3 Ways to Marinate Salmon

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3 Ways to Marinate Salmon
3 Ways to Marinate Salmon

If you want to enhance the flavor of salmon without taking away its characteristic taste, the key is to marinate it. Unlike red meat, salmon should not be left to marinate for more than an hour. And if the marinade is acidic, you should leave it for even less time. As this fish absorbs the marinade quickly, it's easier to try different recipes. It's worth checking out our two marinades below, along with a traditional Nordic recipe for raw salmon prepared with a mix of spices that you can select yourself.


Lemon marinade:

Yield: 1 to 2 servings

Preparation time: 10 min.

Marinating time: 15–30 min.

  • 450 g of salmon fillet.
  • 2 lemons.
  • 2 tablespoons of oil.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme or three sprigs of fresh thyme.

Soy sauce marinade:

Yield: about 2 servings

Preparation time: 30 min.

Marinating time: 30–60 min.

  • 450 g of salmon fillet.
  • 1/4 cup of oil (60 ml).
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce.
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped or crushed.
  • 3 green-smelling branches well chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon of ginger, peeled and finely chopped.


  • 2 tablespoons of honey.
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce.
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more of sriracha sauce (also known as thai or rooster pepper, found in oriental food stores or on the internet).

Gravlax (Nordic delicacy):

Yield: About 6 servings.

Preparation time: 10 min.

Marinating time: 24–72 hours.

  • 750 g of fresh salmon fillet with skin.
  • 80 g of sugar.
  • 120 g of salt.
  • 8 tablespoons of chopped dill.
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper.


  • 3 tablespoons of German or Swedish mustard.
  • 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar.
  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar.
  • Salt to taste.
  • White pepper to taste.
  • 6 tablespoons of canola oil.


Method 1 of 3: Marinating with Lemon and Olive Oil

Marinate Salmon Step 1

Step 1. Start the preparation 30-60 minutes before eating

It only takes 15-30 minutes for the salmon to marinate. Start preparing the marinade an hour before serving the fish, or even less, depending on the cooking method being used.

Preparation options are described at the end of this section

Marinate Salmon Step 2

Step 2. Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl

Cut the lemon in half on a chopping board. Squeeze the two halves over a bowl.

Marinate Salmon Step 3

Step 3. Add the other ingredients

Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the bowl with lemon juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme and stir the ingredients well with a spoon.

Another successful version of this marinade uses dill instead of thyme

Marinate Salmon Step 4

Step 4. Place the marinade on a large plate

Choose a plate large enough that all the salmon fillets can fit side by side. It may be necessary to use multiple dishes if you are doubling or tripling the recipe.

An alternative is to use an airtight freezer bag

Marinate Salmon Intro

Step 5. Place the salmon in the marinade

Place the salmon fillets on the plate containing the marinade. Turn the fillets over so that both sides of each fillet are covered with marinade.

  • Food safety experts advise against washing raw salmon or any other raw meat prior to preparation. That's because cooking meat is more effective at killing bacteria, while rinsing meat can contaminate your sink or other places in the kitchen.
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for twenty seconds after handling raw meat.
Marinate Salmon Step 6

Step 6. Cover the fish and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes, turning once

Unlike red meat and poultry, fish can have an unpleasant texture if marinated too long. For an acidic marinade like this, based on lemon juice, don't soak the salmon for more than 30 minutes. Turn the salmon once during this time to ensure both sides of the fish are marinated.

Marinate Salmon Step 5

Step 7. Remove fish from marinade

Transfer salmon to another container. Discard the remaining liquid. If you want to use the marinade as a sauce, you need to boil it first to kill the harmful bacteria present in raw meat.

Marinate Salmon Step 7

Step 8. Time to prepare the salmon

Once the fish has marinated, it can be prepared in a number of ways. Two well-known options are grilling the salmon wrapped in aluminum foil or roasting it in a foil-lined baking dish. In both cases, prepare the fillets at a temperature of around 200°C for about fifteen minutes. Salmon is ready when you can easily remove small pieces from the surface with a fork.

If you are grilling the salmon, turn it over after half the time required for cooking has passed

Method 2 of 3: Marinating with Soy Sauce and Ginger

Marinate Salmon Step 8

Step 1. Prepare the magic mixture

Peel 1 tablespoon fresh ginger and 2 cloves of garlic. Chop very finely together with 3 spring onions (green-smelling branches).

Feel free to spice up the marinade. How about 1 tablespoon sesame oil and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds to combine with other oriental ingredients?

Marinate Salmon Step 9

Step 2. Mix with the other marinated ingredients

Mix the flavored ingredients together with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of oil and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of soy soy sauce.

