This easy grilled salmon recipe is topped with a quick corn salsa and ready in just half an hour! With cilantro, cotija cheese, and green onion.
Internet, meet the easiest summer meal ever. Easiest summer meal ever, meet the internet.
Salmon and corn go SO well together, and this easy grilled corn salsa is the perfect complement to the natural sweetness of salmon. Skip the grilled corn if you're short on time (canned or frozen will both work fine) but if you can swing it, grilling the corn adds a ton of flavor and depth.
This is a very forgiving recipe - use what you have and check our notes if you need some substitution ideas! Grill your corn and salmon on an outdoor grill, use a grill pan, or skip the grill entirely and bake your salmon in the oven!
As always, we're using sustainable (and delicious!) wild Alaskan salmon in this recipe.
Why wild Alaskan salmon?
Alaska has strict rules in place to ensure their fisheries are sustainably managed, and many of the fishermen and -women who catch our wild salmon are small, family-owned businesses. (You can learn more about sustainable salmon in this episode of our podcast!)
What type of salmon should I use?
In these photos, we're using a Wild Sockeye Salmon fillet from the Copper River region of Alaska.
Sockeye, Coho, or Chinook Salmon are all good choices for this recipe. We'd recommend saving your King Salmon for another recipe (like our balsamic salmon with strawberry salsa!) because its delicate, buttery texture can make it a little more difficult to grill.
How to buy sustainable salmon
Note: We prefer Wild Alaskan Salmon for many reasons (check out our podcast for more), but it isn’t the *only* sustainable salmon choice. Several salmon aquaculture (fish farming) companies are now also certified “Best Choice” by Monterey Bay Seafood Watch. Not all fish farms are created equal, though - so be sure to ask exactly where and how your fish was farmed if you're not sure. When in doubt, check Monterey Bay Seafood Watch for up-to-date recommendations on sustainable seafood.
Alright. Let's talk about this corn salsa.
This easy corn salsa is the PERFECT accompaniment to your favorite grilled salmon recipes. All you need:
- grilled corn (no fresh corn, or no time to grill? Use canned or frozen corn kernels instead)
- fresh cilantro
- lime juice
- salt and pepper
- green onions (but you can swap red onion, shallot, or a mild white onion if you need to)
- cotija cheese (it lends a perfect pop of salt and texture and is sturdy enough to hold its own in this salsa!)
This salsa is easy to customize. Add some diced jalapeño, roasted poblano or red pepper, black beans, avocado, tomatoes, or anything else you have on hand!
A few meal prep & make-ahead tips:
Make this salsa in its entirety a day in advance if you like. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to serve.
You can also grill your corn ahead of time, cut the kernels off, and keep it in the fridge for a day or two until you're ready to assemble the salsa. I love grilling a ton of corn at the start of the week and throwing it into salads, pasta, and salsas for the next few days!
Can I use frozen salmon?
We don't recommend putting frozen salmon straight onto the grill. It's more likely to stick that way, and the extra cooking time can make it a bit rubbery.
Fortunately, you can thaw frozen salmon VERY quickly - so no worries if all you have on hand are a few frozen fish portions!
If your frozen salmon is vacuum-packed and airtight, simply submerge it - still in its packaging - in a bowl of cold water for 15-30 minutes until thawed. (See this safe thawing guide from the USDA for more info!)Print
A quick and easy grilled salmon with corn salsa.
FOR THE CORN SALSA:
- 4 ears corn, shucked
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 ounce cotija cheese, crumbled
- 3 Tablespoons lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE SALMON:
- 1 large salmon fillet (about 1 ½ pounds), cut into four equal-sized portions and pin bones removed
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- Kosher salt to taste
GRILL THE CORN:
- Preheat a grill or grill pan until it’s very hot.
- Grill the corn, rotating every few minutes, until lightly charred. Remove to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle, then cut off the kernels. (Pro tip: prep the rest of your salsa ingredients while your corn grills)
MIX THE SALSA:
- Add grilled corn kernels, chopped cilantro, green onion, cotija cheese, lime juice, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl and stir to combine. Set aside while you grill the salmon.
GRILL THE SALMON:
- Pat the salmon with a paper towel until it is very dry.
- Use a pastry brush to lightly brush both sides of the salmon with canola oil (this prevents the fish from sticking to the grill), then season both sides with kosher salt.
- Place the salmon skin-side up on the hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip and cook for 3-5 minutes more. When it’s ready to flip, the fish should lift easily off the grill with a spatula. If it's sticking too much, give it another minute and try again.
- Top grilled salmon with corn salsa, sprinkle with some extra cilantro for garnish, and serve immediately.
Additions and substitutions. Use canned or frozen corn in place of grilled corn if you like (just thaw the frozen corn before using). Add diced jalapeño, roasted poblano or red pepper, avocado, black beans, or tomatoes to the corn salsa. Omit the cotija cheese to keep this recipe dairy-free. Use steelhead instead of salmon if you prefer. Use vegetable oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) in place of canola oil.
What kind of salmon should I use? We prefer using Wild Alaskan Salmon in our recipes because of its high quality and sustainability. We used wild sockeye salmon portions in these photos. Remove the salmon skin or descale it and leave it on - totally up to you!
To bake this salmon instead of grilling, bake salmon portions at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Make-ahead tip: Make this salsa a day ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to serve. You could also grill the corn ahead of time, remove the kernels, and store kernels in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days before making the salsa.
To avoid using a paper towel: We try to avoid single-use products as much as possible in our kitchen, but unfortunately sometimes a paper towel is just the fastest way to blot fish or meat dry before grilling. A dry surface helps our fish develop a crispy, golden brown crust, which also prevents sticking and makes it easier to lift the fish off the grill when it's time to flip or serve. If you have a bit of extra time, place your salmon portions (with no salt) on a cutting board or sheet pan and set in the fridge - uncovered and away from other food - for 15-30 minutes before grilling. The cold, dry air in the fridge can help dry the surface of the salmon so you won't need to blot it with a paper towel.
If you have leftovers, throw extra cold salmon and salsa into a salad the next day. Salmon doesn't reheat particularly well, but these leftovers taste great cold! We like tossing extra salmon and salsa with some greens and a quick lime dressing.
This recipe was updated in 2020 with additional photos and notes.
Keywords: summer, BBQ, grilling