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How To Reheat Salmon

Learn how to reheat salmon quickly and easily with this step-by-step guide, featuring four of the best methods that guarantee delicious results every time.

Salmon is a delicious fish and is undoubtedly one of the most popular due to its rich flavor, firm yet moist texture, and high nutritional value. Although freezing is an option, after you bring salmon home from the store, you should use it within 24 hours, which means leftovers are likely unless you purchase fish in small amounts. Whether you’ve grilled, baked, or pan-seared your salmon, you want to reheat it without compromising its texture and taste, as improper reheating can result in dry, overcooked fish or, worse, it may become dense and rubbery. But fear not because this guide will teach you how to reheat salmon for excellent results every time.

How To Reheat Salmon

Start with Proper Storage

When you store salmon correctly, you’ll have much better results when you reheat it. First, cooked salmon must be refrigerated within 2 hours (reduce that to 1 hour on hot days). As for how to store, options include:

  • An airtight container: Glass is best since food tends to stay fresher longer, but any food-safe airtight container will do. Ideally, use a relatively shallow one so there is less room at the top for air to collect.
  • Resealable bag: You can either place the salmon directly into the resealable bag in a single layer (which can get messy) or individually wrap leftover portions in plastic or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Before you seal the bag, fold over any excess plastic at the top, firmly press to remove any air, and gently press down on the bag to remove as much air as possible as you seal.
  • Heavy-duty foil or plastic wrap: Create a pouch with foil and plastic and seal it as tightly as possible. Once done, pop it in the fridge or store it in a resealable bag.

When the salmon is wrapped and ready, store the leftovers in the coldest part of the fridge, where it can stay for 3-4 days.

Best Ways to Reheat

Now that your cooked salmon has been stored let’s go over how to reheat it because there are several ways to bring the fish as close to its original state as possible. The best reheating methods include the oven, stovetop, grill, and air fryer, so let’s closely examine these options.

How to Reheat Salmon in the Oven

The oven reigns supreme when it comes to reheating salmon because it provides even heat. This can be a standard range or countertop convection oven – either is fine. Moreover, you want to use a lower heat to prevent overcooking the exterior of the salmon and gradually increase the internal temperature of the fish. You’ll need a baking dish (or sheet) and aluminum foil to reheat leftover salmon in the oven. You may also want to add oil, butter, broth, water, or a combination for moisture. Once you have everything you need:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place a piece of foil large enough to wrap the salmon in, then place the salmon onto the foil. Drizzle the fish with oil, add a pat of butter, a splash of broth, or water.
  3. Loosely cover the salmon with foil and place it in the oven.
  4. Reheat for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, allow the salmon to rest briefly, then plate and serve.

How to Reheat Salmon on the Stovetop

The stovetop method is another great way to reheat salmon. It is beneficial when storage caused the salmon to lose some of its exterior color or if the fish was steamed. To reheat salmon on the stovetop, you will need a skillet (preferably nonstick or a well-seasoned cast iron) as well as oil or butter. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Heat the skillet over medium heat. Allow the skillet to heat up before adding any oil or butter.
  2. Once the skillet is hot, add the oil or butter and wait for it to shimmer.
  3. Add the salmon to the skillet and heat for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  4. Briefly rest the salmon, plate, and serve.

How to Reheat Salmon on the Grill

Reheating salmon on the grill is great when you want to impart a pleasant smoky flavor to leftovers. Speaking of smoke, if you’re taking the extra time to heat a grill, you might as well add smoking wood instead of solely using charcoal. Imparting that smoky, wood-fired flavor has a transformative effect on leftovers and often makes the fish more delicious than when it was initially cooked. You will need charcoal, fruity smoking wood, oil, aluminum foil, and tongs to reheat salmon on the grill. Once you gather the required equipment:

  1. Prepare the grill for medium-heat cooking. You can use a gas or charcoal grill.
  2. As the grill heats, brush the leftover salmon with oil and wrap it in a foil pouch with holes poked all around to allow smoke in.
  3. Place the packet on the grates and grill for 3-4 minutes per side.
  4. Allow the salmon to rest for a few minutes, plate it, and serve.

How to Reheat Salmon in the Air Fryer

The air fryer is the best method when you’re short on time but don’t want to resort to the microwave (you deserve better than that). This method works well for salmon and any other fish, meat, and poultry due to its even heating, thanks to the circulating hot air. Even better, it does an excellent job of retaining any exterior texture developed during the initial cooking process, making it perfect for pan-seared salmon or fillets with a crusty topping. To reheat salmon in an air fryer:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly oil the air fryer basket with neutral oil or line it with a perforated parchment round.
  3. Place the salmon in the air fryer basket, pop the basket in the air fryer, and reheat for 3-4 minutes. There is no need to flip.
  4. Briefly rest, plate, and enjoy.

How to Reheat Salmon in Microwave

Reheating salmon in the microwave is the fastest method, but it can quickly dry out and emit an undesirable fishy smell. While it may not be the best option, it can still be done safely. Here is how to do it:

  1. Cover the salmon with a moist paper towel and/or cover with a lid.
  2. Microwave low and slow at a medium heat for about 30 seconds, then flip for another 30 seconds.
  3. Heat for 15 second bursts if desired temperature is not reached while also flipping at each interval.

Additional Tips for Success

Use an instant-read thermometer.: Why play the guessing game when you don’t have to? Use a thermometer to check that your salmon is heated through. Salmon should have an internal temperature of 145°F.

Add moisture: Leftover salmon is prone to losing some moisture. Try rubbing a small amount of olive oil on the salmon. Alternatively, reheat with a sauce such as dill sauce or a teriyaki glaze, or add a splash of water, broth or wine. Lemon juice is another way to add flavor and moisture to leftover salmon. Use the juice from a wedge per fillet.

Thaw beforehand: If reheating from frozen, thaw and then proceed as instructed. The only method you can use to reheat frozen leftovers is the air fryer method. Add 3-5 minutes to the total time.

Never exceed medium heat: Low and slow is the way to go, otherwise, you run the risk of unevenly heated salmon.

Cold salmon: Leftover salmon remains just as delicious when served cold and can be a nice addition to salads or used to create a salmon mixture for a tasty salmon salad sandwich.

Reheating twice or multiple times: You can reheat fish twice or multiple times but it is not recommended as the quality will decrease each time the fish is reheated. It is best to reheat only the portion you plan to consume.

Unsafe reheating methods: According to the USDA “reheating leftovers in slow cookers, steam tables or chafing dishes is not recommended because foods may stay in the “Danger Zone,” between 40 °F and 140 °F too long. Bacteria multiply rapidly at these temperatures.”

Now you know how to reheat salmon, so next time you have leftovers, use one of the methods above, and you’ll never have to worry about dry, tasteless, rubbery, and overcooked salmon again.

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Monique McArthur
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