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Fillet of honey smoked salmon sitting on a plate with capers on top.
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Honey Smoked Salmon

Honey smoked salmon is made with a simple, yet delicious salmon brine that infuses the salmon with flavors overnight before smoking on the grill. While it cooks, the salmon is basted with honey giving a perfect smoky, sweet flavor.
Course Appetizer, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword brine for smoking fish, honey smoked salmon, smoked salmon brine
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Marinate 8 hours
Total Time 10 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 660kcal

Equipment

  • smoker

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pound salmon fillet
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup for basting

Brine

  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar packed
  • ½ cup kosher salt

Smoking

  • water
  • wood chunks or chips, pre-soaked, or pellets (whichever your smoker uses)

Instructions

  • Check the fillet to make sure all of the pin bones have been removed.
    Salmon fillet on the table with brown sugar and water.
  • Place the fillet, skin side down, in a large plastic or glass container.
  • Prepare the brine by combining the dark brown sugar and kosher salt with the water.
    Smoked salmon fillet with brine mixture in a measuring cup.
  • Pour the brine over the fillet and allow to cure for at least 4 hours in the fridge. (I usually prepare the night before and let the salmon cure overnight). If the brine doesn't cover the entire fillet, double the brine recipe. It's important the entire salmon be submerged in the brine.
    Smoked salmon fillet in the salmon brine.
  • Once cured, remove the fillet from the brine and place, skin side down, on a cooling rack. (I like to place a cooling rack with a baking tray underneath to catch any juices that may drip off).
    Honey smoked salmon on a wire rack after brining.
  • Gently pat the salmon dry and place back in the fridge to dry for at least 2-4 hours. If possible, place fillet directly under a ceiling fan that's on high, to speed up the process. It's important to make sure the fish isn’t kept at room temperature for too long. Ultimately, the fillet needs to develop a pellicle (a shiny skin that seals the fillet and gives the smoke a sticky surface to adhere to.
    Honey smoked salmon drying on baking tray.
  • When fish is ready, put a light coating of oil on salmon to prevent it from sticking to the grates.
  • Smoke the salmon for about 2 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, basting the fillet with honey or maple syrup every 40 minutes or so.
    Honey smoked salmon on the smoker grate cooking.
  • Cook until the salmon reaches an internal temperature of 135-140 degrees Fahrenheit. When ready carefully remove salmon from the smoker.
    Salmon in brine on the smoker cooking.
  • Serve immediately as a main dish with peppercorns or capers. You can also allow maple or honey smoked salmon to rest and prepare it to be stored for future recipes.
    White square plate of honey smoked salmon on the table. The salmon is covered in peas.
  • Enjoy!
    Forkful of honey smoked salmon.

Notes

Expert Tips
Low and slow is the best way to smoke fish or meats. This really allows the flavor of the seasonings and the wood to penetrate into the fish.
Always make sure to check the steam pot and fill it with water as needed. It is important to maintain a high moisture level within the smoker.
When brining the salmon, make sure the entire fillet is submerged in the brine. If not, you will need to make additional brine to ensure it’s fully covered.
When cooking honey smoked fish, if the skin sticks to the cooking grate, insert fish spatula between skin and fillet to separate and lift fillet from skin.
Use maple wood for the best flavor when smoking salmon, but hickory, apple, oak or pecan will also work in a pinch.

Nutrition

Calories: 660kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 45g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 125mg | Sodium: 14287mg | Potassium: 1209mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 88g | Vitamin A: 91IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 3mg