Do You Eat The Skin on Salmon? Facts and Tips

One hot topic for foodies is whether or not to eat the skin of salmon. If it can be eaten, how best to prepare it, and if not, how to remove it. To tell you the truth, the taste, texture, and additional flavor that the salmon skin has is definitely worth eating.

You can absolutely eat salmon with the skin because it is safe in most cases, with an added bonus of juiciness and flavor. The most important thing is to ensure the salmon is from a reputable and high-quality source. Fish (salmon included), just like other living organisms, accumulate pollutants from water, air and their environment.

To be more specific, salmon absorbs chemicals like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) over time. These chemicals are found to be in higher concentration on the skin and the fat layer beneath the skin. 

PCBs were banned in industries until 1979 when they were banned for their adverse health effects, but some remnants of this chemical are found to pollute our water, soil, air, fish, meat, and some dairy products. PCBs have been associated with having adverse effects on the endocrine, nervous and immune systems and are also associated with some types of cancers.

The bottom line is, if you want the added flavor and taste of salmon skin, ensure you buy high-quality salmon that are reared in good condition and is free from any pollutants.

Guide on How To Remove Salmon Skin

It’s okay if you are not interested in the skin. How about if you want to remove your salmon skin for a different cooking recipe? Below are valuable tips on how to remove the skin from salmon successfully:

  • Place the fish skin-side down on a flat surface (chopping board).
  • Sprinkle some salt to prevent the salmon from sliding and give you a better grip.
  • Hold the tail end and use a sharp knife and begin cutting the skin away from the flesh in the opposite direction from the tail end.
  • While holding the tail end still, cut the entire fillet while being careful not to cut through the skin.
  • Remove the salmon and save it for a special treat.
  • Sprinkle some salt, dried pepper, and other seasonings of choice, and make delicious salmon skin crisps that you can enjoy while you watch your favorite Netflix series.

If you’ve already cooked your salmon with the skin on, taking off the skin is pretty more manageable. It peels right off using your fork, knife, or hands if you want to be a bit messy.

What Are The Healthy Benefits of Salmon Skin?

Salmon is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. And the skin is one of the healthiest parts of this pink fish. Similar to salmon, the skin is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B, and minerals like niacin and phosphorus. It has the highest concentration of hard-to-get acids (omega-3).

Aside from treating your mouth with a unique flavor and texture, it helps minimize inflammation and supports brain function and immune health. Another important use is the reduction of triglycerides level and, in turn, reduce your risk of developing heart diseases. It also helps improve your skin by giving it a brighter look, as most people even take in omega-3 supplements for skin health. 

Can the good news get better? Cooking with the sling helps to retain a lot of nutrients and oils that may be lost during the cooking process. This makes the fish tastier and healthier.

Is Salmon Skin Safe to Eat?

Yes, salmon skin is safe to eat because it has a low PCB level than other fishes. However, you have to be attentive when choosing your fish. There are different types of salmon, and each has a different PCB level in its skin.

While both farmed and wild salmon have tolerable PCB levels, wild-caught salmon is the safer option. A study once reported that farmed salmon contains 36.-3 ppb while wild-caught salmon contains 4.75, which makes the wild salmon salon the safest to enjoy. 

What Are The Risks and Side Effects of Salmon Skin?

While salmon skin is safe for people to eat, fish are, however, known to get contaminated by pollutants in water and air. 

The chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are absorbed into the salmon through their skin or from other fishes they eat. PCBs have been proven to have carcinogens and are linked to some congenital disabilities.

Another harmful chemical that salmon absorb during their lifetime is methylmercury. This chemical is toxic to humans in high quantities. The most prone to experience side effects from this harmful chemical are pregnant women and children. If you are an expectant or nursing mother, it is best to avoid salmon skin to be on the safe side. For other people, the benefit outweighs the risk. So it’s pretty safe for them. 

Methods on How To Cook Salmon Perfectly With The Skin on

There are countless ways to cook salmon with the skin to get a crispy texture. From frying, poaching, or grilling to engraving those grill marks on, here are some tips for achieving a precooked salmon with the skin on.

