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Four pieces of salmon topped with corn salsa on a wooden cutting board.

Grilled Salmon with Cotija Corn Salsa

  • Author: Jessie
  • Prep Time: 25 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4
  • Category: Grilling
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Gluten Free


A quick and easy grilled salmon with 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


  • 1 large salmon fillet (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into four equal-sized portions and pin bones removed
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt to taste



  1. Preheat a grill or grill pan until it’s very hot.
  2. 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)


  1. 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.


  1. Pat the salmon with a paper towel until it is very dry.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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