Easy Salmon Marinade

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8 minutes
November 21, 2022
Carole JonesJump to Recipe

This delicious salmon marinade is a favorite way to get dinner ready in the summer on the grill. You can also cook the salmon directly in your oven. A short soak in the marinade and this salmon is loaded with tons of flavor. Let’s be honest, no one likes bland salmon for dinner. This salmon is also delicious when served on top of your favorite salad as well!

Healthy Salmon Marinade

Why I Love This Salmon Marinade

Our family definitely loves grilling our favorite burgers, chicken, and pork chops in the summer, but some nights I want something lighter coming from the grill. That is when I pull out this salmon marinade recipe. Because salmon is a bit on the bland side on its own, a killer marinade is a must if I have any hope of my kids eating it.

With a large family, any dinner recipe needs to be easy to throw together between work, school, extracurricular activities, and homework. This one does it all! I whisk it together in the morning while the kids are eating breakfast and it is ready to be tossed on the grill or into the oven when we get home that night. 

I prefer grilling this salmon once it finishes marinating. For one, since we live in Arizona, I don’t do a whole lot of cooking inside my home when it is so hot outside. And second, I think grilling the salmon creates a wonderful smoky flavor, along with a delicious caramelization from the high heat and flame.

Salmon Marinade Ingredients

Like all amazing recipes, this salmon marinade includes all the best ingredients so the fish turns out super flavorful. Quality ingredients lead to the best-tasting end result.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Honey
  • Soy sauce
  • Fresh lemon zest
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • Fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • Salmon fillets
Salmon Marinade

How to Make Salmon Marinade

If you can mix together a few ingredients, you can make a salmon marinade. Don’t be intimidated by cooking salmon with more than just some salt and pepper. It is simple to mix together and let the salmon absorb all that flavor.

Time needed: 30 minutes

How to Make Salmon Marinade

  1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients

    Mix them together in a medium-sized container that has a lid so you can use it in the fridge while the salmon marinades.

  2. Add the salmon to the marinade

    Coat the fish with the mixture and cover it with the lid.

  3. Let the salmon sit in the fridge

    The minimum amount of time is 30 minutes but ideally, 3-5 hours is best.

  4. Remove the salmon from the marinade.

    Scrape away any pieces of garlic or herbs so they don’t burn as the fish cooks.

  5. Cook the salmon

    You can either grill it or bake it in the oven.

Salmon Marinade FAQs

How long should you marinate salmon?

For this recipe, the minimum time to marinate the fish is 30 minutes. That being said, the longer you allow the salmon to marinade, the better your end result will be so plan accordingly. Ideally, 3-4 hours is best. 

You can keep salmon in the marinade for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Once the salmon hits that time mark, the fish begins to get mushy. I like to begin the marinating process before I begin work in the morning but you could do it the night before you need it as well.

What spice works well with salmon?

Luckily for you, salmon is a fairly neutral protein and almost all spices work well as a seasoning. Dill, parsley, basil, thyme, tarragon, oregano, cumin, and chili powder are common pairings with salmon, but you could easily take it into an Asian, Mediterranean, or Mexican direction with those regional seasonings.

Why is there so much oil if this is a healthy salmon marinade?

While there is a bit of oil (and honey) in this marinade, if you are concerned about additional calories, remember that most of those calories remain in the bowl when it comes time to grill or bake the fish. You’ve infused the fish with all the flavor while only adding a few additional calories. It is a perfectly healthy salmon marinade recipe!

Can I use dried herbs instead of fresh ones?

Yes, you can certainly try dried herbs instead the fresh ones. You will need to change the amount since fresh herbs and dried herbs are measured differently. Cut the amount in half from what the recipe calls for and crush the dried herbs up a bit in your hands to release the oils. The flavor will be a bit different with dried herbs, but will still be delicious. 

Can this marinade be used on other proteins?

