How to know when salmon is done? Here’s how to tell! Plus, reference this timing chart for salmon cooking methods.

How to tell when salmon is done

Cooking salmon and not sure how to tell when it’s done? This fish can be tricky to cook perfectly. Not enough cook time and it’s raw on the inside, but go to far and it’s dry and mealy. There are lots of different thicknesses and varieties of salmon: all of them cook differently! Here’s how to tell when salmon is done, and a handy cook time chat for the most popular ways to cook this tasty fish.

How to know when salmon is done

How to tell when salmon is done? There are a few methods to do so. Spoiler alert: we suggest that you buy a food thermometer! It’s the best way to get a precise reading on whether it’s cooked. Keep in mind: there are many types of salmon (Coho, Atlantic, King, etc.) that come in many different thicknesses, so each piece will cook differently. No two pieces of fish are alike, so the exact timing will vary every time you cook it. Here’s how to know when salmon is done:

  • Best way: use a food thermometer! The internal temperature should measure 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the center for medium cooked salmon. The internal temperature should measure 125 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the center for medium cooked salmon. If you prefer medium rare, you can stop cooking at 120 degrees. Make sure you insert the probe into the thickest spot. The fish will continue to cook after you remove it from the heat. To ensure full safety, the FDA recommended temperature for seafood is 145 degrees, or well done.
  • Alternate: flake with a fork. Cook the fish until the salmon just starts to flake when pricked with a fork.
  • Either way, be careful not to overcook. There’s nothing worse than a dry piece of fish. We prefer our salmon cooked to medium. Keep an eye on it and don’t overdo it!

Time table for cooking salmon

There are several popular methods for how to cook salmon: our favorite ways are seared, baked, broiled and grilled. Every piece of salmon is a different type and thickness, so the timing will range every time you cook it. But for what it’s worth, here are the approximate cook times for these methods:

Salmon Cooking MethodCook Time (depends on thickness)
Pan Seared Salmon4 to 8 minutes on medium high heat
(2 to 3 minutes skin side up, then flip for 2 to 5 minutes more)
Baked Salmon13 to 16 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit
Broiled Salmon4 to 5 minutes for very thin, or 7 to 10 minutes for 1-inch thick salmon
Grilled Salmon7 minutes on medium high heat (375 to 450 degrees)
(5 minutes skin side down, then flip for 2 minutes more)
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
How to tell when salmon is done

Pan Seared Salmon

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Here’s how to make pan seared salmon! It’s an easy way to cook it up in a flash, and the pan fried flavor is unbeatable.


  • 1 pound salmon fillets, skin on (wild caught if possible)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for brining
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil for dairy free)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus one drizzle
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus a few lemon wedges
  • Optional seasonings: Blackened Seasoning or Magic Salmon Seasoning


  1. Brine the salmon* (optional): In a large shallow dish, whisk together 4 cups room temperature water and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until dissolved. Place the salmon in the water and wait for 15 minutes.
  2. Pat the salmon dry with a clean towel. Rub it generously with oil and sprinkle it with the kosher salt and generous grinds of fresh ground pepper. (Optional: Use 1/2 kosher salt and season with 2 tablespoons Blackened Seasoning or Magic Salmon Seasoning.)
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the butter and olive oil. When butter is melted, add the salmon skin side up and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until cooked about ½ way to center of thick part of salmon.
  4. Flip the salmon (a fish spatula makes easy work of it). Tilt the pan down slightly and quickly spoon the pan juices over the top of the fish a few times. Drizzle with the lemon juice and spoon the pan juices a few times again. Cook for 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness, until just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130 Fahrenheit in the center when removed). Remove from the heat. Spritz with juice from a few lemon wedges and serve.


*Brining is optional: it’s most important for lower quality salmon. Either way, you’ll need to bring your salmon to room temperature before cooking, so it’s just as easy to do the brining step (it helps with seasoning and moistness).

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Seared
  • Cuisine: Seafood
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Keywords: How to know when salmon is done, how to tell when salmon is done

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.