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Food & Recipes

How To Make Poached Salmon in Your Microwave

Don’t knock it 'til you’ve tried it.


We’ve all had that one co-worker who insists on microwaving fish for lunch and ends up stinking up the office break room. But from the safety of your own home, nuking some salmon couldn’t be more convenient. This fish has many health benefits (it’s rich in selenium, protein, and healthy fats), so we wouldn’t blame you for embracing a quick and easy cooking method. Poaching salmon in the microwave yields a surprisingly flaky and tasty result — so, read on to learn how to make it in five minutes or less.

How does poaching salmon in the microwave work?

I first learned how to poach salmon in the microwave from my grandmother, who often used the preparation method for bagel brunches. I was always impressed by how good this salmon turned out (especially when flaked onto a bagel with cream cheese and onion) — and last year, I was amused to see famous author Stephen King post his microwave salmon technique on Twitter. King inevitably received some confused and mocking comments (“the smell of microwaved fish is more horrifying than anything you have penned,” one commenter told the horror writer); but I must say, I agree with his technique. 

Poaching salmon on the stovetop isn’t necessarily hard, but it does take considerably more guesswork than poaching it in the microwave: the salmon filets may cook at different times depending on their size and the heat of your stovetop, plus there’s a greater risk of mess, given the need for simmering the salmon in water uncovered. 

To poach salmon in the microwave, all you’ll need are salmon filets (smaller ones work best), lemon pepper seasoning, and butter. Generally, you can just put your salmon filets on a microwave-safe plate, top them with the lemon pepper and butter, cover them with a paper towel, and cook for a few minutes. Seriously — that’s it! Get the full recipe and find my own taste test below.

Microwave Poached Salmon Recipe

Ready to overcome your fears of microwaved fish? There are many recipes for microwave poached salmon online, and they mostly follow the same template. The one I used was from the blog Eating Richly, adapted here.

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  • 4 small salmon filets
  • 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons butter


  1. Place 2 to 4 filets at a time on a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Sprinkle salmon with lemon pepper seasoning.
  3. Top each salmon filet with a tablespoon of butter.
  4. Cover dish and cook in the microwave 1 minute per salmon filet, up to 3 minutes. (Note that cooking times may vary depending on your microwave.)

Enjoy your salmon in a sandwich for a fast but filling lunch, or serve it with salad, vegetables, rice, or pasta for dinner. The recipe above has minimal seasoning (the lemon pepper adds subtle flavor), but once you’ve learned how to microwave salmon, it’s easy to play around with the flavors. You can swap the butter for olive oil, add garlic powder and chili flakes, or top the salmon with a dollop of Greek yogurt once it’s done — this recipe is easy (and fun!) to build on.

My Taste Test

While I knew this salmon preparation would be a no-brainer, I was still nervous about messing it up somehow. Thankfully, it turned out great. I halved the recipe, cooking two salmon filets for three minutes and 33 seconds. (I thought it was worth giving them some extra time, just in case my microwave wasn’t powerful enough.)

Microwave poached salmon filets on plate
A microwave success!Abbey Bender

The cooking time turned out to be perfect. My salmon was flaky, moist, and satisfying. And although I could, admittedly, smell it cooking, my kitchen did not smell like fish after I was done. Next time I’m stumped on what to make for dinner, I’m definitely going to throw some salmon in the microwave — it’s the ultimate low-effort, high-reward meal.

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