A Newbie’s Guide to Making Smoked Salmon (Even if You Don’t Have a Smoker)


Cooking + Recipes

Leave the Cold Smoked Salmon to Us, and Become an Expert on the Other Varieties

It’s true, we’ve got exactly what you want for your Cold Smoked Salmon needs. But that doesn’t mean we’re not always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy smoked salmon’s tantalizing and fire-kissed flavor. Whether you have access to a humble home kitchen or state-of-the-art appliances, smoked wild salmon done right is nothing short of umami bliss. And there are ways to achieve that effect, even without a smoker.

Smoked Salmon at Home

Those of you who aspire to make your own nova should temper your home cook brunch fantasies right now: The cold-smoking process is highly specialized and is best left to experts who know exactly how to control the conditions so that the salmon is safe to eat. Fortunately, you can get your fix of cold-smoked salmon with a package of our Cold Smoked Sockeye Salmon

Hot-smoked salmon, on the other hand, is something that we highly encourage ambitious home cooks to try out. Read through this recipe from The Kitchn for a step-by-step breakdown of the hot-smoking process. Nothing about the hot-smoking process is particularly difficult, but it is definitely a multi-step commitment that will require you to check in from time to time. Smokers will also run you anywhere between $100-200 for a solid model. The entire hot-smoking process takes a day or two to complete — start it on a Saturday afternoon and it’ll be ready by lunchtime on Sunday — but it’s well worth the investment of time, transforming into mouthwateringly tender, perfectly seasoned, and masterfully smoked fillets.

Making Smoked Salmon… without a Smoker

Don’t have a smoker? No problem. Grilling salmon on a cedar plank or over wood chips is something that gives your salmon a good dose of smoke without requiring you to own any special smoking appliances. A grill can support smoky conditions sufficient for flavoring your meal, if not preserving it. Smoking your salmon on a standard barbecue grill is so easy and doable that even the most skittish or lazy cooks will feel comfortable trying it out; it doesn’t require any fuss over temperature control.

This recipe from the Food Network is a straightforward way to achieve smoky deliciousness on the barbecue; essentially, you’re just grilling a fillet of salmon at a relatively low temperature — aim for about 20 minutes at 250 degrees F — over the presence of wood that produces aromatic smoke. Think cherry, apple, or even hickory wood to complement wild salmon without overpowering its natural richness. And use your judgment on the amount salt, because some recipe testers found it too much for their tastes, while others found it just right!

“Smoking” Salmon Indoors

For indoor cooking methods, you can still achieve the smoked flavor effect with the help of an ingredient called “liquid smoke,” which is essentially smoke distilled into a portable and stable liquid form. As an ingredient, liquid smoke can eliminate the need for you to do any real smoking at all, allowing you to prepare an umami-rich fillet without having to own an actual smoker — and, as a bonus, in just a fraction of the time.  

For a low-maintenance approach to faux-smoked salmon, try this recipe for wild salmon jerky from Jerkyholic. Using just a dehydrator (or even the lowest setting on your oven), dry out your fillets of Wild Alaskan salmon to then marinate in a liquid smoke-enhanced brine. That will get you a batch of salmon jerky that tastes like it’s been preserved over a crackling fire. The final product, when completely dry, will be shelf stable and ready to pack for hikes or to stash in your desk at work. That said, salmon jerky will last longer and maintain a better texture if you can store it in an airtight container in your fridge. Pro tip: Using Wild Alaskan salmon is the key to great jerky as it is much lower in fat content than its farmed counterpart, making it an ideal choice for jerky since leaner meats preserve better.

And finally, sweet and salty salmon candy fans can get their smoke on with this recipe from the Cooking Channel, which uses liquid smoke in its maple-soy-brown sugar glaze and results in an addictive, jerky-like treat with a shorter shelf life. 

Now that you have somewhere to start, we hope your passion to smoke salmon at home has been set ablaze. 

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