What Color Should Cooked Salmon Be? Complete Guide to Cooked Salmon Color

Are you wondering about the cooked salmon color? Are you looking for tips on how to make sure your salmon is cooked through without being dry or overcooked? Then this blog post is for you! We’ll provide all the information you need to know about the cooked salmon color and texture so that you will perfectly cook your next meal.

How to Check the Temperature of Salmon?

Checking the temperature of salmon is an important step in ensuring a safe and delicious meal. To guarantee success, it’s best to use an instant-read thermometer. Start by preheating the oven to 425°F and then place the salmon filet in a baking dish. Cook the salmon for 12-15 minutes or until the thickest part of the filet is opaque and flakey.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the fish and wait for a reading of at least 135°F for farmed Atlantic salmon or 145°F for wild varieties. If unsure, aim for 145°F – this temperature is recommended by the USDA and FDA for food safety reasons. Once done, remove the salmon from the heat and enjoy!

The Color of Raw Salmon

The color of raw salmon varies from almost white to light orange, depending on the levels of the carotenoid astaxanthin in their diet. Wild salmon typically has a deeper reddish-orange hue, while farmed salmon is usually lighter and pinker. The distinctive orangey-pink hue of salmon is so striking that Crayola even named a crayon after it to accurately represent the flesh of wild salmon.

This hue is created due to the fish consuming carotenoids, an antioxidant that gives salmon its color. For most, the more distinctive pink hue is preferable, making darker salmon more desirable.

The Color of Cooked Salmon

Cooking salmon correctly results in a delicious and nutritious meal. It is important to note that the color of cooked salmon changes from dark pink to a lighter color. To ensure your salmon is cooked correctly, use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature – it should be between 110°F and 140°F. Overcooked salmon can be relatively easy to spot as it will be super-firm and opaque orange all the way through.

On the other hand, correctly cooked salmon will have an opaque pinkish/white color on the outside, with a translucent pink in the center. As it cooks, the flesh will turn an opaque white color – once cooked through, the entire piece of fish should be an opaque white.

Cooking Temperature of Cooked Salmon

Cooking salmon to the perfect temperature can be tricky, but with a few tips, you’ll get it just right every time. According to Cook’s Illustrated, farmed Atlantic salmon should be cooked to 125 degrees F for a firm yet silky texture. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (62.8 degrees C) for fish safety reasons.

However, for medium to medium-rare, many people prefer to remove the fish from the heat when it reaches a temperature of 125°F to 135°F. The fish will continue cooking a bit after it is removed from the heat, reaching the recommended 145°F by the time it is done. With these helpful tips, your salmon can now be cooked perfectly every time!

Flakiness as A Sign of Doneness Salmon

Cooking salmon to perfection can be tricky. To achieve perfectly cooked salmon, watch for certain signs of doneness. One of the most reliable indicators is flakiness—it’s done when the top of the fish easily flakes apart. This is especially true if the salmon has skin on, as you should cook it skin-side-down first to prevent albumin from appearing. Another sign of doneness is an opaque color – when the fish starts off shiny and translucent and turns opaque, it’s ready to eat.

Finally, a good way to tell if it’s done is if it flakes easily with a fork. To help ensure your salmon is cooked properly, America’s Test Kitchen suggests cooking to an internal temperature of 125 degrees F (52 degrees C). With these tips in mind, you can have perfectly cooked salmon every time!

What Does Undercooked Salmon Look Like?

To tell if your salmon is undercooked, look for a light pink and red color in the thickest part. The texture should also be soft and slimy. Cooking salmon will change from a translucent (red/raw) color to an opaque (pink) color as it cooks. To check for doneness, press down on the top of the fillet with a fork or finger after 6-8 minutes of cooking.

If the salmon still looks translucent or raw, it needs to be cooked, and you should continue cooking for a few more minutes. Once cooked, the salmon should be pink and moist to the touch. If the salmon has turned white or flaky, this means it’s been overcooked.

How Long Should Salmon Be Cooked?

Cooking salmon correctly can be tricky. The recommended time for baking salmon is 20 minutes per inch of thickness. However, this can vary based on the size and oven. Preheat your oven to the desired temperature, typically between 350°F and 425°F. Place the salmon skin side down on a non-stick baking sheet or in an oven-proof pan. Bake the filet for 12 to 15 minutes for a 6-ounce fillet or 15 to 18 minutes for a single side until it registers the desired temperature.

For sockeye salmon, 10 to 15 minutes should suffice. If you’re cooking a thicker fillet, it will take less time, usually around 11 to 14 minutes. When finished, the salmon should be medium-rare in color and texture. To ensure optimal results, make sure to preheat your oven before baking.

You may want to read: King vs. Sockeye vs. Coho: A Comparison of Three Popular Salmon Types

How to Avoid Overcooking Salmon?

To avoid overcooking your salmon:

  1. Start by selecting a fresh fillet from the market.
  2. Season the fleshy side with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to cook, heat a pan over medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of oil.

Place the salmon in the pan, skin-side down. Cover the salmon with foil as tightly as you can. This will help keep moisture in and prevent it from evaporating during cooking. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then flip the salmon and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until it reaches your desired doneness. Once cooked through, remove from heat and let rest before serving.

FAQS About Cooked Salmon Color

Does Salmon Turn White when Fully Cooked?

Yes, salmon can turn white when fully cooked. This is because of a protein called albumin which is released from the fish when heated. Wild-caught salmon should never be white, so if your salmon is not its usual color, there may be an issue with the meat. The most accurate way to ensure doneness is to check the temperature. The albumin will appear as a slimy white goo on the salmon’s surface and is totally safe to eat.

Is It Safe to Eat Pink Salmon?

Yes, it is safe to eat pink salmon as long as it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also important to note that fresh salmon should be bright pink or an attractive rosy or slightly orange color and should not be grayish in color. Lastly, salmon will change from translucent (red or raw) to opaque (pink) as it cooks.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Eating Partially Cooked Salmon?

No, there are no health risks associated with eating partially cooked salmon. It is a common practice in restaurants and is perfectly safe when cooked to the recommended temperature.

What Signs Should I Look for To Ensure My Salmon Is Safe to Eat?

You can ensure your salmon is safe to eat by ensuring it has been cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, fresh salmon should be bright pink or an attractive rosy or slightly orange color and should not be grayish in color. Lastly, the salmon will change from translucent (red or raw) to opaque (pink) as it cooks.

Why Is My Salmon Not Pink when Cooked?

Salmon will change from translucent (red or raw) to opaque (pink) as it cooks. After 6-8 minutes of cooking, check for doneness by taking a sharp knife to the middle of the fillet. If your fillet is still dark pink inside, it may need a few more minutes in the oven or pan. If the color does not change after a few minutes, it may be due to overcooking, and you should discard the salmon.


This guide helped you understand the different colors of cooked salmon and how to identify them. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!





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