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Try The Easy Way For Smoking Salmon & I'll Include A Couple of Recipes Too

Updated on May 12, 2015

Have You Ever Wanted To Try Smoking Salmon But Thought It Was Too Hard?

Try the easy way for smoking salmon I'll even throw in a couple of recipe's. But first, some simple facts:

Salmon--in any form is good for you. The vitamin richness of the average portion of Smoked Salmon provides more than half of the recommended daily allowance of protein.

Salmon contains vitamin A, B and carotenoids, (which are good for a long and healthy life). On top of that, salmon also contains niacin and vitamin D which helps the body to absorb calcium. No, this doesn't mean you can skip your milk.

There are Good Fats and Bad Fats:

Today, with all the talk about trans fats, saturated fats and fats of any and all kinds, really has everyone worried about what is good for you and what's not.

Well, here's a 'Fat' fact: Smoked Salmon contains less saturated fat than an equal portion of most any other meat or poultry. It's also a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Omega-3's)


Smoked Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids and they are the ones most closely associated with reducing heart disease. They do so by inhibiting the onset of any inflammatory diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids are NOT contained in any other meat in any significant degree and only in a few select seafood products.

Don't Have A Smoker? - Here's how to convert an old propane BBQ into a smoker

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Charcoal only on one sideOnce the coals are burning, place the tray of chips and chunks over themCover the chips with vented cover, the empty pan on the right is for the salmon
Charcoal only on one side
Charcoal only on one side | Source
Once the coals are burning, place the tray of chips and chunks over them
Once the coals are burning, place the tray of chips and chunks over them | Source
Cover the chips with vented cover, the empty pan on the right is for the salmon
Cover the chips with vented cover, the empty pan on the right is for the salmon | Source
Weber 6416  Large Aluminum Drip Pans, 10-Pack
Weber 6416 Large Aluminum Drip Pans, 10-Pack

These are the pans I use, I use them over and over until they give out and then I use them one more time, I have found these pans to be the safest way to control the wood chips in my smoker or BBQ.

My Evaluation: I use a second pan to hold the meat. At this price, that's just over 50 cents a pan. Buy 'em, use 'em.


Setting up a smoker to try your hand at smoking salmon is simple and cheap

If you don't have a smoker

I use an old propane grill that I have removed the burned out gas element from. I have covered and sealed the bottom (where all of the inlet holes were) using foil and metal clips sealed with high temp sealant. (a couple of dollars at any automotive store)

Once the bottom is sealed, all you need now, is two disposable aluminum pans, some wood chips/chunks and Kingsford Charcoal.

Build a layer of charcoal only on the left side (see my pictures above) of the BBQ. When you light the charcoal, don't use lighter fluid, it leaves an odor, (use an electric starter) Once going, put the grill back in place and set the pre-soaked Applewood chips and chunks (in their disposable pan) over those coals and close the lid of the BBQ. Allow the chips to start smoking and for the temp to build to 150 F.

Wood Choice:

Wood choice DOES matter. For salmon, I find Mesquite too harsh of a smoke, so I use Applewood as it's a mild sweet wood that gives a great flavor to the Salmon. (If unable to find Applewood, use Pecan) However, feel free to use any wood of your choice.

Wood Chips Preparation

Prepare the smoking chips by soaking them in water for 30 minutes prior to using. After30 minutes, drain the water. Place four or five of the chunks (do not soak these) in the bottom of your aluminum pan, and surround them with the pre-soaked chips. The combination of chips and chunks allow for the chips to slow start the chunks so they (the chunks) simmer for a longer smoke.

The longer the smoke time, the better the flavor and taste.

Preparation and Brinning - The stuff you need, all in one place

A CampingmanNW Tip: When ordering items through Amazon, consolidate your orders to obtain free shipping. After all, it's not about being cheap, it's about shopping smart

Weber 17004 Apple Wood Chips, 3-Pound
Weber 17004 Apple Wood Chips, 3-Pound

These are the Applewood chips I spoke of and use. They provide a nice smooth taste for salmon without over riding the salmon flavor like a Mesquite wood.

