Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

Whether you use an Instant Pot or your old stove top mode pressure cooker, you won’t regret making this Vietnamese caramel salmon. It comes together in minutes–minutes!–and is rich with Asian flavors.

Dinner in just 10 minutes? You betcha. For this spectacular yet almost effortless meal, salmon is pressure cooked in a sweet and tangy Vietnamese-inspired caramel sauce.–Angie Zoobkoff

Pressure Cooker Vietnamese Caramel Salmon

Pressure cooker Vietnamese caramel salmon, sliced green onion, and soy sauce on a white plate
Whether you use an Instant Pot or your old stove top mode pressure cooker, you won’t regret making this Vietnamese caramel salmon. It comes together in minutes–minutes!–and is rich with Asian flavors.
Melissa Clark

Prep 5 mins
Cook 10 mins
Total 15 mins
4 servings
352 kcal
4.56 / 9 votes
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  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil melted, or 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-to 8-ounce) salmon fillets preferably center-cut pieces
  • Sliced scallions (white and green parts) for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


  • In your pressure cooker or Instant Pot, whisk together the oil, brown sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, lime zest, lime juice, and black pepper. Use the sauté function to bring to a simmer and then turn off the heat.
  • Place the fish in the pressure cooker, skin-side up (if there is skin still attached, that is). Spoon the sauce over the fish, cover, and cook on low pressure for 1 minute. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes; then release the remaining pressure manually. Check the fish for doneness by cutting into a fillet. If you prefer your salmon more well-done, cook it for another minute or so using the sauté function.
  • Carefully lift the salmon fillets onto a serving platter, flipping them over so the browned caramelized side is facing up. (The fillets may fall apart a little as you lift them out. That’s okay. They’ll still taste ridiculously lovely.)
  • Use the sauté function to reduce the sauce until it’s thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the salmon and garnish it with the scallions and cilantro.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 352kcal (18%)Carbohydrates: 20g (7%)Protein: 35g (70%)Fat: 14g (22%)Saturated Fat: 5g (31%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 94mg (31%)Sodium: 1517mg (66%)Potassium: 922mg (26%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 73IU (1%)Vitamin C: 2mg (2%)Calcium: 45mg (5%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve tried to like my Instant Pot. I’ve tried soups and stews. Rice and beans. Meats. I’ve read tons of recipes. Blog posts. Magazine articles. There is an Instant Pot love fest happening around me but I’ve always been left scratching my head wondering why. Until now.

With my mind suitably blown by this Vietnamese caramel salmon, I’m finally feeling the love. The salmon was moist and beautifully flavored with the tangy caramel sauce and made a lovely meal served with steamed rice and a salad. Aside from a bit of measuring and a few stirs, there was no work involved as the Instant Pot did the rest.

My only issue was that when the Instant Pot reached pressure, it overheated and I had to turn it off. Despite this, the salmon was still perfectly cooked. Next time, I’ll double the sauce ingredients to hopefully prevent this from happening. Added bonus? More syrupy caramel to add to my steamed rice.

This Vietnamese caramel salmon is the perfect weeknight dinner–quick, easy and I had all the ingredients in my pantry. I served it with rice and an Asian cucumber salad. This received rave reviews and requests for this dish to be in our regular rotation of dinner ideas.

Originally published July 27, 2018


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  1. 5 stars
    OMG, we LOVE this recipe! I’ve made it many times, and it always comes out perfect – moist, flavorful, delicious. I always have all the ingredients (just have to buy salmon), and it is shockingly easy and FAST! Thanks so much for a delicious recipe!

  2. 2 stars
    I wanted to love this, but I just didn’t. The flavor was fine. I prefer pan cooking salmon so it can get some caramelization going. This did not. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se, I just prefer recipes where the final product stands out more, something easy enough to achieve with salmon. Still looking for a recipe that’s going to make me use my Instant Pot for more than a bean cooker, although it does make a darn fine bean cooker.

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve been making this recipe since it first appeared on NYT site, but not in a pressure cooker. I start it off skin side up on stovetop and then move to countertop convection oven ski. Side down to finish, spooning the caramelising sauce over the dish as it cooks. Always served with Vietnamese cabbage salad. A dish whose flavors I crave even when not especially hungry – it’s that good.

    1. Thanks, Roni! That is a gorgeous-looking plate of food. Love hearing about how to make it without the pressure cooker, since not everyone has (or wants) one.

    1. Thanks, Marieka! I’m delighted you enjoyed it so much. Thanks for taking the time to let us know.

  4. Hi, it sounds a delicious recipe but I haven’t got a pressure cooker or instant pot. Is there any other way I can cook it? Thank you

    1. Jale, the recipe was specifically designed to be made in a pressure cooker so that the salmon becomes infused with the flavor of the sauce. It won’t be the same, but you could simmer the sauce ingredients on the stovetop until you get a syrupy sauce, and pour it over pan-seared or baked salmon. I’d cook them separately though, as the sauce contains quite a bit of sugar and it’s possible that the sauce might over reduce and burn before the salmon cooks through if they’re in the same skillet or baking dish.

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