Take your salmon dinners up a notch with this easy Salmon Dry Rub! It’s made from a simple blend of smoky and zesty spices and complements fish beautifully.
Want the secret to making restaurant-worthy salmon dinners at home? It’s all about the seasoning! Use this easy Salmon Dry Rub to take all of your salmon dishes up a notch and infuse every bite with zesty and smoky flavors.
This salmon dry rub recipe is easy to make using a simple blend of smoky and warm spices, brown sugar, and lemon zest. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the spice blend over the salmon filet, then bake, sear, broil, grill, or sous vide until the salmon is flaky and tender. In the end, you have an impressive piece of fish with flavors that everyone will love!
What is a dry rub?
A dry rub is a blend of ground spices and granulated sugar used to add extra flavor to meat, like chicken, beef, pork, and seafood. The spice mixture is rubbed all over the outside of the meat before it’s cooked either right away or after it’s left to marinate. After it’s cooked, the dry-rubbed meat should have layers of smoky, tangy, and/or spicy flavors, as well as a caramelized crust around the exterior from the melted sugar.
All you need is a short list of simple spices to make this salmon seasoning, such as:
- Smoked paprika – Regular or sweet paprika works, too.
- Garlic and onion powder – These two spices give the rub a baseline of savory flavors. This savoriness, while completely delicious, also helps to balance the stronger flavors.
- Brown sugar – The sugar is key here because when it melts, it forms a crispy, caramelized crust all around the cooked salmon.
- Cumin – For warmth.
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Mustard powder – Mustard pairs surprisingly well with salmon. Drizzling my Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce over salmon adds a divine and vibrant element, as does the mustard powder in this spice rub recipe.
- Lemon zest – This is optional, but it adds a refreshing pop that compliments the salmon so well.
You can use the seasoning on skinless or skin-on, boneless, and center-cut salmon filets.
Look for salmon that has a vibrant orange-red color and moist-looking flesh. As for farmed vs. wild-caught salmon, wild-caught Pacific or Atlantic salmon is always best because of its quality and flavor!
How to make dry-rubbed salmon
Begin by whisking the spices, sugar, and lemon zest together in a small bowl. Either use the blend right away on a salmon filet or store it in an airtight jar in your cupboard for later.
When it’s time to use the dry rub, use your hands to rub some of the spice mixture over the exterior of the salmon.
Broil the dry-rubbed salmon until it’s opaque and cooked through (with an internal temperature of 125ºF). Enjoy!
- Extra spicy – Add a pinch of cayenne to the blend.
- Zesty and tangy – For extra tang and vibrancy, use both lemon and lime zest in the spice blend.
- Sugar free – Omit the brown sugar or replace it with honey.
- Make it a marinade – Stir the spices together in a large bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil. Pop the fish in the bowl, allow it to soak up the flavors from the marinade for 30 minutes, then cook!
- Add herbs – You can give the spice blend a refreshing element by stirring in fresh or dried parsley, dill, cilantro, or rosemary.
Frequently asked questions
You’ll need to use 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix for every pound of salmon.
How long does salmon dry rub last?
The dry rub can be stored for up to 6 months in an airtight jar at room temperature. Keep it in a cool, dry place or where you keep your other spices.
Absolutely! The wide range of warm, smoky, and tangy flavors in this rub means that it would pair well with my Air Fryer Shrimp and on other types of fish, like tilapia or haddock, for fish tacos.
You’ll know the salmon is done when a meat thermometer registers the internal temperature at 120ºF to 125ºF. If you don’t have a thermometer, press a fork gently into the cooked salmon. The flesh will flake easily when it’s done.
This dry rub is especially perfect on grilled salmon dinners but you can, of course, use it on all kinds of salmon recipes. Use it to uplevel any of these salmon dinner ideas:
- Sheet Pan Salmon
- Air Fryer Salmon Bites
- Honey Sriracha Salmon
- Instant Pot Salmon
- Baked Salmon
- Salmon Sushi Bowls
More ways to season salmon
While these 15 Sauces for Salmon add big flavor to simple salmon recipes, any of these seasoning blends will do just as good of a job and are easier to put together. Give any of them a try when you want to add restaurant-quality flavor to any salmon recipe:
- Cajun Seasoning
- Steak Dry Rub
- Everything Bagel Seasoning
- Lemon slices and fresh dill or rosemary
- Italian Seasoning
- Salt and pepper
- Taco seasoning
- Grated or minced garlic
Did you try this salmon seasoning?
If you loved this salmon dry rub I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Salmon Dry Rub Recipe
- In a small bowl, whisk the spices until well combined. Store in an airtight container or jar for up to 6 months.
- Use 1 Tablespoon seasoning for every pound of salmon.
- Broil for 5-6 minutes or until the salmon is opaque and cooked through.