Can you eat the silver stuff on salmon?

Quick Answers

The silvery, metallic-looking coating found on salmon is called the fish’s skin. Yes, it is totally edible and safe to eat. The skin contains healthy fats and nutrients. Many chefs and cooking experts recommend leaving the salmon skin on while cooking and eating it for maximum flavor and nutrition.

What is the Silver Stuff on Salmon?

The silvery coating found on a salmon fillet or steak is simply the fish’s skin. It consists of scales and pigments that give it a shiny, iridescent, and metallic sheen.

On some salmon, the skin may appear more grayish. Other times, it looks very silvery and reflective. This can depend on the diet and environment of the fish. The skin contains the pigment guanine, which has a crystalline structure that reflects light. This helps camouflage the salmon in water.

Salmon Skin Composition

Though thin, the skin is a complex structure consisting of multiple layers:

  • Epidermis – This protective outer layer is covered in scales made of keratin, the same protein found in hair and fingernails.
  • Dermis – This thicker inner layer contains blood vessels, nerves, and pigment cells.
  • Hypodermis – The deeper fatty layer provides insulation and cushioning.

In addition to guanine crystals, the skin contains other pigments like melanin and carotenoids. These give it yellow, orange, and red hues.

Is Salmon Skin Edible?

Yes, salmon skin is totally edible. It is safe and healthy to eat once scaled and cooked properly. Salmon skin has a complex flavor and adds texture to dishes.

Many people enjoy the taste of crispy seared salmon skin. When cooked, the skin develops a delicious, savory umami taste. The fatty layers render down to become crisp and meaty like bacon.

Salmon skin is high in healthy omega-3s just like the fish’s fatty flesh. It contains the same beneficial lipids like EPA and DHA. Per serving, the skin delivers 25% of the recommended daily omega-3 intake.

The skin is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It provides niacin, riboflavin, selenium, potassium, zinc, iron, and B vitamins.

So feel free to cook and eat salmon skin to boost the nutrition in any seafood meal. Just watch out for any residual scales and rinse thoroughly.

Benefits of Eating Salmon Skin

Here are some of the biggest benefits you’ll gain by eating salmon skin:

1. Healthy Fats

Salmon skin contains the same heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids as the fillet. These oils provide many health perks. They can:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Enhance brain function
  • Boost immunity

2. Nutrient Density

In addition to omega-3s, salmon skin delivers a range of vital vitamins and minerals:

  • Selenium – supports thyroid function
  • Niacin – aids metabolism
  • Zinc – bolsters immunity
  • Iron – prevents anemia
  • Potassium – regulates blood pressure

3. Protein Content

Salmon skin provides plenty of protein just like the flesh of the fish. A 3-ounce serving contains about 6 grams of protein.

Protein gives the body building blocks for cell growth and repair. High protein foods also increase satiety after eating.

4. Texture and Flavor

The best reason to eat salmon skin may be its delicious taste and crusty texture when cooked. Biting into crisp, savory salmon skin is a real treat.

When pan-seared, the skin develops a satisfying crunch and rich umami flavor. It adds welcome contrast to the buttery meat of the salmon fillet.

How to Cook Salmon Skin

Cooking salmon skin helps render the fat and crisp up the texture. Here are some recommended cooking methods:

Pan Sear

The most popular way to prepare salmon skin is pan searing it in a hot skillet:

  1. Pat skin dry and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add a little oil to a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Sear skin-side down until deeply golden brown and crisp, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes on flesh side.


For easy crispy skin, broil the salmon in the oven:

  1. Season the skin side with spices and oil.
  2. Place skin-side up on a foil-lined baking sheet.
  3. Broil 6 inches from heat for 3-5 minutes until skin blisters.


Grilling over direct high heat makes the skin crackle:

  1. Brush skin with oil and seasonings.
  2. Grill skin-side down over hottest part of grill for 2-4 minutes.
  3. Flip and grill 2 minutes on other side.

Preparing Salmon Skin for Cooking

Follow these tips when preparing raw salmon skin for cooking:

  • Rinse well – Run skin under cold water and gently scrub off any scales or debris.
  • Pat very dry – Blot skin thoroughly with paper towels. The drier the better for maximum crisping.
  • Score diagonally – Lightly score skin with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern. This helps rendering and crispness.
  • Season generously – Coat skin in oil and season assertively with salt and pepper or other spices and herbs.

Should Salmon Skin be Eaten?

While salmon skin is edible, some people opt to remove it before cooking. Here are some pros and cons of eating the skin:


  • Nutrient-dense – Packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Adds texture – Crispy and meaty skin contrasts the creamy salmon flesh.
  • Boosts flavor – When cooked right, the savory umami skin tastes amazing.
  • Easy to cook – Just scale, rinse, pat dry, season, and sear or broil.


