Pineapple Salmon Slow Cooker Recipe (flop!)

When Adam and I were in our first year of marriage we lived in an apartment about a half-mile away from his brother and family. We were lucky enough to be invited over for dinner pretty often, and always happily accepted.

Adam's sister-in-law, Angela, is an excellent cook. Her family owns restaurants, and she's grown up in the kitchen and around food. I've always been quite impressed with the way she can open a fridge and just start throwing things together to make a really fantastic meal--- no recipe required.

She made us a salmon dinner one night (gosh, a good 12 years ago) that I still think about. It was the best salmon I have ever eaten. Ever.


She says she doesn't remember what she marinated the salmon in, but I knew pineapple juice was involved. and soy sauce.
I think.

I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to recreate this salmon. Last week I tried again.

It did not go so well.

The Ingredients.
(do NOT make this!)
4 salmon fillets
1 fresh pineapple, skinned and cubed
1 large orange, juiced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce (La Choy and Tamari wheat-free are gluten free)
2 cloves garlic, smashed 
1 teaspoon red chile flakes
aluminum foil
an outdoor garbage can

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker (but not really. don't attempt to make this. please.) In a blender combine the pineapple, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and chile flakes. Blend until you have a creamy sauce (the color will not be pretty. that should have set off some bells and whistles for me...)

Place the salmon fillets into a flat baking dish with high sides (a pyrex or corningware with a lid works best). Pour the sauce blend evenly over the top. Refrigerate your fish in the sauce for two hours or so (or don't. this tastes really bad and you shouldn't be doing any of this anyhow.)

After the time has elapsed, spread a length of foil out on your kitchen countertop. Place the fish inside (lots of the sauce will stay in the dish. this is fine. trust me,  you don't want the sauce.) and crimp the sides of the foil to make a fully enclosed packet. You can stagger-stack all the fish fillets to make one large packet with all of the fish, or you can wrap each fillet individually. 
Your choice.

Put the packet(s) into your crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.


Then take outside and throw away.

The Verdict.

The "finished" picture up top is taken on the brick outside by the garbage bins. Thankfully I made this the night before the garbage was picked up---
I've made fish in the crockpot dozens and dozens and dozens of times, and have NEVER had this happen. The fish smelled really really fishy (I think it was a weird chemical break-down with the vinegar?) and the sauce tasted just how it looked.

really, really bad.

We had baked potatoes for dinner instead.

still want fish? these are the good ones!

have a great day! have any flops? feel free to share!

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at August 02, 2011

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What they say about this article

  1. OMG, one time I slow cooked "lemonade chicken." It involved a can of lemonade concentrate, massive amounts of ketchup, brown sugar and vinegar. I used a 12oz can instead of 5oz can of lemonade. It was TERRIBLE. Even without that mishap, it still would have been terrible. And it was 6 servings worth.

  2. Man, the thought of Pineapple Salmon is yummy. Glad you put the "flop" disclaimer on the title. I think it was the balsamic vinegar - that seemed like an odd choice. Keep trying - your sister in law's Salmon sounds awesome and worth it!

  3. I'm so sorry that you wasted that much salmon, but I do thank you for the laugh! I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one that botches things in the kitchen!

  4. I love your candor! As requested I will not be making this! I'll stick with your tried and true recipes instead. :)

  5. I just got your Totally Together book in the mail today (pre-ordered it on Amazon) and already I am feeling more in control and organized in my house :) I am 11 weeks pregnant with my third and have 2 boys ages 4 and 3. I SO appreciate your new book and the down to earth, encouraging tone of voice that you wrote it in. Thank you so much for making me feel like a clean, organized home is not out of my reach even when I am feeling sick and overwhelmed.

  6. I love that you share your successes as well as your failures. Not many cooking blogs do. I hope your next try is a winner.

  7. I love how honest you are about your recipes :-)

  8. Really sad to have to throw out so much salmon, however, you gave me a great laugh. I don't think there is a cook out there that has not had something that they made be a total flop!! I know we have thrown out several "meals" around this house.

  9. As soon as I saw balsamic vinegar, I knew you were in trouble. I have a very popular recipe called Pineapple Pork that has the same sauce minus the vinegar--soy sauce, crushed pineapple, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Try it again and skip the vinegar!

  10. How weird. I made Pineapple chick'n (vegan) a few days ago. It must be a pineapple time of the year!

    Good luck with finding the perfect marinade next time!

  11. PattiR8/02/2011

    THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU AND YOUR SITE! Your honesty is refreshing! Thank you! It's nice to know that even an author of cookbooks has a flop every once in a while!

