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Cold Smoked Salmon Recipe (Without a Smoker)

Cold Smoked Salmon marries sweet fish with an irresistible smokey, salty brine mixture. Learn how to smoke salmon at home, with no smoker! Whether you enjoy it with bagels or blinis for brunch, or as a satisfying dinner, this is one of my favorite smoked salmon recipes ever.

A few of my other favorite ways to enjoy salmon include cured salmon, my one-pan potato, asparagus and salmon recipe, and cheesy crusted salmon bake.

Cold Smoked salmon with capers and fresh dill picked up with a fork.

Smoked salmon is a hit with my entire family—my children hardly know they are eagerly consuming fish, thanks to the rich, smokey flavor. This homemade salmon is coated in a rub that is easily adjustable. You can make the fish taste more sweet or salty (or both!).

This is also one of the best salmon recipes to make during the hottest parts of summer since no oven or smoker is needed. The salmon is a no-cook meal that is both refreshing and satisfying.

Smoked Salmon served with blinis on a plate.

Is it Healthy to Eat Smoked Salmon?

Salmon is one of the healthiest meats you can consume. It is filled with high-quality protein, potassium, selenium and the energy-building vitamin B-12. The high Omega-3 fatty acid content in salmon is also essential in building and sustaining healthy brain function, joint function and the reduction of inflammation.

Smoked salmon recipes tend to have a higher sodium content thanks to the brine ingredients that give it that rich, smokey flavor. However, those who are sodium-sensitive can also enjoy eating this recipe, as the sodium levels can be adjusted up and down.

Smoked salmon with fresh lemon and dill, onions and bagel slices.

Are Smoked Salmon Recipes Cooked or Raw?

There are two ways to make smoked salmon recipes. One method involves using a smoker (like in this recipe) to get that perfect smokey flavor.

The second method involves using a salty brine to draw out the moisture in the fish. The fish sits in the brine for 24 hours to help kill potentially harmful bacteria. It is not cooked after but should be safe to consume. Because it is not cooked, it’s important to buy the highest quality salmon fillet possible, or better yet – sushi grade.

Smoked Salmon on a bagel with cream cheeses, onions, cucumbers and radishes.

What is the Best Way to Eat Smoked Salmon?

Once you discover how to smoke salmon with this easy recipe, there are so many ways you can enjoy it. Here is a sampling of the many ways you can devour this easy salmon recipe:

  • Eat it with homemade bagels and cream cheese.
  • Top a creamy soup with it for extra flavor.
  • Make a tart for a brunch treat.
  • Try your hand at DIY sushi.
  • Serve it as part of an appetizer tray along with fresh cut fruits and veggies.
  • Make a sandwich with cucumber and smashed avocado.
  • Use it to top off a salad along with fresh dill and lemon dressing.

Smoked salmon recipes - this is shown with salmon, bagels, capers, onions, lemons and radish.

How to Smoke Salmon in This No Smoker Easy Recipe

This simple recipe has two parts, and each is vital to the success of the recipe. First, you must choose the freshest, best quality, previously frozen salmon fillets you can find—and make sure they are boneless to make things easy for yourself.

Secondly, you will need to create the perfect brine to complement the fish. Smoked salmon recipes each have a different brine, but this one is definitely easy. Simply combine three ingredients, and lay the fish into the brine. Coat it with more brine on top, seal it up and wait 24 hours, then enjoy.

smoked salmon with fresh dill and capers

How Long Does Smoked Salmon Last?

If properly brined, this recipe will last about five days in the fridge. It is important to note that while many websites will argue smoked salmon can last 2 weeks or longer, that is only the case if the environment and brine were completely sanitary. Personally, this recipe has never lasted more than 2-3 days without being consumed.

Can you freeze smoked salmon recipes?

This salmon can be frozen after making it. If you choose to do this, it is best to consume frozen salmon within 3 months for the most optimal flavor.

Want more seafood? Try these favorites

Smoked Salmon Without a Smoker

4.86 from 21 votes

Learn the trick to make homemade cold smoked salmon at home with an irresistible smokey, salty brine mixture—no smoker required.

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cured salmon, lox, smoked salmon
Calories: 368 kcal
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 10 minutes
Servings: 2 servings


Smoked Salmon Ingredients

  • 8 oz salmon fillet boneless,

Dry Rub Ingredients


How to Make Cold Smoked Salmon

Make the Dry Rub

  1. Combine the salt, sugar, liquid smoke and mix it well for the liquid smoke to be evenly distributed all throughout. 

Cover the Salmon in Dry Rub

  1. Line a small container with plastic wrap. Place half the dry rub on the bottom, then place the salmon piece on top. Add the second half of the dry rub and move it around to completely cover the salmon. 

  2. Gather all ends of the plastic wrap and twist so that the salmon and the salt are completely encased. You want the twist to be tight, so that once the salt and sugar liquify, they do not leak out. 

  3. Cover the container with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours. Trim off a piece of the salmon and decide if the salmon is salty enough for your liking. 

    If it is, remove the salmon from the brine, pat dry and refrigerate in a clean container. 

How to Cut the Smoked Salmon

  1. Freeze the salmon for about 30 minutes, to make it easier to cut. 
    Now, using a sharp fillet knife cut it into thin strips, against the grain. 

Recipe Notes

How to make the Smoked Salmon less salty?

