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What Temperature To Cook Salmon?

Norah Clark
Cooked salmon on a plate.

To ensure your salmon is safe to eat, it is recommended that the salmon internal temp is between 110-145 degF. There’s no easy answer to what temperature it is recommended to cook salmon because there are various things to consider.

Salmon is among the most delicious and nutritious fish available. The process to cook it perfectly isn’t always clear as every other recipe recommends an alternate time and temperature for cooking it.

Today we’ll go through an in-depth review of the process of cooking salmon. This includes choosing the proper species and cutting them into pieces, how determining the temperature, and cooking the salmon using the three most effective methods.

Don’t waste another second researching since I’ve compiled the most comprehensive guide for cooking salmon.

Choosing The Best Salmon

It’s not as easy to choose salmon as it was in the past. Nowadays, there are various choices, ranging from fresh, wild, farmed, and frozen, and various cuts and species – what’s the difference, and what should you pick?

Let’s look at the various aspects to consider when purchasing salmon.

Salmon Species

The salmon species doesn’t alter cooking methods or cooking times, however, the way it was raised and cooked well.

Do not purchase salmon that is listed on the endangered species (red) list. This includes Sockeye, Rock, or Cape salmon.

Certain varieties of Atlantic salmon (Norwegian, Scottish, and Alaskan) are becoming popular because of other species becoming red-listed and mostly today, being added to the list of yellow species.

Why do we need to mention the species if it does not impact the cooking? Yes, it does, since all threatened varieties are salmon that have been caught wild.

If you come across packaging that states “wild” or “free-range” or “line-caught” salmon, be certain to verify the species listed on the package that is mandated by law. If they don’t mention any species, you shouldn’t buy it.

Wild Caught Vs Farmed

The purchase of farmed salmon isn’t an option, but wild salmon can have the most authentic flavor and a smoother texture. It is dependent on how farm-raised salmon was raised and whether it was raised in a sustainable way.

Make sure you purchase sustainably farmed or wild salmon to help protect the species.

Wild Salmon Free-range Salmon
Definition In open oceans, caught through nets or lines typically in the Pacific ocean. Raised and bred in a closed aquaculture system across different regions around the globe
Texture A firm and smoky Soft and buttery
Accessibility From late spring through early fall All-year-round

The type of wild or farmed fish on your hands is a crucial element since it will affect the internal temperature of the fish to which you can cook the salmon.

Fresh Vs Frozen

The salmon can also be purchased fresh or frozen, dependent on where you’re in. Fresh salmon should appear smooth, moist, and without any blemishes or smells. It should have a more fresh taste (if it’s fresh) and also have a more pleasant texture.

Read also: What does salmon taste like?

Sometimes, frozen salmon is more delicious than fresh and is therefore acceptable if it’s your preferred choice. But, take a look at the label, and make sure it says that the fish has been flash-frozen right following harvest.

Sealing salmon with a vacuum is a method to keep fresh cuts fresh without needing to freeze the salmon. Make sure that the salmon be completely defrosted before the cooking process starts, which is why you must incorporate it into your cooking timeframe.

The FDA strongly recommends that you thaw frozen seafood overnight in the refrigerator.

If you’re short on time, put the frozen salmon in a resealable plastic bag, and then soak the bag in cold water however, the salmon must be cooked right away afterward.

Salmon Cuts

Apart from purchasing the whole salmon, numerous cuts are available. Cuts will impact the cooking time, however, the temperature guidelines for internal temperatures must be followed with no the slightest deviation.

The cut is generally an indication of the dish you’re cooking and the preparation and cooking method.

Here are a few of the most commonly used cuts you’ll discover in salmon. There are other cuts you can make from these pieces or fillet a whole fish.

Cut What exactly is it? Size The best cooking techniques
Complete side Single fillet 4 to 5 4 lbs (1.8-2.2 kg) Roasting, curing
Fillets for individuals One serving cut from the whole filet 6-8 oz. (170-230 g) Poaching, roasting, pan-searing Grilling, smoking, roasting
Steaks One piece of material cut perpendicular to the spine 8-10 oz. (230-280g) Pan-searing
Belly The lower section of the whole fillet There are many variations Poaching, slow roasting, and pan-searing
Loin Whole fillet portion with flesh and fat There are many variations Roasting, pan-searing and grilling or smoking

Before cooking salmon, remove all pin-bones, and then scale and wrap the fillet. It may be beneficial to purchase the use of bone pliers for fish to make the job much easier.

If your fish isn’t divided, make it so according to the cut size you want. Parting your fish is good since you can pick exactly what size, shape, and length you desire.

The FDA suggests cooking seafood to 145 degrees F, however, what you’ll end up with, is an uncooked piece of fish. You can’t compare all kinds of fish to one another or expect that they will turn out exactly the same.

The salmon you cook at the low temperatures listed above will not cause any risk and will give you succulent and delicious pieces of fish.

What internal temperature should salmon be?

