Smoking Salmon can seem like a daunting task- but trust us, it’s so easy! Your pals here at Laughing Spatula want you to enjoy this easy recipe that will simplify your smoked salmon needs. It’s not overly smokey, and it’s got a rich, deep, intense flavor (thanks to a 24 hour brine) that makes it the perfect option for salads, appetizers, or even a main course.
My husband, Mr. Laughing Spatula the Second (my dad is Mr. Laughing Spatula the first) made this smoked salmon around Christmas and we really enjoyed it. It totally beats store bought and spreads like butter. It is smooth, creamy, delicious, and a perfect healthy snack.
To start, there are a few tools* you will need to smoke your salmon.
- Smoker Box: This is what is used to store your wet wood chips in to produce the smoke. This is the exact one we use and it works great! If you are using a smoker box, you can technically use a gas BBQ, but we have not tried it so can’t vouch for it.
- Wood Chips We use hickory but you could use any flavor to your liking. This pack includes 4 ‘flavors’- cherry, apple, hickory, and mesquite and will last you a while.
- Wire Rack: You likely already have one in your kitchen but this is a steal at$11.95 for 2 of them.
- Smoker/BBQ: We use a small charcoal BBQ to smoke our salmon. If you don’t have one, this one is only $34 from Amazon and is really all that you need. See our notes above under ‘smoker box’ if you don’t have charcoal grill.
- Charcoal Briquettes: These are the ones we use and they work great.
- Vacuum Sealer (optional)- We like to vacuum seal our salmon to give to friends and family. It’s a nice hostess gift and keeps it so fresh!
Now that you have your supplies, let’s get started!
Step 1: Marinate Salmon. We use a simple mixture of brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and water. Let the salmon marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours (skinside up) in a casserole dish covered with plastic wrap. 24 hours is the perfect marination time for salmon– it infuses loads of flavor, and 24 hours is just long enough (any longer and the salmon gets soggy).
Step 2: After 24 hours, pull salmon from marinade and place on wire rack. This stops the marination process, and allows for the salmon to breathe and dry a bit before smoking it. Drying out the salmon for 30 minutes before smoking also helps develop a nice crust on the smoked salmon.
Step 3: Prepare wood chips. While the salmon is drying on a wire rack, you will start to prepare your wood chips. Pour wood chips into a medium size mixing bowl, and add whiskey, and water. Give it a good stir and soak the wood chips in this mixture for about 30 minutes. Soaking the wood chips for at least 30 minutes allows for them to smoke perfectly (the moisture keeps them from catching fire and produces the smoke!).
Step 4: Prepare smoker. Using charcoal briquettes, heat smoker grill to a temperature between 250 and 270 degrees farenheit. After soaking the wood chips for 30 minutes, strain them to remove excess moisture, and place them in a smoker box, and place the box onto of the briquettes (careful, hot!).
Step 5: Smoke salmon. Once the wood chips start smoking, place the salmon on the rack of the smoker. Monitor temperature of smoker every 30 minutes. Once salmon reaches internal temperature at thickest part of 145 degrees farenheir, remove from heat and ‘turn off’ smoker.
Step 6; Enjoy smoked salmon and watch your friends’ faces in envy as they enjoy this buttery snack!
The Ultimate Guide to Smoked Salmon questions!
- What kind of salmon should I use?
- We used individual pieces of Coho Salmon. You can really use any type you like, so long as it is fresh. Frozen salmon doesn’t marinate as well.
- How big of a piece of salmon did you use?
- We generally piece them out into invidiual 3-4 ounce filet pieces.
- Where do you buy your salmon?
- We get ours at Sprouts but another great option is Costco if you want to make extra for friends or family. Standard grocery store salmon works great- just not frozen, fresh is best.
- Does quality of salmon matter if it’s being smoked?
- Yes- but, don’t go crazy with buying super expensive salmon. Mid range, $4-5 per serving is appropriate.
- What cut of salmon should I use?
- We used individual filets. You can opt for whatever cut you like.Another fun idea for a snack is to cut salmon into bite size pieces.
- How long does smoked salmon last for?
- According to Good Housekeeping, smoked salmon lasts in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
- How do I serve smoked salmon?
- What if I don’t have a charcoal BBQ?
- According to the directions on this smoker box, you can use a regular gas or propane BBQ. Though…we’ve never tried it, so we can’t vouch for it.
Did you have a question we didn’t answer? Shoot us a note at [email protected]!
Enjoy this delicious snack! – Rachel
A delicious and simple recipe for smoking salmon at home with restaurant quality flavor.
- 4-5 pieces of salmon each about 2-3 ounces
- 1.5 cups brown sugar
- 1/3 cup salt
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tbsp granulated onion
- 1/2 tbsp white pepper
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups wood chips
- 1 cup whiskey we used Crown but any would work
- 2 cups water
Combine marinade ingredients into casserole dish and let the salmon marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours (skinside up) in a casserole dish covered with plastic wrap.
In a medium sized bowl, combine wood chips, whiskey, and water. Let soak for 30 minutes, preferrably at the same time the salmon is drying on wire rack.
Heat smoker/BBQ to 250-270 degrees farenheit. Strain soaked wood chips in a colander to remove excess moisture, and place them in a smoker box, and place the box onto of the briquettes (careful, hot!).
Once the wood chips start smoking, place salmon on rack of smoker/BBQ. Monitor temperature of smoker every 30 minutes. Once salmon reaches internal temperature at thickest part of 145 degrees farenheit, roughly 1-2 hours depending on smoker, remove from heat.
**Always use caution when using an open flame, or using a BBQ or smoker. Never leave a BBQ or smoker unattended.**
*Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not cost you any extra and helps keep the ovens running at the Laughing Spatula kitchens!