Smoked Herring Recipe

Herring on brown paper with lemon
Claudia Uribe/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
742 Calories
43g Fat
68g Carbs
24g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 742
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 43g 55%
Saturated Fat 15g 74%
Cholesterol 113mg 38%
Sodium 45305mg 1,970%
Total Carbohydrate 68g 25%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 24g
Calcium 74mg 6%
*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.)

If you are lucky enough to get fresh herring, try this recipe for smoked herring. This is an Indigenous heirloom recipe, and it will take 2 weeks, so plan accordingly. Your patience and time will be rewarded with the final result. Other small, oily fish (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids) may be substituted for the herring.

Do you know what herring are? "The New Food Lover's Companion" (Barron's Educational Series, 2013) says, herring are saltwater fish with more than 100 varieties that can be found in the cold waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Most herring are silvery and small (running around 1/4 to 1 pound in weight). Young herring are frequently labeled and sold as sardines.

Fresh herring are available during the spring on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. This high-fat fish has a fine, soft-textured flesh that firms when cured by either pickling, salting, smoking or a combination of those techniques.


  • 1 pound coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons onions, minced
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon bay leaves, crushed
  • 2 pounds fresh herring

Steps to Make It

  1. Make a paste of 1 pound coarse salt, 1 tablespoon pepper, 1 tablespoon crushed whole cloves, 2 tablespoons minced onions, 2 cups brown sugar, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon crushed bay leaves.

  2. Clean and gut 2 pounds fresh herring. Coat herring with paste and cure for seven days in the refrigerator. Reapply mixture as needed so fish remains coated.

  3. After seven days, rinse and hang to dry thoroughly. Cold smoke over fire. For home smokers, smoke at 70 to 85 degrees F. for 7 days. Because the fish will shrink in the smoking process, your 2 pounds of fresh herring will reduce to 1 pound of succulent smoked herring.

Recipe Source: "Native Indian Wild Game, Fish & Wild Foods Cookbook : Recipes from North American Native Cook, edited by David Hunt (Castle Books, 1992). Reprinted with permission.

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