My Evaluation You can buy wood chips in any supermarket, but if you want consistency throughout the bag? Buy the weber chips for that sweet smoky flavor

Weber 17005 Apple Wood Chunks, 5-Pound
Weber 17005 Apple Wood Chunks, 5-Pound

These are the 'chunks' I spoke of. The reason to use chunks is, to control the wood smoke flavoring. I use the ships pre-soaked in water as a base and then place the un-soaked wood chunks in for a nice slow even smoke.

My Evaluation: Weber chips and chunks are the best I have found for salmon because of their consistency of flavor.


Ready To Try Hot Smoking A Salmon Fillet?

Before trying to smoke salmon, there are some simple preparations to be done with the salmon which involve a process called 'Brinning.' It sounds scary but is really quite easy just follow along.

Before smoking:

Your salmon must be cured using a process called Brinning. A process wherein various seasonings are mixed together and then used to coat the salmon to add flavor. The proteins in the fish are modified by this as the ingredients in the seasonings generally contain salt and/or sugar. Both of which enable the flesh of the salmon to hold moisture better than it would if not brined. They also add to the moistness of the salmon during smoking which in itself extends the freshness of the smoked fish. Hot smoking is done at temperatures of no more than 200 degrees F.

Brinning Ingredients:

( 2 ) cups Brown sugar:

(1/2) cup of Kosher salt: NOTE: Do Not use table salt

( 1 ) Tablespoon of Black pepper

( 1 ) Can of beer, citrus drinks or pineapple juice can be substituted


Mix the ingredients in a flat bottom pan.(I use an old Tupperware serving dish) Coat the salmon in the mix completely. Depending upon how much salmon is being smoked, more dry brine can be mixed and added as necessary. The brine must coat the pieces of salmon completely. If smoking more than one fillet, the fillets can be layered but coat them thoroughly in between each layer. When finished, cover the container and put in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours. This will allow the brine to get all through the salmon. At the end of the time, remove from the refrigerator and rinse each piece of fish under cold, cold water. (Yes really cold.)

When finished place them on a drying rack for a couple of hours.

(I use a cookie sheet with paper towels underneath.)

Now you are ready to try your hand at Smoking Salmon The Easy Way

Once The Smoker Is At Temperature

And the wood chips are smoking

Place your salmon pan on the right:

Squeeze a bit of lemon juice in the pan, add a couple pats of butter, some garlic and then place the salmon (skin side down) in the pan. If the grill is at 150 F, place the pan with the fish on the non charcoal side of the grill. The indirect heat method will do great. .

Look at that great smoky brown color

Temperature of 150 F:

I keep the smoker temp low during the first hour, (150 degrees F or there abouts).so that the fish has time to absorb the smoke flavor from the wood. After the first hour, I add more charcoal under the wood chips to bring the inside Smoker temp to about 200 F for the last hour. Salmon is done once the internal temp (on the fattest part of the fillet) reaches 140, but remember, it continues to cook after it's removed from the heat .

Total smoking time?

That is up to each person. For me? The longer I leave my salmon in my smoker, the smokier the taste. But I want to insert a word of caution here, never allow the salmon to dry out. The salmon is ready when the thickest part of the fish reaches 140-145 degrees F. This takes about an hour and a half to two hours.

One final tip:

Before the smoked salmon is done (say, in the last five minutes of your smoking time)? Brush a light glaze of honey on the surface side (the side of the salmon facing up). Once the smoking is completed, remove the salmon from your pan, remove the skin with a spatula) and coat the salmon all over with honey. Place it on a pre-greased cookie sheet and put in the oven for another 10 minutes to give it a sweet glaze. Smoking salmon is something that once you do it, you are hooked

The recipe's I promised, can be found below.

Thanks for reading and I'll see you on the trail: CampingmanNW

Taylor Precision Products Classic Instant Read Pocket Thermometer
Taylor Precision Products Classic Instant Read Pocket Thermometer

The Taylor Insta-Read pocket thermometer comes with it's own case. Is dependable and simple to read. I've had mine for years.

My Evaluation: Having a dependable and accurate meat thermometer is a necessity that doesn't mean it has to be expensive. Buy one.


