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199 responses to “How to Smoke Salmon”

  1. Jena

    How long can you keep the salmon in the fridge after it is dried? I caught it Monday and processed it and kept it in the fridge. I brined overnight Tuesday and dried Wednesday morning. Now it is raining and I have nowhere to smoke it at my house but on the driveway. My smoker is electric and the cord cant get wet. I put the salmon in the fridge I hope it stops raining by tomorrow so I can smoke it. I tried doing it in the garage but it produced too much smoke and I had to unplug it. How much smoke typically leaks out? I am using the little chief.

  2. Michael

    I just bought my new Bradley smoker a few weeks back and christened it with some smoked Louisiana boudin which was out of this world. Next I ventured off on some smoked fish and chose your recipe. At first I was a little hesitant about the sweetness from the maple syrup and also the fact that I bought Atlantic salmon and not Alaskan Kind Salmon. Could the the last 2 hours of cooking time be too much for such a less fatty fish? Here in Austin Alaskan King salmon runs $25 bucks a pound and the Atlantic salmon was only $9. Despite the worries what I ended up with was the complete bomb. Great directions, great results. Thanks much.

  3. Ken Wynn

    I just came across your web site and read your comments about smoking Salmon. I am a first time smoker and already I guess I screwed up. I didn’t dry my Salmon before I put it in the smoker. How about smoking other meats or making jerky??

  4. N J Rich

    I’m not one to follow a recipe exactly, but this time I did and I have to say that this made some of the very best smoked salmon I’ve ever done! I was afraid that it might come out too sweet, but my fears were allayed with the first bite of the finished product. I think I might try adding some ginger to the brine on the next batch. But I thought I needed to post this and say THANK YOU for this site! Well done!


  5. todd

    I followed this recipe and it was the best smoked salmon I have ever had. It was my first time smoking salmon and the only mistake was the length of time it was in the smoker. The fillets where thinner pieces and turned out more like jerky. But they where very tasty.

  6. David Landsteiner

    Have this in the smoker as I type this… Used 1-2″ steaked king salmon pieces plus tail sections, so I might have to smoke closer to 8 hours. Can’t wait

  7. chris

    I have done the same recipe a few times now and have had different results. Having said that my best batch has been with skin on salmon and a close eye on the temps (first batch was throughout the night due to hours needed to develop pellicle). Long night! The third batch I accidentally bought skinless slabs and found the end result to be a bit drier. I finally found good pieces of skin on fish and will be smoking tomorrow. Great recipe. I have had excellent feedback from some saying it was the best salmon they have ever had. It makes a great gift idea for a salmon lover as well. good times

  8. John Alden

    I’ve read/heard that when canning smoked salmon, that it should be smoked for a shorter time. Is that the case in your experience?

  9. Stephane Aarseth

    Going to give this a try. Most brines I’ve used have the salt to sugar ratio either even or greater salt to sugar. This brine reverses that and it is 4 almost 5 to 1 sugar to salt. Just a guess, but I’m thinking that going slow on the temp also keeps that sugar from burning. Like Hank, I’ve switched from managing my own fire to a mechanical system. I’m using a Traeger – similar in concept to the Bradley. My second guess is that the longer brine (24 hours as opposed to 8-12 hours) is because of the lower salt ratio. It takes longer for the salt to work into the fish.

    Hopefully I’ll remember to report back. I’m smoking four fillets of Copper River reds.

  10. Susan Garcia

    This is the first time I am trying to smoke salmon. My “practice” salmon (or sacrificial salmon) is a nice side of Atlantic salmon from the Costco. If it doesn’t turn out good, it’s no great loss. Your brine recipe and directions look very easy. The salmon is brining in the ‘fridge right now and I will smoke it tomorrow using alder wood in a propane powered box smoker (Iron Forge).
    My question is, does it matter that the salmon is skinless? I did not notice this until I got it home from the Costco.

  11. Stephane Aarseth

    Just stuck the salmon in the fridge. Will taste tomorrow after work. Approximately 8 hours on the smoker. Looks fantastic.

  12. Brigitte

    I have not been smoking stuff for long and only have the “baby” Bradley countertop smoker. But whole salmon was for sale and I could not resist which is how I ended up with your recipe.

    The countertop smoker does not allow the slow increase in temperature you describe but it heats up slowly. Although the salmon bled a little albumin it is still nice and moist and … OMG! This is the best hot smoked salmon I have tasted.

    Page is bookmarked, I’ll be back! Thanks for this wonderful simple and tasty recipe.

  13. Bob Barfus

    I used your maple syrup recipe to smoke 5 lbs of Alaska salmon. I found that I needed to double the recipe to fully cover the salmon. Will this give me the same taste as using a smaller amount of brine? The proof of how good it was. My grandchildren, who never eat fish, couldn’t get enough of this. I did brine for 24 hours and found that to be not quite enough so next batch will try 36 hours. Do you have other smoking recipes to share?

  14. Trevis Kelley

    Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe! This is a favorite around the household here!

  15. John Spencer

    Can the brine be used more than once

  16. Phil Dauber

    It is very possible to cold smoke salmon in California, as long as the temperature is in the 70’s or below. The key is to use ice to cool the smoke. This works well in a Luhr Jensen electric smoker, particularly the Big Chief. Put about 4 lb ice in a metal tray on the rack just above the heating element. Two loads of smoking chips are enough. Then you are done.
    Cold smoked salmon does not need pellicle.

