This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Moist and flaky salmon with a citrusy, sugary crust is one recipe you’ll want to earmark for special occasions or dinner parties with friends — this is the Best Salmon Seasoning you’ll try! Fresh orange zest is the star of this homemade salmon seasoning made with coriander, cumin, fennel, and other spices readily found in your pantry or easily located in the store’s spice aisle! 

citrusy salmon rub in a small mason jar with a wooden spoon on a table.

Salmon fillets are basted with olive oil and then rubbed with the salty and sweet salmon seasoning. And as the salmon cooks — either grilled on a cedar plank or baked in the oven — moisture is sealed inside, and a crispy crust forms on top. 

With turbinado sugar and black peppercorns in the spice rub, every bite has a bold flavor! It’s also great for pork chops or your favorite fish. And BONUS — It’s also gluten-free!

ingredients for salmon seasoning on a table.

Key ingredients and substitutions for Citrus Salmon Seasoning Blend

Dry Rub

  • Sugar | Add raw or turbinado sugar to the blend for a sweet contrast to the warm spices and citrus. Substitute it with a combination of brown sugar and white sugar, if necessary.
  • Sea salt | Sprinkle in some sea salt or kosher salt, if preferred.
  • Black peppercorns | Crush whole black peppercorns for a fresh and full flavor. Use black pepper in its place if needed.
  • Dill weed | Dill is a commonly used herb for seasoning salmon. For today’s salmon recipe, use dill weed to enhance the overall flavor of the rub.
  • Cumin | Grind earthy and warm cumin into the seasoning blend. Smoked paprika is an excellent substitute when you can’t get your hands on cumin.
  • Seeds | Boost the seasoning’s flavor with freshly ground celery, coriander, and fennel seeds.
  • Orange | Bright orange zest compliments the flavor of salmon so well.

Salmon

  • Salmon | Season six salmon filets with the skin on, then remove after cooking.
  • Olive oil | Brushing the filets with standard olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, or vegetable oil will help the spices stick. 
  • Cedar planks | Cedar planks are used for cooking salmon on the grill for a smoky cedar flavor.
crushing spices with a pestle in a granite mortar for salmon rub.

Must-Have Mortar and Pestle Set

Although I never thought I’d use one of these kitchen tools, I’ve found that I enjoy having one for recipes like this and for grinding fresh herbs. I even made my own Homemade Stone-Ground Mustard with a mortar and pestle!

  • 2-cup capacity
Mortar and Pestle Set

How to make The Best Seasoning for Salmon

This easy salmon seasoning uses simple pantry staples and fresh orange zest to create the perfect flavor combination for tasty fish. Plus, it is easily adjusted to fit your personal taste!

process steps for crushing peppercorns and sea salt in a mortar with a pestle; plus adding turbinado sugar and fennel seeds.

tip

  • Make a double batch! It’s always nice to have extra to use later. Store dry rub with fresh zest in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a month.
  • Add some hot paprika or chili powder for a hint of spice.

Dry Rub

STEP 1 | Grind the peppercorns

Start by roughly grinding the peppercorns and salt together using a mortar and pestle, leaving some large pieces. Then, add the fennel seeds and turbinado sugar and crush lightly.

STEP 2 | Add remaining spices

Next, gently crush the remaining spices, and pour the spice mixture into a small bowl.

process steps for zesting an orange and stirring it into crushed spices for citrusy salmon rub.

STEP 3 | Mix in the zest

Then, zest the orange and add it to the rub mixture. Mix with a fork until the orange zest is completely incorporated and there are no clumps.

Must-Have Zester

I love my Microplane zester! This classic tool doubles as a citrus zester and a Parmesan cheese grater.

  • zest lemons, limes, and oranges with ease while leaving behind the bitter white pith
  • dishwasher safe
microplane zester

Salmon Grilled on Cedar Planks

STEP 1 | Soak planks and preheat grill

Soak cedar planks in water for at least 2 hours, then preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

salmon on a cedar plant seasoned with dry rub.

STEP 2 | Season salmon and grill

Place the fresh salmon skin side down onto the cedar planks, lightly brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle them with the dry rub mixture.

Next, place the cedar planks on the grill and cook with the lid down for 12-15 minutes.

Must-Have Cedar Planks

  • Made in the USA
  • Certified food-safe
  • Perfect size for 3-4 servings.
cedar grilling planks
salmon grilled on a cedar plant garnished with an orange slice.

STEP 3 | Remove from heat source and plate

Then, carefully remove the cedar planks from the grill and slide a wide metal spatula between the cooked salmon and the skin to lift it onto a plate.

Often, I prep salmon ahead of time in a brown sugar marinade for the grill. When I don’t have an extra hour, however, applying a rub is an equally tasty option. All you need is 5 minutes to prep, and you’re ready to grill!

tips

  • Cedar planks add smoky flavor to salmon or fish and can be used again and again. If you plan to grill fish on a cedar plank, soak it in water for at least an hour before using to avoid flames.
  • To ensure the salmon is finished cooking, measure the internal temperature. It’s done when it reaches 125 degrees.
  • You can also use this salmon dry rub for air fryer salmon!
side view of salmon grilled on a cedar plant garnished with an orange slice.

