Whole Barbecue Salmon Using The Indirect Method of Grilling

Cooking whole salmon using indirect heat instead of cooking the fish directly over the coals gives you more control when cooking.

Grilling whole barbecue salmon using the indirect method is possibly the easiest method of successfully cooking a large fish. Cooking any type of fish on the barbecue, whether it's whole, fillet, or steak, can be difficult. Two of the most common problems are when the fish either sticks to the grate of the grill or it's only partially cooked - burnt on the outside but raw in the middle. That said, I don't think that anything looks better than a whole barbecued fish fresh from the grill, so it’s worth giving it a try.

The recipe below for cooking whole barbecue salmon using the indirect method is the simplest method that I know for barbecuing whole salmon. In fact the ingredients are so few I'm not sure that technically it can be called a recipe!

If you've not came across indirect grilling , it's a technique used to barbecue without cooking food directly over hot coals. You'll need a fairly large hooded grill. If you've a gas grill you'll need to have a grill with three or more independent burners. If you haven't, you can use the direct method of grilling. The basis of the indirect cooking method is to divide your grill into thirds. Put your charcoal in the two end thirds and cook the fish over the centre section. If you've a as grill, switch on the two end burners but not the center burner.

The first and most important part of this recipe is the fish. As with any fish, make sure that it's the freshest that you can possibly get; the eyes should be bright, the gills should be red and they should be totally free from any fish smell. Ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the fish before you buy it. He should do this for free.

If you have a large enough fish grilling rack I recommend that you use it as it makes turning the salmon so much easier without breaking the fish.

To prevent the salmon sticking to the grate, make sure that you oil both sides of the salmon and the grate itself.

Serves 4 to 6

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking: 30 to 60 minutes (longer if necessary)


  • 1 whole salmon, 2 to 5lb (1.0 to 2.5kg), gutted and scaled
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges

  1. Set-up your grill for indirect cooking.
  2. Wash the whole salmon, inside and out, under cold running water then pat dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Oil both sides of the fish and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Oil the grate of your grill, or the fish grilling rack.
  5. Place the salmon in the center of the grill, not directly over the coals or burners. Close the hood of your grill and leave it until the fish is cooked; which will be about 30 to 60 minutes.
  6. To test if the salmon is cooked, press the flesh with your fingers. If the fish is cooked, where you press will break into firm flakes and will easily come away from the bones.
  7. Use a long handled spatula to remove the salmon from the grate and place on a serving plate. Or if using a grilling rack, remove it from the grill, remove the fish from the rack, and place the salmon on a serving plate.
  8. Place the lemon wedges on the plate, next to the fish, and serve.

I hope that you enjoy your barbecue salmon steak with dill and thyme. Please visit again as I'm adding recipes all of the time. Better still, sign up for my free newsletter.

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