This smoked whitefish is tender and flakey with a deep, smoky flavor. Smoking whitefish imparts a deep flavor that pairs perfectly with the tender, mild flesh of the fish.
I love seafood, especially whitefish. I’ve always loved making it fried, baked, or broiled. It’s just delicious all the way around. When my husband suggested smoking it I was on board. Whew! It’s so good!
It only takes a few simple ingredients to make this delicious fish. Whitefish and a few seasonings are all you need!
- Whitefish filets (skin off)
- Cool water
- Kosher or pickling salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- Black peppercorns
- Onion salt
- Granulated garlic
- Soy sauce
- Maple syrup (optional for basting during smoking)
This is a relatively straightforward recipe that’s easy enough for even beginning smokers. It only takes a few simple steps to make!
Step 1: Brine the Fish
Combine all the ingredients except for the fish and the maple syrup to create the brine. Then, brine the fish for at least four hours.
After the fish is brined, place it back in the refrigerator uncovered for two hours to allow the pellicle to form.
Step 2: Smoke the Fish
Preheat the smoker to 200 degrees, and smoke the fish for around two hours. If your filets are thin, check them at around an hour and a half to be sure they don’t overcook.
Hint: For added flavor baste the fish periodically with the maple syrup while it smokes.
Don’t have the correct ingredients on hand or want to change something up? Here are some helpful tips for you to change things up when smoking whitefish.
- Any Whitefish – You can use any whitefish in this recipe. We’ll cover types of white fish later in the FAQ.
- Table Salt – If you don’t have pickling or kosher salt, you can use table salt. Add a little less, as it has a higher density than coarser salt.
Want to personalize this smoked whitefish recipe? Here are some of my tried and true tips for changing up this recipe.
- Spicy – Add chili pepper flakes to the brine for extra flavor and heat.
- Lemon Juice – When the fish is done, give it a liberal dash of lemon juice before serving.
If you love recipes like this, you may also enjoy smoked catfish.
With a recipe this easy, it should come as no surprise that you don’t need much of anything in the way of equipment to make it. It’s very simple.
- Bowl or large resealable bag
- Measuring spoons and cups
You can store this fish in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for between four and seven days. For longer storage, you can freeze this fish for up to a month.
While this recipe is easy, there are some things you should know, especially regarding the brining process. These are simple but important tips, so be sure to read them over.
- Brining should be at least four hours, but overnight is better. It’s often a good idea to brine the fish overnight and then cook it the next day so you can eat at a reasonable time.
- Be absolutely sure you give the fish at least two hours after the brining process for the pellicle to form so the smoke can stick to the fish.
More Smoked Recipes
Do you like smoked foods? Here are some recipes you may also like to try.
Do you have questions about smoking whitefish? Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about smoked whitefish.
Whitefish isn’t one kind of fish. It’s actually a broad term for any of several species of fish including Atlantic cod, whiting, haddock, pollock, bass, grouper, and halibut.
Homemade smoked fish will last for between four and seven days in the refrigerator and about a month in the freezer.
To freeze cooked fish, place the fish in a shallow dish and freeze them uncovered so they freeze faster. Then, wrap them in a double layer of plastic wrap. After that, place the fish in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bags.
Place the fish in the refrigerator overnight to thaw.
Put the fish on a rimmed baking sheet and warm it for about 15 minutes in a 275-degree oven.
Ready to get cooking? Remember that you can print this recipe if you would like.
- 4 fillets whitefish no skin
- 8-10 cups cool water
- ½ cup kosher or pickling salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon onion salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup maple syrup OPTIONAL – for basting during smoking
- Gather all the ingredients needed for this recipe
- Mix together all of the ingredients for the brine together.
- Pour brine over whitefish filets and then brine in the fridge for at least four hours or up to 12 hours.
- Remove and rinse whitefish and place back in the fridge for 2 hours to allow pellicle to form. Forming a pellicle is imperative to the smoking process as it gives the smoke a surface to stick to and really enhance the flavor of whatever you're smoking.
- Smoke at 200 for two hours
- Be sure to watch your whitefish close for the last 45 minutes of smoking so that the filets don't dry out.
- Remove whitefish from the smoker.
- Allow to cool slightly.
- Enjoy every bite!