Yes, this recipe creates not only a delicious salmon marinade but one that works well for all seafood, beef, chicken, and pork. Or even on marinated vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, or sweet potatoes. Most marinades are quite flexible and can be used in a variety of settings.

healthy grilled salmon

Tips For Grilling Marinated Salmon

For this recipe, I definitely prefer using the grill for cooking the salmon. I love the smokiness and caramelization on the outside the grill adds. While some proteins are easily grilled without much thought or preparation, fish can be a bit tricky but here are a few tips for keeping your salmon in one piece on the grill:

  1. Preheat your grill for 10-15 minutes. If your grates are not hot, the fish will definitely stick, no matter how much you grease the grates.
  2. Be sure your grates are clean so there isn’t anything for the salmon to stick to on the grill. Use a quality grill brush dipped in cold water to completely clean a hot grill for the best results. The water will create a great amount of steam as you scrub.
  3. Grease your grates with a paper towel dipped in oil before grilling the filets. Do this quickly to keep the paper towel from catching fire. 
  4. Use a fish spatula to flip and move the spatula. It is thin enough to gently slide under each filet and large enough to properly support the delicate salmon when flipping.

Tips For Baking Marinated Salmon

Popping the fish into the oven after it comes out of the salmon marinade is the easier option for cooking the protein. Mainly because you won’t have to flip it over in the oven like you do when grilling. There is less chance of the fish falling apart or sticking if you bake it in the oven compared to grilling. 

  1. Be sure your oven is completely preheated before the salmon goes into the oven. You want it to cook at a high temperature quickly for the best results. 
  2. Bake it on a well-greased, quality baking sheet that will evenly distribute the heat for a great baked salmon.
  3. Pull the salmon out a few minutes before it is finished cooking and let it finish cooking on the residual heat on the baking sheet for a few minutes.
Salmon Marinade

Salmon Marinade Recipe Variations

Being a home cook provides endless opportunities to experiment with recipes, personalizing them to your tastes and creativity. Any of the following variations would be great spin-offs of this salmon marinade recipe.

  • Add spice – if you like a little kick in your salmon, add a few shakes of red pepper flakes or a squeeze of sriracha to the marinade for some heat in the marinade.
  • Include Asian flavors – a simple addition of a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil to the marinade will add a nice Asian flavor complement to the soy sauce that is already in the recipe.
  • Use dried herbs – while the recipe uses fresh herbs in the marinade, you can certainly try dried herbs instead. Cut the amount in half and crush them up a bit in your hands to release the oils. The flavor will be a bit different with dried herbs, but will still be delicious. 
  • Substitute vinegar for the lemon juice – using vinegar as the acid in this recipe can take the recipe to completely different flavor profiles. Balsamic, red wine, apple cider, and rice wine vinegar would all be delicious substitutes for lemon juice.
    healthy grilled salmon marinade on a plate with veggies

    Looking For More Great Seafood Recipes?

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    Healthy Salmon Marinade

    Easy Salmon Marinade

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    A delicious and easy marinade for salmon filets you can make on the grill or in the oven!

    • Total Time: 25 minutes
    • Yield: 4 servings 1x

    Ingredients

    Scale

    4 salmon fillets 4-6 ounces each

    4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    1 1/2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar

    1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 teaspoon lemon zest

    1 clove garlic, minced

    1 teaspoon ground mustard

    2 teaspoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

    2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    Instructions

    1. Place the olive oil, honey, soy sauce, lemon zest, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper in a container with a lid. Whisk to combine.
    2. Add the salmon to the marinade and place it on the cover. Gently roll it to coat the salmon with the marinade.
    3. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
    4. Remove the salmon from the marinade and scrape off any excess bits of herbs or garlic so they don’t burn.
     
    Grilling instructions: Preheat an outdoor grill on medium-high heat. Add the salmon fillets and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side or until the salmon is opaque throughout.
    Oven instructions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the salmon on greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through.
    • Author: Carole Jones
    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Cook Time: 15 minutes
    • Category: Main Dish
    • Method: Grilled
    • Cuisine: American

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1 filet
    • Calories: 274 calories
    • Sugar: 4 g
    • Sodium: 592 mg
    • Fat: 17 g
    • Saturated Fat: 2 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 10 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 4 g
    • Fiber: 1 g
    • Protein: 23 g
    • Cholesterol: 62 mg

    Carole Jones

    Carole Jones is an Arizona-based cookbook author & food blogger. She's authored The 30 Minute Cooking From Frozen Cookbook and the self-published Take 5: Chicken e-cookbook. For the past 15 years, Carole has shared her culinary adventures cooking and baking for her six brutally honest children here on My Kitchen Escapades. Hot, crusty bread is Carole's love language, but her two adorable grandchildren are a close second. Yes, second. Don't judge.

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