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Hot Smoked Salmon – ‘How to’ Guide

This Smoked Salmon-‘How to’ Guide is going to be your favorite smoked salmon recipe. A how to smoke salmon guide that makes a great smoked salmon fillet.

Smoked salmon fillet on a plate with seasonings, next to a mixed salad.

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Ever wonder what it takes to make Smoked Salmon? My husband bought a smoker a while ago and ever since we’ve been enjoying delicious homemade Smoked Salmon. With my smoked salmon recipe, you can enjoy freshly smoked salmon at the comfort of your own home.

The Smoker for Smoked Salmon Recipe?

We have this Smoker and we are pretty happy with it. It’s not too expensive and easy to use. You can probably use any smoker, but the instructions below are for this particular one.

My husband used to have a different smoker that had a dial to change temperatures, but he did not like that one as he couldn’t quite figure out what temperature is best for which cut of meat.

What we like about the smoker we have right now is that you just plug it into the outlet and whatever the temperature it’s set at, is good for both meat and fish, producing perfect smoked products every time.

Best Salmon for smoking

When picking out salmon in the store, look for salmon fillets with more fat, as it makes for a more moist and delicious smoked salmon.

Also, look for salmon fillet with the skin on, since that will make drying the fish a lot easier and create a natural barrier that will keep the fish from sticking to the surface while it is being smoked. 

Both wild and farm-raised are good for smoking but do keep in mind that wild salmon tends to be on the drier side.

Seasoned smoked salmon fillet on a plate with a salad.

How do you like to serve your Smoke Salmon?

Smoked Salmon can be served as the main course if you use less salt for brining it. If you use the recipe below, I like it best atop of toasted bread with cream cheese and shaved onions. I guess I eat smoked salmon the same way you would eat Lox.

What do you like to do?

Other Salmon Recipes to enjoy:



Smoked Salmon {How to Guide}

5 from 1 vote

This Smoked Salmon-'How to' Guide recipe is going to be your new favorite smoked salmon recipe. A how to smoke salmon guide, to make the best-smoked salmon fillet.

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: smoked salmon
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Servings: 8 servings


  • Salmon fillet boneless (skin on)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Seasoning of choice
  • 1 :1 ratio of medium-sized Cherry & Apple Wood Chips

Special Equipment

  • Smoker
  • Fan
  • Skewers


  1. Rinse salmon fillet under water, pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Make sure the salmon fillet is free from bones. Use sterilized pluckers to pick the bones out, if there are any.

  3. Cut the fish into even pieces (between 8 -16 oz each) - for faster curing & smoking, cut thicker part of the fillet into smaller pieces (about 3-4 inches in width for fillet closer to the head, and 5-6 inches width closer to the tail).

  4. Sprinkle salt, pepper and any other fish seasoning you like on both sides of the fish (fillet & skin side). Salt the fish as you would for roasting. Pan fry a small piece to check that there’s enough salt.
  5. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours, wrapped or in a closed container.
  6. Thread 3-4 pieces of fish on a skewer and hang between two raised pieces of wood (see picture for illustration), and set a baking dish underneath to catch any drippings.
  7. Set a fan in front of the fish, and blow dry it for 10-12 hours (preferably overnight, when the temperatures are lower), until the fish is dry to the touch and no longer sticky (this forms a pellicle film), this will help the smoke to adhere to the fish.

  8. Take the fish from the skewers and set it on the smoker racks, setting thicker fillets on the bottom racks and thinner (tail) on the top racks.
  9. Set the wood chips in the bowl, on the bottom of the smoker.
  10. Place the drip pan between the chips and the racks of fish. Close the smoker.

  11. Leave the fish to smoke for 5-6 hours, depending on the temperature outside. In the summer months, start checking for doneness after 5 hours. Change wood chips every 2 hours.

  12. Store refrigerated in a closed container for up to a week and a half, or vacuum seal and store for up to 2 months.

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Marina | Let the Baking Begin

Welcome to Let the Baking Begin! I'm Marina and my love and passion for eating only the most delicious foods drive me to share that love here on Let the Baking Begin (since 2009). With over 20 years of experience in the kitchen, you know the recipes are tested and retested until perfect. I'm so happy to have you here. Enjoy! Read more...

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  • Peggy

    smoke for 5-6 hrs? At what temp though? I don’t see it anywhere!

    · Reply
    • The smoker mentioned in the post doesn’t have a temperature setting, which is why I didn’t include the temperature.
      But, if you’re using an electric smoker, you can smoke it at 150 for about 1 – 1.5 hours, then increase the temp to 225F and smoke until the internal temp of the fish is 160F.

      · Reply
  • Mo

    At what temperature do you smoke?

    · Reply
    • The smoker I have does not have and used for this recipe does not have a temperature setting. But if you’re using a smoker with a temperature dial, you can smoke it at 225F until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145F.

      · Reply
  • Dad Life

    I have smoked many things but I always stayed away from smoking fish, but after reading your recipe and seeing how delicious it looks I am going to give it a try this next week.

    · Reply
  • Bob

    Before putting the salmon in the smoker it needs to air dry until a pellicle film forms. Otherwise, you end up with pools of fat like the ones in the picture. Clearly, you don’t have a clue about smoking fish.

    · Reply
    • Well Hi to you too :D,
      I think this might help you.

      Step 7 of the recipe:
      Set fan in front of the fish, and blow dry it for 10-12 hours (preferably overnight, when the temperatures are lower), until the fish is dry to the touch and no longer sticky, this will help the smoke to adhere to the fish.

      Just an FYI, the pellicle film is there to help the smoke adhere to the fish better, not to keep the fat inside. Also, the white stuff on the fish you referred to as “pools of fat” is actually albumin or the “fish juice” that contains fish protein, which coagulates when it rises to the top and hits the heat.

      · Reply
    • Jim smith

      Hey Bob,
      Read the damn article!! It clearly says to let the fish sit, preferably over night, with a fan blowing on it in order to form a pellicle on the fish. Clearly, you can’t read very well.

      · Reply
  • Tanya

    This may be a dumb question but what type of fan do you use? Like a hair blow dryer or a regular fan because you say blow dry until its dry so just want to clarify….

    · Reply
    • A regular fan that you would use to keep yourself cold in the summer 🙂

      · Reply
  • Brooke Schweers

    My partners dad just bought a smoker so I must go over and use it to make smoked salmon! It looks 100000000 times better then the smoked salmon you buy. Your husband is very lucky! 🙂

    · Reply
  • brewster

    try using a half and half mixture of sea salt and brown sugar for a cadied like smoked salmon….very good

    · Reply
    • Thanks for the idea! Unfortunately, my husband does not like savory foods with sugar that’s why I did not add any, but I like the idea of brown sugar, it definitely would put the salmon into the gourmet category!

      · Reply
  • Natasha of

    My goodness that looks incredible. I love the photo with the fork in it and the herbs over the top. Beautiful! Makes me wish I had a smoker!

    · Reply
    • Thanks Natasha! The photo you’re referring, almost didn’t make the cut, I changed my mind about excluding it at the last minute, I am glad I did 🙂

      · Reply

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