Easy Guide for How to Smoke Salmon On The Grill

Smoked Salmon on the grill
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Do you love the taste of smoked salmon, but don’t have a smoker to cook it in?  It’s easy to make perfectly smoked salmon just by your grill – all you need are some wood chips or a cedar plank and hot grill grates ready to go.  With this smoking guide, we’ll show you how to smoke salmon on the grill in just four simple steps.

How to Smoke Salmon on the Grill in Four Simple Steps:

  1. Prepare fish: Have your butcher remove pin bones from fresh salmon and section into portioned fillets.  If you’re using salmon from the freezer, let it thaw the night before by placing it in the fridge.  This will allow the salmon to thaw at a cool temperature for food safety.  
  2. Season: There are lots of great options for layering flavor into your piece of smoked fish.  This recipe uses brown sugar, pickling salt, and crab-boil seasoning to make a spicy slurry.  Brines, marinades, and dry rubs also work great with smoked salmon.  
  3. Preheat grill: You want to set up for indirect grilling, so heat one side of the grill to medium heat, about 225 degrees F and place a smoker box of wood chips directly on the hot grill grates.  We suggest using a smoking wood flavor of sweet taste like cherry or apple.
  4. Smoke: Close the grill lid and let salmon cook for about 1 hour.  Use a digital thermometer to check the temperature of the fish.  If it has reached 150 degrees, it’s perfectly smoked and ready to eat.  If not yet that warm, let the salmon continue cooking until it reaches the target temperature.
Easy Smoked Salmon On The Grill

Prep Time: 10 hours

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 12 hours

Yield: 10 servings


  • 1 3-5 pound fresh salmon fillet
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup pickling salt
  • 1 3-ounce bag of commercially prepared "crab boil"


  1. Rinse the salmon filet under cold running water and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Combine brown sugar, pickling salt and contents of crab boil bag into bowl and dry mix together.
  3. Add enough water to these dry ingredients to make into semi-dry wet slurry - just beyond the texture of wet paste.
  4. Place salmon filet in large 2-inch deep dish or largest size sealable plastic food bag and coat the flesh with the slurry.
  5. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap or seal the bag and place in the refrigerator overnight (8+ hours).
  6. 2 hours before you are ready to smoke the fish, remove from refrigerator.
  7. Place salmon filet flesh side up on baking sheet and pat dry. (Do not rinse.)
  8. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (250°F degrees) and add wood chips. Place fillets on grates and let smoke for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from grill.
  9. Place in refrigerator to hold until ready to serve with dark breads, sliced red onions, cream cheese, lemon wedges, capers, etc.

Now that you know how to make simple grill smoked salmon, check out our recipe for Bourbon-Marinated Smoked Salmon.  This tasty recipe and other great ideas can all be found on the Char-Broil community site.  

Cherry smoking wood chips


Cherry Wood Chips - 2lb. Bag

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