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Slow Cooker Salmon Bowls

For perfectly cooked salmon, look no further than your slow cooker! The gentle heat of the slow cooker is ideal for rendering salmon fillets flaky and moist. In this recipe, a quick chili spice rub gives the fish loads of flavor, although you can use any spice mix you like, or you can keep it simple with just salt and pepper. The salmon is delicious all on its own, but I like to turn it into a nutritious, flavor-packed meal with cooked grains, shaved red cabbage, avocado (or any veggies you like) and a Creamy Cilantro Yogurt Sauce or Green Sauce (make the sauce while the salmon cooks). The salmon is also delicious in tacos! Wrap the flaked salmon in tortillas with shaved cabbage, avocado and the yogurt sauce, or keep it simple with shredded Romaine lettuce, sour cream and your favorite salsa. Be sure to use low heat for this recipe, not high (high heat isn’t as consistent and will overcook the fish). This fuss-free technique can also be used for other fish varieties, such as halibut or swordfish. For more slow cooker fish recipes, check out my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: crockpot salmon, slow cooker salmon, slow cooker salmon recipe
Servings: 4 people


  • Slow cooker


Spice Rub (Optional)

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon brown sugar

Slow Cooker

  • 2 limes or lemons, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • Water
  • 4 6- to 8- ounce salmon fillets (1 to 1 ½ inches thick, preferably center cut, skin-on or skinless)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Serving (Optional)

  • Cooked grains, such as quinoa or rice
  • Shaved red cabbage
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro Yogurt Sauce or Green Sauce (see recipe links in header above)
  • Toasted pepitas


Mix the spice rub (if using)

  • In a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin and brown sugar.

Assemble the slow cooker

  • Line a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker with a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil so that it extends over the sides (this will make it easy to pull the fish out later). Arrange the lime or lemon slices along the bottom of the slow cooker and pour in enough water to come just to the top of the slices.
  • Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper, then rub each with the spice rub (you might not need it all). Arrange the salmon fillets on top of the citrus slices in the slow cooker in an even layer. Cover and cook on low until the salmon is tender and flakes easily with a fork, about 1 to 1 ½ hours (high heat is not recommended).

Finish and serve

  • Holding onto the foil handles, transfer the salmon to a large baking sheet. Serve the fillets whole, or flake them into chunks. To make power bowls, arrange the salmon over cooked grains with shaved cabbage and avocado slices. Drizzle with cilantro yogurt sauce or green sauce. Sprinkle with toasted pepitas, if you wish!


Storage: Leftover salmon can be refrigerated for up to 1 day (it's delicious in salads, potato cakes or sushi!). 
  • You’ll need a slow cooker (also called a Crockpot) for this recipe. The size of your slow cooker will determine how many salmon fillets you can cook. My 6-quart oval slow cooker fits 4 fillets, although you can cook fewer fillets, or even on larger piece of salmon, if needed. 
  • All slow cooker models are different. If your slow cooker tends to run hot, check the salmon early. Conversely, if your slow cooker is on the cooler side, the fillets will take longer to cook (in my 6-quart KitchenAid slow cooker they take 1 hour). Be sure to cook the salmon on LOW, not high, as the gentle heat is crucial for evenly cooked, juicy fish. 
  • You can use any variety of salmon, but you’ll want to buy center-cut fillets (as opposed to tail ends), preferably at least 1-inch thick. It’s important that the fillets are the same size so that they cook evenly. Wild salmon is leaner and often thinner than farmed salmon, so check it early, as it cooks faster. 
  • You can cook skin-on or skinless salmon. I prefer skin-on, as it helps to keep the salmon moist (the skin can be easily removed before serving), but either works! 
  • Lining the slow cooker with aluminum foil to create a sling makes it easy to pull the salmon out once it’s cooked. 
  • Instead of using water in the bottom of the slow cooker, you can use white wine instead. You can also arrange fresh herb sprigs over the citrus slices. 
  • Try the salmon in bowls over this Easy Sushi Rice.
  • For more slow cooker fish recipes, check out my book, Fresh Flavors for the Slow Cooker!
  • For more healthy one-bowl meal ideas, check out Build-a-Bowl