How to Cook Salmon with Skin On

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It’s hard to beat the taste of a deliciously grilled salmon. One side flaky and savory, the other crispy and delicious. It’s definitely in the running for being the best way to have fish, period.

But unless you’re ready to shell out big bucks at a restaurant, you’re probably wishing you could take care of business on the stove at home. If you don’t know how to cook salmon with skin on properly, all you’ll end up with is a flaccid, greasy, overcooked mess.

Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.

To save both you and the fish a lot of trouble, let’s take a look at how to make salmon skin crispy and the proper technique for cooking salmon with a grill pan at home.

While it might sound a little intimidating at first, you’ll get the hang of it in no time at all. Then your only problem will be forcing yourself to eat something else once in a while.

Step #1. Prepare Ingredients

Raw salmon steaks on a plate with the skin on.
  • 2 salmon fillets, with skin
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grill pan
  • Lid that is the same size or smaller than the grill pan
  • Tongs

Step #2. Season Salmon Fillets

Salt sprinkled on salmon fillets.

Let the salmon sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before you begin. Gently pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towel. Season them with salt and pepper.

Sprinkling pepper onto salmon fillets.
Seasoned salmon fillet on plate.

Step #3. Heat the Pan

Oil in grill pan on stove.

Bring a grill pan to medium-high heat and add the canola oil.

Step #4. Add Salmon to Pan

Salmon fillet in tongs over grill pan.

When the oil is hot, carefully place the salmon fillets in the pan with the skin side down. Let them cook for about 2 minutes to get that skin nice and crispy.

2 salmon fillets in pan, cooking.

Step #5. Add Lemon Slices

2 salmon fillets in pan with a lemon slice.

Lower the heat to medium and add the lemon slices (place them on top of and around the salmon fillets).

Step #6. Cover the Pan

Grill pan with lid on.

Cover the grill pan with a round lid.

Note: It is ideal that the lid doesn’t fit the grill exactly; this way some of the steam will get out and it won’t heat excessively. If you have a grill pan with a fitted lid, you can place it on slightly tilted so some of the steam can vent out.

Step #7. Continue Cooking

Cooked salmon fillets in pan.

Let the salmon fillets cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. (Keep an eye on them! You’ll know they are ready when the color turns light pink and the flesh is moist and flaky when pressed with a fork. You will see a bit of albumin–the thick, white cream.)

If you feel like they are cooking too quickly, lower the heat a bit. Also, you can remove the lemons once they are browned.

Salmon fillet in between tongs on blue plate.

Step #8. Serve with the Grilled Lemon

Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.

Serve with the grilled lemon and enjoy! To keep the skin crispy, serve it skin side up.

Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.
Cooked salmon fillets with lemon slices on blue plates, forks on the side.
Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.

Salmon is one of the most sumptuous fish you can eat and this grill pan salmon recipe is one of the best forms it can take. Whether you’re ready to chow down on it by itself or next to some asparagus and a nice glass of Pinot Noir, it’s all going to taste the same – delicious.

How did it feel knowing that crispy, crackly salmon skin was all your own doing? Already thinking of ways to spice things up for next time? You really can’t go wrong with the techniques outlined here, so don’t be afraid to make this recipe your own in all sorts of new and exciting ways.

Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.

How to Cook Salmon with Skin – Crispy No Flip Method

Joss D
This cooking method results in one side of the salmon being soft and flaky, the other crispy and delicious! If you didn't like salmon skin before, you might now.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 82 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 2 salmon fillets - with skin
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lemon - sliced
  • Salt and pepper - to taste

Instructions
 

  • Let the salmon sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before you begin. Gently pat the salmon fillets dry with paper towel. Season them with salt and pepper.
    Seasoned salmon fillet on plate.
  • Bring a grill pan to medium-high heat and add the canola oil.
    Oil in grill pan on stove.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully place the salmon fillets in the pan with the skin side down. Let them cook for about 2 minutes to get that skin nice and crispy.
    Salmon fillet in tongs over grill pan.
  • Lower the heat to medium and add the lemon slices (place them on top of and around the salmon fillets).
    2 salmon fillets in pan with a lemon slice.
  • Cover the grill pan with a lid (place it on slightly tilted so some of the steam can vent out – this way it won’t heat excessively).
    Grill pan with lid on.
  • Let the salmon fillets cook for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon. (Keep an eye on them! You’ll know they are ready when the color turns light pink and the flesh is moist and flaky when pressed with a fork. You will see a bit of albumin–the thick, white cream.) If you feel like they are cooking too quickly, lower the heat a bit. You can remove the lemons once they are browned.
    Cooked salmon fillets in pan.
  • Serve with the grilled lemon slices and enjoy. To keep the skin crispy, serve it skin side up.
    Cooked salmon fillet with lemon slices on blue plate.

Equipment

Grill pan
Lid
Tongs

Notes

  • For the lid, you want one that is the same size or slightly smaller than the grill pan. It is ideal that the lid doesn’t fit the grill exactly; this way some of the steam will get out and it won’t heat excessively. If you have a grill pan with a fitted lid, you can place it on slightly tilted so some of the steam can vent out.

Nutrition

Calories: 82kcalCarbohydrates: 5gFat: 7gSodium: 1mgPotassium: 74mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin C: 28.6mgCalcium: 14mgIron: 0.3mg

Nutrition information on In the Kitch is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It may not include toppings and/or sauces.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I remove the skin from salmon before cooking?

With this recipe for skin-on salmon, you don’t have to! Eating the skin can be a turn off for some, but this cooking method makes the skin nice and crispy. If you don’t like salmon skin, you should still cook it with the skin on and remove it later.

Skin up or down when cooking salmon?

Cook salmon with the skin side down to crisp it up as well as protect the flesh. After cooking, serve it skin side up to keep the skin crispy.

Looking to further enhance your cooking skills? Check out…How to Make Pierogies – The Easy Way

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