Once You Go Packet, You'll Never Go Back: Grilled Salmon Packets

The other night I was at a dinner party when the conversation turned to grilling. My friend's husband said he was sick of the same-old, same-old grilled meals: steak, chicken, fish, etc. Instead, he said, he wanted some new ideas to mix it up a bit. I immediately thought of one of my favorite grilled meals and asked him, "Have you ever tried grilled salmon packets?" He looked at me with curiosity so I went on to explain that whenever Bryan and I want a quick, nutritious meal with practically no clean-up, we grab some tin foil, fill it with whatever's around – chopped onion, garlic, spinach leaves, sliced lemon, for example – lay a fresh piece of salmon on top and then seal up the packet. We throw it on the grill for 12 minutes, let the fish steam in its own juice and dinner is r-e-a-d-y, ready.

It couldn't be more simple or delicious; best of all, you throw out the tin foil and the clean up work is done. Of course, you can make it with whatever you want; halibut, salmon, tilapia and chicken work really well, just remember the cooking times are different for each piece of protein. Here's my go-to recipe for our salmon packets. This one's for you, Eric.

Grilled Salmon Packets
Makes four packets
  • Four 20" pieces of tin foil (feel free to double the layers if you're worried about leaks)
  • 4 uncooked salmon filets (size is up to you; ours are typically 3" x 5" per serving)
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly-sliced in rounds
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 lemon wedges, for garnish
Place on piece of salmon skin-side down on a piece of foil. Top with a single layer of lemon slices. Repeat with layers of sliced onion and sliced garlic. Drizzle with one teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Bring lengthwise sides of the foil together and crimp closed. Repeat with the edges, rolling the foil in on each end to seal the packet. Place on the grill for 8-10 minutes for medium rare, 12 minutes for medium and 14 minutes for well-done. You do not need to flip the packets; they will steam on the grill. Remove packets from the grill and let rest for 2-3 minutes. Open the foil packets, being careful as steam will escape. Use a spatula to transfer the salmon from the packets to the plate. Serve with a side salad or goat-cheese and spinach-stuffed mushroom cups (recipe coming soon).

Step #1: Place salmon filet on tin foil

Step #2: Top with a layer of lemon slices

Step #3: Repeat with layers of sliced onions and garlic

Step #4: Seal each packets by crimping middle and edge foil seams together

Step #5: Put on grill and cook for up to 12 minutes. Remove and let rest before opening packet.

Step #6: Use spatula to transfer to plate, perhaps on a bed of steamed spinach. Serve with lemon wedges and enjoy!


  1. Looks damn good and easy too!

  2. From the recipe, it looks like ingredient list should be one teaspoon pepper and four teaspoons oil (i.e., tsp vs Tbsp).


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