How to Remove Salmon Skin

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Learn how to remove the skin from salmon with this straightforward step-by-step guide. All you need is a sharp knife and a little finesse to get the most flesh yield. This process is a crucial prep technique that all home cooks can master!

How to remove skin from salmon.

The next time you are headed to the market, instead of letting the butcher remove the skin from the salmon, why not give the process a try yourself. The simple separation technique is an easy skill to learn. From large pieces to smaller fillets, this method will come in handy when making pan-seared salmon.

You will get a lot more seafood yield for the price versus buying it pre-fabricated. I first learned how to do this in culinary school. Seeing a whole side of salmon on the cutting board was a bit intimidating. However, once I practiced a few times, I felt empowered.

Place on a cutting board

Place the cutting board near the edge of the counter. Put the salmon fillet skin-side down, with the tail end facing you. This position makes it easier to cut, starting from narrow to broader. If using smaller fillets, face the shortest side towards you.

If possible, put the salmon as close to the edge of the cutting board. This location will prevent your knuckles from scraping the board when making a parallel cutting motion.

Remove pin bones

Pulling out bones from a fish.

Salmon are large fish with long pin bones running down the length of their body. When the two sides are removed, sometimes a few bones are still attached to the flesh.

Run your fingertips down the flesh back and forth to feel for them near the middle of the fillet. Use pliers or tweezers to pluck them out. No one likes a surprise bone in their dish.

Knife selection

Use a sharp knife with a blade that is longer than the width of the salmon. You can trim off some of the tapered side to make it easier to cut and for even cooking. A boning knife, utility knife, or chef’s knife works well.

I prefer a more flexible boning knife to work between the skin and flesh. The chef’s knife is thicker and more rigid but will be quicker with the wider blade.

Remove the skin

Running a knife on the backside of a salmon fillet.

To give yourself a good grip while taking the skin off the salmon, make a cut between the flesh and skin about 1 inch. Now you can hold this area when slicing. If the skin feels slippery, wrap a piece of paper towel around it to make it more secure. 

This method gives you a little bit of skin to hold on and pull taught when slicing. Hold the knife at a downward angle so that you get as close to the skin as possible. Use slow sawing motions until you reach the other end of the fillet.

Ready to cook

Slicing a fish into smaller portions.

After removing the skin, you can now control the individual portion sizes. Keep it entirely intact for a stunning whole baked salmon, cut it into individual fillets, or large chunks to skewer, or make burgers on the grill. The recipe possibilities are endless!


If you’re not using cooking right away, store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Wrap whole fillets well with plastic wrap and foil. Place portioned pieces in an airtight container. The salmon can be frozen for up to 1 month and then defrosted before use.

Recipes to try

Frequently asked questions

Can you eat salmon skin?

Yes! When properly cleaned and cooked, salmon skin is extremely crispy and safe to eat because it is low in mercury. When cut and fried, they make a delicious crunchy snack. There are some health benefits as the skin contains omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin E, and collagen. The salmon scales are also okay to eat. However, you can remove them if desired.

Are you supposed to remove the skin from salmon?

When pan-searing, you can leave the skin on for a crispy contrast in texture or take it off. If poaching, remove it for even cooking. You can bake or roast salmon with the skin on, then remove it after, which is very easy to do.

Salmon fillets on a sheet pan seasoned with salt and pepper.

Recipe Science

Can you eat the gray area on salmon?

When you remove the skin from the salmon, you will notice a gray-colored layer beneath the flesh. This tissue is a fatty deposit loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It is perfectly safe to eat, but it does have a slightly chalky and fishier taste. You can easily cut it away before cooking with a boning knife, or it flakes off with a fork once cooked.

How to Remove Salmon Skin

Learn how to remove the skin from salmon with this easy guide. All you need is a sharp knife and a little finesse to get the most yield.
4.80 from 5 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Total Time10 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American


  • 1 whole side of salmon, or smaller fillets with the skin on


  • Place a cutting board near the edge of the counter. Place the salmon, skin-side down near the edge of the board. This makes it easier to run the knife down the length of the board without hitting your knuckles.
  • Gently run fingers up and down the middle of the flesh to feel for any white pin bones. Use pliers or tweezers to remove, pulling out in the same direction it is pointing.
  • Use a long boning knife, utility knife, or chef’s knife. If the fillet is wider than the knife, trim off some of the thinner side of the flesh to make it easier to cut.
    Start at the tail end or corner of the fillet, cut between the flesh and skin about 1-inch. This gives a piece of skin to hold on and pull taught when slicing. For smaller fillets, start with the shorter side facing you.
  • Hold the knife at a slight downward angle to prevent cutting into the flesh. With your other hand, tightly hold the tip of the skin as you use slow sawing motions to work your way down the fillet and completely separate the skin from the flesh.
  • Pull off the skin and discard, unless using for another recipe.
  • Leave salmon whole or cut in fillets, about 2 to 3-inches wide.


  • Storing: Wrap large fillets in plastic wrap and foil, or smaller pieces in an airtight container for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. Freeze for up to 1 month, defrost before using.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 240kcal (12%)Protein 32g (64%)Fat 12g (18%)Saturated Fat 4g (20%)Polyunsaturated Fat 4gMonounsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 92mg (31%)Sodium 76mg (3%)Potassium 832mg (24%)Vitamin A 68IU (1%)Calcium 20mg (2%)Iron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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