How to Smoke Salmon

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Wondering How to Smoke Salmon? It’s a simple way to enjoy a restaurant favorite on your smoker or on your grill. Try this smoked salmon recipe today!

smoked salmon on a plate


 

How to Smoke Salmon

Sometimes people shy away from cooking salmon on a grill or smoker because they worry about it being too dry.

If you follow my tips below, you’ll enjoy smoked salmon from a pellet grill that is moist and full of flavor.

Keep in mind — this hot smoked salmon recipe is meant for entrees, not the type used as lox for bagels.

There are so many easy ways to make salmon at home that I find myself making it more often.

Have you had a chance to try this air fryer salmon with honey mustard glaze? It’s an absolute must.

Or, if you’d like another type of seafood, lemon garlic shrimp is bursting with flavor, truly better than any restaurant. A one-skillet meal, made in just 20 minutes!

ingredients for smoked salmon

What is the best type of salmon to smoke?

The most important thing to look for when choosing salmon is that you get the freshest possible piece of fish.

Salmon should not smell fishy. And if you buy it whole, the eyes should be relatively clear. 

  • Farm-raised salmon is raised in a fish farm or a pen in the ocean. The fat content in this type of salmon is often higher, and the fish itself is larger.

    This is the best type for smoking because the extra fat helps keep the fillet tender.
  • Wild salmon is caught on a line. It has spent its life in its natural habitat. This type of salmon is much leaner and will cook faster.

TSRI TIP

When figuring out how to smoke salmon, adjust your cooking time based on the type you choose. And, always check the smoked salmon internal temp!

salmon fillet coated in spices

How to Make Smoked Salmon on a Pellet Grill

First, select the type of wood you prefer. I recommend a more mellow flavor like oak, maple, pecan, or alder.

Applewood is my personal favorite for this hot smoked salmon recipe!

  1. Fill your pellet smoker with wood pellets of your choice.
  2. Preheat smoker to 225°F.
  3. Place your fish fillet on a tray — I like the marinade tray from William Sonoma
  4. Using two paper towels, pat the fish dry.
  5. Combine the spices for the rub, whisking until well combined. Rub and press over the entire surface of the fillet.
  6. Place on the smoker skin side down. Smoke for about 50-55 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
  7. Remove smoked salmon from the pellet grill, then let it rest for about 10 minutes before you serve it.
thermometer inserted into salmon on grill

Smoked Salmon Internal Temp

Whether you’re just learning how to smoke salmon or are a seasoned pro, you should always rely on a trusty digital thermometer when cooking proteins.

Insert the probe into the very center of the thickest part of the fillet for the most accurate reading.

According to the USDA, the safe smoked salmon internal temp is 145°F.

Because the fish will continue to cook a bit as it rests, it should be fine to remove it from the smoker once it reaches at least 142°F.

spooning herb butter over smoked salmon

Smoked Salmon Recipe FAQ

What can I add to salmon for extra flavor?

When we take the salmon off the grill, we often drizzle a bit of seasoned butter over the top.

Just add a bit of chopped chives and garlic to melted butter and add that to your salmon before you serve it.

How do you eat smoked salmon?

You can serve it as a fillet for your main course at dinner. Or, you can flake it and make a salmon salad.

Why not try it in your favorite seafood pasta salad instead of tuna or shrimp?

Can I make this smoked salmon recipe with a grill?

Yes! Simply set the grill to indirect heat (convEGGtor for a Big Green Egg) and soak the wood first so it doesn’t burn.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

If you have leftover salmon, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Choose a shallow container or wrap it with tin foil to keep it from drying out. Use your leftovers within 3 days.

If you want to keep it for longer than 3 days, you will need to freeze it. Cooked salmon can be frozen for up to three months as long as it has been wrapped tightly in tin foil.

piece of smoked salmon on plate with asparagus

Enjoy!
With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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smoked salmon on fork

How to Smoke Salmon (Easy Recipe on Pellet Smoker)

Donna Elick
Wondering How to Smoke Salmon? Use my smoked salmon recipe to enjoy a restaurant favorite on your smoker or on your grill.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Microwave, Smoker
Servings 8

Ingredients
 

  • 5 pounds salmon, 4-5 pounds

Rub

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Seasoned Butter

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons chopped chives
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your smoker to 225°F. Choose your favorite wood, I am using apple but you can use whatever you prefer. Using a mellow wood is best like oak, maple, pecan or alder. 
  • Unwrap your salmon and put it on a platter or if it is too big use a cookie sheet with sides. I like using the marinade tray from William Sonoma.
  • Take 2 paper towels and pat the whole salmon dry. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl combine the spices for the rub. Whisk until all combined.
  • Sprinkle the rub on the salmon and gently rub until the salmon coated all over. Set aside. 
  • Place the salmon skin side down on the grates on the smoker.
  • Insert the probe thermometer and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, about 50-55 minutes.
  • Once the salmon reaches temperature, remove from the smoker. Allow the salmon to rest for 10 minutes.

Seasoned Butter

  • Peel your garlic clove and mash them. *NOTE* For seasoned butter we also love using Gilroy Garlic when we do not want to use garlic cloves.
  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt 4 tablespoons of butter.
  • Add smashed garlic and chopped chives.
  • Mix well and set aside.

Donna’s Notes

Soak some wood chip. 3-4 hunks. Choose your favorite wood, I am using apple but you can use whatever you prefer. Using a mellow wood is best like oak, maple, pecan or alder.
Go prep your BBQ indirect method and bring the heat to 225°F.
Once at temperature, put your soaked smoking chip into the charcoal and set for indirect heat. If you have a Big Green Egg, this mean the convEGGtor legs up.
Put the salmon in the middle (skin side down) and cook until internal temperature reaches 145°F, about 55 minutes.
Once the salmon reaches temperature take it off the grill. Allow the salmon to rest for 10 minutes.
Serve with seasoned butter.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 457cal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 57g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 171mg | Sodium: 461mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
titled image (and shown): smoked salmon

Originally published March 2021, updated and republished July 2023

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