Medium-Rare Medium Very Well Done
Fahrenheit 110degF-115degF 120degF-125degF 145degF
Celsius 43.3degC-46.1degC 48.9degC-51.6degC 62.7degC

The salmon that is raised in the wild is best cooked when it has reached the internal temperature of 120degF. The flesh of the salmon will be firm but smooth and soft.

Wild salmon should simmer until it reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F.

If wild salmon is cooked at a higher temperature, it will become dry. This is due to the fact that wild salmon is rich in connective tissue and collagen. The muscle fibers contract less when temperatures are at 120°F and will retain more moisture.

Wild salmon is also a good source of lower levels of fat than farmed and thus contains less fat for juice and lubrication.

How To Determine The Temperature of Salmon

Before we go over ways to prepare salmon you must know how to monitor the temperature correctly.

The most efficient and effective method to determine whether the salmon is cooked to a safe temperature is using the temperature gauge for food.

The skewer is fixed at the front, which is put into the food product. The temperature is determined from the point of the skewer.

Tips to determine into consideration the temperature of salmon:

  • It is crucial to put the point in the middle of the largest section of the cut, otherwise, the reading could be incorrect.
  • The skewer should not penetrate the fish through the entire.
  • Check that the skewer is free of any dirt prior to placing it in the fish to avoid contamination.
  • Don’t use an infrared thermometer because it will only measure the temperature of the surface.

When To Take Salmon Off The Heat

This is an essential element in cooking your salmon, which many people do not think about: the resting of your salmon.

If you make the cut or fillet from the oven it will continue to cook by using the heat inside. It means that the temperatures of the cut increase even after you have removed it from the heating.

It is expected to fluctuate between 10 and 15 degF. Therefore, it’s vital to remove the salmon prior to it reaches the ideal temperature for internal cooking which is when it’s undercooked.

Set it on a plate that is covered loosely by plastic wrap or foil then let it sit for five minutes before determining the temperature of the inside.

When to remove salmon from the heat

Medium-rare Medium Well done
Cooking Temperature 100degF – 110degF 110degF – 115degF 135degF
Take it off when 110degF – 115degF 120degF – 125degF 145degF

The reason we should place salmon in a refrigerator (or any other food item) prior to eating it, is in order to keep it from becoming overcooked and dry.

The Best Methods For Cooking Salmon

Salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways. The cut can help identify the main purpose and, consequently, the best cooking method to employ.

The most effective methods to cook salmon are by steaming, pan-frying, or pan roasting.

1. Pan-Frying

The most delicious cuts of salmon to pan-fry are individual steaks and salmon fillets. It is also possible to pan-fry other individual portions of salmon cuts. The size of your cut determines the time to cook it.

Pan-frying salmon:

  1. Dry the salmon completely to keep its flesh sticking to your pan.
  2. Cut on the outside of salmon to ensure it doesn’t expand while cooking.
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pot or skillet up to right temperature (between medium-high and high).
  4. Make sure to add a spoonful of butter or sufficient olive oil to cover the pan.
  5. Season the salmon piece by adding salt, pepper and.
  6. Cook the fish according to your preference Be sure to place the skin down first. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you select the most appropriate time to apply to your salmon piece.

Here’s a handy chart with data taken from Hestan Cue which shows the cooking times for different sizes of fillets. Each piece of salmon was cooked to a temperature of 45degF.

Pan-Seared Atlantic Salmon

Thickness Medium Rare Medium Very Well Done
1 ” (or 1.27cm 1st side: 1 minute
2nd Side: 10s
1. First Side: 1 minute 40s
2nd Side: 20s
1st side: 2 minutes 45 seconds
2nd Side: 45s
3/4 “ or 1.90 cm 1. Side: 3 minutes
2nd Side: 45s
First Side: 4 minutes
2. Side: 1 minute
1. First Side: 5 minutes and 15 seconds
Second Side: 1 minute 15 seconds
1″ or 2.54 cm 1st side: 2 min 30 seconds
Second Side: 1 minute 30 seconds
1. Side: 4 minutes
2. Part: 2. 30 minutes
1st side: 6 minutes 15 seconds
Second Side: 3 minutes 45 seconds
1 1/4 “ or 3.17 cm 1. First Side: 4 minutes 15 seconds
2. Side: 2 30 seconds
1. Side: 6 min 30 seconds
2. Side: 4 min.
First Side: 9 minutes and 45 seconds
Second Side: 6 minutes
1 1/2 “ or 3.81 cm 1. First Side: 6 minutes 15 seconds
2. Side: 4 minutes
First Side: 9 30s min.
Second Side: 6 minutes
1st side: 14 minutes 15 seconds
2. Side: 8 minutes 45 seconds

NOTE: cook the initial side at 425degF for approximately 1 minute, before decreasing temp to 400 degrees F, and cooking for the remainder of the time on each side.

It is evident in this chart, that the larger the fillets are, the longer it takes to cook.

It’s not a precise method to determine cooking time. While it can give some idea of dimensions, it does not indicate how cutting (shape) or shape of the piece or its thickness.

