I love a good BBQ and cooking steaks & sausages etc are no problem.

However, whenever I put the salmon fillets on the BBQ (skin side down), no amount of oil seems to prevent them from sticking to the grill.

When I try to remove the fish from the BBQ, it just falls apart and the skin stays stuck to the grill.

What can I do to prevent this?

  • I'd be very interested in anyone's comments on some cooking myths related to this topic; one (using mayonnaise can be found online and another - rubbing the hot grill first with a slightly oiled starchy (potato) vegetable has not yet made it to the first few pages of a google search. Commented Nov 15, 2014 at 15:05
  • Who cares if the skin stays stuck to the grill? I always grill salmon skin-side down and only turn it once for a brief final sear on the non-skin side. I expect the skin to stick to the grill. I use spatulas to turn it without breaking it up. Commented Nov 16, 2014 at 23:49
  • 6
    There are few pleasures in life that can beat a nice crispy piece of salmon skin.
    – Trogdor
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 1:02
  • Don't know how prevalent it was in 2014, but grill baskets (some specifically called "fish baskets") are pretty easy to come by now. Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 16:52

10 Answers 10


If you don't fancy cooking in aluminium foil (kind of takes the point away), you need to make sure you have a super clean, extremely hot grill.


Clean (No tasty burnt fat from the burgers), flesh sticks like #### to a blanket. You can get away with it when cooking steaks because they are just so much stronger. So get a wire brush and clean an area for fish cooking and keep it clean :).

Hot, as hot as you can pretty much. You want the second that Salmon (or other fish) hits the grill for it to blacken. It'll help make sure the flesh is no longer 'fleshy' and again less likely to stick. Don't try lifting it till' you know that underside is like a pink and black Zebra on it's underside (3-4 min).

When it does come to lifting you could really do with a nice sharp fish slice, not a blunt fat ended egg slice.

Good luck.


Use aluminum foil or even non-stick aluminum foil directly on the grate. You can use a fork to punch holes in it so that you get optimal smoke circulation if you like. The fish won't stick and clean-up is a breeze.



To stop salmon skin from sticking:

  • Use a sharp knife, and with a motion against the scales' direction, remove any leftover scales and tear the outer skin so that you get a nice diamond pattern.
  • Pat the skin dry with enough paper towels so that there is absolutely no moisture left to be removed. This step is crucial - don't skimp on the paper towels!
  • Oil the skin and make sure the grill or pan is well oiled and very very hot.

This may not be the answer you're looking for, but my favorite way to grill salmon is by placing the fillet on a grilling plank. (something like this). You soak a plank for 30 minutes to an hour in water, while you let your rub (or marinade or whatever) soak into the salmon. Then, place the salmon on the plank, and put the plank on the grill! I tried my first plank about a month ago and it was actually the most hassle-free grilling experience I've ever had!

The plank is especially a good idea if you're like me and prefer propane cooking. (I find it cooks meat more evenly than charcoal and saves time, to boot!) You'll get a savory smoky flavor without the hassle of lighting the charcoal. That being said, you could probably use this method on a charcoal grill also.

Again, it may not be exactly what you're looking for, but to be honest, since I tried plank grilling, I'll never cook salmon another way again... And it's gotta be a better option than cooking on foil.


In my favorite way to grill salmon, I don't try to keep it from sticking.

I do a normal grill prep, which includes oiling the grates initially. The salmon goes on the grill skin side up. With good heat and prep, you should get very nice grill marks on the meat and not much tearing when you flip.

Then the skin side is down for the second half. The grates will be a bit more prone to stick, and the skin proteins are going to adhere well. But...I don't want to serve the skin anyway. When the fish is done, take your spatula and place it between the skin and the fillet. It will separate easily and you plate the fish. You'll have to clean the skin off later, but the fish will look perfect.

The skin side doesn't get grill marks this way, but it's cooked and you just serve with the other side up for presentation.


I would abandon the idea of putting the fish directly onto the grill - instead use a fish grill basket to get some of that nice smokey char into the fish, without worrying about it falling to pieces when trying to move it.


Generously spray PAM With Flour for Baking on grates. First time using it today and they were almost hard to keep from sliding off my smoker grill.


I cook whole salmon fillets on the grill once per week during the summer. This technique works for me:

  1. Pre-heat the grill to at least 400F.
  2. Prepare the fillet(s) with skin on by seasoning and slathering with oil on the flesh and skin.
  3. Once the grill is hot, clean the grill well with a wire brush.
  4. Oil the grill surface by saturating a paper towel with oil and using the grill tongs to rub it all over the bars. It may smoke but it should not ignite. If it does ignite, let the grill cool for a few minutes with the lid open and coat with oil again.
  5. Turn off half of the burners and place the fillet skin side down on the half without active burners.
  6. Close the lid and let it cook until the flesh turns opaque.
  7. Drag the fillet over to the hot side for grill marks.

The skin will be crisp and firm so that lifting the entire fillet out of the grill will be easy.


1.) clean the grill - easier to do when not searing hot

2.) now let grill get hot - mine goes to 600+ with lid down

3.) use a few sheets of paper towel patting the fish to ensure it is as dry as you can get it

4.) Now I season the flesh side, rubbing in spices like a dry rub

5.) thoroughly oil skin side of fish - I use olive oil

6.) initially cook skin side down, allowing flesh side to firm up and seal

7.) when skin curls away from grill, you can flip over to make grill marks

8.) lightly press on fish skin side up to get grill marks, rotate and repeat, they do not take long to make

9.) I finish with skin side down as the boss likes her fish more well done


Make sure the salmon is dry before applying oil, that will ensure you get a good crispy sear..

Also with fish on the grill.. cook it at medium heat. The skin/protein will naturally release from the grill when it caramelizes and forms a natural crust. The problem with high heat is you will want to flip it before it caramilizes because of how fast the fish is cooking...

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