November 22, 2021

Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon

Smoked salmon is one of the best dishes for family style meals or gatherings! It's great when you want to have a "fancier" dish but still something that is light as an appetizer or pairs well with other dishes you plan on having.

We love smoking salmon because the amounts of healthy fat it contains allows it to be great for smoking which helps keep the salmon moist while being smoked. When smoked, the salmon has a delicate texture with a salty and smoky flavor. Think of it as a super tender salmon jerky.

Origins of smoking fish

This particular preparation of smoking fish has been done for hundreds of years and many attribute its origin dating back to the vikings. When vikings, or any nordic fishermen would catch fish, they had to have a way of preserving the fish for their travels but obviously, refrigeration was not a thing, so they would dig holes in the sand and bury the fish and then, after returning from their travels, they would unearth the fish, rinse off the sand and cook it, often times over an open fire (smoke.)

By burying the fish, they were essentially curing it. The natural salts and minerals in the sand would penetrate into the flesh of the fish and do exactly what we are during with our salt/sugar cure. Without moisture, bacteria, which spoils the fish, cannot grow, so by removing the moisture, you eliminate the means for the fish to spoil and, as a result, preserve it.

Ingredients for smoked salmon

Another thing we love about smoked salmon is that you really only need 6 ingredients and aside from the salmon and dill, most of them you probably already have them in your kitchen! Here's your grocery list:

  • Salmon (deboned, skin on)
  • Salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Fresh dill
  • Lemon
  • Garlic confit (optional)
  • Tips on making smoked salmon

Tips for making smoked salmon

Smoked salmon might seem a bit intimidating to make at first but it's a pretty straight forward process as long as you allow enough time for curing and smoking. This is a recipe you'll want to make in advance!

  • Remove the surface moisture: We do this by putting it in a short cure of a combination of 2 parts salt to one part sugar. The reason we use both salt and sugar in our cure is because the salt pulls the moisture out of the fish, while evenly seasoning the fish, while the sugar dissolves into the fish and absorbs the moisture.  Basically the sugar seeps in, absorbs some of the moisture, and then retains it within the salmon, making sure that the salt only pulls out the excess moisture.
  • Cure for about 40 hours: This allows for enough time for the cure to penetrate which helps in the flavoring and moisture retention as we noted above.  
  • Add flavorings and aromatics: During the curing process, we like to add a few flavorings and aromatics to the surface of the salmon. Our favorites are dill, freshly cracked pepper and fresh lemon zest but you can basically use any ingredients you like to enjoy with salmon.
  • Tightly wrap with plastic: After applying the cure, we wrap the side of the salmon tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge for 40 hours to allow the salt and sugar to penetrate.
  • Pat the salmon dry after it's been cured: Patting it dry and allowing it to additionally dry out for about 6-8 hours on a rack, uncovered in your fridge, will allow the salmon to develop a sticky layer on the flesh called the pellicle. The pellicle is important because it creates a surface for the smoke to adhere to, allowing you to develop that beautiful color referred to as the smoke ring.
  • Don't set your smoker temperate hotter than 225 F: It is important to be gentle with the cooking temperature at this point because if the smoker gets too hot the salmon may overcook and become tough and dry. The salmon will tell you when it is ready because the albumin, or little globs of white proteins, will form on the surface. I typically continue cooking for 5-10 minutes after I see the albumin initially form. Don’t worry, the albumin is perfectly safe to eat. After cooking, simply refrigerate until serving.

Serving the smoked slamon

We love to serve the smoked salmon as a whole side on a platter with crackers, capers, horseradish and various other accompaniments as a “build your own sandwich” type of thing but you can use it as anything from a addition to a chowder or a topping to a bagel.

This one is always a crowd pleaser!

Cheers and eat well!

Smoked Salmon

This smoked salmon complemented with lemon and dill is perfectly tender and flavorful! It’s great served with some crackers, red onions and capers or really, it can also be enjoyed on its own. It's that amazing!















  • 1 side of salmon (2.5-3 pounds)(deboned, skin on)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • The zest of 1 lemon


  1. Create the “cure” by mixing the sugar and salt together to evenly distribute.
  2. Take the side of salmon, deboned and skin on, and pat it dry with a paper towel and place it into a large container with the skin side down.
  3. Liberally season the flesh of the salmon, patting the flesh to ensure the “cure” sticks to the salmon.
  4. Crack the pepper onto the salmon to evenly distribute along the side.
  5. Zest the lemons and press parts of the zest on to the side.
  6. Pick large pieces of the dill and distribute them amongst the salmon.
  7. Take the side of salmon and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap so that the whole side is completely compressed and air tight. Repeat the process 2-3 times to ensure the salmon is tight and no liquid will seep out.
  8. Refrigerate for about 40 hours.
  9. After 40 hours have passed, remove the salmon from your fridge, open the plastic wrap, and gently transfer the salmon to your sink. Remove the lemon zest and dill and gently rinse the flesh of the salmon with cold water (you want to wash off the salt and sugar mixture remaining).
  10. After rinsing, pat the salmon dry and transfer it to a container to refrigerate, uncovered, for 6-8 hours.
  11. Once the 6-8 hours have passed, remove the salmon from the fridge and fire up your smoker to approximately 250 F.
  12. Once the smoker is rolling with smoke, transfer the salmon to your smoker racks that have been sprayed or oiled.
  13. Smoke the salmon at 250 F for 30-40 minutes or until it turns a pale pink color and you see little spots of white protein seeping out.
  14. Remove the salmon from the smoker and chill before serving.


Thanks for contributing to our community! Your comment will appear shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
August 16, 2021
Rocio Rauda
Best watermelon salad recipe ever!