Enjoy restaurant-quality seafood at home with this easy Sockeye Salmon recipe. This flaky, grilled salmon is slathered with a flavorful maple, garlic and ginger glaze that caramelizes on the grill and helps prevent the fish from drying out. Make this simple, heart-healthy meal in less than 30 minutes!
Salmon has a reputation for being hard to cook. But this Grilled Sockeye Salmon recipe is nearly foolproof thanks to a handful of tips to keep it from drying out or sticking to the grill.
Plus it's slathered in a tangy maple ginger glaze that doubles as a sauce for basting and serving, a tasty way to ensure it stays moist and tender even if you do overcook it just a smidge.
Why you'll love this recipe
➤ No marinade required. The maple, garlic and ginger glaze bakes into the salmon for bold flavor that caramelizes and intensifies as it grills and creates a gorgeous lacquered "crust" that seals the moisture in the fish.
➤ Make it in about 30 minutes. This restaurant-quality dinner is just as delicious for company as it is for a busy weeknight meal.
➤ It's super healthy AND delicious! Sockeye salmon is packed with high amounts of healthy omega-3 fatty acids which are important for heart health, "good" cholesterol levels and reduced inflammation.
What is sockeye salmon
Sockeye salmon is also known as "red salmon" because of its deep, rich color and strong flavor. It's predominantly a wild fish that is thinner and smaller than most farmed Atlantic salmon, which are larger in size and have a pale orange salmon color.
Fresh sockeye salmon is only available fresh from late spring through late summer and early fall but can be found frozen nearly year round. It is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and stands up well to grilling. Salmon fans believe that sockeye tastes the most like salmon.
You only need a handful of ingredients to make this salmon recipe.
A few ingredient notes:
◦ Salmon: You can use fresh or frozen sockeye salmon in this recipe. Fresh, skin-on sockeye salmon fillets are available seasonally during the summer, but you can often find flash frozen wild-caught sockeye salmon available for most of the year. I definitely recommend using skin-on fillets as they hold up better when grilled.
◦ Ginger: Fresh ginger is a must in this recipe. Powdered ginger doesn't add the same bright flavor.
◦ Maple syrup: 100% pure maple syrup is the only way to go. Pancake and other breakfast syrups contain additives that will not give you the same taste as using pure maple syrup.
◦ Balsamic vinegar: Since you are heating this vinegar, I'd skip the more expensive, aged vinegars that you'd drizzle over these Caprese skewers and use a moderately priced bottle instead.
You can have this meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill to 400-450°F. Bring the sauce ingredients to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until sauce is reduced by ⅓, about 5 minutes. It will be slightly thickened and coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and evenly divide sauce between two bowls, one for basting and one for serving.
Pat the room temperature salmon fillets dry with a paper towel. Rub both sides of fish with avocado oil and season with salt and pepper.
Rub grill grates with a wad of paper towels that has been dipped in oil. (Use a pair of tongs for this.) Place fillets skin side up on preheated grill and reduce grill heat to medium-low. Cook for two minutes or until fish releases easily from grates.
Flip fillets over and generously brush flesh side of salmon with half of basting sauce. Grill for one minute, brush again with remaining basting sauce and grill for another 30-60 seconds. Check fish for doneness and remove from grill. Serve with reserved sauce.
Sockeye salmon fillets are thinner than many farmed Atlantic salmon fillets, so they will cook quickly. I highly recommend investing in an instant read thermometer. The USDA recommends that the internal temperature of cooked salmon should be 145°F. I find that the thinner, wild caught sockeye salmon fillets end up overcooked at that temperature as there is always residual cooking once you remove the salmon from the grill. I like to remove salmon when it reaches 120-125°F. The center will still be slightly translucent but still flake nicely.
Yes, you can. Place the oiled fillets skin side down on a greased baking sheet. Brush with ¼ of reserved sauce. Bake at 400°F for 4 minutes. Brush with remaining ¼ of reserved sauce and broil about 6 inches from heat for another minute or two.
What to serve with salmon
We love to serve this recipe with a side of rice, couscous or quinoa and drizzle the extra sauce over the top.
Want a veg to round out the meal? Try one of our easy roasted vegetables like Oven Roasted Broccoli or Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipes. Or skip the oven entirely and serve a Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette instead!
Tips for making the best sockeye salmon
✔︎ Bring fish to room temperature before grilling. It will cook more evenly when its interior and exterior temperatures are the same.
✔︎ Remove excess moisture from salmon fillets. Pat dry with a paper towel before cooking. This is especially important with frozen salmon as it helps avoid a mushy texture once grilled.
✔︎ Make sure the grill grates are clean and the grill is hot - around 450°F - before you add the salmon. Residual food leftover from previous grilling sessions can cause grill flare ups or your salmon to stick to the grates.
✔︎ Oil the salmon AND the grates to prevent sticking. I recommend using a neutral tasting oil that has a high smoke point like avocado oil.
✔︎ Grill FLESH SIDE DOWN FIRST. This is different from many grilled salmon recipes that start skin side down. But as long as your grates and fish are both well oiled, grilling the salmon flesh side down first gives the grill enough time to create those attractive grill marks. The fillets will release easily once cooked.
✔︎ Don't move the salmon! Once you've placed it on the grill, resist the temptation to move it around. It needs that sear on the hot grates to develop a "crust" so it can be flipped over in one piece.
✔︎ Craving more heat? Add more crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce for a spicier flavor.
✔︎ Store leftover grilled fish in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Sockeye salmon does not reheat well because it is so lean so we use any leftovers cold in salads.
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Grilled Sockeye Salmon recipe with Maple Ginger Glaze
- 1½ pounds skin-on sockeye salmon, cut into four fillets
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1½ tablespoons fresh peeled grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
- ¼-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much spice you prefer)
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- Avocado oil (or other neutral flavored oil with high smoke point)
- Remove salmon fillets from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Preheat grill to 450°F.1½ pounds skin-on sockeye salmon,
- While the grill is preheating, whisk together the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes in a small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until sauce is reduced by ⅓ (it will have thickened slightly and will coat the back of a spoon). Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and divide evenly between two bowls, one for basting the grilled fish and one for serving.1½ pounds skin-on sockeye salmon,, ⅓ cup maple syrup, 2½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1½ tablespoons fresh peeled grated ginger, 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic, ¼-½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- Thoroughly pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels. Liberally brush both sides of salmon with avocado oil. Rub a paper towel soaked in avocado oil on the grill grates using a pair of tongs. Place salmon fillets SKIN SIDE UP on greased grates. Reduce grill heat to medium low and cook for 2 minutes or until fish releases easily from the grates.Avocado oil
- Flip fish over and immediate brust fillets with half of basting sauce. Close grill for one minute. Repeat baste with remaining sauce and cook for another 30-60 seconds. Check fish for doneness and remove from grill. Serve with reserved sauce.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.