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Food & Recipes

How to Microwave Salmon — Genius Recipe Cooks Flaky + Delicious Filets in 5 Minutes

Taste Test: I tried poaching salmon in the microwave, and here's my honest opinion

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, so we wouldn’t blame you for embracing a quick and easy cooking method. In fact, poaching salmon in the microwave yields a surprisingly flaky and tasty result. Keep reading to learn how to make it in 5 minutes!

The basics of poaching salmon

Poaching is a cooking technique that involves submerging food in liquid and simmering it at a low, constant temperature. For proteins like salmon, poaching works well as the gentle heat cooks it without drying it out. Also, the fish retains its rich content of nutrients like selenium and healthy omega-3 fatty acids — which aid in reducing inflammation and healthy thyroid function. While poaching is typically done on the stovetop, it requires some guesswork as the fillets may cook at different times depending on their size. Plus, you need to keep a close eye to make sure the water maintains a consistent simmer. The good news: Poaching salmon in the microwave is a hassle-free alternative that produces juicy and flaky fillets!

Related: Confused When Shopping for Fresh Fish? A Salmon Fisherman Shares 5 Tips for Getting the Best Buy

Why the microwave works well for poaching salmon

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). But, it wasn’t until famous author Stephen King posted his microwave salmon technique in 2022 that I looked into why this method works. And it’s because the machine’s rapid distribution of heat cooks the fillet quickly, while ensuring it stays moist. It’s a shortcut method that creates poached salmon without the lengthy cooking time or submerging it in water. For best results, opt for 5-ounce fillets as they’re small enough to fully cook in mere minutes. (This microwave cleaning hack to nix any odors from the cooked fish fast.)

Chef’s secret to flavorful microwaved salmon

For extra delicious salmon, Gocha Hawkins, chef and CEO at Gocha’s Restaurant Group, says to “preseason the fish” before cooking it. Simply sprinkle the fish’s surface with seasoning and let it sit at room temperature for around 15 to 30 minutes. This easy trick allows the seasoning to seep into the salmon flesh, producing a batch of flavor-packed fillets.

How to poach salmon in the microwave

To poach salmon in the microwave, all you’ll need are small salmon filets, your favorite seasoning blend and butter. Seriously — that’s it! Enjoy your salmon in a sandwich for a fast but filling lunch, or serve it with salad, vegetables, rice or pasta for dinner. Get the full recipe below, which is adapted from Eating Richly. (Read our stories on how to microwave sweet potatoes, cooking a poached egg in the microwave, and microwave potato chips.)

Microwave Poached Salmon

Microwave poached salmon on a fish-shaped white platter
Freeskyline/Getty

Ingredients:

  • 4 (5 oz.) salmon filet
  • 2 tsp. seasoning blend such as lemon pepper or Italian
  • 4 Tbs. salted or unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Place 2 to 4 filets time on microwave-safe dish.
  2. Sprinkle salmon with lemon pepper seasoning. Allow to sit 15 to 30 minutes, if desired. Top each salmon filet with 1 Tbs. butter.
  3. 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.)
  4. Remove from microwave and repeat process with remaining fillets, if needed.
  5. Serve hot.

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 3 minutes and 33 seconds. (I thought it was worth giving them some extra time, just in case my microwave wasn’t powerful enough.) The cooking time turned out to be perfect. My salmon was flaky and moist with a pungent flavor thanks to lemon pepper seasoning. 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.

Microwave poached salmon served on a colorful plate
Abbey Bender

Keep reading for more ways to enjoy salmon!

Leftover Salmon Recipes for Speedy and Delicious Weeknight Meals — 5 Easy Ideas

Don’t Throw Away That Salmon Skin — Use It to Make Tasty 2-Ingredient ‘Bacon’ Instead

Chef’s Genius Trick Reheats Salmon Without Drying It Out — Or Stinking Up Your Kitchen

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