How to Smoke Salmon

How to Smoke Salmon

After slow roasting in the smoker, salmon transforms. Thick flaky sections of meat are tinted beautifully light pink color and a rich and buttery flavor is presented. Follow these four simple steps to make perfectly smoked salmon.

steps for smoked salmon


Select the fish.

When buying fresh salmon, look for a bright, orange-pink color and no fishy smell. The meat should feel firm with a little give, but not squishy. Thanks to modern technology, allowing fisheries to freeze fish immediately after catching, frozen fillets are now an equally good in option. If using frozen fillets, set in the fridge the night before cooking to let them thaw safely.



Quality salmon doesn’t need much added flavor, but if you are craving a more savory piece of smoked salmon, you can use a dry rub or brine to create layers of seasoning.

  • Use a simple dry rub of brown sugar, Old Bay Fish Seasoning, salt, and pepper to coat the surface of the salmon. Gently press the spice rub into the meat to ensure that it sticks during cooking.

  • A simple brine of salt and water can also help pack moisture and flavor into to salmon. Check out our recipe for Brown Sugar Brined Smoked Salmon.

Be sure to rinse and dry the fillets before smoking. This will wash away any excess spices that may have clumped together while resting.

HOT TIP: Smoke brined salmon immediately after it has finished brining and has been rinsed. Also, discard brine after it has been used. Because it has been in contact with raw protein, it is not safe to be used again.


Preheat your smoker.

The key to perfectly smoked salmon is to keep the temperature of the heat low and steady. Set your smoked to 120°F and add wood chips . Choose a smoking wood flavor of a sweet variety like apple or cherryCedar planks are also a great option for smoked salmon.



Let salmon smoke for about 3 hours or until the internal temperature of the fish reaches 145°F. The salmon should have a deep pink color and gently flake apart.

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