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Exactly How To Reheat Salmon – I Test 6 Methods [Pics]

I’d eat salmon every day if I could.

The only problem is reheating it. Fish is notoriously tricky to reheat, and salmon is no exception.

Is it even possible without ending up with dry, tough fish?

I experimented with six different reheating methods to find out the best way to reheat salmon and preserve its subtle flavors and flaky texture.

The best way to reheat salmon is in the oven. Rub your salmon in olive oil and add a splash of lemon. Wrap it in foil, along with a few tablespoons of stock or water, and place it in a 300°F (150°C) oven. Reheat the salmon for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet.

A note on my experiment

6 reheated salmon pieces side by side: steamed, skillet, water bath, microwaved, oven, shredded

To find out how to keep my salmon’s delicate flavor and moist texture, I tried out the following reheating methods:

  • In the oven (worked out well)
  • By steaming (good, but not suited to marinated or sauce-covered salmon)
  • In a skillet (nice crispy skin)
  • In the microwave (avoid unless you have no other choice or you’re in a rush)
  • In a dish (great for dried-out salmon)
  • Sous vide machine (great if you have one, but slow)

The steamer works great if you’ve got plain salmon without sauce.

The oven and the skillet also worked well and kept my salmon moist.

If your salmon is already overcooked – your best bet is to incorporate it into a piping hot dish so it won’t cook any further.

Avoid the microwave unless it’s your only option.

Reheating salmon in the oven

Rub your salmon in olive oil and add a splash of lemon. Wrap it in foil, along with a few tablespoons of stock or water, and place it in a 300°F (150°C) oven. Heat the fish for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the fillet.

salmon in a foil parcel with a lemon wedges and stock

How to reheat salmon in the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  2. Place the salmon on a piece of foil and rub it with olive oil and a splash of lemon.
  3. Wrap the salmon in the foil, sprinkling a few tablespoons of water or stock over it before sealing. Seal the edges together by folding them over and pinching them closed.
  4. Heat the salmon for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fillet.
  5. Check that the internal temperature reaches at least 125°F to 130°F (50°C to 55°C) before removing the salmon from the oven.

If you prefer, you can use butter instead of oil. 

Make sure that the foil is tightly closed and that there are no gaps. It’s essential to keep the moisture inside so that the fish doesn’t dry out.

To speed up the reheating process, slice the salmon before putting it in the oven.

My verdict

This reheating method worked well, although it was relatively slow.

My salmon came out super tasty and wasn’t dry.

You can also heat lots of fish at once, so it’s convenient for larger quantities.

Reheating salmon in the microwave

Rub some butter on the salmon and then wrap it in a damp paper towel. Place the fish on a microwave-safe plate and microwave it on low power (30%). Heat the salmon in 30-second intervals until it’s warmed through. Flip the salmon over in the breaks to ensure that it heats evenly.

salmon covered with a damp paper towel on microwave-safe plate

How to reheat salmon in the microwave:

  1. Wrap the salmon in a damp paper towel after rubbing the flesh with some butter.
  2. Place the salmon on a microwave-safe plate.
  3. Set the power to 30%.
  4. Heat the salmon in 30-second intervals.
  5. Carefully turn the fish over at each break.

You need to heat the fish slowly, or you’ll get tough rubbery salmon.

Warning: reheating salmon in the microwave stinks! 

This isn’t a great choice for small offices or for people who are sensitive to fish smells.

You can reheat your salmon at the same time as other things, for example, rice. 

Just make sure to add enough moisture to your dish so the fish doesn’t dry out.

My verdict

If you’re expecting crispy skin, then forget it. The microwave leaves you with wet, slimy skin.

The salmon flesh was okay, but it wasn’t as buttery as with other methods I tried.

The thinner ends of the fillet were dried out by the time the thicker part of the fillet was hot.