You can also add 5 minutes after cooking, to let the salmon rest. As we’ve mentioned before, the salmon is cooking when it’s taken off of the stove. If you don’t allow it time to rest, it may appear undercooked.

2. Steaming En Papillote

Simple steamed salmon can be bland and boring. Instead, cook the salmon pieces with the papillote. This is a method of cooking that involves steaming the parchment paper packet of fish, seasoned with the aroma (herbs along with whole spices) and other vegetables.

This cooking method is delicious and healthy!

The temperature in the oven is supposed to be at least 400 degrees F. This is because this temperature produces steam that helps cook the salmon to a higher temperature after it is removed.

The most suitable cuts to steam are those with smaller cuts, or individual cuts in portions, like fillets. It is possible to steam bigger cuts, but be sure that you are using the right equipment and the right ratios.

Steaming salmon:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400degF.
  2. Cut the skin of the salmon to ensure it doesn’t shrink during cooking. You can also prepare the other ingredients.
  3. The packets are made by putting your veggies, aromatics and salmon in the non-stick parchment paper. The packets should be sealed at all times to let steam increase. Don’t wrap it too tight.
  4. Bake until the right internal temperature has been reached. It can take between 10-25 minutes, depending what size the salmon and the amount you wish to cook it to.
  5. When the recommended time for the recipe is up then test the temperature inside the piece of salmon using the aid of a food thermometer. If the temperature isn’t attained, place the fish back in the package and bake it for a couple of minutes or allow it in the package for a couple of minutes before you check again.
  6. Remove the wrappers immediately to avoid them overcooking. Let the salmon sit for 5 minutes before serving.

The below times are an approximate estimation of the time it takes to cook various sizes of salmon at various temperatures using the packaging.

Be sure to remove the cut several minutes prior to the time you want to rest it and let the fish cook at its internal temp. The cut should rest for a few minutes and then test it again.

There are many contributing factors that impact the cooking process So it is recommended to follow the recipe in terms of oven temperature, the size of the cut, as well as the thickness.

Steamed Salmon Fillets (400degF oven)

Weight Medium Rare Medium Very Well Done
5oz (141g) 10 minutes 10 min. – 110-115degF 12 minutes 120-125degF 14 minutes 14 min
6oz (170g) 12 minutes 120-130degF 14 minutes – 120-125degF 16 minutes – 140degF
8oz (226g) 15 minute 15 min. – 110-115degF 17 minutes – 120-125degF 20 minutes 20 min

As we’ve mentioned previously wild salmon is much more delicious and tender in the oven when it is cooked at 120degrees F, not 125degF. So, always make sure to maintain the temperature at 120degF and not much higher.

3. Roasting

We’ve yet to come across an item that doesn’t cook perfectly. When you roast it properly it will cook on all sides, leaving you with a juicy and tasty piece.

There are numerous ways to cook salmon (slow or rapid) each with its own advantages.

Slow roasting can hold more moisture than roasting in an oven with a higher temperature. The salmon is cooked more evenly and produces an evenly colored color.

How to cook salmon:

  1. Pre-heat the oven.
  2. Cut the salmon’s skin so that it doesn’t shrink while cooking.
  3. Set the fish on a sheet non-stick parchment paper. Then, place it on the baking tray.
  4. Rub the salmon with butter or olive oil and sprinkle using salt and white pepper.
  5. Roast for the specified time period or until the desired internal temperature has been achieved.
  6. Remove the baking sheet from the oven , and let the item to rest for 5 mins before serving.

Oven-roasted salmon Fillets (6-8 oz. )

Temperature Time to roast
250degF 25-30 minutes
300@F 20-25 minutes
350@F 15 minutes
400@F 10 to 15 minutes
450@F 8-12 minutes

The graph above gives an approximate estimate of how long a 6- 8 1 ounce (170g-226g) filet of salmon would be cooking in the event that your oven’s temperature is correct and that the fillets are approximately 1 inch (2.54 centimeters) thick.

Of course, it’s not likely that the variables remain the same each moment you make a portion of the fillet. There are many factors that impact cooking time and temperature.

The first thing to consider is that your oven’s temperature should be extremely precise. Also, you must remove any hot spots in your oven or be aware of where they are located so that you can compensate for the heat.

Do not put the pieces in any hot area that can cause them to melt or even burn.

The time required for your item to cook is contingent on the size and thickness. The best rule of thumb is for every inch of thickness you should cook the piece for over 10 minutes at 400 degrees F.. If the piece is 2 inches thick, it needs to be cooked for 20 minutes.

If you’re not sure of the right time to cook the salmon piece keep in mind small pieces of salmon cook quicker than larger ones, and less the oven’s temperature the longer the salmon piece will take to cook.

Remember to take off the cut piece just a couple of minutes prior to reaching the ideal temperature to allow the cut to rest. The food will continue to cook using its internal heat source and will attain its maximal (ideal) temperature within 5 minutes.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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