Smoked Salmon Recipe

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Smoked salmon is a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways. Often served as an appetizer or as part of a brunch spread, smoked salmon has a rich, smoky flavor that pairs well with many foods.

This guide will provide you with everything you need to know about smoking salmon at home, how to serve it, and some FAQs. So read on to learn all about this incredible smoked delicacy!

What is Smoked Salmon?

Smoked salmon, also known as lox, refers to salmon that has been cured and smoked over wood chips or sawdust.

The smoking process cooks the fish while also infusing it with a smoky flavor. The salmon absorbs the smoke aroma and develops a firm, flaky texture.

There are two main types of smoked salmon: hot-smoked and cold-smoked.

  • Hot-smoked salmon is smoked at higher temperatures, between 150 and 200°F. This both cooks the fish and gives it a smoky flavor. Hot smoked salmon has a flaky, sliceable texture.
  • Cold-smoked salmon is cured first and then smoked at lower temperatures below 90°F. This preserves the salmon without actually cooking it, giving it a velvety texture. Cold smoked salmon has a more subtle smoky flavor.

Buying Smoked Salmon

When buying pre-made smoked salmon, here are some tips:

  • Look for sustainable options Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is a good sustainable choice. Farm-raised salmon can work too, as long as the practices are ethical.
  • Check the ingredients. Smoked salmon should contain only salmon and salt. Some versions add sugar, which helps achieve a glossy coating. Avoid ones with excessive additives.
  • Look for deep color – Quality smoked salmon has a deep orange-red hue. Pale pink salmon was likely treated with coloring and may be of lower quality.
  • Seek out boneless fillets for easy serving. You can also find smoked salmon trimmings, which are more affordable.
  • Consider thickly sliced cuts, which hold up better when serving. Thin deli-style slices can be more delicate.
  • Vacuum-sealed packs help preserve freshness compared to loose deli containers. Refrigerate smoked salmon for no more than 2 weeks.


How to Smoke Salmon

How to Serve Smoked Salmon

There are endless ways to serve smoked salmon. Here are some popular serving ideas:

  • Smoked salmon toast: top bagels, bread, or crackers with cream cheese, sliced red onion, capers, and folded slices of smoked salmon.
  • Smoked salmon omelets or scrambles: add flaked smoked salmon to omelets or egg scrambles.
  • Salads – Flake smoked salmon over greens, grains, pasta, or potato salads.
  • Dips and spreads – Blend smoked salmon into cream cheese, sour cream, or yogurt dips.
  • Pizza – Top crispy naan or pizza dough with whipped ricotta, smoked salmon, red onion, capers, and dill.
  • Quesadillas or tacos: fill tortillas with smoked salmon, avocado, peppers, and cheese.
  • Pasta dishes: toss cubed smoked salmon into creamy pasta or risotto.
  • Chowders and bisques: Mix flakes of smoked salmon into seafood or potato soups.
  • Charcuterie boards: Arrange smoked salmon rolls alongside cheeses, crackers, mustards, and fruits.

Get creative with smoked salmon recipes! The rich flavor pairs so well with creamy, crunchy, and fresh ingredients.


  • Use wild-caught Pacific salmon like sockeye or coho for the best flavor.
  • Keep the brine ratio at 1:1 cup salt to sugar per gallon of water.
  • Try different wood chips like apple, pecan, or alder for flavor.
  • Hot smoke at 150–180°F for 2-4 hours until flaky.
  • Cold smoke below 90°F for 4–12 hours, depending on desired smokiness

Smoked salmon makes for the perfect protein to pair with bagels, toast, eggs, salads, pasta, and more! Adjust brining and smoking to your preferences.

Types of Smoked Salmon

There are several varieties of smoked salmon to choose from:

Hot Smoked

Hot smoked salmon is cooked at high temperatures, reaching 145°F internally. The heat helps firm up the texture and deepen the smoky flavor. Common hot-smoked varieties include:

  • Kippered salmon: brined, then hot smoked. stronger texture with a strong smoky flavor.
  • Nova salmon: milder- Milder tasting hot-smoked salmon originating from Nova Scotia.

Cold Smoked

Cold smoked salmon is cured and smoked at low temperatures below 90°F. The flesh retains a softer, tender texture. Popular kinds include:

  • Scottish smoked salmon, hand-sliced with subtle smoky flavor
  • Norwegian smoked salmon: dry brined with delicate texture and mild smoke
  • Lox: brined, then cold smoked. Very lean and not quite as salty as other cold-smoked salmon.


