As an avid griller, I love the smoky, charred flavor you get from cooking salmon directly on the grill grates. However, grilling salmon in foil packets has become a go-to method for me when I’m short on time or want to conserve grill space for other foods. Grilling salmon in foil is a quick, easy and mess-free way to get tender, flaky and full-flavored salmon off the grill.
In this simple tutorial, I’ll walk you through the easy process of grilling salmon in foil packets, from start to finish. With just a few basic ingredients and materials, you can have delicious, fool-proof grilled salmon in less than 30 minutes. Let’s get started!
Benefits of Grilling Salmon in Foil Packets
While I prefer the charred exterior of salmon grilled directly on the grates, wrapping salmon fillets in foil packets has some great advantages:
- Retains moisture and flavor: The foil packet seals in the natural juices and oils of the salmon, keeping it tender and stopping it from drying out.
- Requires less grill space: Foil packets can be stacked, leaving more room on the grill for other foods.
- Minimal mess: Foil contains all the fat and juices from the salmon, making cleanup easy. No need to scrub the grill grates afterward!
- Infuses flavors: Seasonings and aromatics sealed inside the packet penetrate the salmon beautifully.
- Easy to customize: Just add your favorite herbs, spices, oils and vegetables inside the packet.
- Adaptable cooking method: Works well for all types of salmon – wild-caught, farmed, frozen or fresh.
For convenience, ease and flavor, grilling salmon in a foil packet is hard to beat! Now let’s get grilling.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Grilling Salmon in Foil
Grilling salmon in foil packets involves just a few simple steps. Here is the complete process from start to finish:
Step 1: Preheat the Grill
- For gas grills, preheat to medium-high heat, around 400°F.
- For charcoal, let the coals cook until they are lightly coated with ash.
You want a hot enough grill to sear the salmon when the packet is first placed on the grates. But not so hot that the foil burns and the salmon overcooks. Medium-high heat is ideal.
Step 2: Prepare the Salmon Fillets
- Buy skinless, deboned salmon fillets that are 4-6 ounces each and about 1 inch thick. Wild-caught varieties like sockeye and coho work great.
- Rinse the fillets under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Brush both sides of the fillets lightly with olive oil or canola oil. This prevents sticking and promotes browning.
Your fresh salmon fillets are now ready for seasoning!
Step 3: Season the Salmon Generously
- Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the salmon fillets.
- Sprinkle with sea salt, cracked black pepper and dried Italian herb seasoning blend.
- For more flavor, add minced garlic, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes or Cajun seasoning.
Seasoning is key for maximum flavor, so be generous! The foil packet locks in all the goodness.
Step 4: Prepare the Foil Packets
- Tear off sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil that are large enough to fully wrap each fillet.
- Place a salmon fillet in the center of each foil sheet.
- Top fillets with lemon slices for moisture and flavor.
- Fold the foil tightly around the fillet to seal it completely. Make sure no steam or liquid can escape.
You now have individual foil packets ready for grilling!
Step 5: Grill the Salmon Packets
- Place packets directly on grill grates and close the lid.
- Grill for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Check for doneness at 145°F on a meat thermometer. The fish should flake easily with a fork.
That’s it! In less than 15 minutes, you have restaurant-quality salmon grilled to perfection in foil.
Grilling Time and Temperature Are Key
To ensure safe, properly cooked salmon, pay close attention to the grilling time and internal temperature. Here are some tips:
- According to FDA guidelines, salmon is considered fully cooked and safe to eat at an internal temperature of 145°F.
- When grilling salmon in foil, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach 145°F, depending on thickness.
- Be sure to use a good digital meat thermometer to check for doneness in the thickest part of the fillet.
- Let the salmon rest in the foil for 5-10 minutes before unwrapping. The temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees as it rests.
Taking the salmon’s temperature is the only sure way to know it’s cooked through but still moist inside. Invest in a thermometer and grill salmon perfectly every time.
Season and Serve Grilled Salmon for an Easy Yet Impressive Meal
Once you’ve mastered the simple process of grilling salmon in foil, it opens up endless possibilities for easy yet impressive meals. Here are some of my favorite ways to season and serve grilled salmon fillets:
- Italian Herb Seasoning – basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme
- Lemon Pepper – lemon zest, cracked pepper, salt
- Cajun Blackening Spice – paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, oregano
- Jerk Seasoning – allspice, thyme, brown sugar, chili powder
Quick Side Dishes
- Summer Salads – spinach, mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, feta cheese, balsamic vinaigrette
- Grilled Veggies – zucchini, squash, bell peppers, red onion, asparagus
- Grilled Sweet Potatoes – cubed, tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper
- Pasta Salad – fusilli, cherry tomato, olives, basil, lemon dressing
- Potato Salad – red potato, scallion, Dijon mustard vinaigrette
- Grilled Peach Salsa – peaches, mango, red onion, cilantro, lime juice
- Mixed Berry Salad – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, lime zest, honey
- Pineapple Boats – pineapple halves stuffed with vanilla Greek yogurt, toasted coconut
With minimal effort, you can enjoy restaurant-worthy grilled salmon entrees in your own backyard. Just use your imagination to come up with endless flavorful recipes.
Grilling salmon in foil packets truly is one of the easiest ways to get delicious, fool-proof salmon off the grill in under 30 minutes. The foil locks in moisture, infuses flavors and contains the mess – plus it frees up grill space for other foods. Simply season the fillets generously before sealing in foil, grill for 10-15 minutes and check the temperature. Then unwrap and serve with your favorite fresh sides for an amazing meal. I hope this tutorial takes the guesswork out of grilling salmon in foil. Now get outside and fire up the grill for some flaky, tender salmon that even novice cooks can master.