Perfect Salmon Every Time: Mastering Internal Cooking Temperatures

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Salmon is a delicious fish that has become very popular over the years. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals.

The Internal Temperature Of Salmon When Done

The health benefits of salmon include lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Cooking time varies depending on the size of the fish and whether it is fresh. However, it can be really easy to overcook fish, which does not have a very appealing texture.

The majority of people overcook their salmon, because the USDA recommends that salmon is cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. 

In this article, we will be discussing the true internal temperature you should cook your salmon to. This is why you can say goodbye to dry salmon forever. 

Internal Temperature Of Salmon

Cooking salmon can vary in a lot of different ways. However, the best internal temperature that you should be looking out for should be between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

With this internal temperature, you are ensuring really moist, juicy and flavorful salmon. 

However, you can’t tell when your salmon is done just by looking at it anymore. Opaque flesh isn’t a good way for identifying when your salmon is cooked.

If you wait for the salmon to turn opaque, then you are mostly looking at overcooked salmon. Hence, start by checking the internal temperature instead. 

If you happen to be cooking with wild salmon, it is said that you only need to cook them to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is because wild salmon is known to contain more collagen and connective tissue.

Hence, you only need to cook the salmon to 120 degrees and the tissues within the meat will contract less and resin much more of their moisture. 

Types Of Salmon

The Internal Temperature Of Salmon When Done

There are various varieties of salmon that you can choose to cook from. Each different variety has a different fat content, which you should look out for.

This can affect the way in which you may want to cook that type of salmon. 

The most common types of salmon that you may come across are pacific wild salmon. This includes Coho, King, and Sockeye salmon. However, there are also Atlantic Salmon that have been farmed. 

Below is some further information on all of these varieties of salmon and the best way to cook them. This way you won’t overcook them and end up with dry salmon. 

King Salmon

The King Salmon can also be referred to as Chinook Salmon. This type of salmon is actually one of the largest breeds of salmon you will find in the ocean.

It is known that in some rare chances, these salmon have grown to monstrous sizes. The King Salmon has a very high fat content, therefore it is preferable to pan fry or roast this type of salmon.

Coho Salmon 

Coho Salmon is a smaller variety of salmon, yet it is still full of flavor. This salmon has very little fat, and is ideal to be used in cured dishes. 

Sockeye Salmon 

When compared to the King Salmon, the Sockeye Salmon has a deeper red flesh color. This type of salmon has lots of flavor and a lot less fat content compared to the King Salmon too.

You need to be careful when cooking this salmon. It is easy to dry this salmon out, without properly cooking it at the same time. 

Atlantic Salmon 

In America, Atlantic Salmon is the most common type of salmon you will come across and that is consumed. As these salmon are farm-raised, they are confined to pens in the ocean.

Therefore, they have a large amount of intramuscular fat that you need to be aware of when it comes to cooking this type of fish. 

Temperature To Cook Salmon At

The temperature that you cook your salmon at will vary depending on your chosen cooking method.

There are various ways in which you can cook salmon, you don’t have to just stick to pan frying your salmon. 

Overall, you want to cook your salmon on a temperature that isn’t too high that will cook the outside before the heat has reached the middle.

It is all about finding that right balance. Typically, if you are cooking salmon in the oven, then 325 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended cooking temperature.

Yet ideally, you are aiming for an internal temperature between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Cooking Salmon Methods

The Internal Temperature Of Salmon When Done

When we talk about cooking salmon, we are basing these methods on a 6 to 8 ounce salmon filet. If you were cooking a whole salmon, then it is best to cook that fish in the oven at 325 degrees.

You may wonder why a lower temperature, but this lower temperature means that the whole fish has time to cook at the same time and reach the optimal internal temperature.

If the temp was any higher than the tail of the fish would cook quicker and dry out before the head of the fish was even close to being cooked. 

Timings do depend on the size of the salmon that you have.

However, it is worth investing in a thermometer probe, so that you can easily identify the internal temperature of the middle of your salmon. Thus, less guess work!

Pan Frying

Heat a pan or skillet to a medium to high heat, with a tablespoon of oil. Then you can place the salmon, skin side down, on the pan until the skin is crispy. This can take around 3 to 5 minutes. 

Then flip the salmon to cook the flesh for around 2 to 4 minutes. After that, you need to let the salmon rest for a minimum of 5 minutes.

The residual heat will bring the center of your salmon up to the optimal internal temperature. 


Reheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack in your oven.

Now with this method you should score the salmon skin with up to 4 slashes, however, you only want to cut the skin. Don’t cut into the flesh.

Pat the salmon dry and then rub it all over with some oil and seasonings. Now, you can turn the temperature of the oven down to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can place the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet. Roast the almonds until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 

With oven-roasting, this car takes around 8 to 12 minutes for the salmon to come up to temperature. Once it’s out of the oven, let it rest for up to 5 minutes. 


With grilled, we are talking about a propane or charcoal grill. 

For a charcoal grill, you need to light the briquettes. While for a propane grill, you need to leave up to 2 burners on a high setting.

However, once the grill is hot, you can place the salmon on the grill, with the skin side down. Cover the grill and allow the salmon to cook for around 3 minutes. 

After this time, check the salmon to see if it lifts from the grill easily.

If it does, then you can flip the salmon over and cook for another couple of minutes, until the middle of the fish reaches 120 degrees.

After that, allow the salmon to rest off the grill for 5 minutes. 

Sous Vide 

Set your water bath to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, and add your seasoning to your salmon. Place your salmon into a ziplock freezer safe bag and place it in the water.

Then you should cook the salmon for around 20 minutes. It will look quite opaque and after 20 minutes it will be ready to serve. 


There are different ways in which you can cook salmon.

However, you need to be mindful of your cooking time, as you don’t want to overcook your salmon.

The best way to make sure you don’t dry out your salmon is to cook it to an internal temperature of 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. 

We hope you have enjoyed this article and can now understand how to cook your salmon perfectly.

Julian Wells

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