Don't throw out that salmon skin!! Next time you're cooking salmon, make sure to save the skin to make this Crispy Salmon Skin "Bacon." It is unbelievably crispy and delicious, and makes an amazing healthy seafood snack, sandwich addition, or salad topping. This "seafood bacon" also makes a great twist on bacon and egg for a pescatarian breakfast.
This salmon bacon is naturally gluten-free, and is a great way to reduce food waste. It's super easy and takes just a few minutes to make.
Healthy salmon skin snack
We LOVE salmon around here, and we also love using every part of the animal and reducing food waste, especially when that involves eating DELICIOUS, HEALTHY crispy salmon skin bacon. NO need to twist my arm here.
By the way, if you're interested in more recipes that reduce food waste, be sure to try these crispy cauliflower leaves!
Salmon skin is really high in omega-3 fatty acids (one of the good fats) and high antioxidants. The healthy fat on the salmon skin is what makes the salmon skin get nice and crispy (just like the bacon fat is what makes bacon crisp up).
This salmon skin recipe works whether you're starting with cooked salmon skin from a salmon recipe or with raw salmon skin. Any of the salmon recipes I link to in this blog post will work GREAT for using the skin from the salmon to make salmon bacon.
It's worth mentioning that I tried this same technique using trout skin (after making my trout tacos), and it didn't turn out as good. The trout skin seemed a lot tougher and did not get nice and crispy, it stayed too tough and chewy.
Related recipe: Blacked Salmon Rice Bowls
How to remove scales from salmon skin
The first step to making crispy edible salmon skin is removing the scales from the outside of the salmon. Do this before you cook your salmon.
I highly recommend asking your fish monger to remove the scales. It's definitely the easiest way to go that requires the least fuss from you.
However, if you buy pre-packaged salmon, you can remove the scales from the skin yourself. It's not hard, but it takes a few minutes of work and gets a little messy. I like to do this in a clean sink, so that if any of the salmon scales splash, the mess is contained in the sink.
Just use a knife to scrape the scales off by scraping the knife AWAY FROM YOU (for safety) in the opposite direction of the scales until most or all the scales are removed. Make sure to use a scraping motion instead of a slicing motion—you don't want to slice into the filet.
Related recipe: Pan-Fried Salmon with Apricot Relish
Are salmon scales edible?
Salmon scales are actually edible (when cooked), but they do have a rougher texture that most people don't like. The way to make them the most edible is to cook them until crispy.
Luckily, that is exactly what this crispy salmon skin recipe does. So if you have a few pieces of scales remaining on the salmon skin, that is OK. They will get crunchy and you likely won't notice them on the salmon bacon pieces.
Related recipe: Blackened Salmon with Mango Black Bean Relish
Related recipe: Salmon Bites
How to remove skin from salmon
The easiest way to do this is to cook the salmon with skin on, and then simply remove the salmon fillet from the skin. Once the salmon is cooked, the salmon just separates from the cooked skin so easily. You'll still need to crisp up the salmon skin, and I'll show you how to do that soon.
This works better with pan-fried salmon recipes that are not drenched in sauce, such as this blackened salmon rice bowls. Otherwise, the salmon skin comes out a little soggy and will need extra time to crisp up (for example, this mayo baked salmon fillet often comes out with soggy skin, so I recommend removing the skin first if you plan to use it to make salmon bacon.
If your salmon recipe calls for cooking salmon without skin, you can use a knife to separate the skin from the salmon meat. However, I really recommend cooking the salmon with the skin on because it's just so much easier. Most salmon fillet recipes can be cooked with the skin on (pan-frying salmon, oven-roasting salmon).
Related recipe: Crispy Fried Chicken Hearts
Prepare salmon skin for cooking
Once you have the salmon skin removed from the salmon fillet, you need to remove any extra salmon meat from the skin. This is a necessary step whether you're starting with cooked salmon with skin on, or with raw salmon skin separated from the salmon before cooking.
The more bits of salmon meat you remove, the crispier your salmon skin bacon will be.
Related recipe: Homemade Lox (the skin from homemade lox makes extra delicious extra salty salmon bacon!)
