As a seafood lover, I always look forward to cooking up a fresh, flaky salmon fillet. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the tender and juicy texture of perfectly cooked salmon. However, I used to struggle with how to properly reheat leftover salmon without drying it out or making my kitchen smell overly fishy. Through trial and error in my home kitchen, I’ve discovered foolproof techniques to reheat salmon so it tastesand smells nearly as delicious as it did the first time.
In this article, I’ll share professional chef-backed tips on how to reheat salmon to preserve that fresh from the oven flavor and texture. You’ll also learn common mistakes to avoid, so you can steer clear of dried out, smelly fish. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll have restaurant-quality leftover salmon without even having to leave the house.
Skip the Microwave for the Best Results
My first rookie mistake when reheating salmon was throwing it in the microwave. While the microwave seems like the quickest and easiest reheating method, it actually ruins the delicate flavor and texture of salmon. The microwave tends to dry out salmon, making it chewy and flaky in an unappetizing way. Even worse, it makes the fish reek with an overpowering fishy odor that permeates the whole kitchen.
For the optimal texture and freshest taste, skip the microwave when reheating leftover salmon fillets. Trust me, your taste buds and nose will thank you later.
Infuse Moisture Back into the Fish
Instead of the microwave, I’ve found the oven is the best way to reheat salmon without drying it out. However, you still need to combat the drying effect of reheating. The secret is to infuse moisture back into the fillet before warming it up.
I recommend rubbing a thin layer of olive oil over the fish. The oil prevents the delicate salmon from drying into a chewy, shriveled mess. For an extra moisture boost, I like to squeeze fresh lemon juice over the fillet too. The added acidity from the lemon brightens up the flavor while helping the fish retain moisture.
Take It Low and Slow
When reheating leftover salmon in the oven, temperature and time are key. You don’t want to shock the fish by blasting it at a high temperature. I’ve achieved the best results when reheating salmon low and slow at around 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition to the right oven temp, give those leftovers ample time to reheat. Don’t rush the process. I usually allow my salmon fillet to reheat for at least 12-15 minutes so it warms gradually all the way through. Taking it low and slow gives you tender, flaky salmon that looks and tastes like you just cooked it fresh.
Wrap It Up in Foil
Here’s another chef tip for avoiding a fishy smell when reheating salmon: wrap it up. Covering the fillet in aluminum foil while reheating locks in moisture and blocks any unpleasant odors. The foil wrap essentially steam cooks the fish so it doesn’t dry out.
Wrapped in foil, the salmon reheats evenly with no hot or cold spots. It also prevents the thinner edges of the fillet from becoming overly dried out or burnt. Unwrap your perfectly warmed leftovers to enjoy the full fresh-from-the-pan aroma.
Transform Leftovers into New Dishes
While reheated salmon won’t be exactly the same as the fresh original, you can still repurpose those leftovers into tasty new creations. Flake up leftover cooked salmon to stir into pasta, rice bowls, salads, sandwiches, and more.
Some of my favorite ways to use up reheated salmon include:
- Salmon salad – Flake into a bowl with greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions etc.
- Salmon tacos – Break up the salmon and mix with peppers, onions, avo, and cilantro.
- Salmon sandwich – Serve on bread or a bagel with veggies and cheese for extra protein.
- Salmon cracker bites – Top crackers with salmon, cream cheese, everything bagel seasoning, red onion and capers.
- Salmon fried rice – Toss flaked salmon with leftover rice, frozen peas, carrots, scrambled eggs.
With endless possibilities for new dishes, you’ll look forward to leftovers instead of dreading dry fish.
5 Mistakes to Avoid for Perfectly Reheated Salmon
Through learning from my kitchen flops, I’ve pinpointed common mistakes that can ruin reheated salmon. Avoid the following errors, and you’ll be rewarded with the best possible leftovers:
- Reheating at too high of a temperature – High heat dries out and toughens the delicate fish. Always reheat gently at 300 degrees.
- Turning to the microwave – The microwave creates dry, smelly salmon fast. Use the oven for superior texture and flavor.
- Forgetting to cover the fish – Covering traps in moisture and prevents fishy odors from spreading.
- Expecting it to be like fresh – Reheated salmon won’t be quite as moist and tender. Repurpose it creatively instead of eating it plain.
- Thinking you can only enjoy it hot – Flake up cold leftover salmon for enticing salads, sandwiches and more.
Reheat Salmon Like a Pro
Now that you’re armed with expert tips for reheating salmon, you can enjoy those leftovers with confidence. Follow the techniques I’ve outlined such as adding moisture, taking it low and slow, and wrapping in foil, and your reheated salmon will taste anything but leftover.
Impress your family and dinner guests by transforming that extra fillet into enticing new creations. Or, simply reheat your salmon properly so you can keep enjoying it long after first cooking it. Just be sure to avoid common mistakes like the microwave and overcooking.
The next time you have leftover salmon waiting in your fridge, don’t let it go to waste. With these tips, you can reheat salmon to be tender and fresh-tasting every time. It will taste so good, no one will believe you didn’t just cook that fillet from scratch.