  12. Balsamic vinegar?... Odd.

    I have a Honey Mustard Salmon recipe that I swear by, but the pineapple one sounds intruiging!

  13. I love how you post your flops!! I've made some not so good things but never so bad that it's gone straight into the garbage. Glad that the baked potatoes saved the day!

  14. Loved the addition of the garbage can as an ingredient! I've tried several of your recipes and love your blog. You've inspired me on more than one occasion to try new things and new methods of preparation. Keep trying with the salmon!

  15. I agree with Tiara, it had to be the vinegar! I have made something pretty close, I use soy sauce (or teriyaki), orange & pineapple juice, chili flakes (or sambal/siracha) and some ginger. Turns out pretty great! Thanks for all your efforts, we all have a flop every now and then ;)

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. I was going to delete this post without reading it (not a fan of salmon, and the thought of it with pineapple just turned my stomach) but when I saw the "flop" I just had to tune in. You crack me up. Great job, and I will not attempt this, for sure.

  18. Love that you share your successes and flops. I totally agree with other folks about vinegar likely wrecking your dish. I think the acid in the pineapple would have been enough to do the job vinegar often does in a dish. Thanks for sharing!

  19. I think the pineapple could be the culprit; it has active enzymes that will break down anything within hailing distance. Orange juice might work instead.

  20. Suzanna8/02/2011

    Bless you for not being perfect. I love fish but I'm very particular about the acidic ingredients I cook it with. Lemon/lime are lovely but my taste buds loathe the combination of tomatoes with any kind of fish. I know many people who love this combination but it (literally) makes me heave.

  21. Oh my, that was one of the funniest things I've heard today! Thanks for a great laugh - your humanity is so refreshing! :)

  22. *giggle!*

    Been meaning to tell you we made your Pineapple Pork Tenderloin on Sunday and it came out so well! Thanks much!

  23. Hi Stephanie! I love how real you are and not perfect!!! I love that you actually tell us! I've been a faithful reader practically since the beginning and love your blog. Here's one of my funniest flops: I've made tons of your recipes and loved them. Keep up the great work.

  24. Puffy heart love your honesty and that even you, the queen of the Crockpot, is not perfect! Made the Simple Cranberry Roast the other day... yum... Thanks for all that you do!

    Kristin in VA Beach!

  25. Anonymous8/02/2011

    It definitely sounds like too much acid--orange juice and pineapple and balsamic vinegar. Next time I would try just pineapple juice, garlic and soy sauce. Thanks for posting both the good and the bad!

  26. LOL! I LOVE the fact that you are a big celebrity cook with your own cookbooks and being on TV and all and you still post your flops!! Brilliant! Thanks for keeping it real!

  27. I LOVE that you post your flops.

  28. 1 cup water 1 cup soy sauce
    1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar
    1/4 cup pineapple juice
    1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
    1 tablespoon minced fresh

    This is my favorite marinade and I use it in the crock pot all the time for chicken also great on salmon in the oven! Sometimes I use the sugar and sometimes I skip it...just depends on the day :)

  29. I'm bummed this didn't work as the title got me all excited (my husband is out catching me some fresh salmon as I type). Oh well. Keep trying. I'd love the make the recipe that worked!

  30. Oh Stef - sorry about dinner - but thanks for sharing, even the flops! I make a BBQ SALMON in the oven that marinates in pineapple juice. Its one of those recipes that always comes out right. Ive tried to make fish one time in the crock, and it was a disaster. If you want the recipe for my salmon, its on the COOKING LIGHT website. Or feel free to email me and ill send it to you!

  31. Andrea8/03/2011

    Thanks for posting your flubs, they are very entertaining to read :) I made chicken and noodles last night in my crock pot.The chicken part went fine, when i put the noodles in, I put them in for 30 minutes on low which was much too long! I came back to see them all fluffy and pretty floating on the broth. When I gave it a stir, suddenly there were no noodles....they had dissolved into the broth. Not what I had planned. Still edible, but not what I would call yummy.

  32. Oh, you are so funny!! Up here, in Alaska, we eat alot of fish and I've put slices of pineapple on salmon, which is nice and simple, gives a nice flavor - sometimes I use hot sauce (like for hot wings); sometimes just diced onions and salsa - I bake in the oven for about 30 minutes - yum!

