Salmon is one of the all-time favorites for celebrations. Since it’s well-loved, there are many smoked salmon recipes available online.
If you’re in search of the best salmon recipe, our seasoned chefs shared the best way to smoke a salmon on a pellet grill so you no longer have to look elsewhere.
Using a Pellet Grill for Smoking Salmon
The use of pellet grills for salmon is crucial for a smoky and savory taste. Wood pellets are used as the fuel source and you can cook food evenly without the need to move them so much.
This feature is due to the grill’s conventional heating and even smoke circulation. Hence, this is a good method to achieve the best smoked salmon recipe.
The crucial ingredient for the best smoked salmon fillet is fresh fish. There are many species that you can use like Atlantic, chum, sockeye salmon, and others.
Wild-caught salmon is better if you are looking for low saturated fat and high calcium content. However, for lower cholesterol, a farmed one is better.
The preparation time for smoking it on a pellet grill depends on how strong or light smoky flavor you want it to be. You can brine salmon before smoking to achieve a more flavorful outcome but this is not necessary. For a wet brine, you have to create a salt water solution using black pepper, sugar, salt, and water.
If you choose to use brine, you have to let it sit in your brine solution for several hours up to overnight. The cooking process takes just about two to three hours. You can also opt to use a dry brine.
- Salmon fish fillet
- Paprika (optional)
- Garlic powder
- Brown sugar or white sugar
- Maple syrup (optional)
- Kosher salt
How to Smoke Salmon on a Pellet Grill in 4 Easy Steps
Our chefs have convened and summarized the steps on how to smoke salmon on a pellet grill. Here are the four essential steps to follow:
Step #1: Prepare and Slice the Salmon
First, get the salmon fillet and lay the salmon skin-side down on the cutting board. Run your fingers along the fillet and find the pin bones. Once you find them, use tweezers or scissors to remove and discard them. Make sure to fully remove the pin bones.
Remove the scales by flipping the salmon fillet with its flesh side now facing up. Use the non-sharpened side of a knife to remove the scales. Run the knife along the skin but against the grain of the scales' pattern. Rinse then pat dry.
Step #2: Prepare the Rub
The rub or dry brine is composed of a spice mixture. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt , 1 tablespoon of white or brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder. You can also add 1 tablespoon of maple syrup to this brine.
Rub about 25% of the mixture to the skin side and 75% to the flesh side. Cover it in plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes. Wash the dry brine and pat dry.
Step #3: Pre-Heat the Grill and Load Your Preferred Wood Chips
Preheat the grill until it reaches the internal temperature of 215°F. You can achieve this with your choice of wood pellets. This recipe is not very particular on the type of wood you are going to use but the type may affect its smoke flavor.
Step #4: Put the Salmon on the Grill
Once the temperature is ready, place salmon directly over the grill grates. Remember to insert a temperature probe into the thickest part of the salmon fillet as you will use this to gauge the readiness of the fish.
Once the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145°F, then the fish is ready. It usually takes about an hour to cook the fish using this recipe.
Side Dishes to Complement Smoked Salmon
Hot smoked salmon is among the favorite recipes for gatherings, but it is best eaten with side dishes that complement its taste. Scalloped cheesy potatoes are one of the best side dishes that can be paired with smoked salmon.
Not only is it very easy to cook, but the rich cheesy and salty flavor blends well with the smokey sweet flavor of the fish.
Another good side dish to pair is the oil-tossed green bean salad. It is very easy to prepare plus you only need salt and canola oil to make your dish 5-stars!
Tips and Tricks for a Perfectly Smoked Salmon
Though many people have tried this recipe, there are still some tried and tested tricks that will help you achieve ratings of 5 stars from your guests.
Remember to keep the temperature of the pellet grill low and steady so you can cook the salmon fillet evenly. Also, choose wood pellets from a sweet variety if you prefer that smokey and sweet flavor to your fillet.
Top Picks for Wood Chips
The type of wood you feed your grill can affect the smokey taste of your fish. Though our experts have summarized all the steps on how to smoke salmon on a pellet grill, it is still best to consider the type of wood.
If you are looking to add an extra flavor of sweetness to your dish, then use apple pellets or cherry wood pellets. These are sure to enhance the flavor of the fish.
Optional: Brining Your Salmon
Brining your salmon is not required. Wet brines, for instance, use salt, water, and sugar. This mixture enhances the ability of the fillet to stay moist while being cooked.
However, this method is not highly effective in infusing flavor. Hence, most still prefer dry brine which uses a mixture of different spices to achieve a more flavorful dish.
1. How long does it take to smoke salmon at 225F?
It takes approximately three to four hours to smoke salmon at 225F. After this amount of time, the fish reaches an internal temperature of 145F which signifies it is already cooked. If you are doing Traeger smoked salmon, then there is no need to preheat it to achieve 225F.
2. At what temperature is salmon done smoking?
The temperature where salmon is done smoking is 145F. This is the temperature where its proteins are already denatured and all of the meat is cooked. This temperature provides a firm and well-cooked fish.
Smoked salmon is a very popular dish and cooking it is very easy. Our chefs provided the best method and tips on how to smoke salmon on a pellet grill. It includes choosing the best fillet, preparing the rub, cooking it using the right temperature, and preparing the best side dishes that go with it.