Grilled Chimichurri Salmon — Salmon filets are grilled until flaky and tender, then topped with a tangy herbed chimichurri sauce! This is a FAST and EASY grilled salmon recipe that’s ready in 20 minutes. Perfect for meal prep or whenever you’re craving a fresher and lighter summer meal that’s exploding with FLAVOR!
Grilled Salmon Recipe … with Chimichurri!
If you’re craving some lighter and fresher this summer season but are tired of eating the same chicken dishes over and over again, you’ve got to make this grilled salmon recipe with tangy chimichurri sauce!
Salmon filets are brushed with homemade chimichurri sauce, then grilled to flaky perfection. The beauty of grilling salmon is that it takes just 10 minutes to cook — less time on the grill means less room for error.
There’s nothing worse than dry, bland salmon, and this chimichurri version is anything but!
And if you’re thinking “chimi-what?” it’s essentially an herb sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic, vinegar, a few choice spices, and olive oil. Your food processor does the hard work for you, but the sauce tastes like something you’d find at a fancy seafood restaurant!
If you’re a sauce fanatic like I am, you might want to double the chimichurri recipe so you can coat every bite of salmon liberally in it.
This recipe is quick, easy, healthy, and can be paired with grilled veggies or a side salad for a dinner the whole family will love. Make it on a weeknight or prep a batch for a dinner party — people will think you hired a caterer for the party!
Ingredients for Grilled Chimichurri Salmon
This is a straightforward recipe that combines basic ingredients like herbs and vinegar in a way you might not have thought to try before. Love when I can potentially help you learn something new in the kitchen!
Gather the following ingredients to make the salmon with chimichurri:
- Salmon filets
- Fresh parsley
- Fresh cilantro
- Red wine vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Red pepper flakes
- Olive oil
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.
How to Make Chimichurri Sauce for Salmon
Making the chimichurri sauce for the salmon is as easy as adding everything to your food processor, popping on the lid, and whizzing it up.
I suppose you could finely chop the herbs and garlic by hand, and then whisk everything together by hand in a mixing bowl. But if you think I’m dragging out my knife and cutting board when I don’t have to, think again!
Here’s a look at how the chimichurri sauce is made:
- Add the fresh herbs, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and vinegar to a food procesor.
- Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped.
- With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and continue mixing until the sauce is well combined.
You’ll want to prep the chimichurri sauce before grilling the salmon. This gives the flavors time to come together, plus you’ll need some of the sauce for brushing over the salmon while it grills!
How to Grill Salmon Filets
If you’ve shied away from grilling salmon thinking it’s difficult or time-consuming, think again!
Salmon fillets grill in about 10 minutes and you only have to flip them once. I hate having to stand and babysit anything at the grill for too long, so this is the type of grilling recipe I adore.
Here’s an overview of how the grilled salmon is prepared:
Step 1: Preheat your outdoor grill to medium-high heat (roughly 400ºF). Take the time to clean and oil your grill grates at this point, otherwise the salmon will stick to them and / or burn.
Step 2: If you haven’t already set aside ¼ cup (give or take) of the chimichurri sauce you’ve just prepped, do so now. Place salmon on a baking sheet and brush the remaining chimichurri over the raw salmon filets, taking care to coat both sides.
Step 3: Place the salmon skin-side down on the preheated grill.
Step 4: After 4 to 6 minutes, the salmon should release easily from the grill grates.
Step 5: Flip over the filets and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes, or until done to your liking.
Step 6: Slather extra homemade chimichurri on the salmon and enjoy!
How Long Does it Take to Grill Salmon?
This recipe calls for 6- to 8-ounce salmon filets, which cook very quickly on the grill.
Grill salmon filets of this size for no more than 10 to 12 minutes total over medium-high heat (400ºF).
However, I find that my grill runs hot even when I am trying to be modest with the heat and I personally don’t ever need to cook it longer than 10 minutes.
If you use different sized filets, or buy one large filet from the seafood counter, you might have to adjust the grill time.
Although I have a recipe for Grilled Honey Lemon Butter Salmon that uses one 1.25-pound filet and it still cooks in about 7 to 8 minutes.
How Can You Tell If Grilled Salmon Is Done?
The easiest way to test the doneness of grilled salmon is done is to lightly drag a fork against the grain of the fish. If the salmon flakes easily, it’s done.
Also, be aware of visual clues such as the color of the flersh going from a deeper pink/orange color that it has when it’s raw, to a lighter opaque pink.
You can also insert a meat thermometer into the thicket part of the filet. Technically, the internal temperature should register 145ºF.
However, I prefer to grill the salmon until it reaches 135ºF to 140ºF, then remove the salmon to a plate, and cover it with foil to rest for a few minutes before eating. The carry-over heat should bring the internal temperature up to 145ºF.
