Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Marinated Grilled Salmon

I grew up in a household where my mom detested fish, so we never had it in the home. As an adult, I was offered it many times and I quickly grew to love it. In my opinion, salmon is the best-tasting fish there is, and this marinated grilled salmon recipe has certainly sealed that opinion into a fact.

Is salmon nutritious?

Salmon is a fish high in protein and omega 3 fatty acids. What this means is it helps in satiety (feeling full and satisfied) and aids in producing important molecules in our bodies so that it functions better.

Salmon is a rich source of many B vitamins, especially vitamin B12 which is not found in any plant foods. It’s also rich in selenium, an important mineral that has antioxidant property, as well as  phosphorus, which helps in many functions in the body including energy transfer and oxygen regulation.

What does marinating do?

A marinade serves several purposes. One is to season your fillet and, depending on the ingredients, may also tenderize and/or prevent drying while cooking.

For this marinated grilled salmon recipe, soy sauce provides a savory seasoning while the brown sugar promotes quick browning without drying out the tender fillet.

I’ve chosen avocado oil, which is low in saturated fat and rich in unsaturated fatty acids, both of which are associated with better heart health.

Avocado oil also high smoke point for grilling (meaning it doesn’t burn as easily), along with a neutral flavor, which lets the other ingredients shine.

A simple guideline is that for every pound of meat (or two pounds of vegetables), you'll need roughly 1/2 cup of marinade. About one-third of the sodium and calories in the marinade will be absorbed into the food. This is taken into account in the nutrition information for this recipe, since you will be discarding the leftover marinade.

A word of caution about marinade

Never use the surplus marinade as a sauce or to baste meat while grilling. If you want a basting or serving sauce, make extra and reserve for that purpose.

brown sugar and soy sauce for the marinated grilled salmon
brown sugar and soy sauce creates a glaze on the grilled salmon, while keeping the inside tender and flaky
foil packet keeps the marinated grilled salmon tender and flaky and makes cleanup a breeze

What are pin bones?

While pin bones are soft and flexible, they aren’t edible and you want to remove them if present in your fillet. Fortunately, these are not true bones, but the calcified tips of the fish’s nerves, so they are not connected to anything and can be pulled right out.

If your grocery or butcher has not already removed the pin bones (or you have purchased a whole fish), you’ll want to remove them. To see if there are any pin bones in your fillet, simply run your fingers along the surface to feel if there is a line of bumps. If so, take a look at this tutorial to watch a video of how to pull them out before marinating

How Long Do You Cook Grilled Salmon?

The cooking time for grilled salmon is only a few minutes. When you place each fillet in a foil packet on the grill, it will take about 6 to 8 minutes per side for the salmon to be done cooking. Grilling the fillets in foil makes it very easy to flip them.

A great way to tell if the salmon is done is to check the skin. The skin will release from the meat of the fillet on its own. Another way to check if the salmon fillet is done cooking is with a fork. Use a fork to see if the fillet flakes apart easily.

Just like with beef, people vary in how done they like their salmon. You can check the temperature in the thickest part of the fish to check for your preferred done-ness; if it registers 120°F your salmon will be perfectly medium-rare. The FDA recommends that salmon is done when the thickest part reaches 145°F. Meeting this temperature on the grill will give you a very dry salmon.

If you cook the salmon to 5 degrees below your desired level of done-ness, then allow the fish to rest for a few minutes before serving, the temperature will continue to rise to ensure optimal cooking, without becoming overdone.

Tips for storage + Fantastic leftover salmon recipes

Now that you've cooked up a delicious batch of marinated grilled salmon, it's important to know how to store any leftovers to make sure they stay fresh and tasty.

Store leftover salmon by wraping it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator up to 3-4 days. Plan to use it up in meals over the next few days.

If you're wondering what kinds of recipes work well with leftover salmon, there are plenty of easy and tempting options. One idea is to add it to a salad or grain bowl for a protein boost that doesn’t even need to be reheated.

