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    Smoked Salmon Recipe

    Published October 28, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    This delicious smoked salmon recipe is brined in a wet brown sugar and citrus brine and then finished with a sweet orange glaze for incredible flavor. This smoked salmon tastes amazing, and you can serve it hot or cold.

    I would eat salmon for every meal if my wife would let me. The health benefits, the simplicity of preparing it, and the flavor sell me every time. If you also love it, you must try out my salmon patties recipe or salmon burgers.

    side of smoked salmon

    Smoked Salmon

    Smoked salmon is a process where fresh salmon is either cold or hot-smoked. Hot smoking is where the salmon is smoked at temperatures between 120° and 180° until the desired internal temperature is achieved. You can also hot-smoke the salmon for several hours if you plan to wrap it, cool it, and serve it cold after several days, but the texture can be dry.

    The other method is cold smoking which smokes at temperatures between 70° and 90° for several hours and even up to a few weeks. If smoking for several weeks, it turns the fish into salmon-jerky. If you brine the salmon and cold smoke it for several hours, you will get something known as lox.

    Kippered Salmon

    My smoked salmon recipe is known as kippered salmon. This method is brined and hot smoked and can be served hot or cold. I prefer to cook it at 140° to 145° internally because I like to eat it warm.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    smoked salmon ingredients
    • Salmon – You will need a side of fresh or previously frozen and thawed skin on salmon.
    • Sugar – Light brown sugar is used in the brine and glaze.
    • Salt – I always use coarse ground sea salt in my cooking and baking.
    • Water – Cold water will be used for the brine.
    • Ice – This will help quickly cool the brine so that it is ok to pour over the raw salmon.
    • Citrus – I like to use a combination of orange and lemon in this recipe.
    • Butter – Always use unsalted butter in cooking and baking.
    • Soy – I like to add a little soy sauce to the glaze.

    How to Make Smoked Salmon

    Start by bringing the water, citrus zest, brown sugar, and salt to a boil.

    bringing a brine to a boil in a pot

    Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, remove them from the heat and add the ice cubes to chill the brine. Set it aside.

    cooling a brine with ice cubes

    Next, trim the salmon’s side, removing the fish’s belly fat and tail end. You may also see a few bones on the backbone part of the salmon, which should also be removed. See the chef’s notes below.

    removing the belly from a salmon

    Add the salmon to a non-reactive dish and cover it completely by pouring it on the brine.

    pouring a brine onto salmon

    If the salmon doesn’t want to stay under the brine, you can flip it over, so it is scaled side up.

    flipping a salmon over in brine

    Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Any longer than 24 hours, and it can become too salty.

    covering a brined salmon with plastic wrap

    Remove the salmon from the brine and rinse it under cold water.

    rinsing a salmon

    Place the salmon on a rack, pat it dry, and let it cool for 2 hours to create the pellicle.

    patting dry a side of salmon

    Brush the smoker grates with a neutral-flavored oil where you plan to place the salmon. Be sure it is as far away from the fire as possible.

    brushing a smoker with oil

    Smoke at 150° F for 2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 140° F.

    adding a salmon onto a smoker

    With about 1 hour and 10 minutes left in the initial smoking process, add the brown sugar, soy, butter, and citrus juice to a small-sized sauce pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and make a caramel.

    mixing a glaze in ap ot

    Brush the salmon with a thin layer of the glaze after 1 total hour of smoking and then again every 30 minutes of smoking.

    brushing a salmon with a glaze

    After 2 hours, turn the heat up to 200° and smoke for 1 hour. Continue glazing.

    a smoker turned to 200°

    Remove the salmon and let it rest for 10 minutes before glazing it and serving. If you prefer to eat this cold, cool it to room temperature, which takes about an hour, wrap it and store it in the refrigerator until cold before serving.

    letting a smoked salmon rest

    Can I Make This in the Oven?

    You can make this in the oven if your oven can cook at low temperatures at 150° Fahrenheit. In addition, you will not get any smoke flavor that only the smoker can provide.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: While eating the first day of smoking, it is best, you can make this recipe up to 5 days ahead of time.

    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of smoked salmon to a pan and cook in the oven covered at 350° for 4-5 minutes or until warmed.  You can also heat it in the microwave until warm. You can also serve this cold straight from the refrigerator, which is an extremely popular way to serve it.

