How to Hot Smoke Salmon Fillets

Updated April 17, 2017

The nutritional content of salmon varies depending on the variety of salmon and the cooking method, but this fish is consistently rich in several nutrients. Four ounces of baked or broiled Chinook salmon contains over 100 per cent of your daily vitamin D, 87 per cent of your daily omega 3 fatty acids, 75 per cent of our daily selenium and 58 per cent of your daily protein according to the World's Healthiest Foods. If you enjoy the flavour of smoked salmon, make your own smoked salmon fillets at home. Hot smoking the salmon will result in fully cooked smoky salmon fillets.

Pour one gallon of cold water into your large bowl, then add the salt and brown sugar. Stir well with your wooden spoon until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Place the egg in the brine; if it floats, your brine is ready. If the egg sinks, remove it from the bowl and add a little bit more salt and mix thoroughly to dissolve, then put the egg in again. Repeat this process until the egg floats.

Lay the salmon fillets with the skin side up into your baking dish. If the fillets are skinless, it does not matter which side faces up. Puncture each fillet several times with a fork.

Pour the brine solution over the salmon fillets and allow them to soak for at least one hour per inch of thickness. Fillets that are 2 in. thick, for example, would need to soak for at least two hours. You can soak the fillets for longer if you prefer a saltier taste in your finished product. You may place the baking dish in the refrigerator while the salmon soaks if you wish, but this is not necessary.

Remove the salmon fillets from the brine solution when you are done soaking them. Rinse each one quickly under cold running water, then lay them flat on a rack with the skin side facing down. If you have a fan, turn it on and aim it toward the salmon to speed the drying process. This vital step allows the pellicle (a coating of proteins) to form on the surface of the salmon. Dry the salmon until its flesh is barely sticky.

Place the salmon skin-down onto the racks of your smoker. Turn on the smoker and heat it gradually to approximately 76.7 to 82.2 degrees Celsius. Do not allow the temperature of the smoker to exceed 87.8 degrees C, as this will dry out the delicate fish. Smoke the fish for approximately one hour per inch of thickness, or until an internal meat thermometer says the salmon is 60 to 62.8 degrees Celsius.


Use lightly flavoured wood, such as alder, apple or cherry, to avoid overwhelming the flavour of the salmon.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Large bowl
  • 1.5 cups salt (possibly more)
  • 1.75 cups brown sugar
  • Egg
  • Baking dish
  • Fork
  • Rack
  • Fan (optional)
  • Internal meat thermometer
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About the Author

Morgan O'Connor has been writing professionally since 2005. Her experience includes articles on various aspects of the health-insurance industry for health-care newsletters distributed to hospitals as well as articles on both international and domestic travel.