How To Remove Skin From Salmon?

How to remove skin from salmon might be one of the most asked questions in the kitchen when it comes to cooking salmon.

Removing the skin from salmon can seem like a daunting task, but with the right technique, it becomes a straightforward process.

In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps of skinning salmon efficiently, ensuring a clean separation of skin and flesh.

With practice, you’ll be able to perform this task quickly and with ease, leading to consistently perfect salmon dishes every time.

Why Do You Need To Remove Salmon Skin?

Before answering the question: “How to remove skin from salmon”, let’s find out why we need to do this step before deskinning salmon.

There are several reasons why you might choose to remove the skin from salmon before cooking.

While some people appreciate the texture and flavor that crispy skin can add to a dish, others prefer the taste and feel of skinless salmon.

Removing the skin can also be beneficial for those who are looking for a lower-fat option, as a significant portion of the fish’s fat layer is found directly underneath the skin.

Additionally, the skin can harbor contaminants and pollutants that may be present in the water where the salmon was caught, making removal a safer choice for those concerned about potential health risks.

Cooking skinless salmon can also result in a more delicate and refined presentation, which may be preferred in certain recipes where the fish is meant to absorb other flavors from sauces or marinades.

Ultimately, removing the skin from salmon is a personal preference and can be done easily at home with the right technique.

How To Remove Skin From Salmon? (Step-By-Step Guidelines)

Now is the answer to the million-dollar question: “How to remove skin from salmon” that we all have been waiting for.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, these instructions will help you handle salmon like a pro:

Step 1. Prepare Your Work Area

Lay a non-slip cutting board on a stable surface.

Make sure the area is well-lit, so you can see clearly while you work.

Drape a paper towel over the board to absorb excess moisture and prevent the fish from sliding.

Step 2. Dry The Salmon

Gently pat the salmon filets dry with paper towels.

This not only helps you to get a better grip on the fish but also prevents the knife from slipping.

Step 3. Position The Salmon

Place the salmon filet skin-side down on the cutting board.

Arrange the fish so that the tail end is closest to you.

If the filet has a tapered end, you may want to start cutting from there as it gives you an initial angle to work with.

Step 3. Make The Initial Cut

With your filet knife in hand, make a small incision between the flesh and the skin at the tail end – just big enough to allow you to get a grip on the skin. 

If there is no tailpiece to hold onto, insert the knife at an angle at one corner and gently see it to create a flap.

Step 4. Secure The Skin

Using your fingers, take hold of the flap of skin or the tailpiece that you’ve partially cut free.

If the skin is slippery, use a paper towel to improve your grip.

Step 5. Angle The Knife

With the blade facing the cutting board, position it at a slight downward angle towards the skin.

The goal is to keep the knife as flat to the board as possible to minimize the amount of flesh being removed from the skin.

Step 6. Begin Separating The Skin

Press gently down on the blade of the knife with your fingertips (taking care not to touch the sharp edge), and use your other hand to slowly pull back on the skin with a firm, steady grip.

Step 7. Saw With The Knife

While pulling on the skin, move the knife back and forth in a sawing motion.

Progress slowly from the tail end, ensuring that the knife stays flat and continues to cut right at the skin level.

Step 8. Continue To Separate

As you move along the filet, the skin will begin to separate from the flesh.

Continue the sawing action and pulling, adjusting your grip as more skin becomes detached.

Step 9. Inspect For Bones

Once the skin has been removed, run your fingertips along the surface of the filet to feel for any left-behind pin bones.

Use kitchen tweezers to remove any bones you find.

Step 9. Final Touches

Look over the filet to ensure there’s no excess skin or bones.

If any portions of the skin remain, use your knife to trim these off carefully.

Step 10. Clean Up

Dispose of the salmon skin as desired, and clean your workstation.

If you’ve used a paper towel beneath the filet, it can now be folded up with the skin and discarded or composted.

Step 11. Rinse The Salmon Filet

Finally, gently rinse the unskinned salmon filet with cold water, and pat it dry with fresh paper towels.

Your salmon is now ready to be cooked as desired.

Tips For Removing Salmon Skin

Now that we know how to remove skin from salmon, here are some pro tips that can help you perfect your technique:

1. Chill the Salmon: Before attempting to remove the skin, chill the salmon in the refrigerator. Cold fish is firmer, making it easier to handle and less likely to fall apart as you work.

2. Sharpen Your Knife: Always use a sharpened knife. A dull knife can make the task more difficult and increase the risk of slipping and injuring yourself.

3. Use Long Strokes: When sawing the skin off, use long, smooth strokes rather than short, choppy ones. This prevents tearing and provides a cleaner cut.

4. Avoid Soggy Boards: If your cutting board becomes too wet from the fish or from repeated rinsing, swap it out for a dry one. Too much moisture can compromise your grip on both the fish and the knife.

Remember, patience and practice are key to achieving a perfectly skinned salmon filet.

