Smoked Salmon on the Grill

Smoked Salmon on the Grill

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  • Total: 55 mins
  • Prep: 35 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Chill: 4 hrs
  • 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.


  • 2 pounds salmon fillet (roughly, or however much will fit on the rack)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup wood chips (cedar or hickory)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Smoked Salmon on the Grill ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Pull out any pin bones from the salmon fillet(s).

    Pull out any pin bones from the salmon fillet

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Combine the brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

    brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Spread about 1/3 of the sugar mixture into a mound (roughly the size of the salmon) in the bottom of a baking pan.

    brown sugar mixture on the bottom of a baking pan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Set salmon on top, cover the fish with the remaining sugar-salt mixture.

    salmon on top of salt-sugar mixture, remaining sugar-salt mixture on top of salmon

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Cover with plastic wrap 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.

    salmon with sugar-salt mixture in a baking sheet, wrapped in plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Put the wood chips in a large bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak at least 30 minutes. Drain them completely. Put the wood chips 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.

    wood chips and water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Prepare your grill for indirect heat. For gas grills: Heat 1/2 of the burners and set a foil-wrapped pan with about an inch of water in it under the cooking grate on top of 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. Put the wood chip container over the hot part of the grill.

    wood chips in a foil wrapped pan on a grill

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. Remove the salmon from its sugar-salt mixture and rinse. 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). Cover and cook until the salmon is fully smoked and flaky, about 20 minutes.

    salmon fillet on a grill

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  10. Serve and enjoy!


  • We love the taste that cedar brings to salmon, but hickory chips are easier to find.
  • When draining the wood chips, be careful to catch any wood bits from going down the drain and clogging the pipes or messing with the disposal.
  • 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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