citrus salmon on the grill

Burgers and steaks a great on the grill, but frequently we want something a bit lighter. Fish is not always easy to cook on the grill, as it tends to break apart when turning, and it can be a bit fickle with the temperatures in the grill. So, my favorite way to grill salmon, for a few or for a crowd, is an indirect method of grilling, the fish needs no turning, cooks quickly and creates a beautiful presentation. This recipe was inspired by the Swinomish Indians, who for many years cooked the salmon for the Lighthouse Restaurant in LaConner. It was always a fave, and here at my house we still call this Lighthouse Salmon!

If  you have the time, brine the salmon with salt and brown sugar, either whole or in serving size pieces, for two hours. If you are not ready to cook the salmon at that point, simply remove it from the brine and rest on paper towels. Need a brine recipe? Or a quick tutorial on how on brine?

If you are so inclined, you may also want to quick preserve your orange & lemon  slices. After cutting the thin slices, transfer them to a bowl and liberally sprinkle them with kosher salt. Toss to combine. Allow to stand at least 30 minutes. This process will take away the bitterness of the pith and make the citrus peels softer, more mouth friendly. Yes, you will want to eat the entire thing!

Make a foil pan with two thicknesses of heavy duty aluminum foil, or if you prefer, you can use a sheet pan and place it directly on the grill, or line a grilling sheet with foil. You will want to have some kind of pan, as it facilitates moving the salmon on and off the grill, but more importantly, it catches the juices & sauce, with you will want to put over your  finished dish! I  like the foil pan, because clean up is a breeze!

Refrigerate the salmon until about 15 minutes before beginning to grill — maybe when you light the grill to heat. Set your grill up for indirect heat; bank the coals to one side in a charcoal grill, or heat the outer burners on your gas grill, while leaving the area in the center, where you will plan your pan, not directly heated. Heat grill to medium high heat, around 375°F. Slide the pan onto the grill, not over the heat. Close the grill, and cook until you see white collagen on the outside of the salmon, and the internal temperature reaches 150°F. Slide it out onto a board, or use a pizza peel to move the foil pan off the grill, onto a warmed serving platter. YUMMM!!!




5 from 2 votes

Lighthouse Salmon (inspired by the Lighthouse Restaurant, La Conner, WA)

This roasted salmon captures the flavor of citrus - a perfect addition to the succulent salmon.  The cooking process candies the citrus so it not only flavors the fish, but also becomes a wonderful accompaniment to the salmon creating a sweet, sour, salty finish and delectable sauce.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • 2-3 pound salmon fillet skinned, brined if desired, cut into portion size pieces if desired
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary leaves chopped, for cooking, 2-3 whole sprigs for garnish
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 large navel orange thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce to taste (optional)


  1. Hot grill to medium high heat. Add smoking chips if desired.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare a shallow sided pan of two thicknesses of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Lay salmon fillet on prepared foil pan, skin side down. Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper over. Alternately, lay orange and lemon slices over salmon. Dot with butter, then sprinkle with brown sugar. Sprinkle lightly with Frank’s Red Hot sauce if desired.
  3. Slide foil pan onto hot grill, and cook about 12-20 minutes, basting with pan juices regularly. Salmon is done when internal temperature reaches 150°F. cut into serving size portions and serve, garnished with orange and lemon wedges or slices, and rosemary sprigs

Recipe Notes

You may choose to grill this salmon in one large piece, then cut and serve, or cut into individual portions before cooking. Either works!

Serves 8.


citrus salmon on the grill — 4 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Chef Carol,
    I tried the Lighthouse Salmon this weekend and really like it (still eating leftovers). The fillets were on the thin side so only took 12 minutes to cook. Yummy!! I’ll be making it again as it’s very company friendly.
    Thanks for the wonderful recipes and tips.

  2. I have an OLD (1977) recipe from the Lighthouse for their salmon. It included 1/3 bottle of liquid smoke, 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/3 c garlic powder an 1/2 lb butter (I wonder if she meant 1/2 cup??) The rest is basically the same, except sliced onions were added along with the lemon and orange slices.

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