Why Does Salmon Explode in the Microwave?

Salmon is a delicious and healthy fish to eat. Some people bake it, whereas others sauté it in butter or oil, or even broil it in the oven.

If you heat up salmon in the microwave you might encounter a small explosion and find salmon flesh splattered on the walls of your microwave. There’s a good explanation for that.

Why Salmon Explodes in the Microwave

Salmon explodes in the microwave is because it contains water and natural fats. Simply put, there are many liquids that naturally occur when you’re cooking salmon, and the high heat of the microwave makes those liquids turn to steam and explode.

Salmon served on a plate after chef learned why salmon explodes in the microwave

What Happens When Your Salmon Heats Up Quickly

When you microwave salmon, it tends to heat up quickly, even if you use the microwave at less than 100-per-cent power. The juice from the fat and from the fish itself combine and heat up a lot faster than the fish does, and the heat provides just the right amount of pressure to make the salmon explode as it’s in the microwave cooking.

Salmon is a naturally fatty fish, so regardless of how you cook it, it’s going to have a certain amount of liquid and fat that comes out, making it explode.

How To Stop Salmon From Exploding in the Microwave

If you don’t want your salmon to explode when you’re cooking it in the microwave, you have to make sure the internal temperature of the fish doesn’t get too high too quickly. You also have to make sure the temperature is evenly dispersed and that the juices and fat have somewhere to go after they’re released from the fish. Remember it is both the heat and the steam that make the fish explode.

Here are two things you can do to solve the problem:

  • Pierce the salmon with a fork before heating it. When you pierce salmon with a fork, some of the fats and juices are released and therefore do not stay inside the fish to explode when it’s being cooked. You may have to pierce the salmon with a fork or knife several times while it’s in the microwave.
  • Cover the salmon with a paper towel. Even if you pierce your salmon before heating it in the microwave, you may still hear some snapping noises inside of your microwave oven due to the fish exploding a little bit. Covering the fish with a paper towel first can help prevent the juices and fat from spewing all over your microwave.

If you frequently pierce the salmon with a knife or fork, and make sure the fish is covered while it’s in the microwave, the salmon will be less likely to explode.

The fish can also explode if it has the opposite problem and seems too dry. In this case, just sprinkle some water on top of the salmon before placing it in the microwave. These few droplets of moisture can help the fish cook evenly and prevent it from getting too hot so that it doesn’t explode.

Enjoy your cooked salmon!