Lemon Pepper Hot Smoked Salmon
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Hot Smoked Salmon with a tangy lemon pepper rub is not only melt-in-your-mouth delicious, it’s a healthy fish dinner, too! Our flavorful lemon pepper salmon is perfect for an easy main dish or appetizer, and your family will love it!
There are two methods for smoking fish, hot smoking and cold smoking. I prefer both the flavor and texture of hot smoked salmon.
Cold smoked fish is more often served as an appetizer with crackers.
Hot Smoked Salmon
Hot smoked lemon pepper salmon only takes 90 minutes to cook, which is one reason I love this recipe so much!
If you’re short on time, or don’t own a smoker, I do have a recipe for air fryer salmon.
It doesn’t have the delicious smoky flavor of hot smoked salmon, but it will be ready to eat in just 10 minutes!
Want to learn more about the difference between hot and cold smoking salmon? Keep reading to find out!
Lemon Pepper Smoked Salmon Rub
- Kosher salt – It’s important to use kosher or sea salt, as regular table salt is iodized, which can add an unpleasant metallic flavor to the fish.
- Lemon pepper seasoning – I keep things easy and buy lemon pepper seasoning blend.
If you’d like to make your own lemon pepper or even a completely different smoked salmon rub, you certainly can!
- Dijon mustard – I prefer Dijon, but whole grain mustard, yellow mustard, or even honey mustard would be good too.
If you aren’t a fan of the smoked salmon rub I use for the lemon pepper salmon, check out my tutorial on how to smoke salmon.
I use a simple spice blend for that recipe.
Tips for Perfect Hot Smoked Salmon
How to prevent fish from sticking:
Be sure to lightly oil the smoker grates so you can remove the cooked filet without it tearing.
Or, follow my lead – I smoke the lemon pepper salmon on a sheet of aluminum foil. This way, it’s easier to remove from the hot smoker.
Monitor the wood chips and water level.
It’s important to maintain a high level of moisture inside the smoker, so check it periodically and fill it with more water as needed.
The same goes for the wood chips or pellets. Depending on the size of the wood chamber, you may need to add more.
Let the fish rest!
Rest the hot smoked salmon for 10 minutes or so.
This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the filet, creating perfectly flaky and scrumptious bites of lemon pepper salmon!
Serving and Storing
Hot smoked salmon can be served as an entree, on top of a Caesar salad, or as an appetizer.
For a healthy entree, I like to serve lemon pepper salmon with brown rice and grilled asparagus.
As an appetizer, it’s fantastic with cream cheese on crackers or pumpernickel bread!
If you have leftovers, allow them to cool, then wrap the filet in plastic wrap. Store it in the refrigerator and enjoy it again within 7 to 10 days.
That being said, it will easily last up to 3 weeks if it’s vacuum packed. You can also freeze it for up to a year, then thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.
Hot Smoked Salmon FAQ
Fruit woods like cherry and apple tend to pair really nicely with fish, but each variety lends its own unique flavor.
I recommend avoiding heavy flavors like mesquite, as they can easily overpower the flavor of salmon.
As you might guess from the name, the primary difference between hot and cold smoking is the temperature the food is cooked at!
Hot smoked salmon is cooked on a smoker, to a temperature above 120°F. This creates a flaky texture with a noticeable smoky flavor.
In comparison, cold smoking can be done indoors.
Cold smoked fish is typically cooked toward the rare side, for a smoother, silkier texture with a fresh, less smoky flavor.
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Other Smoker Recipes
Lemon Pepper Hot Smoked Salmon
- wood chips or pellets (whichever your smoker uses), soaked in water
- 3 pounds salmon filet, leave skin on
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning
- Prepare your wood chips by soaking them in water for at least 30 minutes prior to smoking.
- Check the filet to ensure all of the pin bones have been removed. If you notice any, use a pair of tweezers or small needle nose pliers to pull them out.
- Rinse the filet to remove any debris, if necessary, then pat the salmon dry with clean paper toweling.
- Using a basting brush, apply mustard to the flesh side of the salmon; sprinkle salt and lemon pepper seasoning evenly over the mustard.
- When the salmon is ready, put a light coating of oil on the salmon skin, or spray the grates with cooking spray, to prevent it from sticking to the grates. Alternatively, place the salmon on a sheet of aluminum foil (I do this so I can just grab the foil to remove the filet from the smoker without worry of tearing the fish)
- Smoke the salmon at 225°F for 90 minutes, or until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
- When it is fully cooked, carefully remove the hot smoked salmon from the smoker. Allow the fish to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
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.
Originally published October 2021, updated and republished August 2022
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I have not tried this recipe but I have to comment that wood chips should not be soaked before smoking anything! All you are creating is steam until the wood dries out and can burn to create real smoke. It’s a long-held fallacy that wood needs to be wet to avoid flames or burning too fast. Just use larger chunks but leave the water out of the smoker! I have smoked a LOT of meat and fish over the years and dry chips are the way to create the thin blue smoke that holds the wood flavor. Thanks for considering this.
Great tips and advice, Sandy. Thank you!
TSRI Team member,
I’m still new to smoking, but this was an awesome recipe. Easy to follow.