Lemon Pepper Salmon (Hot Smoked Salmon Recipe)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Lemon Pepper Salmon is not only melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but it’s a healthy fish dinner too! Make a simple, tangy rub for smoked salmon to really elevate the dish. Our flavorful lemon pepper salmon recipe is perfect for an easy main dish or appetizer, and your family will love it!

titled: Smoked Salmon with Lemon Pepper Rub


There are two methods for smoking fish: hot smoking and cold smoking.

Personally, I prefer both the flavor and texture of hot smoked salmon. It’s nice and flaky, with an extra layer of flavor.

Cold smoked fish is firmer and is more often served as an appetizer with crackers and spreads.

salmon filet with bowls of salt, mustard, and lemon pepper rub

Lemon Pepper Salmon

After mixing up a quick salmon rub for smoking, the fish only takes 90 minutes to cook. It’s one of many reasons why I love this lemon pepper salmon recipe so much!

If you’re short on time, or don’t own a smoker, I do have a recipe for air fryer salmon with a honey mustard glaze.

While it doesn’t have the delicious smoky flavor of hot smoked lemon pepper salmon, it will be ready to eat in just 10 minutes!

Keep reading to learn how to cook salmon in a smoker, plus the difference between hot and cold smoking salmon!

salmon slathered in mustard

Lemon Pepper Salmon Rub for Smoking

  • Kosher salt – It’s important to use kosher or sea salt, as regular table salt is iodized and can add an unpleasant metallic flavor to the fish.
  • Lemon pepper seasoning – I keep things easy and buy a lemon pepper seasoning blend.

    If you’d like to make your own lemon pepper, or even a completely different rub for smoked salmon, 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 this lemon pepper rub for smoked salmon, check out my tutorial on how to cook salmon in a smoker. I use a simple spice blend for that recipe!

salmon filet coated in lemon pepper seasoning

Tips for How to Cook Salmon in a Smoker

  • 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 — place the filet on a sheet of aluminum foil before applying the salmon rub for smoking.

You can transfer it directly to the hot smoker, plus it’s easy to remove when the fish is done!

  • 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 filet for 10 minutes or so before slicing.

This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the fish, creating perfectly flaky and scrumptious bites of lemon pepper salmon!

seasoned salmon filet topped with lemon slices

Serving Suggestions

For a healthy entree, I like to serve lemon pepper salmon with brown rice and grilled asparagus.

It’s also delicious on salads or a bed of buttery pasta — even cacio e pepe would be tasty!

As an appetizer, pair this lemon pepper salmon recipe with cream cheese on crackers or pumpernickel bread!

piece of smoked salmon on plate with fork

Lemon Pepper Salmon Recipe FAQ

What wood is best for smoking salmon?

Fruit woods like cherry and apple tend to pair really nicely with fish, but each variety lends its own unique flavor.

Avoid heavy flavors like mesquite, as they can easily overpower the flavor of salmon.

What’s the difference between hot and cold smoked 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. Also, cold smoked fish is typically cooked toward the rare side (below 115°F), for a smoother, silkier texture with a fresh, less smoky flavor.

How to Store Hot Smoked Salmon

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 smoked fish for up to a year, then thaw it in the refrigerator before serving.

close up: forkful of smoked lemon pepper salmon

With love, from our simple kitchen to yours. 

Don’t miss a thing! Follow us on
Facebook | Twitter Pinterest | Instagram 

fork inserted into hot smoked salmon

fork piercing lemon pepper salmon filet

Lemon Pepper Salmon (Hot Smoked Salmon Recipe)

Donna Elick
Lemon Pepper Salmon, hot smoked to perfection, is scrumptious and healthy! Enjoy smoky, flaky fish as an appetizer or an easy weeknight meal.
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Smoker
Servings 6



  • 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.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 1 | Calories: 333cal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 46g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 1318mg | Sugar: 0.1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 44mg | 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 with lemon pepper rub

Originally published October 2021, updated and republished July 2023

Disclosure: Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link your price will remain the same and The Slow Roasted Italian will automatically receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting us, it helps us keep creating new recipes.

The Simple Kitchen cookbook affiliate linked banner


  1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating