• How to cook salmon fillets to perfection in the instant pot

How to Cook Salmon in the Instant Pot

Salmon fillets are one of those things I pick up on days when I know I have no time or energy to cook.  You know, the sort of days when you are more likely to open the drawer of takeout menus and crack open a bottle of wine rather than stand over the stove top and cook from fresh yourself.

Normally, I grill my fillets for a mere 7 minutes and they come out crisp on the outside and soft and just cooked through to the centre, exactly the way I  Hungry Hubby and I love them. But the Instant Pot turns out to be a bit of a game changer for cooking salmon fillets to perfection.

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To convince myself that it would work to cook a fillet of salmon in the pressure cooker without drying it out, overcooking it and rendering it unpleasant to eat, I started by trying them plain cooked on Manual and then on Steam, without any seasonings or sauces.  Both work beautifully in producing a soft, fully cooked and melt-in-the-mouth piece of fish in half the time it takes to grill them.

The Steam function just wins for me, as they come out a little more moist this way. Perfect for serving on a bed of chopped salmon, in much the way you might serve poached salmon but if you ask me, they are all the more flavourful for steaming under pressure rather than bathing in a lightly flavoured stock.

How to cook salmon fillets to perfection in the instant pot

To up the ante in the flavour stakes, you can add a few simple things to inject a little something extra to your fish. Here, I squeezed over some lemon juice, brushed the salmon with chipotle paste and tucked some moderately fat asparagus spears in next to them before programming for a mere 3 minutes. In a sauteé pan on the hob, I cook an onion and a pepper with some chunks of chorizo to serve alongside for a sort-of-Mexican surf’n’turf dinner which is a real winner!

How to cook salmon fillets to perfection in the instant pot

Other serving suggestions:

  • Squeeze over some lemon and top each fillet with a knob of butter before cooking. I love this with bulgar wheat – which I “cook” by adding 1 cup of dried bulgar wheat to a bowl and covering by 1cm (half an inch) with boiling water and covering tightly with clingfilm. Season the bulgar wheat with sea salt, black pepper and more lemon juice before serving.
  • Squeeze over lime juice, top with a few chopped red chillies and some fresh ginger, finely shredded before cooking. Add some large florets of broccoli or a small whole head tucked in beside the fish whilst it steams.
  • Mix 1 tbsp hoisin sauce with 1 tbsp chilli jam (chelly – get a recipe here) and 1 tsp of soy sauce then brush over the salmon. Serve with steamed rice – if you use slightly larger salmon fillets or frozen ones, you can cook white basmati beneath it, setting the pot to 4 minutes Manual High instead of Steam.

How to cook white and brown basmati rice to perfection in the Instant Pot

The only downside with cooking your salmon fillets in the Instant Pot as opposed to frying or grilling is that you don’t get any crisp skin but if I’m honest, I can’t ever seem to manage a truly crisp-skinned fish fillet at home so I leave that to the chef when we go out for dinner! But really, that melting texture will more than win you over when you cook your first salmon fillet in the Instant Pot.

5 from 1 vote
How to cook salmon fillets to perfection in the instant pot
Salmon Fillets in the Instant Pot

Supremely simple but succulent and flavourful. You'll never need to order a takeaway when you have an Instant Pot and a couple of salmon fillets in! 

Course: Main Course
Servings: 2 people
: 258 kcal
Author: Just Jo
  • 2 skin-on salmon fillets (ones approx 1.5-2 inches across)
Optional ingredients
  • Oil spray
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • Handful moderately fat asparagus spears
  • Half a head broccoli, broken into large florets
  1. Start by pouring 1 cup (250ml) water into the Inner Pot then place the trivet in which comes with the IP. I spray on some oil at this point to stop the salmon sticking. 

  2. Place the salmon fillets on the trivet skin side down and if using lemon, squeeze it over and tuck the lemon halves in beside the salmon. 

    At this point, you can lay some asparagus spears flat next to the salmon or some large broccoli florets (at least 2 inches across), stalk side down next to the fish to cook at the same time. 

  3. Put the lid on, close the valve and select Steam. Adjust to 3 minutes and when cooked, do a QPR. Do not leave the pressure to come down naturally as it will overcook the delicate fish and any veg you care cooking with it. 

  4. To serve, I retrieve the trivet before removing the salmon with a fish slice so not to break it trying to fish (no pun intended!) it out of the tall Inner Pot! Serve immediately. 

If cooking rice with the fish:
  1. I vary the method slightly by putting 1 cup of white basmati with 1.25 cups water directly into the Instant Pot. I then use my tall trivet and place the salmon on top of that. Use Manual High, set to 4 minutes and QPR when finished. 

Recipe Notes
  1. I swear salmon fillets are getting smaller by the year! These days, most supermarkets sell them in 1.5-2 inch slices, maximum. Unless they are more than double the thickness, I would keep the cooking time the same.
  2. The good thing about cooking the fish with a lemon is that it helps keep the seal fresh and prevent fishy odours on your sealing ring. It's worth having a separate sealing ring if you are wanting to cook lots of fish in your IP.
  3. To keep the sealing ring clean, you can soak it in dilute Milton when finished, cook a halved lemon in 250ml water on Manual High or pop it in the dishwasher. I tend to do all three after cooking anything with a strong odour and I always leave the lid upside down when not using the Instant Pot to allow odours to dissipate.