If you have kept the salmon in the brine too long and it became too salty to your liking, simply submerge the fish in some boiled, then cooled water for 30+ minutes until it is at the desired level of saltiness.

Nutrition Facts
Smoked Salmon Without a Smoker
Amount Per Serving
Calories 368 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 124mg41%
Sodium 7080mg308%
Potassium 1111mg32%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 45g90%
Vitamin A 90IU2%
Calcium 27mg3%
Iron 1.8mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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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  • Olen Soifer

    Marina…Here are some spices I add to my salmon…in addition to the salt & sugar…when making “smoked salmon” similar to your recipe. The result is a combination of lox, gravlox, spiced lox, etc:

    Allspice, bay-leaf, beet-root powder & dried dill leaf (if no fresh dill is on hand). Adding some chopped scallions, sometimes, too. The beet-root powder adds little or no flavor…but it only penetrates a bit. I end up with very pretty bi-color, red & orange, salmon when I slice it!

    BTW, I hate dealing with some spices that don’t soften when cooked, and are also difficult to grind to a real powder in a home grinder. So, I buy these pre-ground. Not easy to find locally, up available online. This applies particularly to bay leaves & dried rosemary. (I do keep some whole bay leaves on hand…but just for putting in jars of rice or pasta in the pantry…work well to keep away larder beetles!)

    · Reply
  • Rhyce

    I didn’t really know how to rate the recipe because I don’t know what caused my dubious results :’(
    I followed the recipe except for adding slightly more liquid smoke, but after 24 hours my salmon is rubbery and tasted over salted, almost as if I was trying for salt cure salmon jerky instead of smoked. Do you know why it would turn out that way?? I hope you’re able to help me, because I was really excited for this to turn out and would like to try again later if possible :’)

    · Reply
    • HI Rhyce,
      You can reduce the saltiness of your salmon by keeping it submerged in filtered water until it’s desired saltiness. Depending on the thickness of your salmon it will absorb more or less salt. Also, using wild salmon, which is dryer and lower in fat content will result in more rubbery end result than using farm raised and high fat salmon.
      The salt not only seasons it but also draws moisture out, which is what causes the “rubberiness”.

      So, as I mentioned, keep the salmon submerged in water until enough salt draws out to make it desired saltiness. Next time you make this recipe, you can keep the fish in salt for less time to make it less salty.

      · Reply
  • Tanya

    Looks very yummy. Marina, what are those green things are? And where do you buy it? Thank you

    · Reply
    • Daniella

      Tanya, those are capers. You can find them in the pickle section of your grocery store

      · Reply
  • Margaret Stevenson

    In the bit above under the banner “ How to Smoke Salmon in This No Smoker Easy Recipe”, the second sentence states “ First you must choose the freshest, best quality, previously frozen salmon fillets you can find…….” Did you mean “ previously frozen” or did you mean “ previously UNfrozen”?

    Look forward to your reply, thanks

    · Reply
    • Hi Margaret,
      The post is correct – previously frozen salmon is what you need. When the salmon is commercially frozen to low temperatures, all possible parasites and such are no longer something you need to worry about. I would avoid using fresh, never frozen salmon.

      · Reply
      • Margaret Stevenson

        Thanks for your prompt response

        · Reply
  • Tatyana

    What an awesome recipe, thank you! I added dry dill to the sugar and salt mix. Also, added a lot more liquid smoke. Delicious!

    · Reply
  • Kevin M

    I accidentally left my salmon in the brine mixture for 3 days. It’s only a small piece as it’s my first time doing this and testing it out. Would you say it’s still good or should I toss it?

    · Reply
    • Taste it, if it’s too salty put it into clean (unsalted) water until the saltiness of the salmon is to your liking. Don’t toss it 🙂

      · Reply
  • Miss Samshu N Sivani

    I want to buy non smoke salmon ready to eat

    · Reply
  • Kim

    How do you deal with the salmon skin? Do you take it off before or after curing?

    · Reply
  • Ali

    Hi, I want to try this but I was wondering what kind of liquid smoke do you use, or which is best to use in this recipe? I’m trying this first time, so I really have no idea. Thanks

    · Reply
  • Tanya

    Marinka, thank you so much for sharing this recipe!! My whole family loved it and daughter thought that it is from Costco!! It is amazing on sandwich with tea!! Let those recipes coming! Be blessed!

    · Reply
  • Holly

    So is this salmon raw when you eat it seeing it is not smoked in a smoker?

    · Reply
    • Jaxon Berg

      The salmon is not cooked. However, the brine will kill any harmful bacteria as long as you follow the recipe.

      · Reply
  • Olga

    Hi Marina, can I double the brine if my salmon is a whole pound? Or is it best to divid and work with an 8 oz piece?

    · Reply
    • Hi Olga, you can multiply this recipe as many times as it needs to be. And you can cut the pieces smaller, or leave one large one.

      · Reply
  • Carmen

    This turned out AMAZING! Thanks so much for the recipe!

    · Reply
  • Tina

    Okay, this looks absolutely lovely!!! And a fraction of the price for what you’d be paying at a breakfast/brunch when dining out. Curious to where you buy your salmon? I live in the same area as you are

    · Reply
    • Thank you Tina! I just get mine at Costco, but you really shouldn’t as I do, but instead do as I say lol. It’s safest to get sushi-grade fish for this kind of recipe.

      · Reply

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