How to Smoke Salmon: Smoked Salmon Recipe

Smoking salmon is actually a very simple recipe task.  It just requires some planning and time. If you want to smoke salmon on Saturday, then start preparing on Friday. I’ve tried various recipes, but the one below is the best smoked salmon recipe I’ve made yet. 

Ingredients are simple and you typically have these sitting in your cupboards already. The only thing you will probably have to shop for is some fresh Salmon. Buy the freshest salmon that you can. I buy the largest uncut fillet so I can decide the size of my salmon cuts for the brine and smoker. In this recipe I’m using Atlantic Salmon because it’s easily available at most seafood stores. Atlantic Salmon are typically farmed fish. My favorite is King (Chinook) salmon, but it’s not always easy to find and you’re also paying quite a bit more.

Raw Salmon fillet
Smoked Salmon
course salt on wooden spoon

Typical questions I get about smoking salmon range from; How long should I smoke salmon? How to make a brine? Wet brine vs Dry brine etc. The recipe will go over this in detail so it keeps the guess work out. 

Wet Brine vs Dry Brine

I’ve used both methods and I find the wet brine always produces the best smoked salmon. A wet brine usually consists of a large amount of water with salt, sugar, and spices. A dry brine is typically sugar, salt and spices applied overtop of the salmon and held in a refrigerated container for 24 hours. Having the salmon submerged in the wet brine for 8-12 hours helps cure the salmon more evenly than a dry brine. I find the salmon has a more even flavor throughout the cut and the presentation/color of the wet brine salmon is superior. 

Taking the time to smoke your salmon gives the salmon a very distinctive smoky flavor and refined texture. Enjoy this salmon warm simply on it's own, pair with cream cheese, cucumbers, or crackers as an appetizer, get creative by throwing it in a dip, or layer it cooled on a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast!  So many wonderful recipes to create with Smoked Salmon! Enjoy this simple how to guide.

Prep time: 16hrs 15mins

Cook Time: 5-6 hours

Total Time: 24-25 hours

Ingredients:

3lbs of Salmon (large fillet preferably)

11.5 cups of water

1 ⅜ cup of Kosher Salt

1 ¼ cup of Brown Sugar

1 Tsp of Onion Powder

1 Tsp of Garlic Powder

  1. Mix the water and ingredients together in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours. 
  2. Rinse the salmon fillet in cold water. If the salmon still has skin, remove it at this time. 
  3. Cut the salmon into 3” wide by 4-5” length strips. I find this is an ideal portion size and the smoke penetrates the salmon evenly. 
  4. Once the brine is cooled, place the salmon into the large pot of brine. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. 
  5. After the brining process, remove the salmon and lightly dry it. Place the salmon on some racks and let sit on the counter for 4 hours. This lets the salmon dry evenly and creates a shiny skin called pellicle. This is a crucial step because the smoke will adhere to the salmon properly. 
  6. Preheat your smoker: I start my smoker at 100F. I typically use pecan wood for smoking Salmon. 
  7. One the smoker is ready I lightly oil the grills so the salmon will not stick. Place the salmon in the smoker for two hours. After the two hours move the smoker temperature to 140F and smoke another two hours. Then turn the smoker to 175F and smoke for two more hours. This is a total of six hours. 
  8. If your smoker can not operate at such a low temp, smoke the salmon for five hours at 165F. 
  9. Remove the salmon and place on racks to cool on your counter. Rest for one hour. After the resting, you are ready to enjoy. Refrigerate the remaining portions. 

Smoked Salmon on white plate
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

How to Smoke Salmon – Smoked Salmon Recipe

Taking the time to smoke your salmon gives the salmon a very distinctive smoky flavor and refined texture. Enjoy this salmon warm simply on it's own, pair with cream cheese, cucumbers, or crackers as an appetizer, or layer it cooled on a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast!
Prep Time16 hrs 15 mins
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time1 d
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best smoked salmon recipe, homemade smoked salmon, how to smoke salmon, smoked salmon recipe, wet brine smoked salmon
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 313kcal

Equipment

  • smoker

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs salmon Large fillet preferred
  • 11.5 cups water
  • 1 3/8 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Instructions

  • Mix the water and ingredients together in a large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil to help dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  • Rinse the salmon fillet in cold water. If the salmon still has skin, remove it at this time.
  • Cut the salmon into 3” wide by 4-5” length strips. I find this is an ideal portion size and the smoke penetrates the salmon evenly.
  • Once the brine is cooled place the salmon into the large pot of brine. Cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
  • After the brining process, remove the salmon and lightly dry it. Place the salmon on some racks and let sit on the counter for 4 hours. This lets the salmon dry evenly and creates a shiny skin called pellicle. This is a crucial step because the smoke will adhere to the salmon properly.
  • Preheat your smoker: I start my smoker at 100F. I typically use maple wood for smoking Salmon.
  • Once the smoker is ready I lightly oil the grills so the salmon will not stick. Place the salmon in the smoker for two hours. After the two hours move the smoker temperature to 140F and smoke another two hours. Then turn the smoker to 175F and smoke for two more hours. This is a total of six hours.
  • If your smoker can not operate at such a low temp, smoke the salmon for five hours at 165F.
  • Remove the salmon and place on racks to cool on your counter. Rest for one hour. After the resting, you are ready to enjoy. Refrigerate the remaining portions.

Nutrition

Serving: 6oz | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 22.7g | Protein: 33.1g | Fat: 10.5g | Saturated Fat: 1.5g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 800mg | Potassium: 400mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 22.2g | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg

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