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Easy Citrus Poached Salmon – Instant Pot

The Instant Pot perfectly cooks this 8-ingredient recipe for Easy Citrus Poached Salmon. The fast result is a tender, flakey salmon with bright citrus flavors using fresh or frozen fillets.

April 18, 2023

Easy Instant Pot Citrus Poached Salmon on a white plate

What is Poaching?

Poaching is a gentle cooking process that uses moist heat from a liquid without fat. This recipe for simple poached salmon uses the shallow poaching technique, which cooks the salmon above the liquid on a bed of herbs and vegetables. Another method, the submerged poaching technique, is excellent for poaching chicken. Both ways use cooking liquid, flavorful herbs and vegetables, and a lid while cooking. The Instant Pot provides a perfect new twist on a classic cooking method. 

Advantages of Poached Salmon

  • FIlets can be cooked fresh or frozen.
  • No fishy smell remains in the home when poaching salmon.
  • No oil is needed with poaching – making this recipe a heart-healthy cooking method.
  • Preserves the structure of delicate foods like eggs and fish
  • Adds subtle tastes or cuisine nuances by using a  variety of flavorful herbs, spices, aromatic fruits, and vegetables.
  • Retains moisture and tenderness
  • Allows for make-ahead cooking, notably protein served at room temperature
  • Provides flavor creativity – pair spices and flavors with the side dishes served at the meal. Look for a theme to get flavor inspiration: Mediterranean, Mexican, Asian. 

Great Meal Prep Recipe

This delicious, fast, healthy recipe is a meal prep dream. Double the recipe and have a delightful dinner with great leftovers for salads and tacos, or add to a pasta dish later in the week. Since it can be prepared with fresh or frozen salmon, you can buy individually packaged frozen filets. These are usually less expensive than fresh and often on sale. 

  • Storage: Place leftover salmon in a shallow airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.
  • Reheating: I do not recommend reheating salmon to eat as a leftover. It stinks up the house and tends to dry out. Poached salmon is delicious cold or at room temperature. Eat it in a sandwich with mayo and some lemon juice. Flake it into pieces and add to salads, tacos, and bagels with cream cheese, or gently stir it into warm pasta. 
Easy Citrus Poached salmon ingredients on a cutting board

Ingredient Tips & Substitutions

  • Lemon, lime, oranges  – use any combination of citrus. Don’t sweat it if you do not have one of these fruits. Fresh is essential, however, because the zest offers an outstanding taste to the dish. 
  • Onion or shallot  – any color onion (red, white, yellow, or even green onion) or shallot will work.
  • Boneless Centercut Salmon –  Fresh or frozen center-cut (as opposed to the tail pieces) contains the belly and the backside of the fish and is uniformly thick, and boneless. I usually purchase Atlantic Salmon because of its affordability. Look to see if your store carries sustainably farm-raised. Wild-caught salmon is available from the Pacific Ocean including Sockey and Coho. Read more about the top six types of salmon from the Spruce Eats
  • Cilantro and Parsley with their stems make a great bed to raise the fish above the water and add flavor. Basil, fennel, celery, or lemongrass will also work.   
  • Bay Leaves –You can omit them if you do not have them in your kitchen. The recipe has plenty of seasoning from other ingredients. 
  • Water is a great cooking liquid for salmon – other liquids options include broth, milk even unsweetened coconut milk. Keep the liquid lower than the fish, however. 
  • Tajin is a Mexican spice blending chili peppers, lime, and sea salt – it adds color and great flavor. A sprinkle of dill or paprika will work if you do not have it. 

Get Creative with Flavor Profiles

  • Try different variations of ingredients that complement the other dishes you are serving for dinner.  There are four areas where you can get creative with infusing flavors into the salmon when poaching: 

    • Poaching Liquid – water, broth, or coconut milk
    • Aromatics –  flavorful ingredients added to the liquid 
    • Marinade – ingredients on the salmon 
    • Garnish or Sauces – added to the salmon after cooking 
Poaching Liquid

Water and or broth is the main ingredient for the poaching liquid. Smaller portions of the following liquids can be included: up to half a cup of wine or coconut milk. And 1 – 2 Tablespoons of some of these ingredients: lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, Tabasco sauce, etc. 

Garnish or Sauce

A garnish can be as simple as fresh or dried dill or minced parsley with salt, pepper, and lemon wedges. Zest from any citrus provides a bright taste and color. I like Caesar salad with salmon, so I serve extra salad dressing on the table to be dolloped on the fish. Taziki or hollandaise sauce are great options.  


Aromatics are flavorful herbs and vegetables that are important in a poaching recipe for two reasons: 1) adding flavor, and 2)  they provide a buffer or bed that supports the delicate fish above the poaching liquid so the fish does not get soggy.  Considerations include carrots, celery, onion, shallot, sliced ginger, sliced or whole peeled garlic, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon slices, parsley, dill, cilantro, bouquet garni (bundle of fresh herbs tied together), a bit of miso paste. 


I use the term marinade very loosly as salmon does not need marinating since it is so tender but does benefit from flavor infusion for a few minutes. While preparing the other ingredient, I usually let the salmon sit on a plate with a sprinkle of citrus juice and salt and pepper or ginger and soy sauce is an option.

