Smoked Salmon on the Grill

Smoked Salmon on the Grill

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 35 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Chill Time: 4 hrs
Total: 5 hrs
Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
186 Calories
9g Fat
8g Carbs
17g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 186
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 48mg 16%
Sodium 2406mg 105%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 3mg 14%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 308mg 7%
*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.)

There are several types of smoked salmon—from lox to gravlax and cold smoked to hot smoked. While the other types don't encounter any heat, hot smoked salmon is cooked over a smoky fire and infused with a fabulous smoky flavor. Although commercial offerings are usually made in a smokehouse, hot smoked salmon can be made at home, as any common grill will do when it is set up properly.

The salmon is first cured in a sugar-salt mixture, which pulls out moisture from the salmon and infuses it with flavor, helping create the distinctive sweetness of traditionally smoked salmon. Then the fish is cooked on a grill over wood chips, which are what contribute the rich, smoky taste. The flavor of cedar chips complements the salmon beautifully, but hickory may be easier to find. You will need between 1/2 to 1 cup of wood chips; this technique can be done on either a gas or charcoal grill.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds salmon fillet, or however much will fit on the rack

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup coarse sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

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 the salmon on top and 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 the pan with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

    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 for 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 aluminum foil.

    wood chips and water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Prepare your grill for indirect heat; the hot side should reach about 300 F. Fill an aluminum pan with about 1 inch of water. For gas grills: Heat 1/2 of the burners and set the pan under the cooking grate on the cold side of the grill. For charcoal grills: Light a fire. When the coals are ready, push them to one side and set the pan on the other side under the grate. For both types of grills: Put the wood chip container over the hot part of the grill under the grill grate.

    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 off the fish. 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 the grill and cook until the salmon is fully smoked and flaky, 20 to 30 minutes.

    salmon fillet on a grill

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  10. Serve the salmon warm, at room temperature, or chilled and enjoy.

Tips

  • 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.
  • When draining the wood chips, be careful to catch any wood bits from going down the sink drain and clogging the pipes or messing with the disposal.
  • If you don't have a grill, you can also smoke salmon on a stovetop

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