Maple Barbecue Salmon Skewers, slathered with sweet and spicy paleo barbecue sauce, will be the perfect addition to your end of summer cookouts.
A little over a year ago, Shawn and I ate at a tiny Latin American restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen called La Pulperia. I was feeling adventurous (and they were out of the lamb meatballs that I really wanted) so I ordered the fish ribs. I had no idea what to expect but I was surprised when they brought me, quite literally, a plate of bony fish ribs slathered with chipotle barbecue sauce. Who knew that was even a thing? All those little bones meant they were a pain to eat, but they were really, really tasty.
I’ve been eating a ton of beef lately and I’m a little tired of it. I started dreaming up salmon recipes and my mind wandered back to those fish ribs. I thought it would be fun to make rib-inspired salmon skewers with maple barbecue sauce. They ended up being a huge hit!
Using boneless salmon filets meant these skewers were much easier to eat. And the paleo maple barbecue sauce that I made had the perfect sweet-spicy balance and carmelized beautifully on the grill.
These barbecue salmon skewers would be a great addition to your Labor Day barbecue. Or they’d be a fun dinner any night of the week. I served them with grilled asparagus and Spanish rice. They’d also go great with potato salad. Or, keep things paleo and serve them with cauliflower rice or a double serving of grilled vegetables.
How to make the best paleo barbecue sauce
Homemade barbecue sauce is surprisingly easy to make, and it only takes a few tweaks to make a delicious paleo version. It’s great on anything from grilled salmon to pulled pork to burgers.
Start by sauteeing some red onion and garlic in neutral oil until it’s just softened. Then, add sugar-free ketchup, apple cider vinegar, pure maple syrup, and a good dollop of mustard. I also like to add a generous splash of habanero hot sauce to the pot – I like my barbecue to have a little heat!
Bring everything to a simmer and let it cook until it’s thickened and reduced by about half. Cooking the sauce might seem unnecessary, but trust me on this one. It helps the flavors come together and takes the raw taste out of the ketchup, so it tastes like barbecue sauce and not some sort of weird cocktail sauce.
It only takes a few minutes, so you can make this paleo barbecue sauce and use it right away. Or, if you prefer, you can make it ahead of time. It will keep in the refrigerator for several days.
Maple Barbecue Salmon Skewers
Lightly grease the grates of your grill to help prevent the salmon from sticking when you turn in.
The barbecue sauce can be made several days in advance. Keep it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil or olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup sugar-free ketchup
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1 teaspoon habanero hot sauce (optional)
- 4 salmon fillets, cut into large cubes (about 2 pounds)
Heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, vinegar, syrup, mustard, and hot sauce (if using). Bring to a rapid simmer and cook 5-10 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat.
Thread the salmon cubes onto skewers. Brush liberally with barbecue sauce.
Grill over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side, brushing with additional sauce as the skewers cook.
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I am not a certified nutritionist. Nutrition information calculated using myfitnesspal is provided as a courtesy, but will vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients you use. Information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional advice by certified health professionals; please consult with your doctor regarding specific health needs.