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How to Smoke Salmon + How-To Video

Learn how to smoke salmon on any smoker with this recipe and video tutorial! Smoked salmon is fantastic for brunch or as a party appetizer.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Drying Time4 hrs
Total Time9 hrs
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to smoke salmon, salmon recipes, smoked salmon
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 159kcal


  • 3 lb skin-on salmon brined (See Note 1)


  • After brining for 8 hours remove salmon from brine solution, shake off excess and place salmon on a rack to drain (See Note 1).
  • Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet in front of a fan or in a well ventilated area to dry and develop a pellicle (shiny, tacky skin). Alternatively, leave salmon uncovered in the refrigerator to create a pellicle. (See Note 2)
  • Cut the salmon filet horizontally into thirds for easier handling and transfer pieces to a smoking rack sprayed with oil to prevent sticking. Note: If the filet doesn't have a pellicle, place the brined salmon on aluminum foil about the size of the fish to keep the smoke moving around the fish.

Gas Grill/Smoker (w/soaked wood chips)

  • Add 1 inch of water to the water tray (or follow directions for your smoker). Add soaked alder wood chips to internal smoker box (see Note 3) and smoke salmon for 4-6 hours, depending on thickness.
    On my gas grill I start the temp at 100°F for 2 hours, then 140°F for 2 hours and finally 175°F for the final 1.5-2 hours. Feel free to baste with the brine mixture each time you bump up the heat if you like. Smoke until fish reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.

Pellet Smoker

  • On a pellet smoker grill: because my Traeger pellet grill/smoker doesn't go lower than 165°F, I smoke for 4.5-5 hours (depending on thickness) and it comes out beautifully. Most filets I use are 3/4" to 1-inch in height in thickest part. As with everything, times may vary, so check periodically. Smoke until fish reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Feel free to baste with brine mixture each time you bump up the heat if you like.
  • After removing smoked salmon from the smoker, allow it to rest on a cooling rack for an hour. Serve immediately or cool slightly, then refrigerate until ready to serve. Refrigerate wrapped in plastic wrap or a container and use within 8-10 days or freeze.



  1. Use my recipe for smoked salmon brine or your own salmon brine recipe.
  2. The pellicle creates a sticky surface on the fish for the smoke to adhere to.  This step takes about 4 hours and is vital for properly smoked salmon.
  3. Put 1 to 1 1/2 cups of wood chips in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak at least 30 minutes. Drain and put them in an internal smoker box, in an aluminum loaf pan or even a bowl made out of tin foil. When ready to smoke, put the wood chip container on rack over hottest part of smoker/grill. Read more about this in my post on Smoker boxes and wood chips for smoking.


Serving: 102g | Calories: 159kcal | Protein: 25g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 1067mg | Potassium: 238mg | Vitamin A: 118IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg