Welcome to a recipe that's not only a feast for the senses but also a testament to the simplicity of great cooking. Dad's Beer Butter Salmon is one of our family's favorite salmon recipes that brings together the richness of wild-caught salmon, the warmth of butter, and the boldness of Mexican lager. With just five ingredients, this dish proves to be the best way to prepare a salmon with extraordinary flavors from the simplest ingredients.
Back in 1980's, when salmon would "run" through the local waters where I grew up, my parents often bought a half salmon from our Farmers Market every year and would prepare it on the grill during the late summer. Since having dinner at the Roesler home back in 1985, my Dad made this recipe almost every summer up until we lost him. Posting this recipe is an ode to my Dad, but also to the indigenous peoples land we inhabited in Washington and to the many salmon dinners I enjoyed growing up.
Salmon Run in Washington State: A Natural Spectacle: In the pristine waters of Washington State, the annual salmon run stands as a breathtaking testament to the cyclical wonders of nature. As temperatures cool and the days grow shorter, Pacific salmon embark on an epic journey from the ocean back to their natal streams and rivers for spawning. The iconic Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye salmon, among others, navigate the powerful currents, surmounting waterfalls and overcoming obstacles to reach their ancestral spawning grounds. Washington's rivers, including the renowned Columbia River, become vibrant highways teeming with shimmering silver bodies, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that captivates both locals and visitors alike.
Conservation Efforts and Cultural Significance: The salmon run not only paints the waterways with splashes of life but also plays a vital role in the region's ecological balance. Conservation efforts are paramount, as organizations work tirelessly to preserve and restore habitats, ensuring the continued success of this awe-inspiring natural event. Beyond ecological significance, the salmon holds immense cultural importance for indigenous communities in Washington State. For generations, salmon has been a symbol of sustenance, providing nourishment and a spiritual connection to the land. The annual salmon run serves as a reminder of the delicate harmony between nature and culture, making it an integral part of Washington's identity and a cherished annual spectacle for all who witness it.
Just like art, cooking is creation and there is no wrong way to create a dish or a piece of art. So stand by that great recipe that was a huge hit with your kids. Cooking is as subjective as art work. Which is why I don't take it personally when picky eaters decide this is not their jam. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of salmon, but I love this recipe and a version with crispy skin pan fried in a cast iron skillet. Pieces of fish from this recipe serve well with our Green Goddess Tartar Sauce adding an herbaceous note to the traditional way you would get tarter from your favorite pub.
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- Wild-caught salmon (king salmon, sockeye salmon, atlantic salmon, or any type of salmon)
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Garlic cloves or garlic powder
- Mexican lager
- Optional: fresh dill
See recipe card for quantities.
- Preheat and Prepare: Preheat the gas grill to 375˚. Cover a sheet pan with foil or parchment.
- Prepare the Salmon: Lay the salmon on the prepared pan. Blot dry with a paper towel, turn over and do the same for the other side. Lay salmon skin side down. Season with half salt and pepper.
- Layer on Flavors: Place slices of butter cubes on the salmon, top with minced garlic and lemon slices.
- Add the Beer: Pour the Mexican lager around the salmon.
- Wrap and Cook: Tightly wrap the aluminum or parchment. Make four small slits to allow steam to release. Carefully place on the preheated grill grate, close the lid, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the salmon easily flakes.
- Temperature check: placing an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the fillet and make sure the temp is at least 145 degrees f.
- Serve: Remove from the grill, and serve with lemons on top and finish with a good pinch of salt. Optional: garnish with fresh dill and lemon wedge. Pair it beautifully with garlic aioli or green goddess tartar sauce. Serve with oven french fries, baked potato, fingerling potatoes, white rice, or ancient grain.
- Salmon: Substitute with steelhead trout or arctic char. This recipe also works with fresh cod, if you want a less fishy fish.
- Mexican Lager: Experiment with a citrus-infused pale ale or a light-bodied wheat beer.
- Garlic: Roasted garlic cloves can be used for a milder flavor.
- Butter: if you need a dairy free version you can substitute the butter with ½ cup of high quality extra virgin olive oil
- Cedar Plank Method: Try grilling the salmon on a cedar plank for a smoky twist.
- Citrus Explosion: Enhance the citrus flavors by adding orange or lime slices. Or add fresh lemon juice, along side the sliced lemons.
- Herb Infusion: Introduce fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary for an aromatic touch.
- Air Fryer: you can place a wrapped small salmon fillet in the air fryer. Preheat to 400 degrees, and cook for 10 minutes.
- Oven: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place wrapped salmon on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until salmon cooks to desired doneness.
- Grill or Oven
- Sheet pan
- Foil or parchment paper
This salmon dish is best enjoyed fresh off the grill. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Gently reheat to maintain the flavors.
For an extra burst of freshness, squeeze additional fresh lemon juice over the salmon just before serving. This enhances the vibrant flavors and adds a zesty kick to each bite.
While fresh salmon is recommended, you can use thawed frozen salmon. Just ensure it's well-drained before seasoning.
Experiment with your favorite beer styles, such as a pale ale, pilsner, or even a fruity wheat beer.
Yes, wrapping ensures the salmon steams in its juices, keeping it moist and flavorful.
Dad's Beer Butter Salmon - 5 ingredient recipe
- 1 Grill
- 4.5 lbs wild-caught salmon
- 1.5 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter sliced in cubes
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 lemons ½ slices
- 1 12 oz Mexican lager
- fresh dill
- Preheat grill to 375˚. Cover a sheet pan with foil or parchment. Lay salmon on top, skin side down. Season with half of the salt and pepper. Place butter cube slices on top of the salmon, top with minced garlic and lemon slices. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Pour the beer around the salmon and tightly wrap the aluminum or parchment. Make four small slits in the foil or parchment to allow steam to release.
- Carefully place in the middle of the preheated grill, close the lid, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until salmon easily flakes.
- Remove from grill, and serve with lemons on top. It pairs beautifully with a garlic aioli or green goddess tarter sauce.
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These are my favorite dishes to serve with [this recipe]:
- Ensure the salmon reaches an internal temperature of at least 145˚F (63˚C).
- Use a separate cutting board for raw fish to avoid cross-contamination.
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling raw fish.
- Discard any leftover marinade that has come into contact with raw salmon.