Sweet & Smoky Salmon Seasoning

August 29, 2018

My homemade salmon seasoning is legendary. It is a delicious blend of sweet and savory with a smoky kick to perfectly complement salmon’s light flavor and texture.

Salmon Seasoning

Best Seasoning for Salmon

I’ve tried several variations of salmon seasonings, rubs, and marinades. We have enjoyed them all, but the one recipe we come back to over and over again is this sweet and smoky salmon seasoning. There truly is a magical balance of flavors (some of them unexpected) that seems like it was made for salmon!

This particular recipe was made on a whim from random pantry ingredients that we had on hand one Sunday afternoon when people were hungry and the grill was already preheated. Luckily, our guests didn’t question me throwing brown sugar, dried basil, and lime zest together because while the combination may not sound like a great match, the finished result was absolutely stunning!

Best Seasoning for Salmon

Grilled Salmon Seasoning

Most every time we are preparing salmon, we are cooking it outside on our grill. This recipe is perfect for salmon that you would grill over indirect heat (meaning no flame or coals directly under the salmon) because of the sugar content in the seasoning. You don’t want that brown sugar to burn before the salmon finishes cooking.

I prefer cooking mine on my Camp Chef pellet grill because I get a little extra kiss of smoky flavor that complements the rub perfectly. If you’re cooking on gas or charcoal, simply set up your coals on one half of the grill or only turn on half of your burners. This seasoning also works great for baking your salmon in the oven, I just make sure to line my baking sheet with some parchment paper for easy clean up. I always cook at around 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F and the fish just starts to flake apart with a fork.

Grilled Salmon Seasoning

Salmon Seasoning  Recipe

sweet and smoky salmon seasoning

Sweet and Smoky Salmon Seasoning

4.89 from 9 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Total Time : 5 mins



  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 lime, zested


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using a fork or whisk to break up any clumps from the brown sugar. Sprinkle liberally on salmon. One batch will season an entire 2 pound salmon filet. Use immediately.
  • Bonus advice, reserve the lime you zested for the seasoning and squeeze the juice over the seasoned salmon while you are grilling or roasting it.
Ready to Become a Backyard BBQ Hero?Join The Grill Squad today!

Other Salmon Seasoning Recipes


This post contains affiliate links. For more information on them, visit our Privacy Policy

67 thoughts on “Sweet & Smoky Salmon Seasoning

    1. I know this is an old comment, but for future reference, Swerve brown sweetener is a great alternative to brown sugar. Great flavor, similar texture, and it’s erythritol-based, so it’s natural but it’s not pure sugar in another form, like honey and maple syrup are. Our family doesn’t do brown sugar (or any added sugar) either, and Swerve brown has been a great addition to our pantry.

      Thank you for the seasoning recipe, Susie! Looking forward to giving it a try for dinner.

      1. Wow, what an interesting combination of flavors! I don’t think I’ve tasted anything like this before. I cut the sweetener in half and seasoned two salmon fillets. My husband liked it; I’m on the fence, but it was enjoyable and it definitely made a nice meal. I might use dill instead of basil next time. Thank you, Susie! We’ll be trying your Texas-style brisket tomorrow. Looking forward to that too!

    2. The reason for sugar is that it melts and browns, which is why it’s a major ingredient in BBQ sauce. so if it’s just brown sugar, a little honey and white sugar will work, either way you want some kind of sugar in there to cause a maillard reaction to help build a crust like texture. meaning erythritol will being an alcohol based sugar that comes from blackstrap molasses and not sucrose based sugar (basically saying it’s not a real sugar) it won’t have the intended texture or cooking properties of brown sugar, or even normal sugar.

      TL:DR, sugars have properties that brown when cooked, sugar substitutes like swerve or Stevie do not share those properties. so, there’s not proper substitute that will cook the same.

  1. This sounds great! I love salmon, will have to try. One question, it says “use immediately.” Any particular reason? I am single and usually just cooking for me. Can’t I use the leftover seasoning later on?

  2. It looks like step three and any other steps that might come after that are missing. Could you please provide the rest of the recipe? Also is there an alternate cooking method to use if no grill is available?

    1. There was originally nothing under step 3, I edited that so it won’t confuse anyone else. Thanks for letting me know. You can cook this in the oven on a baking sheet lined with foil at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.

      1. If we bake it in the oven using a pan lined with foil, should we oil the pan with olive oil first? Or should it be fine without? I just don’t want the brown sugar to burn.

      2. Thank you. I just figured there would be instructions for the grilling part of the process after step 2, but thank you for information on how to make this recipe in the oven. It sounds great – I’m looking forward to trying it.

      1. Loved your Salmon recipe. Just enough sweetness. My husband enjoyed it also….That’s Unbelievable, he is not a Salmon fan. Will make it again. Thank You!

  3. OR you could get out your old or new George Foreman grill and cook it in that! I do my steak mushrooms in it, delish!

  4. This is great! I cooked this in a cedar plank under hot charcoal. Best ever!! Thank you for making my lunch dreams come true.

  5. I used minced dry garlic bc I didn’t have dried. I cooked it in my air fryer at 390°F for 7-8 mins. SO GOOD! My mother and 2 year old loved it! I paired it with roasted carrots. Thank you!

  6. I cook salmon on the stovetop from frozen (thanks to technique from Wild Alaska Seafood Co.) and this rub worked fabulously. Just rinse ice glaze off frozen fillets, brush both sides with high heat veg. oil, place in hot pan skin side up til browned (3-4 min) then flip, sprinkle on the seasoning, cover, lower heat to med. and finish cooking another 6-8 min. If fillet is skinless, sprinkle bottom side before adding to the pan. Looking forward to trying it from fresh on the grill!

  7. I see that you grill the fish on indirect heat. What temp, on a gas grill, should other side be on and how long does it take in general. I’m guessing you don’t flip the salmon.

  8. In place of brown sugar use organic brown coconut sugar it’s unrefined and low glycemic it trades one for one with brown sugar. Excellent well balanced rub. I put all the dry ingredients in an old Cormick plastic bottle shaker. I then use the shaker to apply a light coating to the fish and add the zest at the last minute using only as much as I need for my portion.

  9. When you say to use it immediately, is that because of the lime zest? I’m wondering if I could mix the sugar and all the other spices and keep it in a jar for future use. Thanks!

  10. Loved this rub recipe – it was delicious! I made some substitutions just based on what I had on hand. I used Swerve brown sugar instead. I will definitely use this again!! So much healthier than what we normally baste our salmon with.

  11. Have been using the recipe as it’s called for the brown sugar. No substitutes,substitutes have more calories more cholesterol more carbs than just using the regular brown sugar than it calls for the lime helps to cut it. I love it!!!

  12. What smoke setting do you use on the camp chef? I just got mine, this recipe will be it’s maiden cook!

  13. This rub was absolutely delicious! I left out the lime zest because I didn’t have any on hand and sprayed the salmon with olive oil before putting on the rub. I baked salmon at 425 for 20 minutes. It turned out perfect – have never had salmon this good even in a restaurant!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating