Best Tips For Cooking Sockeye Salmon + Recipes

February 15, 2024
Amanda [Writer]

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Learn how to cook sockeye salmon perfectly to create some fantastic dinners. Try a few of my favorite sockeye salmon recipes that are flavorful, exciting and surprisingly easy to make!

Best Tips For Cooking Sockeye Salmon + Recipes

I am sharing the best tips for cooking sockeye salmon so you can make incredible fish dinners with ease. Plus, I also have plenty of salmon recipes (like this Creamy Blackened Salmon Chowder and these Jerk Salmon Tacos) for you to try that will help spice up your weeknight dinner routine.

Sockeye salmon is a little bit different than common, farmed salmon. For one thing, it is more flavorful, more sustainable, and also a little easier to cook. Well, it is easier once you know how to do it right! But I can help you with that!

Keep reading so you can become a sockeye salmon pro.

Salmon in a bowl
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What is Sockeye Salmon?

Sockeye Salmon is also known as Kokanee salmon and sometimes just called red salmon. It is a wild Pacific fish that is a little bit smaller than most other types of salmon. Sockeye salmon has a very rich texture and tons of flavor.

The meat of a sockeye salmon is lower in fat than farmed salmon and it is higher in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Sounds like this is the type of salmon you want to pick!

Sockeye vs Atlantic Salmon

The main difference between the two: Wild sockeye salmon develop their robust qualities in a vast marine ecosystem, swimming thousands of mils over a lifetime in an epic hunt for food. This is in stark contrast to farm-raised Atlantic salmon, who are typically confined to a net pen — often situated in polluted, coastal waters — where they’re fed engineered pellets that can never truly replace a wild diet.

Of course, the other difference is in their taste: Atlantic salmon is less tasteful than Sockeye salmon and doesn't pack as much as a punch. Overall, Sockeye has more of a crab-like taste to it and is often considered firm in texture.

How to Shop for Fresh Sockeye Salmon

I have a little secret for you about seafood: it is almost always frozen immediately after being caught. Freezing fish either right on the fishing boat or at the docks helps kill bacteria and prevent the delicate fish from spoilage. Even the "fresh" fish in the grocery store has usually been frozen and then thawed.

So, unless you are lucky enough to live near a sockeye salmon breeding ground, you should skip the "fresh" fish section in your grocery store and go straight to the freezer section for your fish. The frozen sockeye salmon in the grocery store will cost less and it will be the same, high quality.

Sheet pan with seasoned and uncooked salmon, lobster, and vegetables

How to Cook Sockeye Salmon

Since sockeye salmon is low in fat, it can dry out quickly if not cooked correctly. To keep the salmon tender and juicy, it is a good idea to stuff the salmon filets. A filling can help add moisture to the fish as it cooks (and it tastes good!).

You should also try to cook sockeye salmon in large filets rather than smaller pieces. Bigger pieces of fish won't dry out as quickly as smaller filets.

As a general rule, cook sockeye salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper in the oven at 375 degrees F, cooking for 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the filet. If you see white bubbles forming on the top of your fish as it cooks, this is a sign that it is cooking too fast. Lower the oven temperature if you see this happening to lock in that moisture.

Best Seasoning for Salmon

When it comes to cooking your salmon, the seasoning matters! Of course, you can always switch things up by adding a deliciously spicy Jerk Dry Rub, Lemon Pepper Seasoning, or Homemade Cajun Seasoning, however, if you're looking for a more all-purpose blend that works amazingly for Salmon, then you'll love this salty, sweet, + smoky blend:

  • Brown sugar
  • Mustard powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Salt + Black Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground ginger
  • Ground allspice

Generally, I like to use 1 teaspoon of each (and ½ teaspoon of allspice), however, you can double or triple the amount of ingredients, depending on how many Sockeye salmons are being made.

Blackened salmon baked on a baking sheet with two forks.

You can also try poaching your sockeye salmon. This method of cooking will prevent it from drying out since the whole filet is cooked in liquid. You can also add a lot of flavor by using a really good poaching liquid. Sockeye salmon and coconut is one of my favorite flavor combinations!

You know your salmon is cooked when it easily flakes apart with a fork. The fish will stay a bright, orange-red color even when fully cooked. Oh, it is so good!

Tips for Cooking Sockeye Salmon in a Pan

You can cook sockeye salmon in a pan (or skillet), searing it quickly over a hot heat. HACK: One thing you should always do is make sure the oil in the pan is sizzling hot before adding the filets. You want that salmon filet to go into a super hot pan to cook quickly.

When you put your salmon into the hot pan, put the filet skin side down then press down on the filet with a spatula, holding it there for about 30 seconds. This will ensure good skin-to-pan contact. Then, let the salmon cook for about 3-4 minutes undisturbed.

Flip the fish and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. The internal temperature of the salmon should be 120 degrees F. Using a thermometer is always a good way to make sure your fish is perfectly cooked!

