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How to cook cheap salmon?

Salmon is one of the healthiest and most delicious fish you can eat. It’s full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and protein. However, salmon can also be quite expensive, especially when buying fresh wild-caught salmon. The good news is there are some tricks and techniques you can use to keep the costs down when cooking salmon at home.

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how to buy affordable salmon fillets, prepare them properly, and cook them using simple methods that maximize flavor. With a few easy salmon recipes, you can enjoy tasty salmon meals on a budget.

Why is Salmon Good For You?

Before jumping into the cooking instructions, let’s review some of the main health benefits of salmon:

  • High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3s, which are important for heart health, brain function, and more.
  • Good Source of Protein – A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains about 17g of protein, keeping you feeling full and providing nutrients for muscle repair.
  • Rich in Important Nutrients – Salmon provide vitamins like B12 and D, along with minerals like selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • May Benefit Metabolic Health – Research indicates the omega-3s in salmon may help reduce obesity, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar.

In short, incorporating salmon into your diet on a regular basis provides some great health perks. Now let’s look at how you can cook this powerhouse fish without breaking the bank.

Buying Budget-Friendly Salmon

When shopping for affordable salmon, here are some money-saving tips:

  • Buy frozen – Frozen salmon is often much cheaper than fresh. It also keeps longer in the freezer.
  • Look for farmed salmon – Farmed salmon tends to be more budget-friendly than wild versions.
  • Purchase canned salmon – Canned salmon like pink salmon can provide an very affordable option.
  • Buy in bulk when on sale – Buying larger quantities when the price is discounted can save you money.
  • Shop at warehouse stores – Salmon is often sold at lower prices at warehouse retailers like Costco.
  • Find discounted ends – Some grocery stores mark down the thinner tail ends of salmon fillets.

Stick to more affordable salmon cuts like these until you find a great deal on thicker, center-cut fillets.

Preparing Salmon for Cooking

Once you’ve purchased your salmon, here are some tips for preparing it before cooking:

  • Thaw safely if frozen – The best way to thaw salmon is in the refrigerator overnight. You can also thaw in cold water for faster thawing.
  • Remove pin bones – Use fish tweezers or needle-nose pliers to remove any small pin bones.
  • Pat dry – Salmon cooks best when thoroughly patted dry with paper towels before seasoning.
  • Season simply – All you need is a little salt, pepper, olive oil or butter. Salmon takes well to other flavors too.
  • Portion into serving sizes – Cut the fillets into individual-sized portions to make cooking and serving easier.

With salmon prepped, it’s now ready to cook using these budget-friendly methods.

Budget-Friendly Cooking Methods

From the oven to the stovetop, here are some easy, inexpensive ways to cook salmon fillets:

Baked Salmon

One of the easiest cooking methods is to simply bake the salmon. Here’s a basic recipe:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
  • Place salmon fillets skin-side down on pan.
  • Brush tops with olive oil or melted butter and season.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until opaque and flakes easily.

Baked salmon needs little preparation, minimal cleanup, and lets the oven do most of the work.

Pan-Seared Salmon

For a quicker stovetop meal, pan-seared salmon is a great option:

  • Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with 1 Tbsp oil.
  • Place fillets in skillet skin-side up and cook 4-5 minutes per side.
  • Flip gently and cook until flesh is opaque and flakes easily.

Use a nonstick skillet for easy salmon flipping and cleanup.

Grilled Salmon

Warm weather is perfect for firing up the grill for flavorful grilled salmon:

  • Coat salmon lightly with oil and season.
  • Preheat grill on medium-high.
  • Place fillets skin-side down and grill 4-5 minutes.
  • Flip and grill 3-4 more minutes until cooked through.

The grill adds delicious charred flavor with little work required.

Poached Salmon

Poaching gently cooks the salmon in simmering liquid:

  • Bring water, wine or broth to a gentle simmer in skillet.
  • Add salmon fillets, skin-side down.
  • Poach 7-10 minutes depending on thickness.
  • Turn off heat, cover and let sit 5 minutes.

Poached salmon cooks delicately in the moist heat with no chance of drying out.

Canned Salmon

For the ultimate in convenience and affordability, look to canned salmon. Simply drain and flake the pre-cooked salmon to add to salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches and more. It’s that easy!

Simple, Budget-Friendly Salmon Meals

Now, let’s put these inexpensive cooking methods to work with some easy salmon recipe ideas:

Lemon-Herb Baked Salmon

  • Season salmon with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, lemon zest and juice.
  • Bake at 400°F for 12-15 minutes until flaky.
  • Serve with rice or potatoes.

This baked salmon is brightened up with lemon and herbs for a delicious budget meal.

Hawaiian Grilled Salmon

  • Marinate salmon in soy sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice and ginger.
  • Grill 5 minutes per side.
  • Serve over rice with grilled pineapple salsa.

The sweet and salty Hawaiian-inspired marinade gives the grilled salmon tons of flavor.

Quick Skillet Salmon with Greens

  • Pan sear seasoned salmon fillets over medium-high heat.
  • Toss spinach or kale with garlic and olive oil.
  • Serve salmon atop the greens.

Seared salmon served with a simple side of garlicky sautéed greens makes a fast, balanced meal.

Canned Salmon Cakes

  • Mix flaked canned salmon with breadcrumbs, egg, onion and seasonings.
  • Form into patties and pan fry in oil until browned.
  • Serve with lemon wedges and remoulade sauce.

These budget-friendly salmon cakes use convenient canned salmon in a classic comfort food recipe.

Freezing Leftover Salmon

One great way to make the most of any salmon budget is to freeze leftovers for later use. Here’s how:

  • Let cooked salmon cool completely.
  • Cut into portions and place in freezer bags.
  • Remove air, seal and freeze up to three months.
  • Thaw in fridge before using in recipes.

Freezing gives you ready-to-use salmon for salads, soups, chowders and more down the road.


As you can see, it’s definitely possible to cook healthy, delicious salmon on a budget. With strategic shopping, proper preparation, and easy cooking methods like baking, searing, grilling and poaching, you can enjoy affordable salmon any night of the week. Canned salmon and freezing leftovers help keep costs down as well.

Incorporate these budget-friendly tips into your routine to get all the nutritional benefits of salmon without breaking the bank. Let us know your favorite ways to save money cooking salmon at home!