Cold Smoked Salmon or Steelhead Trout

If I’m near a bagel shop, I’m hard-pressed to not snag a smoked salmon bagel.  There’s something about the melty salty salmon combined with onions, whipped cream cheese and capers that gets me every time!  Naturally, I said to myself recently, “I can do this at home”.  Sure enough, I figured out a great process to make my own smoked fish that’s fresher and tastier than anything I’ve had before.  This recent recipe was made with a steelhead trout fillet, but can be replicated with salmon as well.




  • 2-3 Lbs. Salmon or Steelhead Fillet
  • 1 1/2 Cups Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tsp. Black Pepper


  • Inspect your fish for any pin bones and remove.  Rinse fillet and dry completely with paper towels.
  • In a small bowl, combine salt, sugar and pepper.  Mix thoroughly.
  • Spread 1/3 of salt mixture in a glass baking dish to completely cover the bottom.
  • Place fish on the salt mixture, skin-side down.  Cover the fish with the remaining salt mixture and pat lightly to make sure it adheres.
  • Cover dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
  • After curing, remove fish from fridge, take out of glass dish and rinse under cold water to remove salt mixture.
  • Dry completely and place on paper towel on a cookie sheet.  Put in fridge and allow to dry for 3-4 hours uncovered.  Flesh will be firm and slightly tacky.
  • Cold smoke fish with alder or another mild wood at 120 degrees for 90 minutes.  I smoke mine over a foil pan filled with ice to prevent the fish from cooking.  The goal is to impart the smoke flavor only.
  • Remove from smoker and refrigerate.  Slice thinly and serve.  It will remain fresh in a ziplock bag for 7-10 days.

I love when a recipe relies on just a few ingredients, but tastes like a million bucks.  The technique here isn’t difficult, but the result is delicious and better than most store-bought versions.  Imagine the oohs and ahhs when you serve your homemade smoked salmon for your next brunch!  Take the time and give it a try, I think you’ll love the process and I know you’ll love the end product.  Dig in!