We love chimichurri and salmon bright, fresh and grilled. They were made for each other. While chimichurri likely originated with Argentinian gauchos (aka cowboys) roasting meat over open fires, it's a versatile sauce for fish, poultry and even potatoes and bread.
This dish is simple, easy, quick and healthy. Marinate the salmon ahead of time, or simply add the chimichurri right before cooking. Think quick and easy weeknight meal or impressive dinner party showpiece.
Summer is salmon season. And though it's kinda always chimichurri season, I especially love to bring out the bright green sauce bursting with herby freshness during grilling season.
Chimichurri blends up super quickly and is used to marinate the salmon. The salmon is then grilled using the no-flip method. This is the method I prefer for grilling salmon, as it cooks the entire time on the skin side with the grill's lid closed.
This gets you both wonderfully crispy skin and wonderful texture of the flesh. When you flip fish on the grill, there is a good chance that it can tear apart and overcook. That's why I love the no-flip method.
After the salmon is grilled to perfection, it is served with even more of the delicious chimichurri.
Chimichurri is one of the easiest sauces and comes together in seconds. I like to make it in the food processor, and with a few pulses, it's done. If you don't have a food processor or blender handy, you can hand chop everything finely and mix it up in a bowl.
While the salmon marinates with the chimichurri, some of the flavors get absorbed. It is also an amazing flavor enhancer when it hits the hot grill and slightly chars. This, combined with the chimichurri served at the table will give multiple versions of the sauce's flavor profile.
Customize your chimichurri based on the herbs you have on hand. Chimichurri recipes vary; add in some basil, mint, or even a Fresno chili, which will change the flavor profile and can make for great pairings for other sides.
Control the consistency of the sauce by how long you pulse the blender. If you want a fine puree (not traditional) or a more rustic texture, you decide. Just be careful not to go too long or the green herbs can lose their bright green color from the heat of the blade.
Chimichurri Salmon Can Be Cooked in the Oven
This same basic chimichurri recipe can be used on salmon with other cooking methods, and it will come out great.
To bake salmon in the oven, simply preheat the oven to 400° F and bake the chimichurri-marinated salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 10 to 14 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 125° to 130° F for medium.
About This Beautiful Salmon
This is gorgeous wild Prince William Sound sockeye salmon. Prince William Sound is southeast of Anchorage and ringed by the rugged Chugach mountains in the heart of Alaska's salmon country. Sockeye is full-flavored salmon compared to Keta and Pink, so it is great for handling the strong flavors of the chimichurri and for the grill.
To learn more about wild Alaskan salmon, check out my journey to Cordova, Alaska.
A Few Salmon Tips
- Go wild! Wild salmon is both healthier (more nutrients) and environmentally preferable. Wild-caught fish supports American fishing communities; farmed salmon is typically imported.
- Don't overcook it.
- Go slow on the grill.
- Grill salmon with the skin on, even if you don't plan on eating it.
- Remove the pin bones.
- Keep it simple and just season with plenty of salt (I prefer Diamond brand kosher, but sea salts are fantastic as well).
More Recipes That Use Chimichurri
- Tomahawk Steak with Chimichurri Butter
- Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- Rack of Lamb with Mint Chimichurri
- Sous Vide Pork Chops
More Delicious Salmon Recipes
- Simple Hot Smoked Salmon
- Easy Baked Salmon Filets
- Sous Vide Salmon with Meyer Lemon Risotto
- Grilled Salmon with a Burst Tomato Sauce
- Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon
Serve It Up with
- 4 6-8 oz. wild salmon filets (skin on)
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- Canola or avocado oil (for grilling)
- ½ cup Packed Fresh Cilantro
- ¼ cup Packed Fresh Italian Parsley
- 2 Chopped Garlic Cloves
- ½ to ¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ⅛ cup Red Wine Vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Small Chopped Shallot (or red onion)
- 1 Fresno Chili, seeded and chopped (optional for heat)
To Make the chimichurri
- Add all of the ingredients except for the shallot and chili, if using, to a blender or food processor.
- Pulse until the ingredients are well chopped, but not completely puréed. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides to process evenly. Transfer the chimichurri to a container and add the shallot (or onion) and the Fresno chili.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt, red wine vinegar and pepper flakes as desired for your taste.
- Cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the chimichurri (so no air gets in to degrade the ingredients and color) and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
- Spoon about 1 tablespoon over each filet, and spread it to coat all sides. Cover and marinate for 1 to 2 hours in the refrigerator, or cook right away if you don't have time to marinate.
Grill the salmon
- Prep the grill for medium-high heat to around 375-400° F.
- While the grill heats up, remove the salmon fillets from the refrigerator so they can come to room temperature. This will help them cook more evenly.
- Season all sides with kosher salt & freshly ground pepper over the sauce.
- When the grill is heated, place the salmon skin-side down and close the lid.
- Cook skin-side down for the whole time for about 6 to 8 minutes total, or until the internal temperature reaches 125 to 130° F (140 for well done). Use a probe thermometer to check for donenes.
- Carefully transfer the cooked salmon to plates to rest for 2 minutes before serving with the reserved sauce.
- If you want some heat in the chimichurri, you can add some diced Fresno chili with the seeds removed.
- Red onion can be substituted for the shallot in the chimichurri.