Barbecued Whole Salmon Recipe

Grilling or barbecuing an entire salmon is easy and especially a great way to feed a large group of family or friends. Barbecued Whole Salmon is a real showstopper dish!

A whole salmon is the entire fish in one piece that has been cleaned. It usually comes with the head removed, but some fish markets sell it with the head. Using a whole salmon keeps it nice and moist and you are less likely to over-cook it!

Only purchase fish and seafood at reputable markets. Smell the fish. It should have a “fresh sea” aroma to it – NO STRONG ODORS. If it has a strong “fishy” smell, it is not fresh and not for you. Ask at the counter when the fish came in. About 5 days is the maximum holding time for the top-quality fresh fish, even though it has been cooled quickly after being caught.

This is a favorite way of preparing a fresh-caught whole salmon. We have also done a King or Spring salmon the same way. The last one we did was 30 pounds. Then you would use more onions, etc!

Barbecued Whole Salmon Recipe is courtesy of Jim Wallace of Parksville, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

More of Linda’s great Salmon Recipes and also How To Select, Buy, and Cook Fish.

Barbecued Whole Salmon Recipe:
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Barbecued Whole Salmon Recipe
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
  • 1 whole fresh salmon (approximately 5 to 7 pounds), gutted, scaled, cleaned and patted dry*
  • Green onions
  • 1 large orange, unpeeled
  • Salt and coarsely-ground pepper
  • Fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  1. Preheat barbecue grill.

  2. Cut the bulb of the onion off each whole green onion, separating the green leaves.

  3. Cut orange into thin slices.

  4. Barbecued Whole SalmonPlace dressed salmon onto aluminum foil (shiny side in) about twice as long as the salmon.  Salt and pepper the cavity of the salmon.  Using a sharp knife, cut slits on the outside of the salmon approximately every two inches.  In each slit, place the leaf of a green onion and a slice of orange.  Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme leaves over the salmon.  Turn salmon over and repeat the above process.

  5. In the cavity of the salmon, place any leftovers (onion bulbs, orange pieces, and thyme), and the 2 tablespoons butter.

  6. Draw the aluminum foil up over the salmon, gathering the edges carefully but leaving an opening for the steam to escape.

  7. Set the wrapped salmon on the preheated barbecue grill.  Prop the lid open, about inch, with tongs (this allows the smoke to swirl around a bit and give a little smoked taste to the salmon.  Cook salmon for about 20 to 30 minutes until salmon flakes easily when tested with a fork or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature registers 140 degrees F.  Remove from barbecue grill, remove aluminum foil, and transfer onto a serving platter to serve.

  8. Makes 8 to 10 servings.


Recipe Notes

*Jim's Tip:  You can take the scales off a salmon with a garden hose.  Just hose against the scales and they wash off.

Thermapen Internal Temperature Cooking ChartI get many readers asking what cooking/meat thermometer that I prefer and use in my cooking and baking. I, personally, use the Thermapen Thermometer. Originally designed for professional use, the Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer is used by chefs all over the world.  I only endorse a few products, on my web site, that I like and use regularly.

You can learn more or buy yours at: Super-Fast Thermapen Thermometer.

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Dinner    Grilled & Smoked Salmon    Pacific Northwest    Salmon Main Dishes    Summer   

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