Sometimes if you cook the salmon until 145ºF on the grill, the carry-over heat ends up overcooking the salmon and it turns out dry. Hate when that happens!
Take Away: While I do think thermometers have their place, especially in a steak or a Thanksgiving turkey, salmon is very easy to just “tell” when it’s done by looking at it because it’s not too thick and it cooks fast. Look, do the fork test, and decide if it’s done or not!
Making Salmon with Chimichurri Sauce Indoors
I know that some of you don’t have an outdoor grill but still want to give this easy salmon recipe a try!
Here are two options:
- Make it indoors by using an indoor grill pan that you place on the burners on your stovetop.
- Bake it in the oven on a baking sheet in a 375F oven in foil for about 15 minutes. Then broil it uncovered for about 5-10 minutes. I have a ton of salmon recipes but use my Baked Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon recipe as a guideline.
The Best Grilled Salmon FAQs
It’s totally up to you. For this particular recipe, I opted to skip the foil. The chimichurri sauce that’s brushed over the salmon filets contains enough oil that it prevents the salmon from sticking to the grates during grilling. Grilling the salmon without foil also creates those gorgeous grill marks, which add smoky flavor to the dish.
However, if this is your first time grilling salmon or you’ve been scarred by salmon sticking to grill grates in the past, go ahead and lay down a piece of foil. I’m not the grill police, do whatever works for you!
Or grill it in a foil pack like I do for my Grilled Honey Lemon Butter Salmon.
No! Leave the skin on the salmon. You need to place the salmon skin-side down for the first half of the grill time. The skin is a natural barrier that prevents the salmon from sticking to the grill grates and protects the tender flesh from drying out.
Some people like eating the crispy salmon skin, while others don’t care for it as m uch. If you’re in the latter camp, simply discard the skin after grilling,
Absolutely! Salmon skin is full of all sorts of good-for-you fatty acids, and when grilled it crisps up beautifully.
If you love the crispy chicken skin on fried chicken, definitely try the grilled salmon skin. And if you try it and dislike it, well, you don’t have to eat it!
I used skin-on Atlantic salmon filets that were about 6 to 8 ounces each. I buy it from the fish and seafood counter at my local grocery store.
I don’t tend to ever buy salmon from the freezer case that I then need to thaw. Although you could.
If you want to make this recipe with one larger salmon filet weighing about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, you certainly can. Follow the recipe as written, other than the salmon will likely take a bit longer to cook through, maybe 2 minutes extra per side, but not “tons” longers.
Tip – Salmon sold as one large filet is ALWAYS cheaper than buying individually-portioned filets, like you see shown here. I bought these for this post specifically but you can save some cash and buy one large filet instead.
There are a few key things to remember when grilling salmon to prevent it from sticking to the grill grates.
First and foremost, you need to clean the grill grates with a grill brush before making this recipe.
Then, you need to wipe down the grates with an oiled paper towel (use an oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable or canola oil).
Third, make sure the grill is preheated to medium-high heat (roughly 400ºF). You want the salmon skin to start cooking as soon as it touches those hot grill grates! If the temperature isn’t high enough, the skin won’t caramelize and release from the grill grates.
Fourth, make sure to brush the chimichurri sauce over the salmon BEFORE grilling. The sauce contains oil, and that also helps to prevent the salmon from sticking.
Finally, don’t mess with it! Once you add it to the grill, just let it sear and cook. If it’s tricky to remove and feels like it wants to stick, simply give it another 1-2 minutes and I bet it’ll release easier once it’s had a bit more time. Raw-ish food is always more tricky to turn/flip/release compared with food that’s been properly seared on that side.
You should only flip salmon one time. After about 4 to 6 minutes, the salmon should release easily from the grill grates. If it’s sticking to the grill grates, it needs another minute or so before it can be flipped.
If you repeatedly flip the salmon as it’s grilling, it will cook unevenly and the edges will never caramelize properly. Those golden edges are the best part, so resist the temptation to keep flipping your salmon filets.
Chimichurri is an herb sauce from Argentina that’s often used to dress grilled meats. Think of it as a type of pesto, if you will – although the flavor profile between the two are totally different.
Chimichurri can be made with practically any fresh herb, but the classic version is made with parsley, fresh oregano (although I used cilantro instead), garlic, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes.
This chimichurri for salmon is tangy, bright, and herby, with a subtle garlic flavor to it as well. The fresh herb sauce compliments the moist, fatty salmon perfectly and offsets the smoky grill flavor so well. I’m not exaggerating when I say I can eat this sauce with a spoon.
Not this version, no! If you’re sensitive to spice, start with ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and work your way slowly up to ¾ teaspoon for a nice bit of heat.
