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Learn how to cook salmon steaks and enjoy this delicious and healthy protein that turns out restaurant-quality fish in less than 15 minutes. The prep is simple and easy and you can use your favorite spice blend or rub to make a dinner that is perfect for weeknights or company!
This post was originally shared in July 2016, but has been updated for content.
One of our favorite Japanese restaurants offers grilled salmon steak on their menu and it’s seriously so good. The fish is always perfectly cooked and so rich and moist. I decided I had to learn how to cook salmon steaks at home so we could enjoy this wonderful cut of meat anytime!
This simple recipe for how to cook salmon steaks is something I came up with while doing Whole 30 a few years ago (we just left off the compound butter back then but have added it back in since) and it is a dinner we have kept making over and over. It is healthy, so easy (you can make it from start to finish in under 15 minutes) and so good!
Serve it with grilled veggies and you have a super healthy, quick and yummy dinner that can be on the table in less than 15 minutes!
- Salmon steaks: While fillets are a more popular cut of fish, we love both the look and flavor of salmon steaks. Plus, they tend to be easier to cook and stay moist thanks to the skin and bones, much like other cuts of meat! We always recommend looking for wild caught salmon as opposed to farmed salmon when available.
- Seasoning: I find that keeping it simple is the best approach with salmon. My personal favorite for salmon steaks is a sprinkling of salt and pepper with some garam masala. But any barbecue rub or lemon pepper seasoning are also delicious on salmon steaks! Whatever you choose, you just want to keep in mind that it shouldn’t overpower the naturally delicious flavor of the salmon steaks.
- Compound butter: If you have some compound butter on hand in the fridge, you can use that! Or make a quick version by mashing chopped fresh herbs into some salted butter to add even more flavor to your fish.
How to Make This Recipe
Start by seasoning the salmon steaks on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Be sure to sprinkle both from at least 6 inches over the salmon for more even coverage. I also like to season our fish with a little garam masala which adds a wonderful warmth to the dish, but simple salt and pepper will work just fine and let the meat shine through with its own wonderful flavor.
To cook the salmon steaks, my favorite method is to heat a large skillet over medium-high heat just because I can do it year round and it’s quick and easy. But the same timing and approach works if you want to grill salmon steaks, which is fun when the weather is nice.
Start by heating either a large pan (I love my cast iron skillet) or grill. Starting the salmon on a hot surface helps it to sear better, which also helps the salmon not stick to the surface.
When the pan is hot, add a little olive oil (or brush onto the grill with a paper towel), then arrange the steaks in the pan and let them sear without moving. They need to cook between 3-5 minutes on the first side and should release pretty easily when they are ready to be flipped.
Carefully flip them to the other side with a large spatula (watch out for grease splatters) and let them cook another 3-5 minutes until opaque in the center. Be careful not to let the fish overcook or it will be dry. I like to stop just shy of fully opaque because the residual heat finishes cooking the salmon while it rests before we eat.
Roasting Salmon: If you prefer to roast your salmon steaks in the oven, you will want to preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast in a pan for 15-20 minutes until done.
You might want to make an easy compound butter to add to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking or to place on top of the hot salmon to melt as soon as it comes off the grill. To do this, just mash a few of tablespoons of salted butter with some minced garlic and chopped fresh herbs. I did chives and fresh oregano this time and it was absolutely delicious, but rosemary, basil, and tarragon are all really good.
As the butter melts in the pan, you can spoon it over the salmon to add wonderful flavor. It’s not necessary for delicious fish, but it really does elevate this method to give you a restaurant-quality dinner!
Garam Masala is a spice blend made from ground coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, fennel seeds, ginger, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg. It’s such a fantastic spice blend and I always have a jar in my cupboard for this salmon, Chicken Tikka Masala, or just sprinkling over other foods that need a little kick. It’s not spicy at all, so no need to worry about that, and I have never had a problem finding it in the spice aisle at the regular grocery store.
You could absolutely use salmon fillets if you prefer although you would want to watch your cooking time since the edges of fillets can cook faster and get dry more easily than a salmon steak if you aren’t careful.
Salmon goes well with so many side dish options, but you can’t go wrong with creamy mashed potatoes or rice pilaf. And a vegetable like roasted asparagus, roasted green beans, or roasted broccoli always tastes so good with salmon.
They both come from the same part of the fish, but the difference is in how the meat is butchered. A salmon steak is cut straight through the side of the fish crosswise, so it includes the spine bone. A fillet is removed from the side of the fish and is what most of us are more familiar with.
- Be careful to avoid the small pin bones that are usually in this cut of salmon. I don’t mind them because they are easy to remove and I think they keep the fish moist and flavorful, but you could actually go to the trouble of removing the spine bone and smaller bones before cooking the salmon by pulling them out with tweezers.
- If your salmon steaks are frozen, be sure to let them thaw completely in the fridge overnight before cooking them.
- Look for salmon steaks that have good color and smell fresh. If it has a strong, fishy odor, chances are it’s not as fresh as it should be.
- Use a large spatula to help flip the salmon steaks but don’t try to flip them until they have seared on the first side. The fish should release easily from the pan or grill when it is ready to be flipped.
- Leftovers are good for a couple days when stored in the fridge. You can reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 5-8 minutes until hot, or add the meat to scrambled eggs for a delicious breakfast!
More Seafood Recipes
- Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi
- Pan Seared Scallops
- Baja Fish Tacos Recipe
- Grilled Whole Fish
- Oven Baked Rainbow Trout
How to Cook Salmon Steaks
- 4 1-inch thick salmon steaks, 6 to 8-ounces each
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons Freshly ground black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons Garam masala divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- 4 tablespoons salted butter, softened
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (like chives, oregano, dill, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- Season both sides of the salmon steaks evenly with salt, pepper, and garam masala or your favorite spice blend or rub like lemon pepper or bbq.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat or clean, oil, and preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Add olive oil when the pan is hot and let it heat up.
- Place each piece of salmon into the pan or on the grill over direct heat (right over the flames or coal) and let them cook without flipping or moving for 3-5 minutes. Once the salmon releases easily from the pan or grill, it is ready to be flipped.
- Make the compound butter by mashing the softened butter together with the minced garlic, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- When the fish releases easily from the pan or grill, flip it and ook for another 3-5 minutes on the second side. Add the butter to the pan after flipping the salmon and spoon it over the fish as it cooks. If grilling, hold the butter in reserve until you remove the salmon from the grill, then top each piece with a dollop of the butter, which will melt from the residual heat of the fish.
- The salmon is done when the center is opaque and flakes easily. Be careful not to overcook. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the fish and watch out for small bones.
- Roasting Salmon: If you prefer to roast your salmon steaks in the oven, you will want to preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast in a pan for 15-20 minutes until done.
- Leftovers can be stored for 2-3 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat in a 350 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.