How to Make a Lemon Dill Marinade for Salmon

by Joanne Thomas
Flecks of dill from a lemony marinade add their distinctive flavor to any salmon dish.

Flecks of dill from a lemony marinade add their distinctive flavor to any salmon dish.

A marinade that predominantly features lemon and dill is a classic complement to salmon, with bright, fresh flavors that hold their own against the richness of the fish. With only a few inexpensive ingredients -- the fresher the better -- you can assemble a basic marinade in a matter of minutes. Your culinary artistry comes into play, though, when it comes to adjusting the proportions of the individual ingredients, finessing the relative intensity of the lemon and dill components to create a marinade that pleases your palate.

Wash lemons under cold running water, rubbing the skins with your fingers, then dry them on paper towels. Use approximately one lemon for every pound of salmon.

Zest the lemons over a chopping board using the fine side of a grater. Make sure you only zest the outer, yellow part of the lemon peel and not the white pith, which tastes bitter. Scrape the zest into a little pile on the board and keep it aside for now.

Slice the lemons in half and squeeze their juice into a bowl using a citrus juicer. Discard the juiced lemon halves.

Measure 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil into the bowl for every lemon that you used. Use olive oil if you like the flavor, or a neutral-tasting oil such as vegetable, canola or sunflower oil.

Add approximately 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest to the bowl for every lemon you used. Lemon zest has a strong flavor, so adjust the amount of zest to give the marinade a more or less intense lemony taste.

Rinse a bunch of dill under cold running water, then dry it thoroughly on paper towels.

Pull the dill fronds off the stalks with your fingers to make a pile of dill on the chopping board.

Measure approximately 3 tablespoons of dill into the bowl with the other ingredients. You can adjust the amount depending on how strong you want the dill flavor of the marinade to be.

Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to the marinade.

Stir the ingredients together in the bowl using a whisk or fork.

Taste the marinade. Add more lemon juice, lemon zest, oil, dill or salt and pepper if you think the marinade would benefit from it.

Items you will need

  • Paper towels
  • Chopping board
  • Grater
  • Knife
  • Citrus juicer
  • Bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Fork or whisk
  • Lemons
  • Dill
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper


  • Optional additions to the marinade include minced fresh garlic, dry or prepared mustard, and honey or sugar to add sweetness. For a milder taste, add some white wine to the mixture.
  • Cover the salmon with the marinade and let it sit, covered, in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before cooking. The fresh flavor and aroma of dill dissipates quite quickly, so long marinating times are not ideal.
  • Instead of salmon, use the marinade for chicken thighs, pork chops or lamb chops, as a salad dressing or a warm dressing for roasted vegetables.
  • Substitute other herbs and citrus to change the flavors of this marinade. Try orange and oregano with a little grainy mustard, or lime and cilantro to complement Mexican or Thai inspired dishes.

About the Author

A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.

Photo Credits

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