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How To Tell When Salmon Is Done?

How To Tell When Salmon Is Done?

Whether you are baking salmon in the oven, searing it in a cast-iron skillet, or grilling it on your natural gas grill doesn’t matter. Making sure the salmon is cooked correctly is essential.

But how do you know if salmon is done? First, let’s discuss whether or not it’s safe to eat undercooked salmon.  

Can You Eat Undercooked Salmon?

Do not consume undercooked salmon. Eating undercooked salmon can expose anyone who eats it to harmful bacteria. 

By eating undercooked salmon, you or anyone else who eats the salmon may be exposed to harmful bacteria, which can lead to food poisoning.

Food poisoning may cause you to experience nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and many other symptoms. So don’t eat undercooked salmon. 

How To Tell When Salmon Is Done

It doesn’t matter how you cook the salmon. f you really want the perfect meal, knowing when it is done will help you prefer the juiciest and most delicious salmon. 

Fork Test

The fork test is the easiest way to determine if your salmon is done cooking. Simply press your fork gently into the salmon fillet. 

Don’t apply too much force to the salmon when inserting the knife. The salmon fillet may break apart. 

If the salmon flesh separates easily from the white strips of fat running across the fish, it is done cooking. Remove the salmon Firm the heat immediately to prevent it from drying out. 


Once the salmon is finished cooking, its color will change from reddish orangish color to an opaque pink color when it’s finished cooking. 

Depending on the cooking method, the exterior will change to brownish color, but the interior of the salmon should still be slightly pink.

If the middle of the salmon is opaque, then it is most likely overcooked. 

Knife Test

To perform the butter knife test, insert the tip of the knife into the thickest part of the fillet. This will help you look at the interior of the fish.

Do not push the butter knife too far into the salmon, as it can cause the fillet to fall apart. 

You should aim to push the butter knife halfway into the salmon. Let the blade stay in the salmon for 5 seconds, then press the knife on the skin directly beneath your bottom lip. 

If the tip of the butterknife feels warm, the salmon is cooked. However, if the tip of the knife is cool to the touch, you need to cook it for a few minutes longer. 

Cake Tester

The cake tester method can be used much like the knife method. Simply insert the cake tester into the salmon fillet and keep it in the fish for 3 seconds. 

Place the cake tester on the skin directly beneath your bottom lip. If the cake tester is warm, it’s time to remove the salmon, but if it is cool, it needs to remain on the grill. 

Cooking Time 

The cooking time can also be used to determine salmon doneness. However, unlike most techniques, the cooking time depends on the thickness of the salmon fillets and the cooking method. 

For example, salmon that’s seared in a skillet takes 4-8 minutes t cook if it’s cooked at medium-high heat.

In contrast, grilled salmon takes about 7 minutes to cook when it’s grilled at temperatures between 375°F-450°F (medium-high). 

Baked salmon takes 13-16 minutes when baked at 325°F and 15-20 minutes when baked at 400°F. 

As I mentioned above, the cooking time of salmon depends on the thickness of the fillets. This is especially true for broiled salmon.

Thin fillets will take as little as 4-5 minutes, while fillets that are an inch in thickness will take 7-10 minutes. 


Just like the thickness can determine the cooking time, the temperature also determines the cooking time of salmon. The temperature is the best way to determine if salmon is done cooking. 

This is why I saved it for last. The other methods mentioned above can be unreliable. 

Salmon can be cooked to medium-rare, medium-well, or well-done. To test the temperature of the salmon, insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the salmon.

If you are using an infrared thermometer, point it at the thickest part of the salmon. 

The fillet should have an internal temperature of 145°F for well-done salmon. In contrast, if you desire a medium-rare or medium salmon, the internal temperature should range from 125°F-135°F. 

However, you should remove the salmon a few degrees before it reaches your desired temperature.

The salmon continues to cook during the resting process, which means its internal temperature will increase as it rests.

If you don’t remove it from the heat before it reaches the intended temperature, it could dry out as it rests.


In short, albumin is the white item on salmon. Albumin naturally exists in raw salmon in liquid form. However, as the salmon cooks, the albumin coagulates and transforms into a semi-solid state. 

If the salmon is cooked above 135°F, the albumin will ooze oar of the fish. It is a clear indicator that the salmon is overcooked.

While the albumin is not appetizing, the salmon will still be perfectly safe to eat. 

If you are cooking skin-on salmon, one way to decrease the chances the albumin will occur is to cook it skin-side down first. 

What Does Undercooked Salmon Look Like?

Undercooked salmon will have an opaque color around the edges with slightly deep orange color in the center.

The salmon will feel soft instead of firm. So be sure to cook your salmon a little longer if you suspect it is undercooked.

In contrast, if the salmon is overcooked, it will have a dry and chewy texture.

Final Thoughts 

Salmon should always be moist and juicy regardless of how it’s cooked. Knowing how to tell will salmon is done will help you achieve these goals. 

Remove your salmon when it has an opaque exterior and a pink interior. The salmon should also flake easily with a fork. 

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