  • Contains excess fat – The skin contributes extra calories, fat, and cholesterol.
  • Potential contaminants – Skin can concentrate environmental pollutants from water.
  • Adds waste – Skinless fillets create less cooking waste.
  • Difficult to crisp – Without drying and scoring, skin can be soggy and rubbery.

Ultimately whether to cook and eat the salmon skin comes down to personal preference. Many people love the taste and texture it adds. But removing it does make the fish lighter and cleaner.

Removing Salmon Skin

If you opt not to eat the skin, it’s easy enough to remove from the fillet:

  • Place fillet skin-side down on cutting board.
  • Start at tail end and slide long knife under skin, angling blade gently.
  • Keep knife flush with skin and work along fillet, separating skin.
  • Use fingers to peel skin off once separated from flesh.

Try to remove the skin in one piece without tearing for cleanest results. Be careful not to cut into the delicate fish flesh.

What Does Salmon Skin Taste Like?

When cooked properly, salmon skin has a delicious savory and umami-rich flavor. The taste is deeper and more well-rounded than the fish itself.

The skin has a meatier flavor reminiscent of bacon. It also takes on pleasant caramelized notes when pan-seared.

Expect the skin to be bolder, more intense, and salty compared to the subtle, delicate meat. The crispy texture accentuates the taste even further.

Chefs note the skin has an almost sweet, nutty quality as the natural sugars caramelize during cooking. Blackening and charring adds a barbecue-like taste.

Popular Dishes Using Salmon Skin

Here are some delicious ways chefs creatively use salmon skin in recipes:

Crispy Salmon Skin Appetizers

Deep frying transforms trimmings of salmon skin into irresistible crispy chips. Season with salt and eat these crunchy bites straight up.

You can also incorporate crispy salmon skin into a variety of appetizers. Try topping bruschetta, salads, or crudité with shatteringly thin and brittle salmon skin shards.

Salmon Skin Hand Rolls

In Japanese restaurants, grilled or fried salmon skin often fills hosomaki sushi rolls. The skin replaces rice on the seaweed exterior while avocado, cucumber, orJapanese omelette fill the interior.

This finger food snack is called aburi salmon skin hand roll. The hot crispy salmon skin contrasts the other cool smooth fillings.

Salmon Skin Tacos

Crispy salmon skin also shines in fusion fish tacos with all the fixings. The skin replaces the typical battered, fried fillet as the protein.

Combine with corn tortillas, salsa, cabbage, avocado, cilantro, and a spicy crema or aioli sauce for an amazing salmon skin taco.

Salmon Skin Furikake

In Japan, crispy fried salmon skin gets finely crumbled into the dry seasoning furikake. Sprinkled over rice, it adds delightful texture along with umami flavor.

Use store-bought or homemade salmon skin furikake to elevate a bowl of steaming white rice, fried rice, or fish dishes.

Salmon Skin Snack Chips

For a crispy and healthy snack, try baking salmon skin into chip form. Brush with oil, season, and bake at 400°F until browned and crispy, about 15 minutes.

Let cool completely before eating. These mineral-rich chips have a satisfying crunch and savory depth ideal for guilt-free snacking.

Storing and Freezing Salmon Skin

Raw Skin

Trimmed raw salmon skin can be stored in the fridge or freezer:

  • Fridge – Pat very dry and place between parchment sheets in a container for 2-3 days.
  • Freezer – Pat dry then freeze in an airtight bag for 4-6 months.

Cooked Skin

Leftover cooked salmon skin keeps well:

  • Fridge – Store in sealed container for 3-4 days.
  • Freezer – Seal in airtight bag for 2-3 months.

Thaw frozen skin in the fridge before reheating gently in a skillet or oven. Crisp up the texture by brushing with oil before reheating.

Can Dogs Eat Salmon Skin?

Yes, it is safe for dogs to eat cooked salmon skin in moderation. Many canines love the strong taste and crunchy texture.

Salmon skin provides healthy omega fatty acids. Just be sure to cook thoroughly to kill any parasites. Avoid feeding raw salmon skin to dogs.

Too much salmon oil can cause upset stomach, so limit treats to a few times a week. Seek advice from your veterinarian about serving salmon skin to dogs.


While often removed and discarded, salmon skin deserves more appreciation. It offers a nourishing dose of fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals. When cooked properly, the crisp and savory skin enhances any seafood meal with its robust taste and enjoyable crunch. Prepare salmon skin by cooling and seasoning generously, then pan sear for maximum impact. Whether snacking on crispy skin chips or topping tacos, this salmon byproduct offers flavor and nutrition not to be missed.

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