Calories: 158kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 6g | Sodium: 1301mg | Potassium: 519mg | Vitamin D: 7IU | Omega-3: 2g

Benefits of Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is packed with beneficial nutrients. Some key benefits include:

  • High in protein: Smoked salmon contains about 20 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving, supporting muscle growth and repair.
  • Rich in omega-3s, it provides high levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that are good for heart and brain health.
  • Vitamin D: Smoked salmon is one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption.
  • Selenium: This antioxidant mineral found in salmon may reduce cancer risk and boost immune function.
  • B Vitamins: It contains B vitamins like niacin, riboflavin, and B12 that help convert food into energy.

So smoked salmon makes for a nutritional powerhouse addition to your diet. The combo of protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients makes it a wise food choice.


Easy and Tender Smoked Salmon Recipe

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon may seem a bit mysterious if you’ve never cooked with it before. Here are answers to some common smoked salmon FAQs:

How long does smoked salmon last?

In the fridge, smoked salmon keeps for 1-2 weeks in vacuum-sealed packaging. When opened, it lasts 3-5 days. Frozen, smoked salmon lasts 2–3 months.

How do you know when smoked salmon has gone bad?

Signs of spoiled smoked salmon include an off-odor, slimy texture, or unnatural color changes. Discard if there are any signs of spoilage. When in doubt, throw it out.

Is smoked salmon cooked?

Hot smoked salmon is fully cooked during the smoking process. Cold smoked salmon is cured but remains raw, hence why it has a velvety texture. Always cook cold smoked salmon before eating.

How do you store leftover smoked salmon?

Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or store in a sealed container. Try to minimize air exposure. For longer storage, freeze leftover smoked salmon pieces in a freezer bag.

How long and at what temperature do you smoke salmon?

Hot smoke at 180°F until salmon reaches 145°F internally, usually around 2-4 hours. Cold smoking is done under 90°F for 12–24 hours after an initial 24-hour curing period.

What wood do you smoke salmon with?

Alder, hickory, apple, cherry, and maple all infuse great flavor. Mesquite can be overpowering. Use wood chips, chunks, or sawdust.

Is smoked salmon safe to eat during pregnancy?

Yes, as long as it’s high-quality and not at risk of listeria contamination. Opt for wild-caught salmon from a trusted source. Avoid deli-style packages.

Smoked Salmon Recipe Ideas

Here are just a few recipe ideas for how to use smoked salmon:

The possibilities are endless! Play around with both hot and cold smoked salmon recipes.


Smoked salmon recipes

Smoked Salmon

While store-bought smoked salmon is convenient, smoking fish at home yields incredibly rewarding results. Here is a step-by-step guide:
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Servings 6


  • 2-3 lbs. of fresh salmon fillets
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 cup of salt
  • Spices like dill, garlic, pepper, and lemon zest
  • Wood chips - alder, apple, hickory


  • Rinse the salmon and pat it dry.
  • Make brine by mixing brown sugar, salt, and spices in 1 gallon of water. Stir thoroughly until dissolved.
  • Submerge the fillets in brine. Refrigerate for 12–24 hours.
  • Rinse the fillets and pat them dry. Allow to air dry for 1 hour until tacky.
  • Prepare the smoker with wood chips. Heat to 150–180°F for hot smoke, or below 90°F for cold smoke.
  • Smoke salmon for 2–6 hours until opaque and flaky.
  • Slice thinly and serve! Refrigerate up to 1 week.



  • Look for wild-caught Pacific salmon for the best flavor and nutrition in smoked salmon.
  • Keep the brine ratio 1 cup salt to 1 cup sugar dissolved in 1 gallon of water Adjust other seasonings to taste.
  • Use cool-burning woods like alder or apple for a milder, smoky flavor.
  • Smoke for a shorter time if you prefer a delicate flavor, and longer for more intense smokiness.
  • Try mixing woods like apple and hickory for nuanced smoky notes.
  • Let the salmon rest for 5 minutes before slicing for clean cuts. Slice thinly against the grain.
  • Leftover smoked salmon makes amazing pizza, eggs, pasta, salads, and more all week!

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 0 / 5. Vote count: 0

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this post.