  17. Steve

    I just bought a Bradley 6 rack smoker. The lowest temperature setting is 120° so that’s where I started the first 2 hours after drying the Red Salmon for 6 hours with a fan blowing cool air over the fish. The highest temp I used was 140 over 6 of smoking. The fish came out moist and very tasty but I had albumin or some other whitish substance all over the fish. Any ideas?

  18. Coco in the Kitchen

    Smoking really is an art. My husband smokes salmon for us in our bbq. I make the buttery crepes. Our li’l sweetheart gobbles it all up. The home-smoked stuff is so delicious that I have a really hard time buying the smoked salmon from the stores. Love your recipe. Going to pass it on to Shawn to try. But first, I have to find birch syrup.

  19. Mel Z

    Can you smoke salmon after it has been frozen?

    Cheers Melani

  20. Ashley

    I’ve been living in Prince William Sound all summer, and have a bunch of sockeye salmon. Unfortunately, my vacuum sealer stopped sealing properly and a fair amount got freezer burned. I was thinking of smoking the freezer burned stuff in hopes of salvaging it. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as good as properly frozen salmon, but do you think that’d still be edible?

    Just found your website, and am now very excited to try out all your fish recipes when I get home!

  21. Steve

    For those interested you can get Kahiltna Birch syrup from Alaska Wild Berry Products

  22. Steve

    Also online at Kahiltna Birchworks to make direct calls to order.

  23. Adam

    This is a really good recipe. I was not able to find the Alaska Birch Syrup or any other birch or maple syrup, it is difficult to find it in Europe, partially by adding more brown sugar partially by adding honey.
    This worked fine!

    We have a large brick made smoker it is difficult to control the smoke temperature in there we just followed it. Started at 176F for about an hour and then smoking for 5 hours at about 140F.

    Thanks for pointing out importance of drying the cured salmon I was not aware of it!

    Thanks for this recipe!

  24. Garth Woodworth

    I’ve bookmarked your site – best advice I’ve had on smoking salmon. Most recipes are way too salty for a start.

    I have a question. I smoked some fairly thick Sockeye until late at night, but still not done. Decided to bring it inside – a rodent could get into the smoker through the air intake – didn’t want to take the chance. Then put it in the fridge. Question is, would be ok to take it out of the fridge and back in the smoker to smoke it another three hours? I can’t see why not, but it seems there could be a reason not to. Thanks if you have an idea on this.

  25. Garth Woodworth

    Good answer! Especially the part about letting the fish return to room temperature. That’s what could have gone wrong – cold fish would be processed by the smoke quite differently than warmer fish – ideally, it might be best to warm it to approximate smoking temperature in the oven before returning it to the smoker. Thanks.

  26. Todd

    i would love to try this recipe. I am still a bit confused about the brine. Do you mix all the ingredients “in” in the water, stir up thereby creating a brine solution and add the fish to the brine solution to soak?

  27. Lou Alexander

    Hank, love your site! In my experience with brown sugar and wild meats is the darker the better. I’m new to fish, does the same hold true?

  28. Reed

    What’s the plus or minus of using a dry cure then wrapping it in freezer bags? I’ve never used a brine…I’ll try it if the results promise to be better than the dry cure…

  29. Reed

    Also…to the guy with the Bradley smoker who started off his salmon at 120 degrees because that’s the lowest temp setting on a Bradley smoker…

    If you just have the smoke generator on but leave the oven control panel turned off, the temp will hover at around 100 degrees from the heat generated by the smouldering pucks…

  30. Roger

    Can I use less salt tasted brine and it was overly salty

  31. Chris Duplissis

    Hank – for a beginner / green horn lick myself, I really enjoyed your recipe basics and advice with the heat smoke method. I will trying my hand with it this week-end. 5 lbs each Chinook and Silver salmon are on my to do list. Any final advice for the brine times? I think the 30 hour rule sounds about right, from what I have just read. Thank you…


  32. Michael Pombo

    Advice on the freezer burned fish: If you run the fish under warm water while it is still frozen and use a vegetable brush to scrub the surface, all the freezer burned meat will separate and wash off. This works for freezer burn on many foods. Just perform the action very quickly. You don’t want the remaining fish to have time to thaw while it is under water. It is likely that if you don’t get the freezer burn off before you start to use it, you will still taste the bitterness no matter what else you do to it…

  33. Jennifer Amaya

    Thank you for posting this recipe!!! I used my Weber charcoal smoker for the first time this weekend and it was awesome! I followed this recipe exactly except that I used maple syrup instead of birch syrup. I was worried about keeping the temperature where I needed it to be since I was using charcoal but it worked out fine. I didn’t even get any albumin bleed :-) I did baste it every hour which probably helped. Even my extremely picky kids who hate fish couldn’t get enough! I made 3 pounds this time since it was my first time – next time I plan to at least double it. Thank you!!!

  34. Josh A

    What sort of smoker are you using? I have a couple different ones and it is impossible to get the temp below 140 degrees (charcoal or electric)? I get a ton of albumin bleed and I hate it. I can cold smoke some amazing salmon, but I want that candied effect you describe in this post. maybe I will have to wait till the dead of winter in MN to accomplish this… (sigh)

  35. Cherri

    Just found your recipe. I am new to smoking I bought a Traeger. Tried their recipe and said 1/2 cup kosher salt, I thought that was a lot so did not use that much. For my first try wasn’t bad. Now that I’ve found your recipe I’m going to try again I think the key is the brine time. I will need more than an afternoon project. Can’t wait to find salmon on sale again.
    Thank You

  36. MICKEY

    Prior to your recipe I could not get the wife and kids to eat my smoked salmon. Now they can’t get enough of it. I too use a Bradley and really enjoy this recipe.

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