A little salty, and definitely savory, soy sauce is the base of my new go-to salmon marinade recipe. Brightened up with lemon zest, lately, I’m using this magic marinade on every piece of salmon that’s headed to the grill or into the oven. Plus, you can mix it up in mere minutes.
For more fast and flavorful (never fishy!) ideas, try easy dijon salmon or mix it up with this yummy pesto salmon.
Make it Easy with a Marinade
I want my meals to be flavor packed all the time—but especially when it comes to Salmon. Longtime LPK readers know this about me. Traditionally, it hasn’t been my favorite protein, but it has so many healthy things going for it that I worked hard to get it into our diet. I did this by using other flavor combinations that I do love.
But, especially with this new marinade, I can’t say ‘salmon isn’t my favorite’ anymore. Salmon is tender, never feels too heavy, and has played well with every flavor I have thrown at it. What’s not to like? And with this marinade, it’s never been easier.
Soy sauce, lemon zest, and a little punchy garlic are balanced with a bit of sweetness from the maple syrup. So much flavor! 30 minutes is all you need for it to work its magic.
Just be warned—my new favorite marinade just might make salmon your new favorite protein! Enjoy – Linds x
Best Salmon Marinade Ingredients
- Maple syrup – Fish is really great at soaking up salt (soy sauce, salt, etc.) which is why I balance it with a touch of sweetness to round out the flavor. Use whatever maple syrup you like, I love Birch Blender’s for a low carb substitute. You can also sub for honey or brown sugar.
- Light soy sauce or regular soy sauce, whichever you prefer. This adds a bit of umami to this Asian salmon marinade.
- Salt – I usually top this dish with 1/4 teaspoon of finishing salt. As you know salt is easy to add and impossible to take away. Start with less and increase based on your palette.
- Minced garlic – garlic powder is not a substitute. The fresh garlic will release oils as the salmon marinates for extra flavor.
- Salmon fillets – I always purchase wild caught salmon due to the contaminants found in farmed.
Can I Marinate Frozen Salmon?
If the salmon you’re marinating is frozen, you’ll want to completely defrost it before you begin. To defrost your fish quickly, place it in a large bowl of room-temp water for 20-30 minutes.
How to Make Easy Salmon Marinade
1. Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Set aside 1 tablespoon.
3. Place salmon in a resealable bag.
4. Pour marinade on top. Marinade for 30 minutes – 2 hours. Then cook based on preference.
How long should salmon marinate?
I typically let this salmon marinade for 30 minutes, but no longer than 2 hours. This marinade contains lemon juice, which will cook salmon if it marinates too long (similar to ceviche). This applies to marinade for salmon, or any other meat for that matter!
Is It Safe To Marinade Salmon Overnight?
This particular recipe should not be used for overnight marinating, as the salmon would sit in the lemon juice longer than 2 hours.
Can you freeze salmon in marinade?
No, this marinade should not be frozen with the salmon in it, as salmon takes longer than 2 hours to defrost in the fridge,
How to Cook Salmon
Marinated salmon is super easy to grill, bake, or pan sear–pan searing is my favorite method to cook salmon, however since this marinade is so simple, I like to use it as a grilled salmon marinade. Feel free to cook it however you prefer!
You’ll know your salmon is cooked through once the center flakes easily and is dark pink–it should register at 145 F if using a meat thermometer, although I typically pull my salmon a little early as it will continue to cook as it rests.
1. How do you grill salmon?
Like most fish, salmon is flaky and delicate, which makes it difficult to grill directly on the grates. The trick is to not flip the salmon until it’s cooked enough, otherwise, the fish will flake apart.
You’ll want a medium high heated grill and well-greased grates. Start with the skin side down, and be sure to use a fish spatula to flip. I typically grill on each side for 5-8 minutes.
2. How do you bake salmon?
Preheat your oven to 450 F and grab a rimmed baking sheet. Place salmon skin side down and bake for about 12-15 minutes–again until the center is cooked through.
3. How do you pan sear salmon?
Pan seared salmon is the easiest way to get extra crispy skin for added texture. You’ll want to sear it in a touch of oil over medium high heat. Start with the skin side down and flip once the skin is crisp and is no longer sticking to the pan. Cook on the second side until the inside of the salmon is cooked through, and the flesh has a golden sear.
What to Serve With Grilled Salmon
Anything you’re craving! I love serving this salmon alongside a fresh salad, or some cooked veggies.
- If grilling: throw some veggies on the grill. Think grilled portobello mushrooms or grilled asparagus.
- If baking: consider using your stovetop to make sauteed veggies.
- If searing: flip on the oven for this oven roasted zucchini.
This salmon also makes a delicious salmon salad over a bed of fresh and crisp veggies.
More Salmon Recipes
- Pistachio Crusted Salmon
- Smoked Salmon Deviled Eggs
- Crab Stuffed Salmon
- Salmon Bruschetta
- Parmesan Crusted Salmon
Salmon Marinade with Lemon and GarlicPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup I use Birch Blender's sugar free syrup (note1)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce (note 2)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon salt I use 1 teaspoon. I recommend starting with 3/4 teaspoon and finishing with a bit of salt to taste.
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic minced (note 3)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 4-6 ounce salmon fillets skin on or off, your preference (note 4)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all marinade ingredients. Remove 1 tablespoon of marinade at set aside.
- Place salmon (4 4-6 ounce) in a large resealable bag. Pour marinade on top, seal the bag, and shake the salmon. Place the bag in the fridge and allow the salmon to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.
- Before cooking, shake off any garlic, as it can burn when cooked.To grill the salmon: Heat the grill to medium-high heat and grease the grates. Place salmon skin side down and grill for 5-7 minutes on each side. The salmon should flip easily, if the skin sticks to the grates continue to grill until it doesn't. Use a fish spatula to flip (note 5).To bake the salmon: Preheat oven to 450 F. Place salmon skin side down on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until cooked through, should be 12-15 minutes.To pan sear the salmon: Heat avocado oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Start with the skin side down and sear until it flips easily. Cook on the other side until it's seared and the salmon is cooked through.
- Place cooked salmon on a platter or individual plates. Whisk the reserved marinade, then pour over each of the filets before serving. Enjoy!
Fans Also Made These Low Carb Recipes:
- Syrup – if using a low carb substitute, this won’t caramelize as real sugar will. Birch Blender’s is my favorite sugar free sub.
- Soy sauce – regular and light will add the same amount of salty flavor, use whichever you prefer.
- Garlic – powdered garlic isn’t a sub here, as the fresh garlic releases oils and adds more flavor!
- Skin on vs. off – I use salmon with the skin on when I grill or pan sear the fish, as both of these methods will get it crispy. Baking the salmon will not crisp the skin.
- If grilling salmon, I highly recommend using a fish spatula to flip it. They’re larger and help keep your fish in one piece.