This Grilled Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple is perfect way to make fish the main meal at your spring and summer cookouts!
Can I confess something? As much as I adore the idea of a cookout– I usually find myself eating semi-sad sandwiches made up of hamburger buns and hamburger toppings– without the meat. Does this happen to you too? If you, like me, choose to avoid red meat– you may feel a little left out when grilling season begins. If you’ve found yourself gazing sadly over piles of grilled red meat, wishing for a healthier option– I’ve got one for you!
This year, as the grills fire up and spring turns into summer– reclaim your grill!!! It’s time to bring seafood out of the kitchen and onto the fire, with this Grilled Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple.
Understanding Salmon Labels
You’ve probably heard that salmon is an excellent, heart-healthy food to include in your diet. You might even be happily devouring salmon on a regular basis. Have you, however, been paying attention to the types of salmon that you’re buying? Have you noticed that sometimes the salmon label says ‘farmed,’ and sometimes it says ‘wild’? Do you know what the labels mean?
Most of the salmon you see in grocery stores here in the U.S. will be farmed Atlantic salmon. Farmed salmon is raised in ‘fish farms.’ Farmed salmon tend to be inexpensive, and while they do contain some healthy omega-3 fatty acids, they are also much more likely to have been exposed to contaminants than wild salmon. You should also know that farmed salmon are typically chemically colored, since farmed salmon do not eat krill, and therefore don’t develop a pretty red or pink hue naturally. You probably won’t see any wild Atlantic salmon at the grocery store or market, because the populations are declining and commercial fishing is restricted. If the salmon in your grocery store isn’t clearly labeled– assume that it’s farmed Atlantic salmon.
The other type of salmon that you’ll probably see is wild Pacific salmon. (Since fish farming is banned in Alaska, you shouldn’t run into anything labeled farmed Pacific.) There are five species of wild Pacific salmon, but the two you’re most likely to find are pink salmon and sockeye salmon. Both are delicious– pink salmon are smaller, affordable, and perfect for weeknight dinners (or even date night!). Sockeye salmon (or red salmon) are large, bright red fish, and are one of the fattiest types of salmon– making them FABULOUS! For this recipe– use sockeye salmon if at all possible, because it will hold up beautifully on the grill.
Where can you find sockeye salmon? Start by shopping with a seafood brand that you trust. Sadly, seafood labeling fraud is a real thing, so look for a brand that is transparent about everything– including how the fish was caught and where it was caught. My favorite seafood brand is Orca Bay— a Washington-based company that consistently provides thorough information about their high-quality and sustainably-sourced seafood. Right now, Orca Bay is selling whole sides of Alaska Sockeye salmon that are hand-harvested from Bristol Bay— the Alaskan fishing area that sees about 38 million salmon each year.
Orca Bay’s one pound Alaska Sockeye sides are BIG– my little 18″ grill was just big enough! These big, meaty sides of salmon will feed four people easily, and are the PERFECT replacement for ‘traditional’ grilling meat like hamburgers, ribs, and hot dogs.
Order Orca Bay Online: Use my Ambassador Code: champagnetastes for 15% off!
Find Orca Bay locally: Use their store finder, or try these vendors: Costco, Ingles, Giant Eagle, Market of Choice, Whole Foods (Northwest Region), HyVee, Dierberg’s, Woodman’s, Acme Fresh, Hen House, Price Cutter, Harp’s, Price Chopper- Kansas City. (Note: if you don’t have one of these stores in your local area, but do have a health food store, check there! That’s where I find my Orca Bay fish.)
Making Chili Lime Salmon
Grilling this salmon will be EASY. Start by taking your thawed salmon out of the fridge, and letting it come to room temperature. This will help make sure your fish doesn’t stick to the grill, and will give it crisper cooked edges. Next, heat up the grill, making sure that the grill plates are clean (so that your fish doesn’t stick to the plates), and you’re almost ready!
