Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon is simply a must-make. Tender, flaky salmon with pops of black pepper and tangy notes of citrus is charred to perfection on the grill for the ultimate bite. Dinner will never look the same.
Moist & Flaky Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon
Have you ever had salmon so flaky and tender that it practically melts in your mouth? If not, you’re seriously missing out. Luckily, that’s about to change when you try this easy recipe.
Your salmon is guaranteed to develop a delightfully crispy coating while the inside stays moist and fall-apart flaky. The mouthwatering flavors of lemon, pepper, garlic, and onion permeate every bite. And get this – you don’t even have to marinate the fish!
In fact, this entire entree will be ready for enjoyment in 20 minutes or less. It’s a lifesaver on those days when lunchtime creeps up before you get a chance to prepare for it. What starts with 4 simple ingredients ends in citrusy salmon bliss.
Why You’ll Love This Lemon Pepper Salmon Recipe
This grilled salmon with lemon is perfect for a filling lunch or a quick dinner. Here’s why you’ll be hooked from the first bite:
- Ultra-moist and flaky. Crispy on the outside, but fall-apart tender on the inside. That’s the name of the game with this lemon pepper salmon!
- So quick and easy. This recipe requires 4 ingredients and just 20 minutes of your time. It doesn’t get much simpler!
- Perfectly tangy. The ingredients list may be short, but don’t let that fool you – this salmon is packed with tangy and zesty flavor! Your taste buds will be delighted!
What You’ll Need
Let’s discuss the exact ingredients that make up this classic main course. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full quantities.
- Salmon Fillets – This recipe starts with skin-on salmon to ensure that the exterior of each fillet gets perfectly crispy.
- Olive Oil – Or any alternative with a high enough smoke point to endure the searing process.
- Lemon Pepper Seasoning – You can find this in the spice aisle at your local supermarket.
- Fresh Lemon – Cut up a lemon (or two) into eight total wedges. These will be used to garnish the salmon.
Can I Use Frozen Salmon?
You can – many people grill frozen salmon without defrosting it, but I prefer to thaw out the fish. It’s not a difficult step, and it makes it easier to get moist and flaky meat without overdoing the char on the skin. When salmon fillets are grilled while they’re frozen, the insides tend to cook too slowly.
Thaw out frozen salmon in the fridge overnight before you use it. If you forget to do this, you can submerge it in a bowl of cool water and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure the salmon is in a well-sealed storage bag and replace the water if it gets warm.
How to Make Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon
If outdoor grilling isn’t an option for whatever reason, you can always cook your salmon over a stovetop grill pan instead. Just make sure it has a lid.
- Heat the grill. Preheat the grill to high heat (approximately 400-450°F).
- Pat the salmon dry. Remove the portioned salmon fillets from the refrigerator and pat them dry with a paper (or cloth) towel.
- Add oil and season the salmon. Lightly brush olive oil onto both sides of the fish, then rub the flesh side liberally with lemon pepper seasoning.
- Grill the salmon covered. Place the salmon fillets directly onto the (clean) grill grates, skin-side down. Close the grill and let the salmon cook for 6-8 minutes.
- Flip the fish and let it finish cooking. Gently flip the salmon over so the flesh side is touching the grill, then cook it for another minute or two. If the salmon does not want to flip, try again about a minute later. When it’s ready to be flipped, your spatula should be able to slide right under it.
- Remove the salmon from the grill. Remove the salmon from the grill once its internal temperature reaches 130°F. Remember to insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of each fillet.
- Let the salmon rest. Let the salmon rest for at least 5 minutes before you cut into it.
- Garnish and serve! Finish off each fillet with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and enjoy!
How Do I Know When the Salmon Is Done?
Grilled salmon is fully cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. That said, I like to pull mine off of the grill once it reaches 130°F because it continues to cook as it rests. If you don’t have an instant-read thermometer, check to make sure that the salmon flakes off easily with a fork, and that the skin is pulling away from the flesh.
Tips for Success
These expert tips and tricks will help you harness your inner grill master as you tackle this lemon salmon recipe. Let’s do this!
- Wild-caught salmon is the way to go. The quality of the fish you cook will always be apparent in your end result. Wild-caught salmon is known to be a leaner, better-tasting option than farmed salmon, so I highly recommend using it for this recipe.
- Make sure your fillets are the same size. In order for all of your fillets to cook at the same rate, they have to be similar in size and thickness. I’ve found that center-cut fillets are the most consistent.