This is the tall trivet I use for cooking rice below the salmon:



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  1. Emma @ Supper in the Suburbs 4th April 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    I don’t have an instant pot – they aren’t really a thing in the UK but I do have an Optimum Pressure Cooker from Froothie which I believe is very similar! I tried salmon in mine last night! Works a treat!

    • Just Jo 4th April 2017 at 10:03 am - Reply

      Hi Emma! I’m english and live here and you’d be surprised with just how popular the IP is becoming! The Facebook groups alone have many thousands of followers already and it just keeps growing. But you’re quite right – any electric pressure cooker would do, even a stove top one although they cook at a higher pressure so the cooking time would need adjusting downwards. I’ve not heard of that brand you mention but I’ll definitely look it up to see the differences! Thanks for you comment 😀 x

  2. pretty 4th April 2017 at 9:44 am - Reply

    I have knew heard of an instant pot, it must be an American thing. I use a pressure cooker for a lot of my Indian recipes, maybe an Instant pot will be quicker for these.

    • Just Jo 4th April 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hi Pretty – Instant Pot started in Canada but has taken America by storm and now it’s starting to take off in the UK! There’s an Indian Cooking for the Instant Pot group on Facebook with thousands of members who share their recipes for Indian meals done in the IP. It’s really active – well worth a look. The IP actually cooks at a lower pressure than standard stovetop ones but it’s safer and programmable so you can set it and walk away. That’s the biggest selling point plus it’s also a slow cooker, yogurt maker, rice cooker and much more!

  3. Dannii 4th April 2017 at 9:54 am - Reply

    What a great simple way to cook salmon. I think too many people are put off cooking fish because they think it’s complicated, but it’s really not.

    • Just Jo 4th April 2017 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Absolutely! I think people think fish is best left to the chefs but if you’ve got an electric pressure cooker, it’s easy peasy and confidence-giving to cook fish in!

  4. Tara 4th April 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    I love how easy this is! Such a great use of the instant pot. The addition of lemon and chipotle paste sounds perfect.

    • Just Jo 4th April 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tara – the IP definitely proves good food need not be complicated 🙂

  5. Myriam Phillips 4th April 2017 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Hello, Thanks for the recipe.. I love salmon! Ok Steam and… how many minutes?
    Could you be more specific in your description?

  6. Myriam Phillips 4th April 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Oh, I’m sorry!! I was not able to see the recipe in my browser, went to your web site and got it!

    • Just Jo 5th April 2017 at 9:11 am - Reply

      No worries Myriam – I hope you got the reply to the email you sent me. And for other readers benefit – yes, salmon fillets can be cooked from frozen by increasing the cooking time to 4-5 minutes with a QPR. If they are very thick I would go for 5 minutes, if not, and they are thinner/flatter fillets, 4 minutes should do the trick. Thanks for getting in touch!

  7. Lisa | Garlic & Zest 4th April 2017 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    We eat salmon at least once a week – and I love how quick this is with the insta-pot. Now I’m going to have to invest in one.

    • Just Jo 5th April 2017 at 9:09 am - Reply

      Do join use Lisa, you’ll not regret the decision to get an Instant Pot!

  8. Samantha Brown 8th April 2017 at 8:01 pm - Reply

    So Jo I finally caved and bought the Instant Pot. Just made this recipe and loved it. Feeling a bit intimidated by the IP at the moment as there seems so many things to learn, but happy with my first meal. Got so many questions!!

    • Just Jo 8th April 2017 at 8:15 pm - Reply

      Oh that’s so exciting Sam! I do know what you mean though, it felt so foreign to me when I started as I’ve never used a pressure cooker before in my life otherwise! This salmon would be a great thing to try as a first recipe to get your confidence up. I did lots of steamed vegetables and eggs to start with then gradually processed to more complicated things one at a time. It *is* a totally new ball game but you will get comfortable with it.
      Congrats on joining club IP! xx

  9. Adele Aiken 3rd May 2017 at 8:27 pm - Reply

    I don’t really know what is the difference between using the steam button and using manual. Can you explain. I’ve just recently gotten an IP and did try frozen salmon in it – I think we cooked it on high for 5 minutes and I thought it was dry and overcooked — didn’t look at all like your lovely photo. Maybe that’s because I didn’t use the steam function??

    • Just Jo 4th May 2017 at 7:05 am - Reply

      Hi Adele – thank you for stopping by and asking your question (also, welcome to Team Instant Pot!). In reality, there is not a lot of difference between the Steam and Manual settings on the IP in this situation (I am not sure if blindfolded, that I would be able to identify which used steam and which did not). The Steam function cooks rapidly as it uses pressure as well as steam generation to cook the food but Manual comes to pressure quickly at full heat also in the Instant Pot so when only cooking something for a few minutes, you’re not going to see a lot of difference. I do think Steam makes food more moist, just like it would with conventional stove top or electric steamers.
      As for your frozen salmon being dry – 5 mins may have been too long for the size of the fillet. Start with 4 and definitely do a QPR (Quick Pressure Release) as you need the cooking to stop quickly or the delicate fish will definitely overcook. If at all possible, I would use fresh fish fillets over frozen as they cook a lot more reliably. I hope that all helps!

  10. Beth 13th January 2018 at 7:53 pm - Reply

    I made the salmon tonight. It was so easy and delicious. I have to say that the pieces I bought were big. I will use this recipe again. Thanks.

    • Just Jo 13th January 2018 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      You’re very welcome, I’m glad it was a useful recipe for you Beth!

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