should you eat salmon skin? crispy pan seared salmon

Can You Eat Salmon Skin? Absolutely

Can you eat salmon skin? You bet. Cooked crispy and golden brown, it’s the most delicious and healthiest part of the fish.

Salmon Skin

Salmon live in very cold water; their skin serves to protect and insulate them. Salmon skin is high in protein and omega 3’s. The skin is covered in scales and needs to be descaled before eating. This step has usually been performed already if you are buying at the grocery store.

Can You Eat Salmon Skin?

Absolutely you can eat salmon skin. And you should eat salmon skin. It is nutritious and delicious.

Is Eating Salmon Skin Healthy?

Salmon skin has the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids on the entire salmon. These omega-3 fatty acids may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, arthritis, and stroke. Your body can’t make them; you have to eat them or take supplements (from WebMD). If you throw away the skin, you are missing out on these nutrients.

How to Prepare Salmon with Skin On

The skin of salmon needs to be descaled before cooking. You can buy the salmon already descaled (which I would recommend for convenience). If you do get salmon with the scales, you can descale easily at home using a knife or a specialized fish scaler tool.

How to Cook Salmon With Skin On

Cooking salmon with the skin is easy, but there are a few pitfalls to avoid. Probably the biggest potential disaster is the skin sticking to the cooking surface. There are a few tricks to avoid this.

First, dry the salmon skin with a paper towel right before cooking. If you are going to season the fish skin, do so immediately before cooking or afterward. If you season too early, the salt will draw water out onto the skin. The salmon skin should be as dry as possible when it initially touches the cooking surface.

Specialized Fish Tongs

Second, make sure the cooking surface is very hot when the salmon first makes contact. If using a pan, the pan and oil should be hot before the salmon goes in the pan.

Cook Salmon in a Pan With Skin

To cook salmon in a pan with skin, make sure the skin on your salmon filet is dry. Heat up your pan on medium heat without oil. When pan is hot, add oil. Make sure you are using an oil with a high smoke point (canola oil works well). As soon as you see the faintest wisp of smoke from your oil, it is time to add the fish. Don’t let the oil smoke too much or the flavor will be compromised.

Lay the salmon in the pan skin side down. I press down on the top of the fish at the beginning so that all of the skin is making contact with the pan. The fish will want to curl up at the beginning causing regions of the skin to retract from the surface of the pan. As a result, these regions will not get crispy. If you press down at the beginning with your hand or a fish spatula, you can force the entire surface of the skin to make contact with the pan. After a few seconds, you can let go and the skin will remain in full contact.

Wusthof Slotted Fish Spatula

Once you are done this initial step, you can turn down the heat and let the skin cook slowly, which will get it perfectly crispy and golden brown. I cook my salmon about 90% with the skin side down, and then flip at the end for the last 10% to finish it.

Cook Salmon on Grill With Skin

To cook salmon on grill with skin, first make sure your salmon skin is dry. Brush the skin with oil before placing on the grill. Make sure your grill is very hot. Place salmon skin side down on the grill. Cook skin side down until skin is nice and crispy. The skin of the salmon may stick to the grill at first – DO NOT TRY TO REMOVE IT OR YOU MAY DAMAGE THE FISH. Simply let it cook without touching it. It will naturally release later in the cooking process.


Browne & Co CUISIPRO Fish Tongs Red, One size

  • Loop for hanging
  • Designed to pick up fish in one piece
  • Patented locking pull mechanism, push to open – pull to lock
  • Color: Red

MIU France Large Stainless Steel Slotted Turner, 3 by 11-Inch

  • Slotted turning head drains excess grease back into the pan
  • Also ideal for cooking scrambled eggs or stir fry vegetables
  • Made of durable stainless steel with a riveted polyoxymethylene handle
  • Lightweight kitchen tool–great for everyday use
  • Dishwasher safe

Wusthof Gourmet Offset Slotted Spatula, 6-1/2-Inch

  • 6-1/2-inch offset slotted spatula with razor-thin flexible blade
  • Stamped from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel
  • Synthetic polypropylene handle riveted for durability
  • Made in Germany; hand wash for best results
  • Measures approximately 11 by 4 by 1 inches; limited lifetime warranty


The Flavor Dance

1 Comment

  1. I always am skeptical about eating salmon skin, but your guide to properly cooking salmon with the skin on makes it more appealing. I’m sure the skin on wild salmon is especially good. 

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