Sweet & Smoky Salmon Seasoning

19 reviews

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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 in white bowl.

Best Seasoning for Salmon

I’ve tried several variations of seasonings, rubs, and marinades for salmon. We’ve enjoyed them all. However, the one recipe we come back to over and over again is this salmon seasoning. There truly is a magical balance of flavors (some of them unexpected) that seems like it was tailor-made for salmon recipes. And because you’re making it at home, you avoid those additives and preservatives you get with store-bought seasonings.

This particular spice blend was made on a whim 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. While the combination may not sound like a great match, the finished result was absolutely stunning.

Ingredients for Salmon Seasoning

Here’s everything you’ll need handy to make this salmon seasoning. The good news is you likely have most or all of the ingredients on hand in your pantry or cupboard already.

  • Brown sugar. This is going to add a much desired layer of sweetness to your fish, and a nice texture to your final product.
  • Black pepper. I highly recommend cracking some fresh pepper when it’s time to blend your seasoning.
  • Sea salt. You want to use a course ground for this recipe. You can also use Kosher salt.
  • Dried basil. I’m the first to tell you to use fresh herbs whenever possible, but I recommend dried basil so your seasoning will keep longer.
  • Garlic powder. This is going to highlight and add to the natural savory flavor of your salmon.
  • Smoked paprika. Along with the actual smoke from your grill, this is how you add that yummy, smoky flavor to your salmon. And unlike the smoke, you can adjust the level to your preference.
  • Lime zest. If you’ll be using the seasoning right away, save the lime to squeeze some fresh juice on your finished salmon.

Seasoned fillet topped with lemon wedge.

Ways to Use This Seasoning

You might think from the name that this seasoning is only good with salmon, but trust me, it’s great on all sorts of things. It not only pairs great with seafood and veggies, but also proteins, such as chicken, beef, and pork. You can even sprinkle it on fresh popcorn for a tasty treat. Just keep in mind there is brown sugar in this recipe. Because of that I recommend cooking whatever you use it on over indirect heat.

How long does it stay good?

This salmon seasoning stores easily, so you can make it in advance so you have it ready to go when you’re in the mood for salmon. Simply place your mixed seasoning in a glass spice jar, and just like that you’ve got a go-to salmon seasoning for your spice rack. It will remain fresh in your cupboard this way for up to 6 months. It will still be safe to use after that, but will lose some of its zest. At that point, I’d go ahead and mix a new batch.

Seasoning blend in white bowl on black surface.

Grilled Salmon Seasoning

Almost every time we are preparing salmon, we are cooking it outside on our grill. Due to the sugar content in this seasoning, it is best cooked over indirect heat, meaning no flame or coals directly under the salmon. You don’t want that brown sugar to burn before the salmon finishes cooking. (If you need a refresher on cooking with indirect heat, check out my post for How to Cook with Two Zone Grilling.)

I prefer cooking mine on my Camp Chef pellet grill because I get a little extra kiss of smoky flavor that complements this 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, just make sure to line a baking sheet with some parchment paper for easy clean up.

Once you have your salmon fillets seasoned, grill or bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Salmon should be cooked until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F. The fish should be tender and just starting to flake apart with a fork.

Seasoning ingredients in white bowls on black countertop.

How to Make Salmon Seasoning

This recipe is super easy to prepare. You just need a small bowl and a whisk or fork, and you’re ready to blend the best salmon seasoning you’ll ever have.

  1. Blend seasoning. In a small bowl, add all of the ingredients for your seasoning and blend them together with a whisk or fork. You want to be sure and break up any clumped ingredients so your blend is even and smooth.
  2. Enjoy. That’s all there is to it. You can use it right away and get some salmon sizzling on the grill, or place it in a glass spice jar and add it to your spice rack for later use. Pull it out any time you’re ready to make fish, vegetables, or anything else that needs a kick of flavor.

More Flavorful Seasonings

You don’t have to stop at salmon now that you know how easy it is to make your own seasoning. Check out some more of my signature Hey Grill Hey seasoning recipes you can make at home.

Spice blend in white bowl next to grilled fillets.

Salmon Seasoning Recipe

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Sweet and Smoky Salmon Seasoning

By: Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
4.95 from 19 votes
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.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Servings8 people



  • 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
  • zest of 1 lime


  • Make the salmon seasoning. 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.
    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, zest of 1 lime
  • Reserve the zested lime. 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.


Calories: 14kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 7mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 62IU | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

**This post was originally published in August 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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Recipe Rating

Reader Reviews

85 Reviews

  1. Amanda says:

    Cooked on our traeger and it was amazing

  2. Gina84 says:

    This seasoning was wonderful on my pan-fried salmon.