Smoked Salmon on the Grill

Cedar plank salmon on grill
LauriPatterson / Getty Images
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
187 Calories
8g Fat
10g Carbs
18g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 187
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 51mg 17%
Sodium 2408mg 105%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 18g
Calcium 25mg 2%
*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.)

Real smoked salmon, cooked by the heat of a smoky fire and infused with a fabulous smoky flavor, can be made without a smokehouse. Any common grill will do, as long as you set it up as outlined below.

Don't have a grill? No worries. You can also smoke salmon on a stovetop. Prefer silky smooth cured salmon? Try making your own salmon gravlax instead.


  • About 2 pounds of salmon fillet or however much will fit on the rack below
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 cup wood chips (we love the taste that cedar brings to salmon, but hickory is easier to find)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Before anything else, be sure to pull out any pin bones from the salmon fillet(s).

  3. Then combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Put about 1/3 of it on the bottom of a baking pan, set the salmon on top and cover the salmon with the remaining sugar-salt mixture.

  4. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. (The mixture will pull out moisture from the salmon and infuse it with flavor, helping create the distinctive extremely firm, slightly sweet flavor of traditionally smoked salmon.)

  5. Put the wood chips in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak at least 30 minutes. Drain them, being careful to catch any wood bits from going down the drain and clogging the pipes or messing with the disposal (a lesson hard learned!). Put them in a small smoker box that comes with some grills, or simply put the soaked chips in an aluminum loaf pan or even a bowl you fashion out of tin foil.

  6. Prepare your grill for indirect heat.

    For gas grills: Heat 1/2 of however many burners you have and set a foil-wrapped pan with about an inch of water in it under the cooking grate, on the turned-off burner.

    For charcoal grills: Light a fire. When the coals are ready, push them to one side and set a foil-wrapped pan with about an inch of water in it on the other side of a coal grate.

  7. Put the wood chip container over the hot part of the grill.

  8. Rinse the salmon from its sugar-salt mixture, pat it dry, and set it skin-side-down on the cool side of the grill, on the cooking grate that is over the pan of water below. Cover and cook until the salmon is fully smoked and flaky, about 20 minutes.

  9. Serve and enjoy!


  • Serve the salmon warm, at room temperature, or chilled. Note that although the salmon is smoked, it is not shelf-stable. It will last about a week in the fridge but isn't preserved beyond that point.

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