Healthy Ways to Serve Salmon


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help keep your heart and your brain healthy, without being high in total fats. It's rich in B-complex vitamins, a few minerals, and can add a substantial amount of vitamin D to your daily intake.

Salmon also contains astaxanthin, a carotenoid that's related to vitamin A and believed to have antioxidant and immune-stimulating properties.

Sometimes, preparing foods in certain ways can add calories from extra fats or sugars. Here's a look at six healthy ways to serve salmon, giving you plenty of options, no matter what your preferred cooking method.


Grilled Salmon

Grill cooking is considered healthful because it doesn't require the addition of any extra fat, other than a little coating of oil on the grill itself. Salmon is perfect for the grill, especially when you compare it to white fish, because the flesh stays firm as it cooks and doesn't fall apart. 

Don't have a grill? A broiler oven should do the trick. But whether you grill or broil your salmon, don't wander too far away. It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes of total cooking time.

Pro Tip: Keep your grilled salmon dinner healthy by serving the fish with a little squeeze of lemon. Add a big salad made with your favorite greens or a side of any colorful cooked vegetable.


Poached Salmon

Poaching involves cooking the salmon in a liquid that's simmering gently in a skillet on your stovetop. One option is to simmer it in water that is spiced with your favorite herbs and seasonings, or you can poach your fish in wine or broth.

Poaching doesn't take long at all, so your salmon will be ready in just a few minutes. Poached salmon is often served cold but it can also be served warm. Either way, the result is a nice delicate fish.

Poaching your salmon is one of the quickest, easiest, and healthiest ways to cook it.

Pro Tip: Serve chilled poached salmon with a cauliflower "potato" salad for a refreshing and healthy summer lunch. Warm poached salmon can be served with a side of steamed vegetables, such as green beans or broccoli.


Baked Salmon

Salmon filets and steaks can be baked in your oven, and you can bake them in a pan or in parchment paper. Using parchment paper helps keep the fish from sticking while also simplifying clean-up.

Baking is healthful because it doesn't add any extra fat or calories to the fish—as long as you cook it plain or with seasonings. Using heavy, high-calorie sauces can change your fish's nutritional value and make it more difficult to stay within your dietary guidelines.

Baking does take a little longer than other cooking methods. So, expect your fish to spend about 20 to 30 minutes in the oven, depending on the temperature you set.

Pro Tip: Serve your baked salmon with Brussels sprouts and walnuts, and a glass of white wine for a nutritious and filling meal. 


Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon doesn't have as much of the omega-3 fatty acids as fresh or canned salmon, but it can still be a healthy food. It is prepared by first curing the fish in a brine solution, then letting it dry a bit. Next, it spends time in smoke that is created by burning wood chips in a smoker.

You can buy pre-packaged smoked salmon if you don't have a smoker, or you can smoke salmon on a grill or even indoors. Smoked salmon is often served as a healthy snack but can also be used as an ingredient in some recipes. 

Pro Tip: Serve smoked salmon slices on whole grain crackers with just a little bit of cream cheese and a couple of capers on top for a savory snack. 


Canned Salmon

One benefit of canned salmon is that, unlike fresh salmon, it won't go bad in a week if you forget to cook it. There's a lot to be said for the convenience of canned fish. 

The key to keeping canned salmon healthful is to choose the right recipes. Combine your canned salmon with fresh ingredients and try to avoid condiments or sides that are higher in fat or calories.

Simply serve canned salmon on whole grain bread with lettuce and sliced tomato or add it to your garden salad to make a meal of it. You can also add canned salmon to a quiche recipe for a protein boost and different taste.

Pro Tip: Most cans of salmon also contain bones and skin, which some people don't seem to mind. If this is unappealing to you, read the labels and choose a canned salmon that leaves these "extras" out.


Raw Salmon

Fresh, raw salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and has a wonderful flavor. Raw salmon is often served as sushi or sashimi, but you might also find salmon carpaccio, crudo, or ceviche.

Nigiri, or hand-formed sushi, is an option that is even better with brown rice. Sashimi is good too, but be careful with some of the maki rolls when you order from a menu. They're often served with high-calorie sauces that can overpower this delicate fish.

Pro Tip: Buy high-quality, sushi-grade salmon if you're serving a raw salmon dish.

1 Source
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  1. Ambati RR, Phang SW, Ravi S, Aswathanarayana RG. Astaxanthin: Sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial applications—a review. Mar Drugs. 2014;12(1):128-52. doi:10.3390/md12010128

By Shereen Lehman, MS
Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people.