Seasoned salmon on a baking sheet

Can Sockeye Salmon Be Cooked From Frozen?

Yes! You can actually put your wild salmon right into the oven from the freezer. Add about 8-10 minutes to the cooking time to account for the cold temperature of the fish. I also like to loosely cover the salmon when baking from frozen, tenting it with foil to trap the moisture as it cooks a little longer.

Best Sockeye Salmon Recipes

I love cooking sockeye salmon for my family. It is a healthy seafood that is so versatile and flavorful. I guarantee that sockeye salmon has more flavor than any other farmed salmon you have ever tried! Always look for sockeye salmon in your local grocery store then give some of these easy salmon recipes a try!

Sliders on a brown wood board with a drink in background.

Easy Blackened Salmon Sliders

These Easy Blackened Salmon Sliders are your go-to for game day, weeknight dinners, or BBQ snacks! Featuring Blackened seasoned salmon baked to perfection on brioche buns, they're a mouthwatering delight for any occasion + an instant hit at any gathering.

Two pieces of Jerk Salmon Avocado Toast on a plate

Jerk Salmon Avocado Toast

This Jerk Salmon Avocado Toast is by far one of my favorite ways to have toast these days. A great rendition of savory flavors from the mashed avocado, jerk salmon, and deliciously roasted bell peppers and tomatoes and it's super easy to make! To top things off-----drizzle the amazing Spicy Maple Syrup for a nice balance of sweet + spicy.

BBQ Jerk Salmon Burger on a plate next to fries

BBQ Jerk Salmon Burgers

These delicious BBQ Jerk Salmon Burgers are a must-have for any season. These burgers are perfectly jam-packed with bold flavors and can easily be turned into sliders for a gathering or Game day celebration! Made from easy salmon patties that are covered in amazing BBQ Jerk sauce and topped with crunchy chopped red cabbage, poblano peppers, shredded carrot, and finished with a dairy-free garlic herb aioli, these burgers are a sure crowd-pleaser!

Closeup of a bowl of Creamy Blackened Salmon Chowder

Creamy Blackened Salmon Chowder

This Creamy Blackened Salmon Chowder is sure to keep you warm and comforted throughout the cooler months of the year and you're guaranteed to be satisfied. A great weeknight option or weekend addition, this ultra creamy soup boasts of it’s major flavor factor and comes loaded with the tenderness of potato chunks, savory blackened salmon pieces, corn, and bold cheesy goodness!

Closeup of a pan of Creamy Salmon Alfredo Pasta

Creamy Salmon Alfredo Pasta

This Creamy Salmon Alfredo Pasta recipe is a really special dish for any season! The perfect easy weeknight meal on any given day for the entire family that comes based with a delicious creamy Alfredo sauce and paired with semi-thick pasta and chunks of roasted salmon meat, which all work together so deliciously. Truly a comforting recipe with every bite. 

Closeup of an Orange Salmon Bowl with Farro

Orange Salmon Bowl with Farro

This Orange Salmon Bowl with Farro is the next best thing for the entire family! Absolutely comforting, easy to make, and the perfect healthy weeknight meal option, this salmon bowl is one that is sure to be a favorite repeat meal in your house. Cooked farro topped with orange salmon, broccolini, and a simple veggie 'salad'-----all that you can’t go wrong with for dinner. 

Sheet Pan Garlic Herb Salmon, Lobster, + Veggies

Sheet Pan Garlic Herb Salmon, Lobster + Veggies

This Sheet Pan Garlic Herb Salmon, Lobster, + Veggies recipe is the perfect easy weeknight meal for the entire family! Baby potatoes, broccolini, corn, and tomatoes, all roasted alongside Salmon and Lobster tails entirely coated in a garlic herbed seasoning; Everything is jam-packed with bold flavor and packed with heart-healthy Omega-3 fats and lean protein. This flavorful dish will be a hit in your house and you'll love how simple it is to prepare and clean up afterward.

Overhead shot of Jerk Salmon Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce

Jerk Salmon Tacos + Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce

These Jerk Salmon Tacos + Avocado Cilantro Lime Sauce are the absolute perfect tacos! Packed with bold, spicy, + savory Jamaican flavors–this recipe is a sure crowd-pleaser and is finger-licking goodness on a plate. Perfectly charred tortillas loaded with chopped red cabbage, roasted tomatoes, jalapeños, pineapple chunks, onions, and topped with a freshly made avocado cilantro lime sauce or green goddess sauce. These tacos are a great reminder that tacos can be thoroughly enjoyed during any season!

Easy Ways to Cook Sockeye Salmon

I hope that these tips for cooking sockeye salmon help you whip up some fantastic dinners. Sockeye salmon is one of the most delicious types of fish you will ever make especially if you use my flavorful, exciting recipes. You really can't go wrong with a tasty salmon dinner!

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If you tried any of these amazing sockeye salmon recipes, or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below or tag me on Instagram @Orchidsnsweettea_. I love hearing from you.

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