Marinate Salmon Step 10

Step 3. Marine the salmon

Pour marinade into an airtight zip loc freezer bag or large plate. Then put the salmon in the marinade. Refrigerate, turning the fillets every now and then, for 30-60 minutes. If you continue to marinate past this point, the texture of the fish may be compromised.

As the marinade was in contact with raw fish, it should be discarded after use or boiled if you wish to use it as a sauce

Marinate Salmon Step 11

Step 4. Prepare the syrup (optional)

If you want to give a special touch to salmon, try this simple syrup, which goes well with this marinade. It is a mixture of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of honey, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha pepper. Feel free to adapt the quantities to your taste. Keep in mind that this syrup has the strong flavor, but surprisingly, it doesn't overshadow the salmon flavor. On the contrary, it enhances the flavor of the fish.

Marinate Salmon Step 12

Step 5. Prepare your salmon

Try browning the fish at a temperature of 52-60ºC. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, avoid going past the point by browning only the side of the skin. When it's time to turn, leave the meat part for only 15-30 seconds on the fire to prevent it from drying out. The meat should be opaque, but retaining the juiciness inside.

  • You can eat the salmon skin or remove it after preparation.
  • You can also grill, bake or poach after the salmon is marinated.

Method 3 of 3: Preparing Gravlax

Marinate Salmon Step 13

Step 1. Use this recipe to preserve salmon to be eaten raw

Gravlax, also called Gravad lax, is a traditional Nordic dish that uses salt and sugar to cure salmon. Various herbs are used to flavor fish, such as white pepper and dill. Once cured, the fish is tasted raw.

'Important:' As salmon is eaten raw, keep all cooking surfaces and utensils clean throughout to avoid food poisoning

Marinate Salmon Step 14

Step 2. To start, choose a fresh salmon, preferably captive bred

Try to buy a high quality fish, sold in a reliable establishment. Captive-bred salmon poses fewer health risks. But whether it's in captivity or not, the chance of getting parasites isn't high, and you can further decrease this risk by leaving it frozen and then thawing it before brewing.

Marinate Salmon Step 15

Step 3. Remove the pimples and scales

Use tweezers or a small knife and fork to remove scales and bones from the fish. Remove the scales, but leave the dark skin underneath them next to the salmon flesh.

Marinate Salmon Step 16

Step 4. Make several shallow cuts on the skin

They will allow the spice mixture to penetrate the meat better, increasing the flavor and prolonging the shelf life of the fish.

Marinate Salmon Step 17

Step 5. Mix the dry ingredients first

Chop a handful of dill, or about 8 tablespoons, and grind 1 teaspoon of white pepper. Add 80 g sugar and 120 g salt. There are chefs experienced in the preparation of gravlax who vary the proportions of these ingredients to adapt the recipe to your individual taste. However, it is essential to use large amounts of sugar and salt so that the salmon is properly cured.

Marinate Salmon Step 18

Step 6. Place the fillets over the spices

After sprinkling one whole side, turn the fillet over and do the same on the other side to ensure both sides of each fillet are properly seasoned. Stack the fillets, one on top of the other.

Marinate Salmon Step 19

Step 7. Place something heavy on the salmon

Place it in a glass or stainless steel container, taking the fillets on the side of the meat rather than the skin. Cover completely with plastic wrap. Then place a heavy object (a clean brick, for example) on top of the filet pile.

Marinate Salmon Step 20

Step 8. Leave at room temperature for six hours

During this time, the salt and sugar will mix well with the salmon meat, creating a strong, unique flavor. If you don't feel confident leaving the fish out of the fridge for that long, it's best to refrigerate it as soon as you place the heavy object on top of the fillet pile to lessen the risk of bacterial growth.

Marinate Salmon Step 21

Step 9. Leave the fish in the fridge for one to three days

Don't forget to keep the heavy object on top of the filet pile. The longer you refrigerate the fish, the stronger the flavor will be and the drier the meat will be. Try the fish every 24 hours to see if you like the taste.

Marinate Salmon Step 22

Step 10. Remove the salmon from the container

Once the salmon has achieved the flavor and texture of your choice, it can be removed for consumption. Scrape all seasonings off the meat and discard any liquid that has formed.

Marinate Salmon Step 23

Step 11. Serve with dill and mustard sauce

This sauce can be found at import stores in the Scandinavian products section. But it can be done at home too. Just use the ingredients for the "sauce" listed below the gravlax recipe. Mix mustard, sugar and vinegar. Then add the oil slowly to the mixture, while mixing it. The goal is to achieve a consistency of mayonnaise. Then, mix in the chopped dill and season with white pepper and salt to taste.

Crackers or rye bread are other popular accompaniments to gravlax


Add some liquid smoke to the marinade to give the salmon a smoky flavor


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