Utilizing Salmon Skin

Rather than discarding the salmon skin, there are several creative ways to utilize it.

The skin can be crisped up in a pan with a little oil to make a delicious garnish or snack that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

To ensure perfect crispiness, dry the skin thoroughly and season lightly before cooking on medium-high heat until it is golden and crisp.

Additionally, it can be cut into strips and baked or fried to create salmon “cracklings” for a crunchy addition to salads.

If you’re into gardening, consider composting the skin; as it breaks down, it becomes an excellent source of nutrients for your plants.

Whether for culinary purposes or as compost, the salmon skin does not need to go to waste.

What Will You Need To Deskin Salmon?

To properly deskin salmon at home, you will need a few essential tools.

First, a sharp, flexible filet knife is vital, as it will allow you to cleanly separate the skin from the flesh without wasting any of the precious meat.

A pair of kitchen tweezers can also be helpful to remove any remaining pin bones.

Additionally, having a cutting board with a stable, non-slip surface is critical for safely handling the fish and knife.

You may also want to keep some paper towels on hand to pat the salmon dry and ensure a good grip during the skinning process.

Lastly, if you prefer to dispose of the skin in an eco-friendly manner, consider keeping a compost bin nearby.

With these items ready, you’ll be fully equipped to skillfully deskin your fresh salmon.

The Best Kind Of Knife To Remove Salmon Skin

Choosing the right knife is crucial for effectively removing the skin from salmon.

The ideal knife for this task is a filet knife, which typically features a long, narrow, and flexible blade.

This design allows the knife to move smoothly along the contours of the fish, making it easier to separate the skin from the flesh with precision and minimal waste.

For those looking for a professional tool, high-carbon stainless steel knives are preferred for their durability and ability to maintain a sharp edge over time.

Though there are many knives on the market, investing in a quality filet knife from a reputable brand is a worthwhile decision for anyone who frequently prepares fish and wants to ensure the best results in their cooking.

How To Shop For Fresh Salmon?

When shopping for fresh salmon, consider these key factors to ensure high-quality fish:

1. Look for bright, firm flesh without any discoloration or brown spots.

2. Check for a clean, ocean-like scent and avoid fishy or sour smells.

3. Watch out for milky liquid on the fish, indicating possible spoilage.

4. Know the source of the salmon and choose wild-caught or responsibly farmed options.

5. Be cautious of “previously frozen” salmon and ask about its freshness.

6. Shop on delivery days for the freshest selection in the morning.

With these tips, you can confidently select the best quality fresh salmon.

Dishes To Cook With Skinned Salmon

Once you have successfully removed the skin from your salmon filet, there are many dishes that you can cook with the deskinmed fish.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Grilled Salmon: Season the filets with your favorite herbs and spices, then grill them to perfection for a healthy and flavorful meal.

2. Baked Salmon: Cover the filets in a tasty marinade or sauce, then bake them in the oven for a quick and easy dinner option.

3. Salmon Cakes: Use shredded de-skinned salmon as the base for delicious homemade salmon cakes.

4. Salmon Sushi: If you’re feeling adventurous, try making your own sushi rolls with thinly sliced skinned salmon.

No matter how you choose to cook your skinned salmon, be sure to enjoy its delicious and nutritious flavor.

And remember, with the right technique and a quality filet knife, removing the skin from your salmon is an easy and satisfying task.

How To Store Skinned Salmon?

Proper storage is crucial to maintaining the freshness and quality of your skinned salmon.

After deskinning and ensuring that all bones have been removed, keep it refrigerated if you plan to cook within 1-2 days.

For longer storage, generously wrap the salmon in plastic wrap, or foil, or place it in an airtight container to prevent freezer burn.

Make sure to label the container with the date you stored it. Salmon can be kept frozen for up to six months.

When ready to use, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, and never at room temperature to avoid bacteria growth.

Enjoy the freshness of well-preserved salmon that, when stored correctly, retains its flavor and nutritional value.


In conclusion, we have discussed step-by-step instructions on how to remove skin from salmon.

We covered the necessary tools and techniques for successful skin removal, as well as tips for storing and utilizing salmon skin in cooking.

We believe that whether you are new to cooking fish or just looking to improve your skills, mastering this technique will open up a world of delicious and nutritious meal options.

So don’t be afraid to try it out and impress your friends and family with perfectly de-skinned salmon dishes.

Remember to always practice safe handling techniques and use a sharp filet knife for the best results.

Happy cooking!

Chef Chip Roman is one of the most exciting and talented chefs in Philadelphia. He has his own catering business, Charles Roman Catering, as well as Roman Restaurant Group which includes Blackfish, Mica, and Ela. He graduated from Drexel University in 2002 with a degree in business and culinary arts. Chip Roman is a classically trained chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens and chefs in Philadelphia, including Le Bec Fin’s George Perrier and Marc Vetri’s Vetri.

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