How Do You Keep Salmon From Falling Apart On The Grill?

Having been to many barbecues, I can safely say that salmon is not a common item you will find. However, grilling salmon has a wealth of benefits. With that said, it is one of the trickiest things to cook on the grill because it tends to fall apart, so how do you stop that from happening?

One of the most important tips is to consistently place the salmon on low heat and slowly increase the temperature as the salmon cooks. Use a nonstick grill and coat the salmon flesh with olive oil. Always place the salmon with its flesh on the grill and the skin up. Finally, use a spatula, not tongs.

how do you keep salmon from falling apart on the grill

I want to discuss my favorite tips and tricks to prevent your salmon from falling apart. I also want to discuss the main reasons why salmon tends to fall apart when on the grill. 

Also, will using breadcrumbs help keep the salmon together? Well, find out in the rest of this article.

Why Does Salmon Fall Apart On The Grill?

The best way to prevent a piece of salmon from falling apart, whether you are cooking it on the grill, in the pan, or even in the smoker, is to find out why exactly it is falling apart in the first place. 

Some reasons may be more evident than others, so let’s explore them.

  • Salmon flesh is quite delicate, and as it starts to heat up, it can become quite flaky. It’s one of the reasons why this fish is so popular.
  • When cooking salmon on the grill, most people use barbecue tools; instead, it is best to use a spatula while holding the top of the fillet when turning it. If you grab the salmon with a set of barbecue tongs, you squeeze it, and because the salmon is flaky, it could fall apart.
  • Salmon tends to get stuck to the grill, especially when placed on high heat. It is why I always recommend using low heat in the beginning.

With all of that in mind, we can move on to discussing my tips and tricks.

7 Ways To Prevent Salmon Falling Apart On The Grill

There is more than one way of preventing salmon from falling apart on the grill. 

When going through these tips, it is essential to remember that you can combine some of the tips for even better results. For example, using a little olive oil on a nonstick grill will yield great results.

Here are seven easy ways to prevent salmon from falling apart on the grill.

#1 Use Olive Oil

Salmon is already rich, so it is understandable if you are hesitant to use olive oil. However, there are many benefits to using olive oil, including helping the salmon not stick to the grill, which is one of the main reasons salmon starts to fall apart in the first place.

Remember, you don’t want to drench the salmon in oil. So, using a cooking brush, lightly coat the salmon flesh with olive oil; you don’t have to do the skin. 

Once you have coated the salmon flesh with olive oil, you can add herbs and spices.

Remember, you still have to start the salmon on low heat.

#2 Use Foil

Using foil is excellent in many situations, but sometimes you don’t want to cook salmon that way. Instead, you want to grill it for the flavors grilling salmon offers. 

With that said, not only can you get all the flavor by placing some foil, but you can also still get a nice grill. Let me explain:

Placing the salmon in foil allows you to add herbs and spices, as well as some butter and lemon juice. This will create a sort of “steam” that helps the salmon stay moist and tender. You can even add some vegetables for extra flavor.

Once you have everything in the foil pouch, you can use medium heat to get the right temperature without worrying about burning or over-cooking the salmon.

When the salmon is cooked, you can remove it from the foil.

Once you remove the salmon from the foil, place it on the grill. Again, use a low heat and slowly increase it to get that nice char flavor. 

Pre-cooked salmon is less likely to stick to the grill and fall apart.

#3 Make The Grill Non-Stick

If you are unsure whether or not your grill is nonstick, all you have to do is use a little bit of cooking spray or even baking spray just before you light the grill. 

The most significant problem with this method is that the spray can change the flavor of the salmon, even if it is slightly.

#4 Cast Iron Grills Are The Best

Cast iron grills are often nonstick and tend to hold their nonstick properties for longer than a stainless steel grill. 

#5 Use The Right Tools

When you handle the salmon, it is essential to remember that you are handling delicate fish, and it is so easy for the flesh to start to fall apart. 

No matter how much care you take in ensuring that your grill is nonstick and the salmon is coated with olive oil, if you don’t use the right tools, your salmon could still fall apart.

I always recommend using a spatula, as it lets you get underneath the salmon and lift it without squeezing it. It is also advisable to use a second spatula to hold the salmon gently on top while you lift it.

#6 Clean The Grill Thoroughly

The last tip to prevent the salmon from falling apart on the grill is to clean the grill thoroughly before you start cooking. Any leftover residue will not only cause the salmon to break apart but can also give the salmon an unpleasant flavor.

You can use a wire brush, an abrasive sponge, or even a damp cloth to wipe the grill grates before cooking. Another option is to turn the grill on high heat to burn off any excess residue.

Leave the grill on high heat for 3-5 minutes, then turn it back down to medium heat before adding the salmon.

#7 Start On A Low Heat

I have mentioned it a few times in this article but always start on low heat. Once the salmon hits the grill, you don’t want it to be too hot because this will almost blend the flesh with the grill.

Once the salmon sticks to the grill, you are more likely to struggle to get it off and open yourself up to the possibility of the salmon breaking apart when trying to lift it.

Will Breadcrumbs Stop Salmon Falling Apart On The Grill?

Yes, breadcrumbs will help prevent salmon from falling apart on the grill. However, I did not include it in my tips and tricks because it is not my favorite way of preparing salmon.

Also, using breadcrumbs will add a level of crisps to the fish, which many people enjoy. 

However, I feel it takes away from the experience of eating salmon, so I tend not to do it. Instead, I will use breadcrumbs when I fry salmon, but not very often.

Final Word

I hope I start seeing more people grilling salmon at barbecues. However, even just for a nice family dinner, cooking salmon on a grill is a healthy way of preparing one of the best forms of protein on the market. 

If you can quickly cook the salmon on your grill without having it fall apart, that is another tool in your arsenal of bragging rights.

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