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How Long to Marinate Salmon?

Need to know how long to marinate salmon for best results? Find out — and try two simple marinade recipes.

While most meats benefit from hours of marinating to really help flavors penetrate deep into the meat, marinating salmon is a bit different. 

Here we’re sharing how long to marinate salmon to ensure that it is delicious and full of flavor.

Miso Glazed Salmon Photo

What is Marinating?

Marinating is the process of soaking foods — generally meat — in a sauce.

The sauce itself is called the “marinade” while the process of soaking your food is “to marinate” it. Kinda confusing how similar the two words are, we know.

There are two reasons to do this, generally speaking. The primary one is to give the meat added flavor by letting it soak up the sauce for longer. The other reason is to soften the meat.

As we’ll get into in a moment, you really don’t need to soften fish like salmon. And that’s why marinating for too long is actually counterproductive. 

Still, it can be a great idea to marinate your fish for the appropriate amount of time to give it some added flavor. Let’s walk through the right way to do it so you get the maximum benefits without any of the drawbacks.

Grilled Salmon with Corn Avocado Salsa Photo

How to Marinate Salmon for the Right Amount of Time

The key to knowing how long to marinate salmon depends on knowing what kind of marinade you’re using.

You should marinate salmon for up to 20 to 30 minutes with an acid-based marinades (those that include a lot of vinegar or citrus juice for instance).

Any longer than that and the acid can break down the salmon, which will result in a mushy piece of fish.

Nobody loves mushy fish! (Okay, some people like gefilte fish or other similar fish products, but that’s a different category altogether.)

For other types of marinade, you can marinate salmon for up to an hour.

Alternately, if you’re using a simple combination of herbs, spices and oil, you can likely get away with marinating it for up to six hours.

Miso Glazed Salmon Picture

Do You Have to Marinate Salmon?

Short answer — no! 

There are plenty of salmon recipes that don’t call for a marinade. It really just depends on the flavor you’re going for, but you can absolutely achieve a delicious salmon meal without going through the extra step (and time!) of marinating the fish.

For example, this classic lemon basil salmon recipe is perfectly good without a marinade. And if you want something a little more creative — or maybe you’re addicted to Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning mix like we are — try this roasted salmon with everything bagel spice that we love.

(You don’t have to live near a Trader Joe’s to buy the mix — it’s online — but there are also other companies that offer similar products. We just think they’re inferior.)

Roasted Salmon with Everything Bagel Spice Photo

Salmon Recipes to Try

Salmon is one of our favorite proteins because it’s delicious and loaded with nutritional benefits. If you’re ready to start cooking, try one of these recipes:

Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner Pic

Ready to start marinating? Here are two easy recipes we recommend starting with, depending on your personal preference and palate.

Salmon Marinades

There are no hard and fast rules about what kind of marinades are best for salmon.

As with meat or poultry, you should have fun experimenting with what flavor combinations you love best.

Soy Sauce Marinade

This simple, classic soy sauce marinade has a slight Asian influence that pairs beautifully with salmon. 

Because it uses balsamic vinegar you’ll want to be sure to not marinate the salmon for too long.

Breakfast Sweet Potato Nachos
Miso Glazed Salmon Photo

Soy Sauce Marinade

Cyd Converse
This delicious soy sauce marinade is perfect for salmon, steak, chicken or pork. It adds amazing flavor to grilled or roasted poultry, meat or fish!
2.83 from 54 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 691 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Powder

Instructions
 

  • In small mixing bowl combine all ingredients and then and whisk until combined.
  • If using right away, pouring over steak, chicken, or pork and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  • To use later, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 691kcalCarbohydrates: 45gProtein: 6gFat: 54gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 5100mgFiber: 1gSugar: 33g
Keyword Marinades
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Miso Glazed Salmon Image

Mediterranean Marinade

Loaded with lemon, garlic and fresh herbs our Mediterranean marinade is an ideal choice for salmon.

Use it for grilled or roasted salmon, and then use any leftover salmon on top of a salad the next day.

Breakfast Sweet Potato Nachos
Marinated Lamb Chops Photo

Mediterranean Marinade

Cyd Converse
This homemade Mediterranean marinade is perfect for marinating fish, pork, chicken, or even steaks.
2.44 from 18 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 1
Calories 536 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large Lemons
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Oregano chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Fresh Thyme chopped
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Combine all of the ingredients in small mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Pour over lamb chops, chicken, fish or steak.
  • Store it in the fridge for up to a week in an airtight container.

Nutrition

Calories: 536kcalCarbohydrates: 14gFat: 54gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 1125mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4g
Keyword Herbs, Marinades
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Now you’re ready to enjoy some delicious marinated salmon! Enjoy.