How to Smoke Salmon on Your Grill


It’s that time of year again. Time to start thinking about cleaning out your freezer and using all of last years salmon to make room for your upcoming trip to Hi-Lo.  A great way to do this is by smoking last years catch. Smoked salmon is one of my favorite foods and I recently discovered a great way to have fresh smoked salmon even if you do not have a smoker, use your gas grill.

Defrost your salmon overnight in the refrigerator. After thawed, cut into 2 x 4 inch pieces to reduce smoking time. Mix up your favorite brine  and place salmon, skin side up, in liquid. Refrigerate at least 8 hours, 12 hours is preferable.**See my favorite brine recipe below

To prepare the fish for the grill, remove strips from brine and place on a baking  rack to air dry. At this time you can also place wood chips in a bowl and cover with water. I usually use alder, pecan, or maple.  Allow 1 hour for fish to dry a little and the wood chips to soak. I have found  that not as much drying time is needed using this method.

The tricky part of using your gas grill as a smoker is to get it to hold a constant temperature of no more than 225 degrees, the lower the temp the better.  To achieve this, it is best if you have a grill with a thermometer and at least two burners. If your grill doesn’t have one, an internal/external thermometer can usually be bought  anywhere grills are sold.

Turn on one burner of the grill and set to low/medium, close lid, make sure air vent on top of the grill is open, and let grill come up to a constant temperature, and then adjust setting as needed until you achieve the correct temperature.

Make a shallow pan out of aluminum foil, and place wood chips in pan. Place pan over the lit burner on your grill. I give the wood chips a ten minute head start before placing my fish in the grill. On the cold side of the grill place the salmon, skin side on the grate. Close lid and smoke salmon until a thermometer placed in the center of fish reaches at least 145 degrees. The pieces closest to the flame will cook faster and may be  removed first.

After salmon is smoked, let salmon  “rest” on kitchen counter for at least half an hour. This allows the liquid in the fish to gel, and improves the taste and texture. Invite friends, eat, and enjoy. You will have an empty freezer just in time to restock at Hi-Lo this summer.

**Brine Recipe

I prefer a sweeter smoked salmon as opposed to a salty one, more like squaw candy. Do not be afraid of the jalapeno, you can not taste it in the finished product, but can taste the difference if you omit it. I have tried a lot of recipes, but always go back to this one. No set amounts, just adjust to your liking.

  • Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce (provides the sugar and salt necessary for brining)
  • Juice from a jar of nacho sliced jalapenos ( sometime I dump a few jalapenos into the mix)
  • garlic powder (little goes a long way when marinating)

We are always looking for great brine recipes so if you have a favorite please share.