Reheating salmon in a skillet

Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, turn the heat down to low and add the salmon along with a few tablespoons of water or stock. Cover the skillet with a lid and heat the fish for around 5 minutes. Add your sauce to the pan if you are using one. 

salmon reheated in a skillet with butter and water

How to reheat salmon in a skillet:

  1. Melt a generous amount of butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the salmon and a few tablespoons of water or stock and reduce heat to low.
  3. Cover the skillet with a lid to trap the steam. The steam is what’s going to warm the salmon. 
  4. Heat the salmon for about 5 minutes until it warms through.
  5. You can add sauce to the pan as well if using one.

If you want to be super careful, place the skillet half off the heat. Position the salmon in the ‘cold’ part and liquid in the ‘hot’ part. 

This way, the salmon isn’t exposed to any direct heat. 

Remove any leftover liquid and turn the heat up to high to crisp skin at the end. 

This works best if you add some oil or butter to the pan.

My verdict

I liked this method because it was the only one where I could really crisp the skin.

My salmon was lovely and flavorsome because I was able to baste it with the butter/stock mixture, and the slow heating meant it didn’t dry out.

You could even add extra flavors to the pan like garlic or chili.

Reheating salmon in a dish

A really gentle way to reheat salmon is to add it to a hot dish such as pasta. Cook your pasta and sauce so it’s piping hot, and add in flaked salmon a few minutes before the end. The residual heat from the dish will warm the fish without drying it out. 

flaked salmon pieces reheated in a hot tomato sauce

How to reheat salmon in a dish:

  1. Flake your salmon and set it aside.
  2. Cook your dish (eggs, pasta, stir fry, etc.). Anything saucy or where you can mix the salmon in will work.
  3. Toss the flaked salmon near the end and heat for 2-3 minutes.
  4. The warmth from the dish should be enough to gently heat the salmon. 

The saucier the dish, the better here.

Get the dish piping hot before adding the salmon to make sure it doesn’t cool down too much when you add the cold fish.

Keeping the flakes relatively small will also help ensure the salmon heats through.

My verdict

This option is great for salmon that’s already overcooked.

You don’t notice the dryness as much when it’s mixed into another dish, and you’re not cooking the fish any further here – you’re just warming it.

Reheating salmon by steaming

Set up a steamer or a makeshift one and fill it with water. Once the water’s simmering, place the salmon in the steamer basket and let it heat for 4-5 minutes with the lid on. Check that the salmon is hot, and then serve.

salmon fillet reheated in a steamer basket

How to reheat salmon by steaming:

  1. Set up a steamer (or makeshift one), filling it with 2-3 inches of stock or water. 
  2. Wait for the water to reach a gentle simmer, and then place the salmon in the steamer basket.
  3. Make sure that the lid fits snugly to keep the steam in.
  4. Steam the salmon for 4-5 minutes until it warms through.
  5. Pat the salmon dry before serving.

Using stock instead of water will add a little bit of extra flavor to the salmon. 

To set up a makeshift steamer, fill a pot with some water and then rest a sieve or colander on top, making sure it doesn’t touch the water.

Place the salmon in the sieve and then cover it with a lid that will keep the steam inside.

If you don’t have any lid, you can use foil, but you might need to steam the fish for a bit longer because some steam will escape. 

My verdict

Using the steamer is not a great idea if your salmon has a sauce or marinade. The steam will condense on the surface of the salmon, diluting the flavors.

But I really recommend this method if you have plain salmon that’s a little on the dry side.

Steaming helps to re-introduce some moisture, and I had super juicy salmon.

Reheating salmon in a sous vide machine / water bath

If you have a sous vide machine, you can also use this to reheat your salmon. Set the water temperature to 120°F (49°C)  and place the vacuum-sealed salmon in the water for around 30-40 minutes. Optionally sear the skin in hot oil before serving.

Since the temperature of the salmon won’t go above 120°F (the temperature of the water), there’s no issue with leaving it in there a bit longer than needed.

If you don’t have a sous vide machine, you can create your own water bath and monitor the temperature with a thermometer.

reheating salmon in a water bath

This method won’t cook your salmon any further, so the texture will be just like it was when you first cooked it. All you’re doing is warming the fish.

But it’s very slow. Also, most people don’t have access to sous vide machine, and making your own water bath requires a fair amount of effort.

