Which Spices are Best for Salmon? Simple Guide To Perfect Flavor Pairs

In today’s guide, I will help you discover the best spices that go well with salmon. These pairings are simple, and none of them can go wrong. But, as always when it comes to pairings, the best way to discover what you like is to play around with different ratios and combinations.

If you love my comprehensive guides, check out some other topics like The Best Beans For Chili or The Best Potato Types For Crispy Fries.

Salmon on white plate with salad and spices

What Spices Go Well With Salmon?

I love using spices! But as you know, using the wrong spice with your food could completely ruin your meal.

The taste of salmon is quite subtle and delicate. It can easily be overwhelmed or clash with specific spices that don’t make a good pairing.

Spices Go Well With Salmon

For that reason, I’ve compiled a list of the best spices that pair well with almost any kind of salmon. Remember that the exact type of salmon will still affect the pairing. For example, smoked salmon may not be great with smoked paprika. But wild salmon does work incredibly well!

At the end of the day, experimentation (and keeping comprehensive notes) is the only way to truly find what you like.

But, without further ado, let’s get started on today’s list of the best spices and herbs that go well with salmon.

Salt And Pepper

It may seem silly to place salt and pepper in a spice list. But they are two of the most common types of seasonings used. Plus, they really do go incredibly well with salmon.

You can use these two basic spices to help enhance the natural flavors of the fish. But as you already know, they should be used in moderation to create a balance of flavors.

What I especially appreciate today about “salt and pepper” is that there are more than just fine salt and black pepper.

You can try a ton of different types of salt. These can be basic options like Maldon salt, Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, or even black salt (which is quite common today).

Then, you can try more experimental options like citrus salt or smoked salt. These are still relatively easy ways to discover new flavors by using a simple, versatile ingredient.

When it comes to pepper, your options are a little more limited but versatile enough to actually create very different flavors. The best options for salmon are black pepper, pink pepper, and red pepper.

Green pepper does work in some ways, depending on how you use it. You can make a delicious fresh green peppercorn sauce to serve on the side.

Garlic And Onion Powder

Garlic and onion powder can also be substituted with fresh alternatives. These are two other basic, yet incredibly flavorful spices that help elevate the natural fishy flavors.

They will create a more umami flavor with heavy savory undertones.

In my opinion, you should never use more onion powder than garlic powder. At the most, you can use them 50/50 or leave one out completely.

Citrus Salt (or Any Type Of Dried Citrus Seasoning)

While this is technically not a spice, I did still include it in today’s guide on spices that go well with salmon. 

Citrus is a fantastic pairing with salmon. But if you cannot use fresh citrus, it’s always a good option to have citrus salt on hand. It has a very long shelf life and helps you add salt and citrus flavors simultaneously.

I recommend using lime salt, lemon salt, or orange salt. Again, if you want to experiment with different options, go ahead.

Ginger Powder

Ginger powder can work instead of fresh ginger. While you will get a slightly different flavor, it’s the next best thing and still works great with any kind of salmon.

If it is at all possible, buy dried ginger flakes or shavings instead. Their flavor will be closer to that of fresh ginger.

Red Pepper Flakes

These flakes have a very pungent flavor and are extremely aromatic. So use them in moderation and make sure they pair well with any other herbs and spices used.

These will have a slightly spicy flavor depending on the exact type of pepper used.

Furthermore, they give the meat a pop of color after it has been cooked.

Chili Powder / Cayenne Pepper

Finally, I would be crazy not to include chili powder or cayenne pepper on this list. While not many people LOVE spicy salmon dishes, I highly recommend giving this option a try. 

And remember, you can adjust the amount of spice by reducing the amount you use. You don’t HAVE to make it piping hot!

Salmon with lots of Spices

What Herb To Put On Salmon?

While herbs aren’t technically spices, they do go hand in hand. You cannot discuss spices without looking at some herbs for cooking salmon too.

For salmon, there are arguably more herbs that pair well than spices. This is because herbs have a fresher flavor, which works with this kind of meat.

Herb To Put On Salmon


Dill is hands-down one of the best options for salmon. You can use it dried or fresh. 

It has a subtle citrus-like flavor with grassy undertones, which works really well with the slightly salty flavor of salmon. And it also pairs great with many other spices and herbs.


Next up on my list of best spices and herbs for salmon, I love using fresh flat-leaf parsley. You can use curly parsley, but personally, I think it lacks flavor, juiciness, and freshness.

Parsley makes a fantastic add-in or fresh garnish. Plus, it’s honestly very difficult to ruin the flavor with this herb or its pairings.

Tarragon Or Fennel

Both of these herbs have a licorice-like flavor, which, as most people know, pairs with all kinds of salmon. 

The flavor is subtle and won’t overwhelm any other. But because it is so unique, I don’t recommend adding too many other spices to the mix.


To give the meat a little more of a robust and hearty flavor, using something like thyme is arguably the way to go.

You can use it alone or pair it with some rosemary as well.

And, to kill two birds with one stone, use lemon thyme if you can find it.


Last and certainly not least, we also have basil. There are many different kinds of basil, and mainly all of them work. This is also a great way to play around with similar but different flavor profiles.

Most types of basil are sweet and have a slightly spicy, pungent flavor. They go well with subtle spice pairings, like salt, pepper, fennel, and citrus.

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