Salmon Salad is flavorful, filling, and absolutely delicious! We are grilling up a savory and rich blackened salmon and then adding to a hearty salad. This healthy Grilled Salmon Salad Recipe will not disappoint.
Ditch the canned salmon and grab a fresh filet for this delicious and easy grilled salmon salad. The goal is to add a rich (but not hot) spice to the salmon. We cook quickly at high heat to keep it tender and then top it over a colorful salad filled with greens, onions, tomatoes, and other fun flavors, mixed with an easy homemade orange vinaigrette.
Salmon comes in many different varieties. We strongly recommend salmon that has been wild-caught versus farmed for a more distinct flavor. We go into more detail on the types of salmon in our smoked salmon recipe.
This grilled salmon salad recipe featured a special type of salmon called Chinook (also known as King Salmon). It is large and has a very rich flavor. Steelhead is another great option (salmon and trout are related). If all you have access to is farmed Atlantic, that is fine too. Atlantic salmon tends to have a milder flavor than the wild counterparts. Fresh salmon should not smell fishy.
Buy the center cut of a whole filet. This will avoid the tail and give you the thickest part of the filet for even grilling. Even sizes of salmon steaks will cook at similar times.
Chef’s Note: Buy your salmon with the pin bones removed. Just ask your fish monger or butcher to pull them out for you. It will save you a lot of effort when making the fish without strong tweezers.
Blackening spice is a mixture of sugar, chili powder, kosher salt, herbs and spices to give a rich dark color and flavor. It isn’t as aromatic as cajun and not as spicy as jerk. As the protein is being cooked, the rich dark flavor forms during the Maillard reaction giving a dark black color. The seasoning is going to give our salmon salad a fantastic flavor!
Our basic blackening spice is a mix of:
- Brown Sugar
- Dark Chili Powder
- Kosher Salt
- Start by making your spice blend.
- If the fish has the belly and some cartilage, remove that with a sharp filet or boning knife. This is also the time to remove the pin bones if they are still there using strong tweezers.
- Cut the filet into 4 steaks. The easiest way to keep them even, is cut the salmon filet in half once. Then cut each of those steaks in half again. That will give four equal pieces.
- Coat the salmon with olive oil and then liberally season the flesh side of the filet. We don’t bother with the skin unless you like eating the skin.
- Before grilling, prepare the salad ingredients and vinaigrette so the salmon can be served warm.
We strongly recommend that the salmon filet’s be quartered PRIOR to grilling. Once grilled, the salmon gets very flaky and the cut won’t be as clean.
Orange Vinaigrette Dressing
In a small jar combine the following ingredients and shake to incorporate. If more than 4 people, double the portions.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- ½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon coarse or freshly cracked black pepper
Grilled Salmon Salad Ingredients
For four people we plan 6 cups of rinsed and dried greens. Hearty greens like romaine, green, or red lead lettuce are great. In addition to the greens we use:
- cherry or grape tomatoes
- sliced red onion
- orange slices – we used blood oranges for the salad and navel for the vinaigrette
- slivered almonds or other nuts, for crunch
How to Make Grilled Salmon Salad
- Start by preparing your grill for two-zone cooking targeting 500 degrees F over the hot coal or as the ambient temperature inside the grill. This will allow a hot side for the sear and blackening, and a cooler side to finish the salmon. Use the same method on the gas grill.
- Grill the salmon flesh side down first to get the blackened sear and cover grill. This is where good long tongs are important over a hot coal bed. The sear should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Flip the salmon, skin side down, over direct heat and cover grill. The skin will absorb a lot of the heat and may get crispy, which is normal. After 4 minutes, check the temperature of the salmon. Pull the salmon when the internal temperature of the salmon in the thickest part is between 135 and 140 degrees F using an instant read thermometer, like the Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen.
- If the salmon is not yet at temperature after 4 – 5 minutes then place the salmon over indirect heat and finish cooking until the internal temperature is reached.
- Toss the greens and salad ingredients with the vinaigrette. Put salad mix on four plates and then place the warm salmon over the top.
Important Note – Clean grill grates help avoid any fish from sticking.
Oven modification – If you don’t have a grill, the best way to blacken the salmon is to roast it under a broiler set to high, or sear the flesh in a hot pan. When the caramelization looks like the color you like, finish by roasting in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until the internal temperature of the salmon is between 135 and 140 degrees F.
The salmon alone is a great match for a red like Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, or even Merlot. BUT between the bold seasoning on the rich grilled salmon, and the bright citrus vinaigrette, there’s a lot going on with this salad.
My favorite pairing, and one that can handle the fish plus the acidic dressing, is sparkling wine. Rosé sparkling wine to be specific. You get the best of both worlds — red wine, plus the cooling and acidic nature of the sparkling wine to balance out the salad ingredients. A still rosé would be my second choice for this.
Other Salad Recipes
Explore our full list of salad recipes but here are some of our favorites.
- Grilled Chicken Salad with Candied Pecans
- Black Bean Salad
- Grilled Buffalo Chicken Salad
- Grilled Beet Salad
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