Smoked salmon is a delicious indulgence that’s easy to make and will definitely impress your guests. It has a rich flavor, buttery texture, and smoky aroma that will make it a delicious addition to your dinner table or perfect for snacking on game day.
I’m not easily impressed, but the smokey flavor of this beautiful salmon filet was even better than expected. The smoke flavor penetrated the salmon, and every bite was moist and flavorful. This was definitely the best-smoked salmon I’ve ever tasted.
The high-fat content of fresh salmon keeps the smoked salmon moist and delicious and makes my easy recipe one you’ll enjoy making all year long.
If you like this recipe, make sure to check out my recipe for Waffle Iron Smoked Salmon Quesadillas.
Ingredients to make Smoked Salmon
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Smoked Chicken Wings. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
What type of salmon should I use?
Always make sure the salmon you choose for smoking is high-quality fresh salmon. The flesh of the salmon should be firm, and there should be no noticeable fishy smell. The best salmon to smoke are wild-caught varieties like Sockeye salmon, Coho, or King. But you can also use Atlantic salmon. Just look for wild salmon instead of farm-raised. You can also use this recipe to smoke Steelhead trout.
If you don’t see sides of salmon in your local grocery stores, try asking the manager in the fish department. They probably get whole sides in and cut them into smaller portions. You may also find them at Sam’s Club or Costco.
How to make Smoked Salmon
- Add the kosher salt, brown sugar, garlic powder, and white pepper to a small bowl.
- Mix the seasonings to thoroughly combine the dry brine.
I used white pepper in my dry brine, but you can also use black pepper. Feel free to add your favorite seasonings to the blend, or use your favorite premade seasoning blend to season the salmon fillet.
You can also use a wet brine instead of the dry brining the fish. It’s a little more involved but produces stellar results, and with a longer drying process, it will form a better pellicle.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
- Add your favorite wood chips to the smoke tube. For this recipe, I used Alder wood chips.
What type of wood chips should I use?
I used Alder wood chips; they have a mild flavor that pairs well with the natural taste of salmon. Cedar is also a great option as it brings a sweet and smoky taste to the fish. Hickory and mesquite wood chips are also good choices as they add a sweet and nutty flavor to the fish.
- Prepare your salmon by placing it skin-side down on a piece of aluminum foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray before placing the salmon on the foil. This will keep the salmon fillet from sticking to the foil, making it easier to remove.
- Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
- Coat the surface of the fish with the dry rub seasoning mix. Allow at least a half hour for the dry rub to form a pellicle. This will help the salmon stay nice and moist through the smoking process.
- Place the salmon in the smoker with a thermometer in the thickest part of the salmon filet and let the salmon cook in the smoker until the internal temperature of the fish is 140 – 145 degrees. Cooking time will vary based on the weight of the fillet.
Remove the salmon filet from the smoker and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
My easy smoked salmon recipe is perfect for entertaining or just treating yourself to deliciousness. You can serve it hot out of the smoker, at room temperature, or chilled. Cold smoked salmon is a great addition to your breakfast table and goes well with bagels and cream cheese.
Save any leftover smoked salmon refrigerated in an airtight container. Leftover salmon can also be used to make an amazingly delicious salmon dip.
Cooking salmon on my electric smoker couldn’t be easier, but you can make this recipe on a Traeger pellet smoker or your favorite outdoor smoker.
With your smoker set at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, it will take 1.5 -2 hours, depending on the weight of the salmon side. For the best results, use a thermometer and smoke the salmon until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
I used Alder wood chips; they have a mild flavor that pairs well with the natural taste of salmon. Cedar is also a great choice as it brings a sweet and smoky taste to the fish. Hickory and mesquite wood chips are also great choices, as they add a sweet and nutty flavor to the fish.
The white substance is called albumin. It’s a protein that pushes out to the salmon’s surface during cooking. While it’s safe to eat, to reduce its appearance, ensure your salmon is properly brined and avoid overcooking.
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I love the ThermoPro wireless meat thermometers. The easy to use app makes it easy to track the temperatures of the meats and seafood your cooking.
You get a great variety of wood chips with this starter pack. You get one bag of apple, cheery, mesquite, and hickory wood chips in each variety pack.