Cut the pineapple into rings, brush it with the marinade, and grill it until it has nice dark lines on each side. Then, rub the spices onto your salmon, spray the grill with oil, and cook the salmon for just a few minutes on each side. Don’t walk away while you’re grilling this fish– it cooks fast! Serve the salmon and pineapple together, and smile happily as you eat a healthy, delicious meal at your next cookout!
Tips for Grilling Salmon
- Make sure your grill is completely preheated before setting the fish on the grill. Don’t rush this step– wait for the grill to get hot! If you put your fish on before the grill is hot enough, you’ll have to cook it longer, and risk eating dry fish.
- Make sure the grill plate is CLEAN! Use a brush to clean any residue from your last grilled meal. If the grill plates are dirty, the fish will stick to them.
- If possible, let the fish come to room temperature before grilling. Remove fish from the fridge about 20 minutes before you need to cook it, or at the very least take it out of the fridge before you start prepping all your ingredients.
- Dry the fish thoroughly– wet fish will stick to the grill.
- Avoid nudging the fish while it’s on the grill— it’s more likely to stick if you move it before one side has finished cooking.
- This recipe cooks the salmon directly on the grill plate. However, if cooking your salmon directly on the grill plate makes you nervous, you can also wrap the fish in foil and set the foil packet on the grill, or set your salmon on a water-soaked cedar plank.
*A Note on Salmon Varieties: This recipe was specifically written for sockeye salmon (red salmon), a variety of salmon that tends to cook more quickly than some other types of salmon. If you want to use this recipe, but are using a different TYPE of salmon (like pink salmon), you’ll likely need to cook your salmon a little longer than the recipe calls for. Check the recipe notes for more details.
Grilled Chili Lime Salmon with Pineapple
Grilled Seafood Recipe for Cookouts or Gourmet Picnics
- 1 pineapple, outer skin removed + fruit cored
- 1 TB olive oil
- 2 TB honey OR sorghum syrup OR turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
Chili Lime Salmon:
- 1 lb sockeye salmon fillet, skin on (recommendation- Orca Bay Alaska Sockeye Salmon)
- olive oil spray
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 1 TB chili powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
Preheat grill to high heat.
Cut cored pineapple into rings, about 1/2" thick. Line a baking sheet with foil, and then lay pineapple slices flat on a the sheet. Brush pineapple with oil on both sides, and then drizzle with honey. Let pineapple marinate while the grill continues to heat up.
Once grill is hot, grill pineapple 2-3 minutes per side, until the slices have grill marks. Set pineapple aside. (If your grill is small, you may need to do the pineapple in batches. If your pineapple is extra juicy, you might have to cook the pineapple a few minutes longer.)
Grilled Chili Lime Salmon:* (See Recipe Notes)
Prepare grill plates by cleaning if needed, and spraying with oil. Allow the pineapple juices to burn off as and make sure the grill is still very hot.
Pat salmon dry, and then pat it dry again. Wet fish may stick to the grill. Rub chili powder and lime zest onto the flesh side of the salmon. Sprinkle both sides of the salmon with salt.
Set salmon, skin-side down, on the grill. (Cooking skin-side down will make your fish easier to flip). Leave the grill lid open or off. Keep an eye on your salmon. As the fish grills, you'll see the edges start to firm up and get crisp. Cook the salmon about 4 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is and how thick the fish is. If the fish sticks to the grill, give it about 30 seconds more-- it will release when it's ready. Flip the salmon, and cook another 2 minutes.
Sprinkle salmon with the lime juice. Serve salmon immediately with the grilled pineapple. Serve the fish whole for a gorgeous presentation, or divide into 4 servings and then serve.
Cook Time: This recipe assumes you are using sockeye salmon. If you're using other varieties of salmon, you may need to increase the cook time slightly. With pink or Atlantic salmon, you should be able to watch the translucent fish turn opaque from the bottom up as it cooks. The fish will be ready to flip when it's 2/3 cooked through.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal.