How to Fix Mushy Salmon and Get Perfectly Cooked Fish Every Time

Salmon is one of my favorite proteins to cook at home It’s easy to prepare, packed with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, and delicious when cooked properly. However, overcooked, mushy salmon is a common problem many home cooks face If your salmon consistently turns out dry and mushy, don’t worry – I’ve got some tips to help you fix mushy salmon and get perfectly flaky, moist fish every time.

What Causes Mushy Salmon?

Before we get into how to fix it let’s look at some of the common causes of mushy salmon

  • Overcooking – Salmon cooks very quickly and can go from tender and flaky to dry and mushy in just a few minutes. It’s easy to overcook salmon, especially when broiling, grilling, or baking. Always cook salmon just until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

  • Not Removing Skin – The skin can act as an insulator, trapping steam and moisture underneath and leading to overcooked salmon For the best texture, remove the skin before cooking

  • Using a Dull Knife to Cut – Using a dull knife compresses the delicate proteins in the salmon, leading to a mushier texture. Always use a sharp knife.

  • Cooking Straight from Frozen – Salmon needs to be thawed properly in the fridge before cooking. Cooking from frozen can create a mushy, watery texture.

  • Using the Wrong Cooking Method – Gentler cooking methods like poaching or baking at low temps are best for getting tender salmon. High-heat methods can rapidly overcook the fish.

How to Fix Mushy Salmon: Tips and Tricks

Now let’s look at some solutions to help you fix mushy salmon and get perfect results each time. Follow these tips:

1. Use a Meat Thermometer

This is absolutely essential for cooking salmon properly. Salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F to ensure it’s safe to eat while still being tender and flaky. Using an instant read meat thermometer takes the guesswork out and prevents overcooking.

2. Remove the Skin

As mentioned above, the skin can lead to steaming and overcooking. For the best texture, I recommend removing the skin before cooking your salmon fillets. Use a sharp, flexible knife and cut from tail to head.

3. Thaw Frozen Salmon Properly

Always thaw frozen salmon in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in water. Place the frozen fillets in a bowl or pan and allow to thaw for 24-36 hours. Thawing slowly prevents moisture loss.

4. Pat Salmon Dry Before Cooking

Use paper towels to pat the salmon dry before cooking. Getting rid of excess moisture on the surface helps ensure a nice sear and prevents steaming.

5. Cook at a Low Temperature

While methods like grilling or broiling can work, it’s easy to go past the target temp. I prefer to bake salmon in the oven at 275-300°F, or poach it on the stovetop. The lower heat cooks the salmon gently.

6. Cook Just Until Flaky

As soon as the salmon reaches 145°F internally, remove it from the heat. Test for doneness by inserting a fork – the salmon should flake easily but still be moist. Err on the side of undercooking slightly.

7. Allow Salmon to Rest

After cooking, let the salmon rest for 5 minutes before serving. Resting allows the proteins to reabsorb some of the moisture, improving texture.

8. Use a Non-Stick Pan

If pan-searing, use a non-stick skillet. The salmon is less likely to stick and overcook compared to a stainless steel pan. I also recommend using a fish spatula to gently flip the fillets.

9. Add Moisture While Cooking

When roasting or baking, add moisture to the pan which creates steam and prevents drying out. I like to add lemon slices, herbs, and white wine or broth to the pan.

10. Don’t Refrigerate Leftovers Too Long

Store leftover cooked salmon in the fridge for 3-4 days max. The texture tends to degrade over time, so avoid keeping leftovers for a full week.

Tips for Getting Perfectly Cooked Salmon Every Time

Follow these simple tips and tricks and you’ll be able to fix mushy salmon and get delicious, flaky results each time:

  • Use an instant read thermometer and stop cooking at 145°F
  • Thaw frozen salmon properly in the fridge
  • Remove the skin before cooking
  • Pat the salmon dry with paper towels
  • Cook using gentle methods like poaching or low-temp baking
  • Allow the salmon to rest before serving
  • Add moisture like lemon and herbs when roasting
  • Cook just until the salmon flakes with a fork
  • Store leftovers for no more than 3-4 days

With practice, you’ll get a feel for exactly how long your salmon takes to cook for your preferred methods and thickness of fillets. I like to cook a test fillet before preparing a whole meal of salmon to ensure it turns out right. Pay attention to carrying over cooking as well – salmon will continue rising in temp even after removed from the heat.

Sample Recipe to Prevent Mushy Salmon

To highlight these tips, here is an easy baked salmon recipe that results in perfect, tender salmon every time:


  • 4 4-6 oz salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Pat salmon fillets dry with paper towels and brush flesh side with olive oil. Place fillets on prepared baking sheet.

  3. Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Top each fillet with lemon slices and a thyme sprig.

  4. Bake for 12-15 minutes until salmon is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Use a meat thermometer to confirm it reaches 145°F internally.

  5. Remove salmon from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

This method uses gentle oven heat to cook the salmon, the lemon and herbs add moisture, and resting allows the proteins to relax. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have tender, flaky salmon every time!

Don’t Toss It – Fix Mushy Salmon!

Nigella Lawson’s Easy Salmon and Posh Mushy Peas | Nigella Bites


Why is my salmon mushy after cooking?

If the salmon appears mushy or falls apart, it is likely overcooked.

How do you make salmon moist again?

The key is to reheat your cold leftover salmon at a low temperature. Slowly reheat it to keep it moist and flaky, which is precisely what you want it to be. Also, before reheating the salmon in the oven, remember to cover it with aluminium foil.

How to get moisture out of salmon?

A thick layer of salt on the top of the fish is what we’re looking for as seen here. Step Four: Put the salmon in the fridge for 4 hours and up to but no longer than 6 hours. What does the salt do during this time? The salt helps pull moisture out of the fish while infusing a little salt flavor.

How do you cook salmon so it is soft?

Wrap your salmon in a parchment packet with aromatics, citrus, veggies, and a drizzle of olive oil. The steam trapped in the packet will infuse the fish with flavor and cook it gently, making it tender and juicy. Bonus: The parchment packets only take about 15 minutes at 425°F and the cleanup is minimal.

Why is my salmon mushy?

The fish skin not only imparts a delicious flavor but also helps the fish to maintain its firm texture. Removing it before cooking may be a reason for your fish becoming mushy. If you don’t like the skin, remove it just before plating up. As you can see, there are multiple reasons why your salmon may be mushy.

What are the benefits of smoked salmon over raw salmon?

It actually has the same characteristics as raw salmon, being relatively low in calories, it is an excellent source of protein, good fat and several vitamins and minerals. The smoking process just adds an aroma.

Is it normal for salmon to look mushy after cooking?

And while purists may avoid salmon showing some mush, some people may not notice or be bothered by salmon with a little mush, especially after its cooked (confession: my grocery store salmon often has this look, and by the time it’s on my plate, I’ve entirely forgotten about it, and never notice anything amiss).

How do you fix mushy fish?

Here’s how to fix mushy fish. Pat your fish dry before cooking. Excess moisture will cause the fish to steam rather than sear. Steaming causes that squishiness. Cook it at a higher temp. Stainless steel or cast iron cookware is best for cooking fish on the stovetop.

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