Smoker Cookers - Charcoal and propane

Here's a couple of the most popular on the market today

Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black
Weber 721001 Smokey Mountain Cooker 18-Inch Charcoal Smoker, Black

The Weber name alone is a highly recognizable name in BBQ Grills and smokers. The Smokey Mountain Cooker is less expensive than most any of it's competitors. Everyone likes a good bargain right? Well, I ordered mine two days ago and I will write an update after I've used it.


As promised, I have completed my first batch of smoked fish in my new smoker and it worked great. I followed the instructions for breaking it in: I burned a couple loads of charcoal through it (helped burn off any residues from the factory and I let my water pan run dry. For my first test run, I smoked a brisket to build up a little grease around the lid (helps with the seal) My first batch of fish came out great Thank you Weber!!!

Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36" Vertical LP Gas Smoker
Dyna-Glo DGY784BDP 36" Vertical LP Gas Smoker

The Dyna-Glo is slowly making inroads into the smoker market and getting consistent reviews about how well it holds temperatures and for it's smoking abilities.

Evaluation: Makes the point, high price does not always = quality. For a propane smoker, it's a really fair price with free shipping. Buy one.


Remember when I said I would include a couple of recipe's?

Well, here are three but if you want more recipe's, just Google 'Salmon Dip's' and about a gazillion recipe's will appear.

Old Reliable Salmon Dip

(1/2) Cup Cottage Cheese

(1/2) Cup of Sour Cream

(1/2) Cup of Plain Yogurt

( 1 ) Smoked Salmon fillet (about 8 oz. is best)


In large bowl, combine all ingredients (except the salmon) and stir until smooth. I add my salmon last, because I want a chunky dip (Something I learned from my Grandmother) For a smoother dip, break the salmon fillets into smaller pieces and fold it in with the rest of the ingredients, stirring until smooth. If you want the salmon completely folded in, blend the above ingredients. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour (I like the consistency to be kinda thick) before serving. Serve with your favorite dippers: chips, crackers, baby carrots, celery and the like. This is an easy and great tasting dip.

Northwest Smoked Salmon Dip

A recipe by: Alaska Smokehouse

( 1 ) Package (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened

( 1 ) Cup heavy cream

( 1 ) Green onion, thinly sliced

( 2 ) Teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

( 4 ) ounces Smoked Salmon (chunks)

( 1 ) Ripe avocado, (peeled, cored and mashed)

A dash red pepper sauce for zest


In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and heavy cream together until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the onion, lemon juice, and red pepper sauce. Mix in the smoked salmon and mashed avocado last, being careful not to mix too much. You want to just blend the salmon and the avocado into the rest of the ingredients

And Finally

Spinach Salad w/Smoked Salmon:

A modified recipe from Good Housekeeping

(serves four)

( 1 ) smoked salmon fillet broken into small pieces (6-8 oz. is best)

( 3 ) tablespoons of Lemon Juice

( 3 ) tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

( 2 ) celery stalks sliced thinly

( 2 ) tablespoons of snipped fresh chives

( 2 ) tablespoons of fresh parsley leaves, chopped fine

( 1 ) teaspoon of Dijon Mustard

(1/4) teaspoon of salt

( 1 ) ripe peeled Avocado, pitted and sliced thinly

( 1 ) package of baby spinach (5 oz.)

( 1 ) medium red bell pepper sliced thinly

( 1 ) can of red kidney beans (15 oz rinsed and drained)

A pinch of Red Cayenne Pepper (fine ground)


In a blender, combine lemon juice,oil,mustard, half of the avocado, cayenne pepper and salt. Blend until smooth, scraping sides of blender often and add parsley and chives and set aside. In a large bowl, toss baby spinach, celery, pepper, beans and smoked salmon fillet broken into small chunks. Once everything coated and blended, add contents from blender and fold all together. Divide equally on four serving plates and place remaining avocado slices equally on top of each.

Do you have any smoked salmon recipes of your own to share? - Feel free to leave a comment

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    • CampingmanNW profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago idea born out of ingenuity no doubt. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My mouth is now watering after looking at those pictures. I have not really smoked anything but I noted your homemade pan as my husband does that, too.


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