Grilled Whole Salmon



  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 whole wild salmon, dressed (2-8 lbs. depending on type of salmon)
  • 1 small bunch of parsley or fresh dill
  • 1 bulb fennel with fronds, thinly sliced
  • 1- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
  • Olive Oil


Looking to wow your guests and still feed a crowd for dinner? Grill a whole fish! It’s much easier than you might imagine. The size of fish varies by species, so choose one that is the right size for your crowd. You will want about ¾ lb whole fish per adult (a 6 lb fish will feed about 8 adults). Sockeye, Coho and Pink salmon are ideally sized for grilling.

  1. Preheat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.

  2. Rinse the whole salmon inside and out and pat dry with paper towels. Place salmon on a large platter or baking sheet.

  3. Make three to four angled cuts or slits into the salmon along both sides, about 3/4 inch deep. Be sure not to cut all the way through. The slits are used to create an opening from the outside of the fish to better season it.

  4. Liberally season the cavity of the fish, the slits, and the skin with salt and pepper.

  5. Stuff the cavity with sliced fennel bulb, fennel fronds, lemon, parsley, dill, or a combination of the two.

  6. Tie the fish closed with butcher twine in 3-4 spots to help hold the aromatics in.

  7. Brush the fish with olive oil.

  8. Place the fish directly on the grill. If you feel nervous about putting the fish directly on the grill, lightly wrap the salmon in one layer of aluminum foil, and poke a few holes in the foil so it can take on some of the smoky flavors of the grill.

  9. Close the grill cover and make sure the vents are open if using charcoal.

  10. When the skin is browned on the first side, about 20 minutes, use 2 spatulas (a friend can help too) to loosen the skin from the grate and carefully turn it over.

  11. Continue cooking until the fish is cooked through. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145' F.

  12. Remove the fish from the grill onto a platter and allow it to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

  13. Remove the butcher's twine and the flesh will easily pull away from the bones.

  14. Serve with lemon wedges. Homemade tartar sauce or an herb salsa verde would also be delicious.