These dishes are ideal for packing up for lunch or enjoying as a light dinner.

  • A Salmon Nicoise Salad is a delicious option, made with boiled new potatoes, green beans, kalamata olives, hard-boiled eggs, and a classic vinaigrette.
  • Or try a Salmon Caesar Salad with romaine lettuce, croutons, and a creamy dressing.
  • Another idea is to create a Thai-Inspired Salmon Salad with a mix of crunchy veggies, like shredded carrots and red cabbage, and a spicy peanut sauce.
  • If you're in the mood for a heartier meal, you can also use your leftover salmon to create a Mediterranean-inspired grain bowl with quinoa, couscous, or orzo. Top with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and a dollop of hummus or tzatziki.

Marinated Grilled Salmon is a crowd pleaser

Bottom line- Everyone who has had this marinated grilled salmon at my house always asks for the recipe because it is a win-win. It is easy to make, delicious and nutritious, and sure to please any crowd, as long as that crowd eats fish!

Mealtime conversation starters

Cartoon cooking fish with chef hat that is used as an icon for mealtime conversation starters about relationships.

Everything begins with a conversation. Even a simple gesture like a hand wave or a smile can give a person a sense of belonging. There is no denying that it feels good to connect with other people.

As you eat your meal, as the people around you or send out a text to someone you would like to talk to and ask:

How do you feel when a stranger smiles at you?

Bonus question: How often do you smile at people who don’t know?

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Marinated grilled salmon pairs well with roasted asparagus, grilled vegetables, or a garden salad
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5 from 7 votes

Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Marinated Grilled Salmon

This recipe is a real crowd pleaser! The brown sugar and soy sauce marinade makes it brown and crisp on the outside while staying tender and flaky on the inside.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Marinating Time2 hours
Total Time2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 213
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American

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  • 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet (sliced into 6 personal servings)
  • 1 tbsp lemon pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • cup low sodium soy sauce (or tamari)
  • cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup avocado oil
  • cup water


  • In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and oil until sugar is dissolved.
  • Season both sides of salmon fillets with lemon pepper and garlic powder.
  • Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag and add the soy sauce mixture. Seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  • When ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium heat.
  • Transfer individual slices from marinade onto foil, and seal into individual packets. Discard marinade.
  • Place packets on grill. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


Serving suggestions

Grilled salmon pairs well with roasted asparagus, grilled vegetables, or a garden salad.

Hand Size Portions

Nutrition Facts
Brown Sugar and Soy Sauce Marinated Grilled Salmon
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Palm: 1
Fist: 0
Handful: .25
Thumb: .75

Hand Portions

Some handy advice:  You can use your hands to practice calorie control without weighing and measuring.

Using hand position size is an alternative way to decide how much to eat visually. It gives you a way to quickly estimate what's on your plate, using the size of your hand as an alternative to counting macros (which generally has you weighing and reading nutrition labels to count protein, carbohydrates, and fat).

To learn more, read How to Get Started with Hand Portion Sizes.

Sweet and inspiring, Britt Nelson is a wellness coach and mom of 4, devoted to helping women redefine what wellness and fitness looks like to them, in a balanced and compassionate way.

When she is not coaching or chasing after her children, you can find her spending time with close friends and family, trying new recipes with one of her brothers, or listening to music, a good book, or a podcast.

Find other articles written by Coach Britt on her coach profile. She will help you ‘tune in’ to your body, and find a balance amidst the chaos.

  • MICHELLE says:

    It seems many people in my local area are cooking more salmon, maybe because it looks so good in the meat department at Sam’s Club and Target.

    I am a talker, so I shared this recipe with fellow shoppers when picking out salmon at Sam’s Club. I discovered how excellent marinating fish is when my neighbor gave me a marinated walleye recipe years ago. It was very similar to your salmon marinade.

    Thanks for the great recipe and the hand portion amount.