Chimichurri is safe to sample straight from the food processor as you’re making it so don’t be afraid to taste it and see if you think it needs more red pepper flakes.
Go for it! I made my chimichurri sauce using fresh parsley and cilantro because I always have both on hand, but you can use any herb or combination of herbs you like.
I recommend using at least two kinds of herbs to add depth of flavor to the sauce, but if you just have parsley or cilantro, that’s fine too.
It’s a flexible sauce and can be tailored to fit your needs.
No, unfortunately chimichurri needs fresh herbs. Save that old tin of dried parsley for seasoning a bit pot of Chicken Noodle Soup instead.
Blenders and food processors work differently. In a nutshell, blenders are better at blending liquids and food processors are better at chopping ingredients. And they are less likely to bruise more delicate ingredients like fresh herbs.
For chimichurri sauce, I like to make it in my food processor since the overall goal is to chop.
However if all you have is a blender, you can use it. It may not be “ideal” but it’ll work and get the job done.
But take note that one issue I have with my Vitamix high speed blender in recipes like this is that the volume of ingredients isn’t quite enough that the blade can catch them and chop them. For that reason, you may want to double the recipe so that it’s easier for your blender to grab ahold of the herbs and do its job.
Storing Leftover Salmon and Chimichurri Sauce
Fish is one of those foods that definitely at its peak when it’s warm and fresh, and this grilled salmon is no different. However, if you do have extra salmon, it’ll keep airtight in the fridge for about 4 days. I don’t recommend freezing this recipe.
Make a version of easy Salmon Salad with your leftovers!
If you have extra chimichurri sauce because you made a double batch, or you just didn’t use as much as I do, if you store it separately in an airtight container, it’ll keep for about 4-5 days in the fridge.
It will likely turn a bit darker in color as it oxidizes over time and won’t be quite as bright. One way to combat this is to squirt in a bit of lemon juice into the food processor when you’re blending it up. The acid will help slow the oxidation process.
What to Serve with Chimichurri Salmon
I made this salmon for a backyard barbecue and get-together. I also made a riff on my Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken Kabobs. I always love tomatoes, red onion, and even avocado or guacamole with this type of easy-breezy food.
Since this grilled salmon with chimichurri comes together in a flash, I like to keep the sides quick and easy as well. Try serving the grilled salmon with one or more of the following:
The fresh herbs in this chimichurri grilled salmon also go well with watermelon margaritas, homemade piña coladas and all-natural margaritas, so if you needed an excuse to make a cocktail this evening, here it is!
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil, or as needed
- 4 skin-on salmon filets, about 6 to 8 ounces each
- Fresh lemon, optional for serving
- Preheat your outdoor gas grill to medium-high heat, or approximately 400F. Tips – Do not crank your grill to max heat. This is too hot for cooking a delicate protein like fish. If you don’t have a grill and want to make this recipe indoors, I recommend using an indoor grill pan on top of your stovetop OR baking it in a 375F in foil for about 15 minutes, then broiling for about 5 minutes, or until done. Use my Sheet Pan Lemon Garlic Butter Salmon recipe as a guideline if baking it.
- To the large canister of a food processor, add the parsley, cilantro, garlic, red wine vinegar, salt, red pepper flakes, and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Tips – I prefer a food processor for this task rather than a Vitamix High Speed Blender or similar blender, but it will still “work”. If you like lots of sauce or want extra for serving, double the chimichurri sauce recipe.
- With the food processor running on low speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube chute, and continuing mixing until the chimichurri sauce is well combined.
- Reserve 1/4 cup chimichurri sauce for serving (if you made a double batch, you can reserve more).
- Place the salmon filets on a large baking sheet or platter, and brush generously on all sides, top and bottom, with the chimichurri. Tip – For extra flavor, season each salmon filet with a bit of extra kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Place the salmon fillets skin-side DOWN on your grill, close the lid, and allow them to cook and sear, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes.
- Using a grilling tongs, carefully flip each filet over, close the lid, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes more, or until done. Salmon is done with it’s a light colored pink and opaque in color, it flakes easily with a fork, and if you check the internal temperature with a digital thermometer, it should read 140-145F.
- Remove the salmon from the grill, place it on a serving platter with the skin side down, and brush the reserved salmon over the top.
- If desired, squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top before serving. Salmon is best fresh but extra will keep airtight in the fridge for about 4 days. Extra chimichurri (if you have it), stored separately in an airtight container, will keep for about 4-5 days, noting the green color will darken as time passes meaning it has oxidized. One way to combat this is to drizzle in a bit of lemon juice with the fresh herbs as you’re blending them in the food processor. The taste really won’t change, but it won’t be as vibrant and pretty.
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 721Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 42gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 460mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 51g
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