Recipe Steps Using Fresh Salmon

Easy Citrus Poached salmon ingredients on a cutting board

Cut salmon to the desired serving pieces and prep ingredients.

trivet placed in pressure cooker

Place silicone or wire trivet into the cooker and move the handles up and away.

pressure cooker with trivet and poaching ingredients

Arrange herbs, onion, and bay leaves on the trivet and top off with lemon slices.

salmon fillets on top of poaching ingredients in pressure cooker

Pour 1 - 2 cups of water into the cooker. It should just reach the bottom of the lemon slices. Place salmon in the cooker.

poached salmon on a trivet in a pressure cooker

Lock the lid in place, select the high-pressure cook function, and cook for 5 minutes. Salmon is fully cooked at 145º.

Easy Instant Pot Citrus Poached Salmon on a white plate

Remove salmon from the cooker and garnish with chopped herbs, zest, and citrus wedges.

Recipe steps using frozen salmon

Citrus Poached Salmon using frozen filet

No need to thaw frozen fillets when using the Instant Pot. Using frozen fish is convenient and affordable.

Citrus Poached Salmon using frozen filet with Instant Pot

Fresh and frozen salmon follow the exact directions to prepare the salmon and poaching ingredients. Only the cooking time differs.

Instant Pot Citrus Poached Salmon using frozen filet and 6 minute cooking time

Set to high pressure and 6 minutes. It takes the cooker longer to come to pressure than fresh fillets because it is frozen.

Instant Pot Citrus Poached Salmon using frozen filet - completed cooking

When timer goes off, do a quick release. Check to see that the salmon is uniform color throughout and flakes easily.

Use digital thermometer to check for doneness - citrus poached salmon

Or use a digital thermometer to check for doneness. Salmon is cooked at 145º. Leave to rest in cooker to reach desired temperature.

Plated Citrus Poached Salmon

Remove salmon to a plate and garnish with seasoning, citrus wedges and parsley or cilantro.

Nutritional Benefits of Salmon

Salmon is an excellent source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. Take a look at the nutritional panel on the recipe card below! A 6-oz serving (which is generous) contains 72% of your protein, 86% niacin, 225% of B12, and 94% of B6. This recipe works for many diets, including Paleo, Low Fat, Low Carb, Specific Carbohydrate Diet, Grain Free, Mediterranean Diet, Gluten Free

Serve Easy Citrus Poached Salmon With

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Easy Instant Pot Citrus Poached Salmon on a white plate

Easy Citrus Poached Salmon – Instant Pot

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 1 review
  • Author: Karen
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Bring to Pressure: 10
  • Cook Time: 6
  • Total Time: 21
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Category: Fish & Seafood
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Classic
  • Diet: Low Fat


The Instant Pot perfectly cooks this 8-ingredient recipe for Easy Citrus Poached Salmon. The fast result is a tender, flakey salmon with bright citrus flavors using fresh or frozen fillets.


Units Scale
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 fresh lime
  • 1 fresh orange or tangerine
  • Zest of lemon, lime, and orange
  • 1/2 onion or 1 shallot sliced
  • 3/4 pound boneless, center-cut salmon fillet cut crosswise into two individual portions, skin on, fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro and or parsley leaves and stems – reserve some leaves for garnish
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 12 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tajin seasoning* see note below


  1. Prep ingredients:– Zest lemon, lime, and orange and set aside; cut the lemon into thin slices. Wash, and dry cilantro and or parsley and leave stems intact. Roughly cut onion or shallots into wedges pieces.
  2. Prepare Salmon: Place fresh or frozen salmon on a plate skin side down. Cut orange and lime into four pieces. Use half the orange and lime slices and squeeze juice over the salmon. Reserve the remaining portions for garnish. Sprinkle filets with salt and pepper and half of the zest, reserving the remainder for garnish. Allow salmon to sit in citrus juice for a few minutes.
  3. Prepare Instant Pot and Poaching Ingredients: Place the trivet into the Instant Pot and pull the sides up and out of the way. Arrange cilantro and or parsley on top of the trivet, followed by onion, shallot (if using), and bay leaf. Top off with the lemon slices.
  4. Add Liquid to the pressure cooker: pour 1 cup of water into the cooker. It should just reach the bottom of the lemon slices and no higher. I generally use 2 cups because of the trivet height. The fish should sit above the water.
  5. Cook: Lock the lid in place and close the pressure release valve. Select the high-pressure cook function and cook fresh for 5 minutes and frozen for 6 minutes. Turn off the cooker and quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid and allow steam to escape away from you. Salmon is safe at 145º on an instant-read thermometer. I remove mine at 135 – 140, then let it sit in the Instant Pot to rest and reach 145º.
  6. Garnish: Remove salmon from the cooker by the trivet handles and place it on a cutting board, sheet pan, or heat-safe work surface. Use a fish spatula to transfer the fillets one by one to serving plates or a platter and garnish with chopped herbs, zest, and citrus wedges. I serve with the skin on (which is edible) and allow the individual to choose whether to eat or give to a pet. Sprinkle with Tajin* – see note below


* Note: final seasoning can be any favorite flavoring that pairs well with your dinner, such as fresh or dried dill, smoked paprika, or sea salt flakes.

When frozen fillets are cooking, it takes the Instant Pot o few more minutes to come to pressure than fresh salmon.

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Karen the Supper Sanity Home Chef

Welcome to Supper Sanity

Hello, I’m Karen, a very passionate meal planner. As a mother of three, I have been planning family menus for years. When I was diagnosed with a digestive condition, I found it necessary to follow an eating regime that eliminated many ingredients. That made meal planning a health necessity. I’ve learned a lot and want to share my resources to simplify meal planning, shop efficiently and cook affordable homemade meals. If you wish to try new recipes, plan healthier meals, and enjoy a great dinner with your friends and family, Supper Sanity can help.

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