How to Smoke Salmon Without a Smoker (2 Unique Ways)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 4, 2023

Using a smoker to cook food has become increasingly popular, as it gives food incredible depth of flavor- and salmon is no exception!

Not everyone has access to a smoker, but our team of expert chefs will explain how you can smoke salmon using everyday kitchen supplies in a few inventive ways.

Quick Summary

  • Smoking salmon without a smoker can be achieved in two ways: cold-smoking with brine and liquid smoke, or stovetop smoking using wood chips and a roasting pan.
  • Cold-smoking involves brining the salmon with a mixture of sugar, salt, pepper, and liquid smoke for at least 24 hours
  • Stovetop smoking requires brining and then smoking the salmon over wood chips.

How To Select The Perfect Salmon?

Slicing raw salmon on cutting board

The success of these recipes depends on using fresh, high-quality salmon fillets. This will ensure maximum flavor and a reduced risk of food poisoning once you eat smoked salmon.

Salmon purchasing checklist:

  • You will need a 2lb (about 900g) salmon fillet for either recipe. This will provide about 8-12 servings.
  • Bear in mind that you will need an extra day to prepare and cure the salmon.
  • The cured salmon should be boneless. You can choose to have the skin on or off.
  • Fresh salmon should be shiny, moist, and smell more like the ocean than excessively fishy. Sushi-grade salmon is ideal!
  • Previously frozen salmon is acceptable and should be thawed and prepared the same day [1].
  • You may need to pluck a few pin bones that have remained after deboning.

Now that you have selected a beautiful fillet of cured salmon, it’s time to get smoking!

Select one of the two recipe options below that suit you best. Better yet, why not give both of them a try:

Cold-Smoked Salmon

Top view of salmon close up image

Nobody wants to be standing in front of a fiery smoker, grill, or oven on a sweltering summer’s day. This refreshing and tasty cold-smoked salmon recipe requires minimal

effort and ingredients. A no-cook smoking method that accommodates your busy schedule.

The key ingredient is liquid smoke- concentrated smoke from wood chips turned into a liquid for cooking.

Liquid smoke makes an excellent substitute for cooking with wood chips or a smoker, as it gives food that sought-after ‘barbequed’ smoky flavor [2].

Read More: How to Make Salmon Salad


  • 2 pounds salmon fillet
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 8 drops of liquid smoke


  • Container large enough to hold the salmon
  • Plastic wrap
  • Small mixing bowl


  1. Mix the sugar, salt, pepper, and liquid-form smoke in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.
  2. Line your container with plastic wrap. Sprinkle half the spice mixture on the plastic wrap and place the salmon on top. Cover the salmon with the remaining spice mixture.
  3. Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and tighten the ends to ensure no liquid escapes during brining.
  4. Seal the container with a lid or more plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  5. Slice a small piece of salmon to check if it is to your liking. If the flavor is not strong enough for you, allow the salmon to brine further.
  6. Remove salmon from the brine, pat dry, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Tips

  • If the salmon was brined for too long, submerge it in some boiled and then cooled water for about 30 minutes to achieve the desired level of saltiness.
  • Spruce up the brining mixture by adding your favorite seasonings, such as garlic powder, onion powder, and herbs.
  • If properly brined, the salmon will last up to 5 days in the fridge or freeze and consume within 3 months.

How to Smoke Salmon in a Stovetop Smoker?

Top view of smoked salmon on black plate

You can turn your stovetop into a mini smoker for safe, simple, and practical cooking. If you enjoy hot-smoked salmon, then smoking your salmon on a stovetop smoker is the option for you.

The wood chips are essential in this recipe, as they infuse the salmon with a bold, smoky flavor. You will usually get some wood chips with your smoker. If you’re not using those, you will need about 1 cup of maple wood chips.

You can also use cherry, hickory, or Applewood. Soak the chips in water for an hour before draining them.

With this method, salmon comes out juicier and less flaky than with a smoker [3].

Also, you won't have to worry about a cloud of smoke filling your home while you cook salmon.

Also Read: Considering a Smoker-Free Way to Smoke Meat


  • 2 pounds salmon fillet
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sea salt or kosher salt


  • Aluminum foil
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Wood chips. Beech, apple, alder, maple, oak, or cherry are best. Avoid mesquite and hickory as they will overpower the salmon.
  • Cooking vessel. A wok or roasting pan large enough to hold the salmon.
  • Round cake rack or cooling rack that will fit inside the cooking vessel.


Brined salmon on white plate

1. Brine the salmon.

Combine the pepper, salt, and sugar in a small bowl. Place 1/3 of the brine mixture evenly on the bottom of a large baking tray.

Add the salmon and sprinkle with the remaining mixture. Cover and allow the salmon to brine for at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

The brining process will prevent the salmon from drying out. The mixture will infuse it with flavor and help kill potentially harmful bacteria.

2. Prepare the wood chips and equipment for smoking.

Spread wood chips in the bottom of your wok or roasting pan. Lightly grease the cake or cooling rack with vegetable oil and place it securely over the wood chips.

‘Thorough rinsing and air-drying are absolutely crucial to smoking any kind of food’
- Alton Brown, Food Network Chef

Remove the salmon from the refrigerator, rinse thoroughly, and pat dry.

The drying process will create a pellicle, preventing moisture loss during smoking.

Place the salmon skin-side down on the rack and allow to dry out at room temperature for 1-2 hours.

3. Smoke the salmon and tuck in.

Heat the wok/roasting pan on high heat until the chips start to smoke. Reduce heat to low, cover, and seal the salmon tightly with several layers of foil to lock in the smoke.

Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave salmon to cool in the closed pan.

Gently remove the salmon and serve immediately. Alternatively, chill in the fridge and serve cold.

Tips & Notes

  • Smoked salmon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.
  • You can lightly brush the salmon with teriyaki, soy, or barbeque sauce before smoking for extra flavor.
  • Regardless of the cut you buy, the salmon should look fresh, thick, and moist, showing no blemishes or spots.
  • If you are cooking for a few people, salmon filets are best, but a whole side is more appropriate for a crowd.
  • Fresh salmon displayed in the store refrigerators have likely been frozen by fishermen and then defrosted after arriving at the store. “Flash-frozen” salmon was frozen immediately and maintained the nutrients and flavors, so in this case, the frozen variety may be a better choice.
  • There are 5 different types of salmon. These vary in the amount of oil content, color, and size. The bigger and pinker the fish, with the most oil in the meat, the better your smoked salmon is going to taste.

How To Serve Smoked Salmon?

Freshly smoked salmon on plate with vegetables

There are countless ways to enjoy deliciously smoked salmon recipes any time of the day!

  • Serve it on a grazing board with fresh fruit, veggie sticks, crackers, and cheese.
  • Make a bagel or sandwich with salmon, cucumber, and cheese slices.
  • Add a few slithers to the filling of a tart or quiche.
  • Create your sushi with salmon, cream cheese, and thinly sliced strawberries.
  • Add cut salmon pieces to scrambled eggs or an omelet for a fancy breakfast.
  • Top small pieces of warm crusty bread with thinly sliced smoked salmon, sour cream, and black pepper.
  • Cozy up with a creamy smoked salmon pasta.
  • Toss into a salad with avocado, salad greens, and thin slices of green apple.
  • Cozy up with a creamy smoked salmon and asparagus pasta.
  • Enjoy smoked salmon recipes the traditional way, with a generous squeeze of lemon and a crack of black pepper.

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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