Smoked Salmon

I’ll never forget when I discovered the beauty of a smoker, and all the things I could learn to smoke, like salmon. This recipe became a favorite of granddaughter Arianna after she visited us in Kentucky. 

Over the years we tried many methods to produce smoked salmon but we found that the combination of a good brine and a solid smoking technique produced the results we wanted. The techniques used here come from years of experience and you won’t likely find them in other smoking recipes. Yep, they are family secrets.

Smoked salmon and capers on cream cheese
Delicious snacks or appetizers of fresh smoked salmon and capers on cream cheese served on sliced bread

We love serving it with good crackers or bagels, cream cheese, capers, chives, red onions and chopped hard boiled eggs.

Also as an option, you can thin slice your salmon filet into strips. I always take some of the filets to do this so instead of just getting smoked salmon filets to spread on crackers, you will essentially make some of the salmon into a delicious jerky snack. The jerky will have a little crunch, since the slices will cook in the smoker faster than the filet.

So, if you are tired of paying for grocery packaged smoked salmon but love it, here’s the recipe for you.


  • Servings: ”10-15″
  • Difficulty: ”Moderate”</p>
  • Print

3 to 4 pounds of Salmon Filets (Skin On)

1 Cup Water

2 Cups Say Sauce

1 Teaspoon Siracha

1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1/3 Cup White Sugar

1/4 Cup Non-Iodized Salt


  1. Mix all ingredients (except salmon filets) in a large bowl, and let them dissolve.
  2. Put salmon filets, (and/or thin slices of salmon), in a large plastic bag or container.
  3. Pour the mixed ingredients over the salmon.
  4. Close the bag or container and place it in the refrigerator for 6 hours.
  5. Remove the salmon and discard the brine.
  6. Pat the salmon dry with paper towels.
  7. Then this is a step way too many people do not do! Place your salmon on a plate uncovered for 2 hours. I put my stovetop fan on and place the salmon under the running fan, without the stove on. You do this to create the pellicle. The pellicle is a thin, lacquer-like layer on top of the fish, seals it and offers a sticky surface for the smoke to adhere to. The brine will protect your fish from spoilage. Once you have your pellicle set, you can refrigerate your fish for a few hours and smoke it later if you’d like.
  8. Turn your smoker on to 225 degrees for pre-heating.
  9. I then use my rib roasting racks. (The racks you can buy to stand your ribs up when smoking them.) Spray oil on those racks and place them on your smoker grill. Then lay the salmon filets on top of those racks, skin side down, or if you created some thin slices hang those slices on the racks. (Some recipes suggest putting the salmon on tin foil. That’s a bad idea since you want the smoke to surround the salmon, and we do not like the slight flavor tin foil seems to impart to fish.) 
  10. Add a water pan with 2 cups of water to your smoker.
  11. Smoke for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the fattest part of the filets hit 140 degrees.
  12. Let the salmon cool and serve the filets as desired with suggested accompaniments such as crackers, bagels, capers, cream cheese, chives, chopped red onions and chopped hard boiled eggs, or just enjoy the thin slices as delicious jerky snacks. 

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