Can You Really Cook Salmon in a Dishwasher?

Putting Tips to the Test in The Kitchen

I'm a fan of simple home cooking and tend to stick to tried-and-true cooking methods, but my interest was piqued when I read that you could cook salmon in a dishwasher.

Salmon? In a dishwasher? It sounded way too good to be true and, to be honest, a bit of a scary endeavor, but I gave it a whirl to see what this unconventional method of cooking was all about! Is this a genuine good tip? Seems hard to believe!

The Original Tip

It turns out that cooking salmon in a dishwasher is not a new fad. Bob Blumer, host of Food Network's The Surreal Gourmet, has been doing it for years, claiming to have cooked salmon in dishwashers around the world. All you have to do is wrap the salmon tightly in foil, stick the packet in the top rack, and run it on a regular cycle. When the cycle is done, the salmon is cooked and ready to eat.

He likens this cooking method to poaching salmon and says the dishwasher produces perfect, tasty results. And yes, you can even add detergent and clean your dishes while you cook your salmon!

I'd never cooked anything in the dishwasher before, so I had to see what it was all about. If you could cook dinner and clean dishes at the same time, that would be amazing. But what would the salmon taste like? And would my dishes end up smelling or tasting fishy?

See the original tip

The Testing Method

I decided to flavor the salmon the way I usually would if I baked or cooked it in parchment. I laid two sheets of aluminum foil out on the counter and placed a piece of salmon on each sheet. After seasoning it with salt and pepper, I topped each piece with a pat of butter, lemon slices, and some fresh dill.

Now came the make-or-break point of this test: wrapping the salmon in the foil tightly and thoroughly enough so that no water or dishwasher detergent would get into it. I slowly folded and pressed out excess air, making sure all my creases were as close to the salmon as possible. Did I do a good enough job? The only way to know would be in the end!

Finally, I placed the salmon in the top rack of the dishwasher loaded with dirty dishes, added my dishwasher detergent, and turned the whole thing on. I used a regular cycle without any of the extra cycles like heated dry.

A Timeline of Cooking Salmon in the Dishwasher

Here's the timeline of what happened:

  • 1:43 p.m. Fish in dishwasher, dishwasher turned on.
  • 2:14 p.m. Anxiously glance at the dishwasher while it's running, as if I can channel Superman's powers and see what's going on inside. No fishy smells coming out of it.
  • 2:36 p.m. Dishwasher cycle is complete. Still no fishy smells.

The Results

About 45 minutes after I turned the dishwasher on, the cycle was done. I opened up the dishwasher nervously and sniffed. My dishes looked clean and the dishwasher smelled like it usually does after a load. No fishy smells.

I took the salmon packets out, put them on a plate, and opened them up. There was a little liquid in each packet, but no more than I expected from salmon cooking inside a foil packet. Another sniff test and all I could smell was cooked salmon, no smell of dishwasher detergent.

Perfectly cooked salmon.

And then came the last part: eating the salmon. I grabbed a fork and dug in. My jaw dropped when the salmon perfectly flaked, was just cooked through, and had a texture quite similar to salmon I've had before cooked with the sous vide method. People, this salmon was absolutely delicious! In fact, at:

  • 2:50 p.m. Still eating it and in awe. Have to chat Kitchn coworkers about this immediately.

It was the middle of the afternoon, but I ended up eating a hefty serving of salmon just because it was so good. I mean, look at the texture of this fish!

Verdict: This is a mind-blowing tip!

Salmon transferred to a serving platter.

Final Notes

My mind is still blown that this worked. A little research yielded a good reason why I thought the salmon seemed like it was cooked sous vide. A dishwasher generally heats up to about 120°F, and it turns out that 118°F is the recommended temperature when cooking salmon sous vide.

While I wouldn't ever cook salmon in an empty dishwasher because I feel like it's a waste of water and energy, the fact that I can do it and get a load of dishes is pretty cool. This method produced the texture of salmon I like best (very soft and moist), but it might not be for those who like their salmon more well-cooked — or you might want to contemplate adding on a setting like heated dry. Bob Blumer also advises that dishwashers operate differently, so you might have to experiment with the settings to figure out what works best.

Wouldn't it be a funny dinner party trick to pull the main course out of the dishwasher and amaze your guests? Or perhaps you can turn the office kitchen dishwasher into the appliance that cooks lunch for everyone. My mind is still whirling with the possibilities.

(Image credits: Christine Gallary)