Salmon Baked in the Oven

STEP 1 | Preheat oven

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

STEP 2 | Line baking sheet and prep salmon

Next, place the salmon fillets skin side down on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle the filets with the delicious salmon seasoning.

STEP 3 | Bake and serve!

Then, bake the filets for 15 minutes until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Finally, slide a wide metal spatula between the salmon and the skin and lift it onto a plate to serve!

citrusy salmon rub in a glass jar on a white plate with orange wedges and a wooden spoon.

Looking for more winning salmon recipes? My teriyaki salmon and rice bowl is a quick, easy weeknight dinner chock full of roasted broccoli, bell peppers, and fresh pineapple.

Or, try this honey soy salmon sheet pan dinner with sweet, flaky salmon, crisp roasted Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash.

Serving suggestions

Replace the simple salmon in this Salmon Salad Recipe with today’s sweet and salty-seasoned filets. Or serve the salmon as an entree with a side salad, like this Citrus Grilled Shrimp Salad, and buttery Cheddar Bay Biscuits that taste just like the famous biscuits from Red Lobster!

Frequently asked questions

Do you cook salmon with the skin on or off?

Although many people remove the skin before cooking, salmon skin is perfectly edible and is tastier when fried to a crisp. When baking or grilling salmon with a rub, I leave the skin on and remove it when plating so more juices are retained. Cooking salmon with or without the skin will work– It’s up to your preference.

What is the best seasoning to put on salmon?

The flavor of salmon combines well with various herbs and spices. Common choices include parsley, thyme, dill, oregano, cumin, citrus, and more. You can’t go wrong with just about any seasoning blend for this delicious fish, as long as the mix works together.

Should you oil salmon before seasoning?

Brushing the fish with oil is optional but often produces tastier results. The oil helps the seasoning stick to the surface, prevents the fish from sticking to the pan or grill, and gives the cooked salmon a crisp outside.

Is salmon healthy?

Salmon is packed with protein and healthy fatty acids that promote brain and heart health. It’s an excellent entree to include in your weekly dinner or lunch menu and it can be cooked and used in various ways.

citrusy salmon rub in a small mason jar on a white plate with orange wedges.

Behind the recipe: Salty and Sweet Salmon Seasoning

A few years ago, I purchased several custom spice blends at a little shop in the mountains. One was a salmon seasoning packet we enjoyed so much that I decided to recreate it at home!

For the real test, I used my homemade salmon rub to prepare a birthday dinner party for our daughter and her friends.

These well-traveled young adults can sometimes be food snobs, so when they raved over my grilled salmon, I knew it was a big win! 

Please share!

Your shares are how this site grows, and I appreciate each one. Do you know someone who would enjoy this recipe? I’d love it if you would share it on Facebook or Pinterest!

citrusy salmon rub in a glass jar on a white plate with orange wedges and a wooden spoon.

Citrusy Salmon Rub

Moist and flaky salmon with a citrusy, sugary crust is one recipe you'll want to earmark for special occasions or dinner parties with friends — This is the Best Salmon Seasoning you’ll try
4.70 from 10 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Fish & Seafood
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 529 kcal

Ingredients
  

Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest

Salmon

  • 6 salmon filets
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cedar planks soaked in water for 2 hours

Instructions
 

Dry Rub

  • Roughly grind peppercorns and salt together using a mortar and pestle, leaving some large pieces. Add fennel seeds and turbinado sugar and crush lightly.
  • Add the remaining spices and gently crush. Pour the spice mixture into a bowl.
  • Zest the orange and add the to rub mixture. Mix with a fork until the orange is completely incorporated and there are no clumps.

Salmon Grilled on Cedar Planks

  • Soak cedar planks in water for at least 2 hours. Preheat grill to medium high heat.
  • Place salmon skin side down onto the cedar planks and lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with the dry rub mixture. Place the cedar planks on the grill and cook with the lid down for 12-15 minutes.
  • Carefully remove cedar planks from the grill. Slide a wide metal spatula between the salmon and skin and lift it onto a plate.

Salmon Baked in the Oven

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place salmon fillets skin side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with the salmon rub.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Slide a wide metal spatula between the salmon and skin and lift it onto a plate.

Notes

  • Store dry rub with fresh zest in the freezer in a ziplock bag for up to a month.
  • Cedar planks add smoky flavor to salmon or fish and can be used again and again. If you plan to grill fish on a cedar plank, soak it in water for at least an hour before using to avoid flames.
  • Make a double batch of this salmon seasoning recipe! It’s always nice to have extra to use later. Store dry rub with fresh zest in the freezer in a ziplock bag, spice jar, or another airtight container for up to a month.
  • Add some hot paprika or chili powder for a hint of spice.
  • To ensure the salmon is finished cooking, measure the internal temperature. It’s done when it reaches 125 degrees.
  • You can also use this salmon dry rub for air fryer salmon!

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 529kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 50gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 672mgSugar: 4g

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword citrus, dry rub, salmon
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating