made at home for the price of a good salmon fillet. All you have to do is cure the fish for a couple days in a mixture of salt, sugar, ground caraway and coriander seeds, and pepper. We like to serve gravlax with a mustard-dill sauce that is less sweet than the traditional one.
We keep running with the combination of fatty salmon, grassy dill, and tangy mustard for this warm couscous salad. Wilting some spinach into the salad gives the dish a little extra bulk. This tastes as good chilled as it does fresh, so make enough to take leftovers to work the next day.
Americans are familiar with Japanese lunch and dinner staples like ramen, teriyaki, and, of course, sushi, but breakfast is a little more obscure. One common part of a Japanese breakfast is shiozake, or salted salmon. Making real shiozake is an intricate process, but this simple curing recipe will get you close.
If you have a batch of teriyaki sauce in the fridge (you do keep homemade teriyaki on hand, right?), then you’re just a few minutes away from these glazed-salmon rice bowls. We start the salmon hot to crisp up the skin, turn down the heat to cook it evenly, and serve over rice with avocado, cucumber, and scallions.
We have several kinds of salmon burger in our arsenal, but if you’re just going to make one, this is it. We hand-chop the salmon and coat it in breadcrumbs—to give the burgers some crunch and protect the fish from overcooking—and serve with a creamy rémoulade sauce and a fresh fennel-radicchio slaw.
Beautiful fillets of salmon aren’t in my budget most of the time, so I’m always looking for more affordable options. Salmon chowder is a great way to use up the scraps that can be found for a bargain at many fishmongers. If we were making salmon chowder in a restaurant, we’d start with a homemade fish stock, but at home a splash of clam juice is an acceptable alternative.
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