- Grease the grill grates to prevent sticking. If your grill grates are nice and clean, you shouldn’t have to worry about sticking – but it never hurts to be extra cautious. Don’t hesitate to grease the grates with nonstick cooking spray (or rub them with a rag soaked in olive oil) before you preheat the grill.
- Use a fish spatula. Flipping over your fillets with tongs or a standard spatula can easily create tears in the flesh of the salmon. A fish spatula is a multi-purpose tool that’s especially useful in this scenario.
What Goes With Grilled Salmon?
Lemon pepper salmon pairs well with pretty much everything. The options below are top-notch examples.
- Grilled Zucchini: Set the stage for your salmon fillets with an ultra-refreshing appetizer like grilled zucchini bruschetta! Once it comes off the grill, you’ll just have to raise the heat and sear the fish to complete your crave-worthy meal.
- Cilantro Lime Rice: Fluffy rice and flaky salmon go together like a dream come true. This easy cilantro lime rice would make an amazing partner for your grilled fish fillets!
- Raspberry Lemonade Spritzers: Looking for a fruity drink to bring your barbecue to the next level? This raspberry lemonade spritzer is more satisfying than a cool summer breeze. Plus, it really complements the citrusy flavor of the salmon.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Leftover grilled lemon salmon can easily be saved for another meal! Here’s how to do that:
- To store. Once cooled, leftover lemon pepper salmon should be placed in an airtight container and kept in the fridge. It will stay fresh for up to 3 days. Reheating the salmon is not necessary – it will never be the same as it was when it was first cooked.
- To reheat. If you’d like to warm it up anyway, wrap each fillet in aluminum foil along with a splash of oil and grill them over indirect heat for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. The grill should be set to low (around 275°F). If preferred, you can microwave each portion on a heat-proof plate for 30 seconds at a time, adding a splash of oil prior to reheating.
Ways to Use Leftovers
Want to do something exciting with those leftovers? Let these tempting ideas inspire your creativity.
- Pasta & Rice: Serve your grilled salmon over garlic lemon pasta or mix it into fried rice!
- Tacos & Tostadas: Load some lemon pepper salmon into tacos or make these salmon tostadas.
- Soup & Salad: Salmon works great as a salad topper in something like this Caesar salad, or as a side to a hearty soup or chowder.
- Salmon Cakes: Feel free to shred up your remaining salmon for salmon cakes!
Can I Freeze This Lemon Salmon Recipe?
Sure thing! Seal the cooled fish in a heavy-duty freezer bag with all of the air removed, then place it in the freezer. Salmon can be frozen for 4-6 months and should be thawed out in the fridge before it’s reheated and/or consumed.
More Easy Salmon Recipes
In the mood for more flaky salmon goodness? Roger that.
- Creamy Pan-Seared Tuscan Salmon
- Honey Mustard Pecan Crusted Salmon
- Pineapple Chipotle Salmon Tostadas
- Citrus Baked Salmon with Asparagus in Foil
- Honey Garlic Cedar Plank Salmon
Grilled Lemon Pepper Salmon is made with ultra-flaky salmon, pops of black pepper, and tangy notes of citrus! It’s charred to perfection on the grill for the ultimate quick dinner or filling lunch.
- 4 (4-6 oz.) salmon filets, skin on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
- 8 lemon wedges
- Preheat grill to high heat, approximately 400-450°F.
- Remove portioned salmon fillets from the refrigerator and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Lightly brush both sides of salmon with olive oil. Season flesh side liberally with lemon pepper seasoning.
- Place salmon fillets directly on clean grill grates skin side down. Close grill and let cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Gently flip salmon to grill flesh side down, grill for 1 to 2 minutes. (if salmon does not flip easily wait 1-2 minutes before flipping)
- Remove from grill when internal temperature reaches 130°F. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
- To Store: Store cooled salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheating is not necessary – it’ll never be the same as it was when it was first cooked.
- To Reheat: If you’d like to reheat anyway, wrap each fillet in aluminum foil along with a splash of oil. Grill salmon on low (around 275°F) over indirect heat for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Alternatively, microwave each portion for 30 seconds at a time, adding a splash of oil prior to reheating.
- To Freeze: Seal cooled fish in a heavy-duty freezer bag with all air removed, then store in the freezer for 4-6 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating/enjoying.
- Serving Size: 1 salmon filet
- Calories: 309
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 431 mg
- Fat: 12 g
- Saturated Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 0 g
- Fiber: 0 g
- Protein: 48 g
- Cholesterol: 0 g
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