Tasty Hot Smoked Mackerel Cooked on the Grill

Mackerel cooking on a street food stall,Istanbul
Gary Yeowell / Getty Images
Prep: 80 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 105 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1248 Calories
81g Fat
15g Carbs
109g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1248
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 81g 104%
Saturated Fat 19g 95%
Cholesterol 340mg 113%
Sodium 7554mg 328%
Total Carbohydrate 15g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 109g
Vitamin C 3mg 15%
Calcium 90mg 7%
Iron 8mg 42%
Potassium 1876mg 40%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Mackerel is an oily fish that is perfect for smoking because it will not dry out as much as leaner white fish. In this tasty and very simple recipe for the grill, it is seasoned with sugar, Dijon mustard, pepper, and lemon juice.

You can use either a charcoal or gas grill and the hardwood chips of your choice (about 1 1/2 cups). If you prefer, you can substitute another dark-fleshed, oily fish for the mackerel.


  • 1/4 cup coarse salt

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 (1-pound) skin-on mackerel fillets, or other dark-flesh fish

  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Steps to Make It


  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Soak 2 handfuls of hardwood chips (about 1 1/2 cups) in enough water to cover them for at least 1 hour, or as long as 24 hours.

  3. In a small bowl, mix together the salt and sugar and sprinkle the fish fillets on both sides.

  4. Let the fillets sit for 30 to 40 minutes; refrigerate them if the room is especially warm.

  5. Mix together the pepper, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Rub the mixture into the fillets. Marinate for another 30 minutes.

Grilling With Charcoal

  1. If you are using a charcoal grill, remove the racks and build a small fire.

  2. When the coals are hot, move them to one side, top with the chips and replace the racks.

  3. Drain the fish of its accumulated liquid and brush off any rub that has not dissolved. Place the fillets on a sheet of aluminum foil.

  4. Place the foil on the side of the grill away from the coals.

  5. Poke a few holes in the foil and cover the grill, closing all the vents but one.

  6. Check the fish for doneness after 15 minutes. It is done if it flakes when touched with a fork near the edges. It should also be firm and opaque with a shiny crust, but not dry inside.

Grilling With Gas

  1. If you are using a gas grill, remove the racks, turn one burner to low, and top the lava rocks or heat plate over that burner with the soaked chips.

  2. Replace the rack.

  3. Place the fish on a sheet of aluminum foil; put the foil on the side of the grill away from the lit burner.

  4. Poke a few holes in the foil and cover the grill.

  5. Check the fish for doneness after 25 minutes. Use the recommendations for a charcoal grill to check that the fish is done. 


  • While the recipe is easy, you do need to plan ahead for the marination time. The fish takes just over an hour.
  • Also, your wood chips will be best if soaked for an hour or more.

Serving Suggestions

Anything that you cook on the grill is perfect for summertime sides, and this mackerel is no exception. Go with the usual suspects are all good choices: potato or pasta salad, fries, or coleslaw. An interesting twist on slaw is to add some Dijon mustard and lemon juice to the dressing so it plays off the flavors of the mackerel.

Recipe Source: "Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking" by Mark Bittman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

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