Smoked salmon

Smoked salmon

I make this using a dedicated smoker, but you can achieve the same thing by using a grill as a smoker. The key is keeping a constant low heat (150-160).

Any fatty fish does well in the smoker, so trout and mackerel also make good choices.

I prefer using lighter fruit woods to smoke fish. I don’t want the smoke to overpower the flavor of the fish.


  • Active prep: 15 minutes
  • Inactive Prep: 26 hours
  • Cooking: 3 hours


  • Any number of deboned fillets
  • Per-fillet cure:
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  • Mix cure ingredients together
  • Lay out a piece of aluminum foil long enough to cover a fillet (or two stacked)
  • Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the foil
  • Sprinkle cure on the plastic wrap
  • Lay a fillet, skin down on top of the plastic wrap
  • Sprinkle cure on the flesh side
  • Lay another fillet flesh side down on top of the first
  • Sprinkle more cure on top
  • Tightly wrap the plastic wrap around the fish
  • Tightly wrap the foil around the whole thing
  • Repeat for any additional fillets
  • Put foil-covered fish on a baking pan, or other container that can hold some fluid that will come out during the cure
  • Put another baking pan or board on top of the packets
  • Weigh down the whole thing with telephone books (finally, a use for them again!) or bricks, or something else heavy
  • Put the whole contraption in the fridge for 12 hours
  • Flip the foil packet(s)
  • Leave in the fridge for another 12 hours
  • Remove from fridge, unwrap, rinse off the cure, and pat fillets dry
  • Put the fillets on wire racks, in a cool, dry place for 1-2 hours, until a dry pellicle forms. You can speed up the drying process by using a fan
  • With a smoker pre-heated to 150 degrees, put fish in smoker
  • Cook until the thickest part of the fillet is 150 degrees
  • This should take about 3 hours, but varies based on how thick the fillets are, and other factors, so temp is the only sure-fire way to know when it’s done

Note, I’ve read and tried a bunch of different methods, low for 2 hours, then turn up to 200. Cooking at 225. This method is based on Alton Brown’s recipe, and after making it many times this way, it’s my favorite. I use 1/2 the sugar Alton recommends, as I prefer the resulting taste to be less sweet.