How to make salmon bacon
Finally!! The instructions you're here for.
Step 1: Prepare the salmon skin for cooking: Remove the scales and remove any excess bits of meat or fat on the inside of the skin.
If you are starting with raw salmon skin or salmon that was only seasoned on top while cooking, sprinkle the salmon skin with a little sea salt. If you are starting with cooked salmon skin and you cooked your salmon in a flavorful sauce, you don't need to season the skin more. If you have really large pieces of salmon skin, slice them into more manageable pieces or strips. Kitchen scissors are the easiest way to cut salmon skin because a knife can pull and break the salmon skin.
It's OK if the salmon skin tears and gets holes in it.
Step 2: Preheat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and place the salmon skin down into the skillet with the scale side up (meaty side down). No need to add oil because the healthy fats in the salmon skin have enough oil already.
Step 3: Cook over medium low heat, using a spatula to gently press down every once in a while to squeeze out excess fat and make sure that the salmon skin cooks evenly. Cook for a few minutes taking care not to burn the salmon, and reduce heat if needed if the salmon skin is turning too brown but still looks uncooked/un-crisped in some spots.
Related recipe: Air Fryer Salmon and Asparagus (make sure to use the skin from this recipe to make crispy salmon skin!)
Step 4: Use a spatula or tongs to flip the salmon skin and cook on the other side for a few minutes, or until mostly crispy. Again, use a spatula to press down so the skin cooks evenly. Transfer to a plate with a paper towel and allow to cool. The salmon skin will crisp up as it cools.
Related recipe: One-Pan Salmon and Orzo
How to serve crispy salmon skin bacon
Honestly, I usually eat the salmon skin with my hands right off the paper towel as a snack. It does not make it out of the kitchen.
Salmon skin also makes an AMAZING addition to a sandwich (try a tomato mayo sandwich + salmon bacon sandwich, or a pescatarian take on BLT). It's also great crumbled on top of a salad for a little crunch and flavor, or on top of your salmon fillet to add some texture.
You can also crumble salmon bacon on top of a seafood chowder or salmon chowder.
Will you give this a try??
Related recipe: Fried Anchovies
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
Crispy Salmon Skin "Bacon"
- Salmon skin - from 2-4 cooked or raw salmon fillets
- Sea salt - optional (see instructions)
- Large non-stick skillet
- Plate with a paper towel
- Remove the scales. Cut the salmon skin off the salmon fillet, and remove any excess fat or meat from the inside of the skin. Season with a little sea salt. If starting with a large piece, slice into smaller pieces or strips that will be easier to flip in a skillet.
- Separate the skin from the salmon meat, and scape off any excess meat. If you cooked your salmon in a flavorful sauce, no need to season the skin. Otherwise, sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt. alt. If starting with a large piece, slice into smaller pieces or strips that will be easier to flip in a skillet.
- Follow these instructions whether started with raw or cooked salmon skin. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Place salmon skin down on the skillet with the scale side up. Cook over medium low heat for a few minutes, pressing down with a spatula to ensure all parts crisp up evenly. Watch out for grease splatters.
- Use tongs or a spatula to flip the salmon skin and cook on the other side for a few minutes, pressing down with a spatula again and taking care not to burn the salmon skin.
- Remove from heat and let cool on a plate with a paper towel. It will crisp up as it cools.
- Feel free to experiment with other seasonings, such as a sprinkle of garlic powder or squeeze of lemon juice.
- Enjoy as a snack, or add to a sandwich (try a salmon skin BLT), on top of a salad, seafood chowder, or crumble and sprinkle on top of your salmon fillet.
- Salmon skin bacon is best eaten fresh while it's crispy, but it can be stored in the fridge for up to 1-2 days. It will get more chewy, but can be crisped up in a skillet quickly.
- Nutrition facts are estimated assuming a ~60gram portion without any salt added, and will vary depending on how much fat is rendered out and how much salt is used or how much meat is still on the salmon skin.
The nutritional information displayed is an estimate and not to be used as dietary or nutritional advice. Consult a nutritionist or dietician for nutritional info based on the exact ingredients you use.