This Vietnamese Inspired Instant Pot Salmon makes the best use of the Instant Pot, by producing beautifully moist and flaky salmon in minutes. Served with a Vietnamese-inspired sauce.

I think the fact that it took me a long time to pull the trigger on buying an Instant Pot speaks to my ambivalence. I classed the Instant Pot with the Slow Cooker (an appliance I don’t use all that often).

There is no doubt that there are foods that benefit from slow cooking or pressure cooking. The thing is, it isn’t a huge list. Yet there seems to be a tendency for some to think that just about anything can be put into a “cooker”. And I guess, technically, it can. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. At least if great food is your goal :)

So in the month or so since I have had an Instant Pot in my kitchen, I’ve been experimenting. A lot. I’ve tried Mac and Cheese. And Rice Pudding. Both of which produced passable results, but not approaching the results I get from cooking them the traditional way. And in my world, I’m just never going to settle for “passable”. I mean, it’s the same ingredients, same number of calories and pretty much the same amount of time really, so why would I settle for just passable?

So I guess all that is to say, is that if I do share an Instant Pot recipe here, you can be darned sure that, at least in my opinion, the use of the Instant Pot IMPROVED the dish from the traditional cooking method. No stuff cooked in an instant pot just because I can :)

So that brings us to this Vietnamese Salmon. The recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s new instant pot cookbook. Melissa Clark is, of course, a multi-cookbook author and NYT contributor. I picked up her book specifically, as I reasoned that she would probably bring similar thinking to her recipes and so far, that’s proven to be true!

No Instant Pot? No worries! I’ve included a traditional oven method for this Vietnamese Salmon, as well! See the “Recipe Notes” at the bottom of the recipe card.

While the Instant Pot doesn’t offer any time saving here, when you factor in the time to bring it up to pressure, the results of the short pressure cooking on the texture of the salmon was outstanding! Perfect, flaky, moist salmon, without any of that white stuff that baking salmon often produces that is so unappetizing. A definite win for the instant pot here!

Vietnamese Inspired Instant Pot Salmon

Cook’s Notes for Vietnamese Instant Pot Salmon

If you’re not familiar with Vietnamese flavours, it may take a bite or two to reconcile what you think it’s going to taste like with what it actually tastes like :) Your head may be expecting the sweetness of teriyaki (soy with sugar), but what you’ll taste is something distinctly earthy and complex, from the use of fish sauce with sugar. It’s different, but equally delicious! That said, I suspect this dish isn’t high on the kid-friendly scale. I know my kids would probably not have approved in their early years :)

This salmon is perfect served with rice, which will soak up the lovely sauce beautifully. Something green, like just wilted baby bok choy or spinach is also nice on the side.

Classically, you would pair this dish with cilantro. I am not a fan of cilantro and usually substitute with flat-leafed parsley. But since I happened to have some pea sprouts in my fridge that needed using, so they went on top instead. They turned out to be a lovely fresh note with the earthy sauce. I’d do that again :)

Looking for Instant Pot Salmon Recipes? You might also like my Instant Pot Teriyaki Salmon!

Vietnamese Inspired Instant Pot Salmon

Instant Pot Vietnamese Salmon

Perfectly cooked salmon, paired with a Vietnamese sauce. Delicious served with rice and some wilted greens, such a baby bok choy or spinach.

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 Tbsp Asian fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fresh skinless salmon fillets (preferably centre cut (or frozen, fully thawed))

For garnish:

  • Sliced green onion (white and green parts, cut diagonally)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Fresh lime wedges (for drizzling)
  1. Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE (normal heat). Add the oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and black pepper to the Instant Pot. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the cooker.
  2. Place the fish into the cooker, with the flat side that had the skin up. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish. Cover the cooker and cook on LOW PRESSURE for 1 minute. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then release the remaining pressure manually.
  3. Switch the cooker back to SAUTE (normal heat) and cook your salmon and sauce for another 30 seconds – 1 minute or so, or until salmon is cooked to your liking.
  4. Carefully lift the salmon from the cooker and place onto a rimmed serving platter, flipping them over so that the side that was down is now up. Continue cooking the sauce in your cooker until reduced and syrupy, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Spoon reduced sauce over salmon and garnish with sliced green onion and cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh lime wedges for drizzling.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice and pepper in an oven-proof baking dish just large enough to hold your salmon fillets flat.

Place salmon fillets into dish with sauce, with the flat side that had the skin facing up.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until salmon is cooked to your taste. Remove dish from oven, then remove salmon to a serving platter, flipping the salmon so the bottom side is now up.

Place dish with sauce back into the oven under the broiler (about 6 inches from heat) to reduce and thicken the sauce slightly, about another 1-2 minutes or so. Spoon reduced sauce over salmon.

