Today, we are diving into the world of dry brining salmon.

Now, you might be wondering, what exactly is dry brining? Don’t you worry; I’ll explain that and how to make the perfect dry brine salmon recipe!

Two golden brown salmon fillets on a glass plate with fresh parsley and a lemon slice.

In this post, we will explore the ins and outs of this flavor-boosting technique that it brings to our favorite fish. So, grab your apron and get ready to elevate your salmon game to new heights.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

I have made this dry brine salmon recipe several times for friends and family, and everyone has raved about it. It always turns out incredibly flavorful and juicy.

The dry brine enhances the flavors and gives the salmon a perfect balance of tenderness and moisture. Plus, it is incredibly easy to prepare!

Since the first time I made this recipe, it was an absolute hit. The salmon was perfectly seasoned and incredibly tender.

Since then, it has become my go-to dish whenever I want to impress guests or indulge in a truly delicious meal.

When you make this recipe, you will discover the secret to perfectly seasoned salmon with dry brining, which will elevate your cooking game and unlock incredible flavors.

If you decide to give it a try, feel free to reach out to me in the comment section if you have any questions or need any tips along the way. I have no doubt that you will absolutely love this recipe!

A bite sized salmon on a fork with fish fillets, lemon slice, and fresh parsley on a plate in the back ground.

Understanding Dry Brining

Let us start by demystifying dry brining. Unlike its wet counterpart, dry brining involves applying a mixture of salt and other seasonings directly onto the salmon fillets, without any liquid involved.

This process draws out moisture from the fish while infusing it with incredible flavors.

So how does it differ from wet brining? Well, while wet brining involves submerging the salmon in a saltwater solution as we do with our cottage roll, dry brining simplifies the process, saves time, and enhances the natural flavors of the fish.

Three dry brine salmon fillets searing on a cast iron skillet.

Selecting the Perfect Salmon

Before we dive into the dry brining process, it is essential to choose the star of the show—the salmon itself. Opt for fresh, high-quality salmon to ensure a delightful dining experience.

Look for fillets with vibrant color, firm texture, and a pleasant oceanic aroma.

Whether you prefer wild-caught or farm-raised salmon, make sure it is sourced sustainably and aligns with your personal preferences.

A perfectly seared salmon fillet being cut with a fork.

How To Make Dry Brined Salmon

For this recipe, we will opt for the irresistible technique of pan-searing.

Begin by selecting the right pan. A heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet, will ensure even heat distribution and prevent the salmon from sticking.

This dry brine method creates beautiful crispy skin and tender flesh, resulting in a truly mouthwatering experience.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of salmon fillets with skin
  • Coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 lemon

Season the flesh side of each fillet heavily with salt. I use about 2 tablespoons total for 2 pounds worth of fillets.

You can sprinkle or gently rub any additional seasoning to the brine mixture onto all sides of the salmon fillets. Just make sure you coat everything evenly!

Several slices of salmon laid on a clear glass pan generously sprinkled with salt.

Now, let us dive into the heart of dry brining—the flavorful mixture that will transform your salmon into a culinary masterpiece.

Start by placing the fillets in a dish, skin side up, cover and refrigerate for one and a half hours to allow the flavors to meld and the dry brine to work its wonders.

Just note, the longer the fish brines, the saltier it will become, and unlike meat, the brining process is much faster.

Butter melting in a sizzling cast iron skillet.

Preheat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat and allow the skillet to heat up gradually. Cast iron heats slowly but retains heat well, so it is important not to rush this process.

While the skillet is heating up, rinse the fillets well with cool water and pat dry. Some people prefer not to rinse the fillets. However, I find them a tad too salty if I don’t rinse them first.

Gently patting the excess moisture off the salmon fillets that are sitting on a wooden cutting board.

Anyway, once the skillet is hot, melt the butter and sear the salmon skin side down first for approximately 5 minutes.

Then when the skin releases easily from the hot skillet, flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

Seared fish fillets almost ready to be pulled off the cast iron skillet.
Salmon fillets laid on a pan, skin side up.

Transfer to a plate and drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon. And you are done! Enjoy!

Squeezing fresh lemon juicy over the cooked fish.

Tips and Tricks for Dry Brining Success

  • Place the salmon back in the fridge after rinsing off the dry brine uncovered for 2 hours for an even crispier finish.
  • Handle the salmon gently, especially after cooking, so it doesn’t fall apart.
  • Customize the seasonings to suit your fancy. For bold rich flavors, consider adding freshly ground black pepper and herbs such as dill or thyme to the dry brine. Or go sweet and salty with the dry brine by using two parts brown sugar to one part coarse salt.
Presented on a white glass plate are two fish fillets with a fresh sliced lemon and parsley in the corner.

FAQs

What is dry brining? Dry brining is a technique where a mixture of salt and other seasonings is applied directly to the surface of salmon fillets, allowing the flavors to penetrate the fish while drawing out the excess moisture.

How long should you dry brine salmon? You should brine for one hour. The salt helps to draw out moisture from the fish and infuse it with flavor. Please note, to ensure food safety, dry brining should always be done in the refrigerator.

How do I know when the salmon is cooked? The cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets and the cooking method used. As a general rule, salmon is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F, and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.

Beautifully plated are a fresh lemon slice and parsley on the side with a salmon fillet in the center.

Key Takeaways

To wrap it all up, dry brining is a game-changing method for elevating the flavors of salmon. It simplifies the brining process while infusing the fish with delicious seasonings.

This dry brine salmon recipe is known for providing crispy skin and tender flesh. Serve with complementary sides and dessert.

So embrace the magic of dry brining and prepare to impress yourself and others with this recipe!

If you made this recipe and loved it, leave a review below! And if you are looking for more great stovetop recipes, check out one of these below!

Dry Brine Salmon

Laura Ascher
Discover the secret to perfect salmon every time! Learn how to dry brine like a pro and take your cooking skills to new heights.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 9 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 49 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 499 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds of salmon fillets with skin.
  • Coarse kosher sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 lemon

Instructions
 

  • Season the flesh side of each fillet heavily with salt. I use about 2 tablespoons total for 2 pounds worth of fillets.
  • Place the fillets in a dish, skin side up, cover and refrigerate for one and a half hours.
  • Preheat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat.
  • Rinse the fillets well with cool water and pat dry.
  • Melt the butter and sear the salmon skin side down first for approximately 5 minutes.
  • When the skin releases easily from the hot skillet, flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Transfer to a plate and drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon.

Notes

You can skip the rinsing off the salt and simply pat the fillets dry. I do, however, find them to be quite salty if you don't rinse them first.
Check the internal temperature of the salmon before consuming it. Salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ozCalories: 499kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 50gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 151mgSodium: 307mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g
Tried this recipe?Mention @castironskilletcooking on Instagram
This website provides approximate nutrition information based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands, measuring methods and portion sizes per household. We recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer.

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5 from 11 votes (11 ratings without comment)

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