Sweet & Smoky Salmon Seasoning

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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

Now that you’re a seasoned veteran, be sure to check out the Hey Grill Hey app for even more amazing seasonings and sauces, as well as over 500 other delicious recipes to feed the people you love.

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Sweet and Smoky Salmon Seasoning

By: Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
4.96 from 21 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


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  • 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

87 Reviews

  1. Karen says:

    We eat quite a bit if salmon and are always looking for a new recipe . I made this one tonight and the recipe moved to the top of the list . It was baked in oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes and was perfect. Thank you for sharing !

  2. Karen says:

    I’ve been trying to replicate a salmon spice I had purchased in Mystic Connecticut for many years and not only is this similar but it taste better. Thank you so much!

  3. Jessica says:

    I was looking for a grilled salmon rub. This was a great recipe. It had all of the right flavors, spice, sweet, and citrus. I will definitely make this again.

  4. Michael Corsentino says:

    Wondering if TrueLime crystals or dried lime peel is an option for longer term storage?

    1. Mark says:

      Don’t put the lime zest in the rub. Make rub, sprinkle on salmon then zest lime over the rubbed salmon.

  5. Tracy Lance says:

    We made this recipe for the first time headrest. We made this recipe and also another so we could compare. The other wax a lemon/dill recipe, seems very common. While the other was really good, this brown sugar recipe was absolutely outstanding! Everyone in our party of 10 just raved about it, and even a 1 yr old loved it and ate a lot. Seriously crazy good!

  6. Daniel says:

    I will try this out

  7. Victor Orly says:

    I’ve made this about 20 times. Awesome every time.

  8. Robert says:

    Made this for dinner and it was a big hit. Absolutely delicious

  9. Laurence says:

    I like to use cedar plank (available at almost all grocery stores and bbq supply stores). Make sure you get one that will fit your smoker or grill.

  10. Trisha Fearnside says:

    Do you put the salmon right on the grill or do you place it on tinfoil first?!

    1. Robb says:

      In one of her other videos she talked about oil the grill grates with avocado oil. I’ve never tried that. I some small backing or cooling racks I use for mine.