If you have never seen it, Leaning Salmon is amazing. We are going to be cooking a whole side of salmon leaning against the fire topped with a Roasted Garlic Aioli sauce. It is delicious, tender and full of flavor. There are a few keys to its success, so here pay attention.


Prepping the Salmon 


The first key for prepping the salmon for this style of cooking is making sure that you have the right equipment. I like to use an extra large cedar plank, food grade stainless steel 304 nails, hammer and something to lean the salmon against.


These are most of the major gear that you need, but obviously gloves, pitchfork and more might be needed.


Next, let’s chat about the nails for a second. You should really use food grade stainless steel nails for this cook no matter what. Untreated nails are the biggest issue as galvanized or treated nails will not only give off a bad color/odor but they will also make the food not safe. Better to stick with the high quality stuff with these food grade nails!


leaning salmon with roasted garlic aioli


As for nailing in the salmon, I like to start with a large cedar plank. You can easily find these on Amazon nowadays, but whatever you use make sure it is untreated as well. This is for the same reasons above as untreated wood could be unsafe. Make sure it is thick enough to handle a nail, and will not crack under pressure from the fire.


When it comes to adding the nails to the salmon, I first like to make sure that I have a base layer of greenery under the salmon. This will prevent the skin from sticking! Add the nails to both sides of the salmon following closely to the middle thicker interior. I do this so that the nail holds it better and prevents the salmon from ripping/falling off.


Lather the Leaning Salmon with oil and season using my Garlic Herb rub. You are welcome to use any rub that you like for this recipe, but I highly recommend a good herb rub. Now, onto making the fire.


Grab all of my seasonings


leaning salmon with roasted garlic aioli


Building the right fire for Leaning Salmon


Making the fire right for cooking the salmon is the second key. There are a couple ways that you can do this, but my favorite is having the fire reflect off of a wall or back of the firepit.


By adding the fire next to a tall structure like a firepit wall, you will help the heat from the flames rise. This will in turn help cook the salmon at the top just as much as at the bottom. While you will end up flipping the salmon halfway through the cook, this will help speed up the process of the cook!


You can easily cook without the fire next to a wall. This will cook the salmon slower, but the only trick is bringing the fire a little higher. Add logs along the backside of the fire in order to “raise” its heat. It should do the trick! Now let’s cook this Leaning Salmon!


Leaning Salmon with Roasted Garlic Aioli


Cooking this Leaning Salmon & Roasted Garlic Aioli


When cooking the salmon, the third key is to prevent burning from the fire. Have a squirt bottle on you at all times in order to get heat off the wood plank. Move the salmon back or push the fire away if it is too hot on the fish.


In the end, we are looking for a nice caramelized crust on the outside of the Leaning Salmon. Make sure to watch out for burning, especially with the roasted garlic.


The roasted garlic aioli is the added sauce flavor that will go on top of this delicious salmon. When roasting the whole garlic, make sure to move the garlic head around often to prevent burning. Place it on the cooler parts of the coals as well so it does not cook too fast!


Let’s eat some Leaning Salmon with Roasted Garlic Aioli


This Leaning Salmon with Roasted Garlic Aioli is absolutely amazing. A simple dish ready to be eaten from the fire in an hour. Impress your friends with this cook!


leaning salmon with roasted garlic aioli


leaning salmon with roasted garlic aioli

Leaning Salmon with Roasted Garlic Aioli

Try out an epic way of cooking with this Leaning Salmon with Roasted Garlic Aioli. A delicious new yet traditional style of cooking all in one.
Author:Derek Wolf
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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 people


Salmon Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Side of Salmon preferable king
  • 3 tbsp of Garlic Herb Seasoning
  • 2 tbsp of Canola Oil
  • Greenery Kale, Collard Green Leaves or anything

Roasted Garlic Aioli:

  • 1 Whole Head of Garlic roasted
  • 1 tsp of Salt
  • 1 tsp of Pepper
  • cup of Mayonnaise
  • 1.5 tbsp of Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp of Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp of Chives chopped
  • 1 Lemon juiced

Additional Gear:

  • Extra Large Cedar Plank
  • Food Grade Stainless Steel Nails
  • Aluminum Foil


  • On top of the cedar plank, lay a layer of greenery. Add your whole side of salmon on top of the greenery and begin to lather with oil. Season the salmon with the Garlic Herb Seasoning. Next, add your nails to secure the salmon in place. Make sure to add them along both sides in the meatier parts of the fish to be more secure.
  • Take your whole garlic clove and slice off the top of the head where the root is. Lather with oil and season using salt and black pepper. Completely wrap in aluminum foil.
  • Begin building your fire for indirect cooking. Build a fire to a medium-high temperature of about 350F. Set the fire on the far side of your grill for a two-zone indirect cooking method. Tip: build your fire next to the side of your fire pit or a wall so that the heat rises and cooks the top of the salmon as much as the bottom.
  • When the fire is ready, place a pole, brick or rod in the ground 2-2.5 feet away from the flames. Lean your salmon next to the pole facing the fire. Cook your salmon for about an hour or until 145F internal, flipping it about halfway through the cook. Cook it until the outside begins to caramelize and crust. If the wood or salmon begins burning, move your fire back or flip the salmon over. Prevent the plank from burning by spritzing with water when needed.
  • As the salmon cooks, add your garlic to the low heat coals of the fire. Move it around constantly to prevent burning. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour or until softened.
  • When garlic is done, pull off fire and pull out the meat of the garlic. Mix the pressed garlic with the rest of the ingredients for the Roasted Garlic Aioli. Mix thoroughly and set aside until ready to use.
  • Once salmon is done, pull off and rest for 2-3 minutes. Carefully pull out the nails from the board, lather with the Roasted Garlic Aioli and enjoy!

Derek Wolf

Derek is the driving force behind Over the Fire Cooking. He started cooking with live fire in 2016 and decided to start a social media page so his friends and family could follow the journey. Fast forward to today and Over the Fire Cooking has spread across multiple platforms with millions now following Derek's fire cooking journey. He's a southern fellow who enjoys everything from classic BBQ to Central and South American inspired dishes. Whatever he's cooking up, it's guaranteed to be so freakin' delicious!

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