1. Skin Down

From pan searing to baking or grilling, always cook your salmon with the skin side down. It will make it easier to slide a spatula underneath the pan for a nice flip. It will make it crispier and more delicious and form a nice coating to the delicate flesh and have an oven-baked salmon.

2. On the Grill

Grilling salmon with the skin on is pretty straightforward. First, Pat dry the salmon because the drier it is, the less likely it is to stick. Rub both sides with olive oil, salt, and pepper before throwing it on a preheated grill. Place the skin side down on the hotter part of the grill for 8 minutes.

Gently flip to the lower heat area for 4 minutes. Be careful not to let your salmon overcook because it cools pretty quick on a grill.

3. Air frying

For a fast salmon dish, air frying will only take up to 7 minutes. Rub your salmon with olive oil, salt, pepper, and other seasonings. Put them in the air fryer basket and set the temperature at 390 for 7 minutes.

Most air fryers are automatic, and it’ll go off immediately after the set time, and you have your delicious salmon.

4. Substitute with Bacon

Make long thin strips of salmon. Add them to a bowl and sprinkle some seasoning (salt, pepper). Fry them in vegetable oil until they become crispy.

It may not look exactly like bacon, but it is a tasty and healthier substitute. You can also snack on them or eat them as appetizers.

How to Make Smoked Salmon

You can permanently preserve your meat, poultry, and fish through the smoking process by exposing them to smoke. It has been an old method of preservation.

  • To smoke salmon, clean the salmon and thaw if frozen. 
  • Cover it in salt and allow it to sit for 12 hours. During this time, the salmon draws out moisture. The process of drawing out moisture will help enhance the salt and act of preservation by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.
  • Rinse the salmon in the water to remove excess salt and transfer them to a smoking kiln to dry. This will help the salmon develop a pellicle ( a coating protein that allows smoke to adhere to the fish’s surface).
  • Set up a fireplace with wood chips and sawdust to produce smoke.
  • Attach the kiln to the smoker.
  • Smoking salmon can be done in two ways, either hot or cold smoking, with the difference being the temperature of the smoking chamber.

Cold-smoked salmon is smoked under the temperature range of 50-90°F for 20 hours or more. Since the temperature is not that hot, it should be done under a strict supervisor to avoid contaminating the fish and to avoid possible risk of foodborne diseases. A cold smoked salmon is smoother and mild 

In contrast, a hot smoking chamber is warm with an internal temperature of at least 145°F for 30 minutes or more for the salmon to cook correctly. Most smoked salmons in the market are cold smoked; the difference between the two types of smoking can be seen from the packaging label. It’ll clearly state if the fish has been thoroughly cooked or not. Some food experts have advised against the use of cold smoking at home for the safety risk involved. With the right types of equipment and knowledge, you can easily carry out any of the twin smoking techniques.

Some smoked salmon require refrigeration, while others do not, as long as the package is locked. Always check the package for storage options. Once you open a packaged salmon, you can refrigerate it for three months. Avoid salmon with dark bits all over them. These dark bits make your dish taste unpleasant.


Eating the skin on salmon is a matter of preference. Eating the skin gives you an additional blast of flavor and taste. Alongside the taste, salmon skin is packed with healthy nutrients that are beneficial to the body. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, essential vitamins, and minerals that are useful for improved brain, immune and nervous function. It is important to note that salmon, just like other fishes, can be contaminated with harmful pollutants in water like methylmercury and PCBs. 

These chemicals are detrimental to the body, especially to pregnant and breastfeeding women and children. It has been proven to cause various congenital disabilities, and PCBs have some carcinogens. However, if your fish was farmed in a clean and well-treated environment, it will be safe from such pollutants. You can also ensure you buy from reputable sources. To be safe, it’s best for children, breastfeeding, and pregnant women to avoid salmon skin.

About The Author

Hi There, I'm Lisa Anderson. I'm a 30-year-old with a passion for cooking, art, and dogs (not always in that order). With a background in both cooking and writing, ShiftyChevre is a collection of my experiences with food, recipes, lifestyle, and other kitchen-related topics.

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