Garnish with green onion and cilantro leaves and serve with lime wedges for drizzling.

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I ultimately decided to buy the 3 Quart Instant Pot, since I am most often cooking for only two people, and it’s a perfect size for rice cooking! There are several models of the 3 Quart Instant Pot, as well as larger sized models, if you are cooking for a crowd.

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  • Just made this tonight — my first time ever cooking anything in an IP — and it was amazing. What do you do if you want to cook for company, though? I made about 1.5 lbs of salmon in the 6 qt and we have a serving left over. But if I were cooking for another couple, too? The dish is definitely company worthy. Thanks so much for this inspiring recipe!

    • Hi Jaime, So glad you enjoyed it! I think you might need to use the oven method to cook for more people. It works nicely as well :)

  • WOW! WOW! WOW!!! Perfect salmon.
    This was amazing. So fast, simple and delicious. We modified the sauce slightly by adding chili garlic sauce and substituting 1/2 sesame oil and 1/2 veg oil for the olive oil. We also garnished with a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.

    • Hi Kimbra, you could use a sweetener other than brown sugar, but I think you need a sweetener of some sort. Fish sauce straight up (without sweetening) is pretty harsh. Maybe some stevia instead?

  • This recipe is identical to the NYT Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon. Was it adapted from there? I don’t have a pressure cooker, but I have an instant pot, so this instant pot adaptation is perfect for me. Thanks!

    • Hi Deborah, as noted in the blog post, this recipe was adapted from Melissa Clark’s Instant Pot cookbook. That said, Melissa Clark is a regular contributor to the NYT, so it could be the same if the NYT one is from Melissa, as well.

      • I see thanks! I tried the recipe, it came out good, it was a tad salty, will add less fish sauce the next time. My fish got overcooked slightly… I’m still new to the instant pot, so maybe i should have taken it out earlier. I get confused sometimes with the waiting periods while the pot heats up to cooking temperature and cools down after it cooks. I wonder if that may have contributed to my fish being overcooked. Any suggestions on how to get more clarity on this? I read the instructions booklet, but I am still mystified.

        • Hi Deborah, Glad you enjoyed it! You might try low sodium soy sauce as well for the saltiness. As for the salmon, this recipe calls for an immediate pressure release, so that means that as soon as the 1 minute cook time has expired you would manually (and carefully :) open the pressure valve to release all the pressure so you can open the lid and remove the salmon.

  • Jennifer,
    Great recipe, tried it tonight with the oven method. Turned out perfect with my wild caught Alaska Salmon.
    Thanks again.

  • I made this for my husband and I for dinner tonight. I admit, we were both very dubious when we smelled the sauce, and were getting ready to have a frozen pizza for supper. We were both very happily surprised when we tasted the finished dish… what a delicious torrent of flavours! Salty, sweet, tangy… we will definitely be making this one again! Thank you for the recipe!

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Ginette! I know what you mean about the smell when you’re mixing it up ;) It’s such a nice change from the usual. Thanks!

  • I have a 8 qt instapot and my question is how is it possible to bring it up to pressure? From what I can see there is not enough liquid here to do that.

    • I don’t use an 8 qt. so I’m not sure if the liquid requirements are higher for that model, but I had no trouble bringing it to pressure. You could double the liquid part of the recipe without issue, just to be sure.

  • I am so excited to make this today for a meal I am hosting tonight! I am unclear with whether the salmon filets are fresh or frozen? Every instant pot fish recipe I have seen has been with frozen filets.

    • I honestly don’t know, Diane, but I have cooked a bunch of salmon in the Instant Pot now and it just doesn’t happen like it does with baking salmon.

  • If Instant pot can turn out salmon that looks as perfect as yours, I may rethink my attitude:) I do suspect skill on your part was involved though. Love the flavors and your creative application of them to salmon (which most Vietnamese have never had). You just generate amazing recipes. And pea sprouts? I am so craving this dish.

  • When I saw this on Instagram I almost passed out from hunger, Jennifer! Seriously, this looks just FANTASTIC! I’m a huge fan of salmon, but would have never thought to cook it in the IP! Clearly, I’ve been missing out! Can’t wait to try this… and I totally need to get my hands on Melissa Clark’s book! Pinned! Cheers!

    • Thanks Cheyanne and yes, the instant pot did good things to salmon :) And I do recommend Melissa Clark’s IP book, for sure!

    • Thanks Mary Ann! I finally decided when I learned of the small 3 quart one, so it has replaced my rice cooker in my kitchen. So far, it’s earning its keep. :)

  • We’re just two peas in a pod Jennifer. I got an instant pot for Christmas after being pretty skeptical for quite awhile. I LOVE it! And I LOVE this salmon. I’m going to try it tonight!!

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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