A shortcut method to cooking salmon (fresh or straight from frozen!) that doesn’t shortcut flavor or tenderness: Instant Pot Salmon. Pressure cooking is a surprising, but extremely effective, delicious way to prepare salmon fillets that are flaky, moist, and excellent for fast, healthy dinners.
I had one cooking method yet to cover for my favorite fish: THE INSTANT POT!
The results delighted and frankly shocked me.
The Instant Pot delivers a flaky and moist salmon in less than 20 minutes total, with little cleanup.
There are so many great ways to cook salmon, but the pressure cooker might be my new go-to.
In this post, I’ll go over everything you need to know to cook salmon perfectly in the Instant Pot.
From how to bring the salmon to the right temperature in the Instant Pot, to flavor variations, to what to serve with it, this quick but comprehensive recipe has you covered.
How to Make the Best Instant Pot Salmon Recipe
Instant Pot salmon is healthy, easy, and the results are fantastic.
- It’s Fast. Fresh salmon fillets cook in 1 minute in the Instant Pot, once it’s come to pressure.
- It Needs Very Few Ingredients. Water is the cooking liquid (no butter, broth, or oil!).
- It’s Versatile. Season the salmon with any of your favorite flavors. You can start with this Salmon Seasoning, then change it up so you never tire of this healthy dinner and wholesome protein.
The Perfect Salmon Temperature
The main thing you can do to mess up salmon is to over cook it, resulting in dry, sad salmon.
Here’s what to do to get it just right and have moist, happy salmon:
- The salmon should register at 135 to 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part.
- If the salmon is 145 degrees F or more when you open the Instant Pot, remove and serve immediately.
- If the salmon is between 135 and 140 degrees F, let it sit in the pot, uncovered, for 5 minutes to come to temperature, then serve.
- If the salmon is less than 135 degrees F, recover the Instant Pot and let the salmon sit a few minutes more to continue cooking in the warm pot.
Instant Pot Salmon Cooking Times
You can make fresh or frozen salmon in the Instant Pot.
If using frozen, add about 3 minutes to the cook time.
For 1-Inch Salmon Fillets (6-Ounces each)
- For Fresh Fillets. Set the pressure cooking time to 1 minute on HIGH (manual) pressure. One the cooking time is up, immediately vent to quick release the remaining pressure.
- For Frozen Fillets. Set the pressure cooking time to 4 minutes on HIGH (manual) pressure. One the cooking time is up, immediately vent to quick release the remaining pressure.
For Thinner or Thicker Fillets
- Thinner/Smaller. If your salmon is fresh and thinner than 3/4- to 1-inch or weighs less than 5 ounces, set the Instant Pot to 0 minutes. It sounds crazy but the pressure build time will be sufficient to cook the salmon.
- Thicker/Heavier. If it is thicker or heavier, add 1 to 2 minutes to the cook time.
- Water. With the Instant Pot, a cooking liquid is required to bring the cooker to pressure and keep the food from burning.
- Salmon. I recommend skin-on, center-cut salmon. Leaving the skin on has the benefit of locking in extra moisture.
Buy fillets that are roughly the same thickness and size so they cook in the same amount of time.
- Salt and Pepper. You could stop here with the seasoning and the salmon would still be fabulous.
- Dried Herbs. Dill weed, Italian seasoning, rosemary, or thyme would all be excellent additions and complementary flavors to the salmon. You pick!
- Lemon. Lemon slices liven up the salmon and bring brightness. This is optional but so fresh. Feel free to also squeeze on some lemon juice at the end.
- Add water to Instant Pot, and place salmon in a single layer on top of the trivet, skin side down. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any herbs.
- Lay a lemon slice on top of each fillet. Cook Instant Pot salmon on HIGH pressure for 1 minute for fresh fillets or 4 minutes for frozen fillets.
- Once you set the timer, the lid will lock and pressure will build. Once the cook time finishes, immediately manually vent the quick pressure release valve. Check the salmon for doneness (see temperature information above).
- Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and serve hot. ENJOY!
The Instant Pot Trivet
The trivet (or steam rack) is the metal wire rack with handles that came with your Instant Pot.
- The trivet allows you to easily lift out the salmon when it’s done, rather than risk it breaking apart if you were to just scoop it out. Salmon is delicate, so the trivet is very helpful.
- If you don’t have your trivet any more, no problem. You can instead wrap your salmon in foil to keep it together (my recommendation), or just place it straight in the water.
