How to Remove Skin from Salmon
Need to learn how to remove salmon skin from salmon? Grab a knife and a cutting board, and we'll show you.
Salmon is a fantastic protein for lunch or dinner. Not only is it one of those foods that naturally help lower your blood pressure, but it’s also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health. No wonder you have this fish on your grocery list!
Only seeing skin-on options at the seafood counter, though? Fear not. Here, we’ll list the simple steps for how to remove skin from salmon and highlight an incredibly effective hack.
How to Take the Skin Off of Salmon
If you really hate the idea of removing salmon skin, ask the person working behind the seafood counter to do it for you. Some grocery stores will do this free of charge. If not, follow along with these easy steps.
Step 1: Pat fish dry
Remove the salmon from its packaging and pat it dry with paper towels.
Step 2: Prep on a cutting board
Place the salmon on a clean cutting board. If your boards tend to move around a lot, lay a damp dish towel flat on the counter and place your cutting board on top. This should create a slip-proof cutting station.
Step 3: Check for pin bones
This step is more of a precaution. Normally, pin bones will be removed at the grocery store or market where you purchased the fish. Just in case they missed some, take a peek for tiny, opaque bones. If you run your finger along the fillet, you should be able to see the little bones protrude (if there are any).
We used clean tweezers for this step, but you can also use clean needle-nose pliers.
Step 4: Take the skin off the salmon
At the corner end of the salmon fillet, place a sharp knife between the skin and the flesh. Angle the knife down toward the skin, and slowly slide the knife between the skin and the flesh. Once you’ve cut through about an inch, you can turn the knife so it’s parallel to the cutting board. Grip the skin for leverage, and slide the knife along the skin. This will help keep as much of the fish intact as possible. You shouldn’t see much of the meat coming off with the skin. Discard the skin once it’s removed.
Editor’s Tip: Use any size knife you’re comfortable with. A steak knife or fillet knife works for individual portions of skin-on salmon, while a chef’s knife may be best for a whole salmon fillet.
You can also try out this handy hack from chef and TikTok creator Rose Reisman. It doesn’t even require a knife! You’ll need a baking rack, a baking dish and boiling water. Then, with the salmon positioned on the baking rack with the skin facing up, pour hot water gently onto the fillet. The skin will “shrivel up” and, after around a minute, can be easily pulled away. It’s a simple and effective way to remove salmon skin!
@rosereisman I’ve got the greatest hack for removing salmon skin! (If you want to remove it. Some enjoy the skin!) Have you tried this method? Drop a comment with your thoughts/ questions. #rosereisman #kitchenhack #salmonskin ♬ original sound – Rose Reisman
Step 5: Portion out the salmon
If you purchased a large fillet of salmon to cut into single-serve portions, this is when you’ll want to portion it out. It’s easier to slice salmon into smaller servings once the skin has been fully removed. Cut the fish into 4 or 6 oz. fillets, marinate if you choose, cover and refrigerate until ready to cook. Here are a few tips for cooking frozen salmon.
Once cooked, serve the salmon right away. Pair with any of these sides for salmon, like old-fashioned green beans or herbed baked spinach.
FAQs About Cooking Salmon
Can you eat salmon skin?
Yes, salmon skin is edible. If you like a bit of crispy texture in your seafood dishes, it’s totally OK to leave the skin on your salmon.
You’re not eating scales—those are removed before being sold at grocery stores or fish markets. The skin is just the protective outer covering of the fish where the scales grow. Once those scales are gone, however, you’re left with one of the healthiest parts of the salmon. The skin is one of the areas richest in those essential omega-3s.
Is skin-off salmon better than skin-on salmon?
There is no right or wrong answer here. It’s up to you! If you’re not a fan of handling raw fish, absolutely keep the skin on your salmon while you cook it. In fact, leaving the skin on the fish makes it easier to cook when you’re pan-searing salmon or grilling salmon.
If either of these methods is your preferred choice, marinate or season your salmon fillets as normal. Once you’re ready to cook them, oil your pan and place the fish skin-side down. Once the skin crisps up, the skin will make the fish easy to grab with tongs and flip over for the remaining cook time. When the salmon is cooked through, place the fillets on a plate or a clean cutting board. Follow Step 4 above to easily remove the skin.
For poaching or baking salmon, it’s best to take the skin off the salmon before cooking. This will prevent a weird gummy texture that can result from a skin-on fish baking in oil or butter. Here, learn how to bake salmon in foil.
Can you use this method on other types of fish?
Yes! You can use this method to remove the skin from any fish you purchase. Just remember to adjust the size of your knife based on the size of your fish. It will result in the easiest, smoothest cut.