How to reheat smoked salmon

To reheat the smoked salmon, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Put the smoked salmon on a baking tray covered in foil. Drizzle melted butter or oil over the salmon or add a little broth. Heat the smoked salmon for 15-20 minutes. The time it takes will depend on the thickness of the fish.

Note: these instructions are for hot-smoked salmon. If you have cold-smoked salmon, I don’t recommend reheating it.

Simply adding the cold-smoked salmon to a hot dish will be enough to warm it.

How to store salmon

Store leftover salmon in a shallow airtight container in the fridge. You can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or foil. Cooked salmon will last for 2-3 days in the fridge. 

Ensure you get the salmon in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking it. 

If the salmon is left out at room temperature for too long, it will start to breed bacteria and will become unsafe to eat.

salmon fillets in an airtight container

Can you freeze salmon?

You can freeze cooked salmon, but I don’t recommend it. I find that freezing salmon ruins the delicate flavor of the fish, and the texture becomes dry and spongey instead of buttery and flakey. If you do freeze salmon, wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn. 

How to freeze salmon:

  1. Allow the salmon to reach room temperature, but don’t allow it to stay out for more than 2 hours.
  2. Pat the fish dry with paper towels. 
  3. Wrap the fish tightly in plastic wrap and then a layer of foil. Alternatively, place the salmon in a freezer bag and remove all the air (or vacuum seal it if you have this option).
  4. Freeze the fish in the coldest part of your freezer.
  5. Use the salmon within one month.

By patting the fish dry, you avoid ice forming inside the packaging.

Try to remove as much air as possible from around the salmon to keep it fresh and not tasting like an old freezer. 

If you have a vacuum sealer – this is the best way to freeze salmon. 

But tightly wrapping it or removing the air from a freezer bag with a straw will also work.

How to thaw and reheat frozen salmon

Always thaw frozen salmon before reheating it. Reheating salmon from frozen will give you a horrible mushy texture. Leave the salmon to thaw in the fridge overnight, or rest it in a cold water bath (changing the water every 30 minutes) until soft. 

Once thawed, reheat the salmon for 15-20 minutes in a 300°F (150°C) oven. Wrap it tightly in a foil package along with some water and butter or lemon juice to keep the salmon moist.

What to do with leftover salmon

If you don’t want to risk your salmon drying out when you reheat it, or you just want a new and exciting dish, here are some cool ways to use up leftover salmon. 

  • Use it in a spread – mix the leftover salmon with avocado to make a tasty spread for crackers.
  • Make a salad – put a twist on a Mediterranean salad. Add the leftover salmon to sliced cucumbers, Feta cheese, olives, and tomatoes. Then drizzle with a bit of olive oil.
  • Make fishcakes – this one’s a bit more effort but totally worth it. Drip the fish cakes in sweet chili sauce to complete the dish. 
  • Add your salmon to scrambled eggs – a truly decadent breakfast and more filling than simple salmon on toast.
  • Make summer rolls – summer rolls are my guilty pleasure and work really well with salmon.
  • Make salmon fried rice – more upmarket than chicken fried rice. Keep the soy sauce to a minimum to make sure the flavors of the salmon shine through.
6 reheated salmon pieces side by side: steamed, skillet, water bath, microwaved, oven, shredded

Exactly How To Reheat Salmon

In this short recipe, I show you the best way to revive and reheat your leftover salmon.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: All
Keyword: reheat salmon, salmon
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 146kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 portion salmon
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • Place the salmon on a piece of foil and rub it with olive oil and a splash of lemon.
  • Wrap the salmon in the foil, sprinkling a few tablespoons of water or stock over it before sealing. Seal the edges together by folding them over and pinching them closed.
  • Reheat the salmon for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fillet.
  • Check that the internal temperature reaches at least 125°F to 130°F (50°C to 55°C) before removing the salmon from the oven.

Notes

If you prefer, you can use butter instead of oil.
Make sure that the foil is tightly closed and that there are no gaps. It’s essential to keep the moisture inside so that the fish doesn’t dry out.
To speed up the reheating process, slice the salmon before putting it in the oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 100g | Calories: 146kcal

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