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How to Hot Smoke Salmon

Updated on December 5, 2012

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5 stars from 2 ratings of Smoked Salmon

A Native Treat!

Hot Smoked Salmon is a Native American treat that is enjoyed throughout the Pacific Northwest. Prized for its ability to absorb the smoke and it's native abundance, Hot Smoked Salmon is a much sought after delicacy!

Hot Smoked Salmon

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 hours
Cook time: 4 hours
Ready in: 19 hours
Yields: Varies


  • 2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 1 Cup Table Salt
  • 3 Gallons Fresh Cold Water
  • 3 Whole Salmon Filets


  1. Wash and thoroughly sterilize 5 gallon bucket. Any appropriate food container that can hold 3 filets and 3 gallons of water will work.
  2. Fill bucket with water and add the salt. Stir salt until completely dissolved. Using a mix of salt allows for the best flavor. Kosher Salt is much more mild that Table Salt and doesn't have quite the "bite". Mixing the two salts allows for a saltier flavor without it overpowering the salmon. Many chefs will add various other flavors to the salmon, especially various sugars. This is purely a matter of taste and contrary to popular belief the salmon will still form a nice crust without it.
  3. Cut Salmon filets in half and place the 6 half filets in the water. Place something clean and heavy on top of them to hold them under water. Add approximately 1 tray of ice to keep the brine between 35 and 40 degrees. Cover container or bucket and let stand for 3 hours, which will be enough time to thoroughly infuse the meat.
  4. Place 3-4 layers of paper towel in a refrigerator or chilled cooler. Spray smoker racks with non stick spray. Remove half filets of salmon from the brine and rinse them off gently under cold running water. Standing brine left on the salmon will cause unsightly and overly salty deposits on finished product. Let most water run off the salmon and arrange on smoking racks. Place racks on top of the paper towel in refrigerator or cold chest. Allow filets to set for a minimum of 12 hours. This is when your crust will start to form and you will notice a nice shiny look to the meat when its ready to smoke in 12 hours.
  5. Place racks into heavily smoking smoker at 225 degrees for approximately 3-4 hours or until meat is flaky and has a nice browned crust. Ensuring the meat is put into a high smoke environment allows it to get the best flavor due to most smoke flavor being imparted in the first 60 minutes of smoking. For a traditional smoke, Alder chips should be used.
  6. Remove finished salmon. Eating your salmon hot will impart a salty, slightly smokey flavor to the fish that has to be sampled to be believed. Allowing the salmon to chill for 12+ hours will allow the smoke to work through the meat and become much more pronounced and can be enjoyed by itself, on bagels or crackers, or mixed with cream cheese and chives to create a delicious salmon dip.


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