Instant Pot Salmon Variations
You can refer to these other salmon recipes for flavoring ideas and how to make different glazes and seasonings when you pressure cook salmon.
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover Instant Pot salmon in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat salmon gently in a skillet over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. I do not recommend freezing cooked salmon because it will affect the texture and the salmon will likely taste more fishy.
What to Serve with Instant Pot Salmon
- Rice. Salmon and rice is a great combo! I like to batch-make my rice in the Instant Pot with Instant Pot Brown Rice, and then freeze individual portions for ready-to-go dinner sides.
- Potatoes. Healthy carbohydrates like potatoes round out a salmon dinner beautifully. You could try Garlic Mashed Potatoes or Oven Roasted Potatoes.
- Roasted Vegetables. See this extensive Oven Roasted Vegetables guide for all things roasted veggies. Roasted Brussels Sprouts are also a fan favorite.
- Steamed Vegetables. For a real shortcut, add vegetables to the Instant Pot and steam along with the salmon. Instant Pot salmon and broccoli would be an easy, healthy dinner, and salmon and asparagus or green beans is a totally classic pair.
- Salad. Go simple with Arugula Salad, or add some healthy carbs and Italian flair with Italian Farro Salad.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Instant Pot Trivet. If you tossed or lost the wire trivet that came with your Instant Pot, don’t fret! This insert fits bother 6- and 8-quart models.
- Instant Read Thermometer. Essential to perfectly-cooking salmon, as doneness is determined by internal temperature.
- Instant Pot. The Instant Pot can do it all, from cooking rice to making yogurt. I particularly love it because of the “sauté” function.
Instant Read Thermometer
An essential tool for cooking any meat or fish, this thermometer is easy to use and affordable.
If you haven’t tried salmon in the Instant Pot yet, welcome! This method will delight and surprise you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely! There are many preparation methods for keeping this healthy fish a healthy dish, and the Instant Pot is one of the healthiest as there is no butter or oil.
While some salmon servings are 3-to 4-ounces each, personally, to be satisfied, I recommend 5 to 6 ounces per person (or up to 8 ounces if you have big eaters or want leftovers). One pound of salmon is more than enough for two people.
I use skin-on salmon fillets for Instant Pot salmon as they are already individually portioned as easy to work with. If buying fresh salmon, the smell test is key; the salmon should smell fresh and not fishy. If you do not have access to fresh salmon, using frozen salmon is great! The Instant Pot is a great way to utilize frozen salmon because you do not have to defrost it first.
- 1 cup water
- 4 5-to 6-ounce skin-on center-cut salmon fillets, fresh or frozen, 3/4 to 1-inch thick*; if frozen, no need to thaw
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried herbs of choice: dillweed, Italian seasoning, rosemary, or thyme (optional)
- 4 thin lemon slices optional
Pour 1 cup water in the bottom of a 6-quart instant pot (if using an 8-quart pot, add 1 1/2 cups water). Place the trivet on top with the “feet” touching the bottom and the handles pointing up and resting on the sides of the pot.
Pat the salmon fillets dry on both sides. Arrange in a single layer on top of the trivet. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and herbs (if using). Lay 1 lemon slice on top of each fillet (if using).
Seal the Instant Pot. Cook on manual (high) pressure for 1 minute (for fresh fillets) or 4 minutes (for frozen). The pressure will build, then the cook time will start. Once the cook time finishes, immediately vent to release the pressure. When the pin drops, carefully open the Instant Pot lid.
Check the salmon for doneness—it should register 135 to 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part. If the salmon is 145 degrees F or more, use a trivet to carefully remove it from the Instant Pot and serve immediately; if it’s between 135 and 140, let it sit in the pot, uncovered, for 5 minutes to come to temperature, then serve; if it’s less than 135 degrees F, recover the Instant Pot and let the salmon sit a few minutes more to continue cooking in the warm pot. Enjoy hot with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
- *If your salmon fillets are smaller, set the Instant Pot cook time to 0 minutes; if larger, add 1 to 3 minutes to the cook time.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover Instant Pot salmon in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat salmon gently in a skillet over medium-low heat.
Serving: 15-oz filletCalories: 242kcalCarbohydrates: 0.1gProtein: 34gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 94mgPotassium: 835mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.01gVitamin A: 70IUVitamin C: 0.003mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1mg
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