    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.  This will freeze covered for up to 6 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • The pellicle is the top layer created during the drying process to help seal the salmon. It creates an almost sticky-like coating on top that maximizes the smoke adhering to the salmon.
    • It is ok if some white-like substance known as albumin starts to come through the top of the salmon. This is completely normal if a few pop-up. However, you do not want a lot of it popping through the top, which means your heat is too high and your salmon is already overcooked, making it dry.
    • With the leftover un-brined and uncooked tail and belly fat, you can easily cook them and use them in any of your salmon recipes. The belly fat is hands down the most delicious part of the fish.
    • A non-reactive dish would be glass, stainless, ceramic, or plastic.
    • Apple, cherry, pecan, oak, mesquite, or hickory are great woods to use for this.

    More Salmon Recipes

    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    Smoked Salmon Recipe

    This delicious smoked salmon recipe is brined in a wet brown sugar and citrus brine and finished with an orange glaze for incredible flavor.
    Servings: 8
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
    Resting Time: 2 hours

    Ingredients 

    For the Salmon:

    • 3 cups water
    • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup sea salt
    • zest of 1 orange
    • zest of 1 lemon
    • 4 to 4 ½ pound side of salmon

    For the Glaze:

    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 1 orange
    • ½ stick unsalted butter
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

    Instructions

    • For the Salmon: Start by bringing the water, citrus zest, brown sugar, and salt to a boil.
    • Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, remove them from the heat and add the ice cubes to chill the brine. Set it aside.
    • Next, trim the side of the salmon, removing the belly fat and the tail end of the fish. You may also see a few bones on the backbone part of the salmon which should also be removed. See the chef's notes below.
    • Add the salmon to a non-reactive dish and cover it completely by pouring it on the brine.
    • If the salmon doesn’t want to stay under the brine, you can flip it over so that it is scaled side up.
    • Cover and keep it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Any longer than 24 hours and it can become too salty.
    • Remove the salmon from the brine and rinse it under cold water.
    • Place the salmon on a rack and pat it dry and let it cool for 2 hours to create the pellicle.
    • Brush the smoker grates with a neutral-flavored oil where you plan to place the salmon. Be sure it is as far away from the fire as possible.
    • Smoke at 150° F for 2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 140° F.
    • For the glaze: With about 1 hour and 10 minutes left in the first intial smoking process, add the brown sugar, soy, butter, and citrus juice to a small-sized sauce pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar and make a caramel.
    • Brush the salmon with a thin layer of the glaze after 1 total hour of smoking and then again every 30 minutes of smoking.
    • After 2 hours, turn the heat up to 200° and smoke for 1 hour. Continue glazing.
    • Remove the salmon and let it rest for 10 minutes before glazing it and serving. If you prefer to eat this cold, cool it to room temperature, which takes about an hour, wrap it and store it in the refrigerator until cold before serving.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: While eating the first day of smoking, it is best, you can make this recipe up to 5 days ahead of time.
    How to Reheat: Add the desired amount of smoked salmon to a pan and cook in the oven covered at 350° for 4-5 minutes or until warmed.  You can also heat it in the microwave until warm. You can also serve this cold straight from the refrigerator, an extremely popular way to serve it.
    How to Store: Cover and keep in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.  This will freeze covered for up to 6 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
    The pellicle is the top layer created during the drying process to help seal the salmon. It creates an almost sticky-like coating on top that maximizes the smoke adhering to the salmon.
    It is ok if some white-like substance known as albumin starts to come through the top of the salmon. This is completely normal if a few pop-up. However, you do not want a lot of it popping through the top, which means your heat is too high and your salmon is already overcooked, making it dry.
    With the leftover un-brined and uncooked tail and belly fat, you can easily cook them and use them in any of your salmon recipes. The belly fat is hands down the most delicious part of the fish.
    A non-reactive dish would be glass, stainless, ceramic, or plastic.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 469kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 51gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 4966mgPotassium: 1293mgFiber: 0.02gSugar: 27gVitamin A: 104IUCalcium: 59mgIron: 2mg
    Course: Appetizer, Main Course
    Cuisine: American, Swedish