  33. I love that this post comes immediately after the "I make perfect beans" recipe. I guess we can't have everything! Thank you for posting your flops. If it makes you feel better, I'm one of those people who can throw together a dish and have it be delicious, but I've made several things that went directly into the garbage. The great thing about a flop with food is that you have three chances again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day...

  34. o let down!! i was so excited about this one. I LOVE SALMON!! keep trying!

  35. I found your blog/site while I was looking for a crockpot yogurt recipe, and it is my new favorite! I made the yogurt Tuesday, I'm making granola right now, and I can't wait to use my crockpot tomorrow.

    Thanks for rejuvenating my desire to cook/be productive in the kitchen :)

  36. Just got my totally together journal. I love you. That is all.

  37. I'm not much of a cook, but I do make a salmon recipe a friend forwarded me that has pineapple juice in it. I marinade it overnight if I have time otherwise a few hours. Then we grill it and it is heavenly. Not fishy at all! Try this one:

    Sweet Bourbon Salmon
    2 8 oz salmon fillets
    1/2 c pineapple juice
    2T soy sauce
    2T brown sugar
    1 tsp kentucky burbon
    1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
    1/8 tsp garlic powder
    1/2 c vegetable oil

    Combine marinade ingredients except oil in medium bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add the oil. Remove the skin from salmon. Place fillets in a shallow baking dish and pour the marinade over them, saving a little to brush on the fish as it cooks. Put a lid on the fish and refrigerate at least 1 hour, overnight is even better. Preheat grill or stove-top grill to medium-high heat. Put layer of tinfoil over the grill and cook fish for 5-7 minutes per side or until fillet is cooked all the way through. They should be flaky. Regularly brush the fillets with marinade while grilling. Sprinkle 2 tsp snipped fresh chives over top.

  38. Have you ever tried soy vay island teriyaki sauce? We marinate our salmon in that and grill it and it's always delicious (and easy!!)

  39. There usually isn't anything wrong with a quick marinade with pineapple, but pineappple + time = BAD. I've had problems any time I've tried to use pineapple in a slow cooker.

  40. i agree with other posters- the vinegar is probably what did the damage. also, don't you live in the bay area? there are walmarts in the east bay- not sure how far you're willing to go for tank tops tho!

  41. LOL, that was to funny not to comment and tell you! I was laughing every time you kept repeating that really I should not be doing this because it was just awful. You made my morning. I hope dinner is much better tonight.

  42. I have to agree with the other comments about balsamic vinegar. Also, I'd like to add---La Choy Soy Sauce----No. Chinese soy sauce has a very distinctive flavor, think, Chow Mein. For salmon----Kikkoman, or even, Yamasa. Kikkoman has a lower sodium version, if that's a concern.

  43. I agree with Lydia, pineapple is often used as a meat tenderizer for duck and venison when grilling. Too bad you don't have a cat for the salmon-- maybe you should team up with the local pet shelter.

  44. Donna, for those of us who have issues with gluten La Choy is the only gluten free soy sauce. There is another wheat free brand which escapes me - but it tastes nothing like any other soy sauce I've bought in the stores, mass market or asian grocery.

    We use what we can use.. "authentic" or not.

  45. Fail eh? Every failure comes a perfect recipe. :)

  46. Thanks for the honesty! It is crazy sometimes what comes out of a recipe you know should have worked. :)

  47. I love that you post your flops!

  48. Dear Dame,

    My apologies. I completely forgot about the gluten-free issue.

  49. Oh my, that made me laugh! Thank you for that. I have a marinade I use on salmon all the time. I've never tried it in the crock pot, but have used it in the oven and on the grill.

    The recipe is for 1/2 pound salmon, which isn't nearly enough for my family of 6 big eaters, so I multiply accordingly.

    2 Tablespoons soy sauce
    3 Tablespoons orange juice (I usually substitute pineapple juice)
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot

  50. Anonymous8/20/2011

    It was the fresh pineapple!! There is a chemical in fresh pineapple that breaks down meat/fish. We had the same thing happen with a ham that we grilled. I'm not sure if the same chemical reaction happens with canned pineapple/juice. Our ham turned into a "ham spread"...gross. I think the solution might be to add the pineapple much later in the cooking process. Thanks so much for your amazing recipes!

  51. LOL! Thanks for sharing a flop recipe. It's nice to see other people have flops too!

  52. I've worked in kitchens where the salmon is marinated in maple syrup and soy sauce overnight and then cooked and it's always delicious. I would try this recipe again but maybe ditch the vinegar, and sue equal parts soy sauce and pineapple juice (maybe try kikkoman gluten free instead of lachoy if you can)