Cold Smoked Salmon at home. Step by step easy instructions.

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If you like cold smoked salmon on your bagel in the morning, as a snack with wine or making some dishes with it but you do not like paying $20 for a few slices at the grocery store, I am here to show you how I never ever buy store bought cold smoked fish.

All equipment you need is only any kind of smoker (does not matter the kind, we are not going to be using it anyway we just need to place the fish in something what has vents) and cold smoke generator which you can get on Amazon with some wood pellets. Follow my step by step instructions and you will have a buttery, firm, fresh cold smoked salmon in no time which lasts months in the freezer or up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

Cold Smoked Salmon at home step by step easy instructions.

Recipe by Sweet Zivile

Let’s get started.
 I use 10% of salt, 10-15% sugar and 5% of black pepper. Table salt won’t work. You need to use coarse sea salt.
This time I had ~4 lb. of salmon file with skin. You can choose with the skin or without, it does not matter. Main thing use 10% of salt and 10-15% of sugar of the fish weight.
This recipe is for basic cold smoked salmon, which you buy at the store, but you feel free to add whatever spices you like.


  • 4.2 lb. or ~2 kg of salmon file

  • 7 oz. or 200 g. of sea salt

  • 7 oz. or 250 g. of sugar

  • 3.5 oz. or 10 g. of freshly grated black pepper

Let’s make it

  • Weigh your salmon using kitchen scales. Exact weight is important. don’t eyeball.
  • In a bowl mix salt, sugar and pepper. 
  • Take a deep dish and pour half of salt/sugar/pepper mixture on the bottom. Place salmon on the top and pour over the other half distributing it evenly. It should look something like this:
  • Cover tightly with some plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours. I would not go over 30 hours, because it will be too salty and different texture. Usually if I know I will be smoking next day, I would marinate fish the morning before. After 24 hours it will look like this:
    Color will be more deep, texture much firmer than fresh salmon.
  • Pour the liquid out and wash salmon well under cold running water. dry it with some paper towels. Some pepper will be left, that’s fine. Main thing is to wash away salt.
  • Fill up your cold smoke generating tube with some wood pellets.
  • Using a blow torch (no, lighter or matches won’t work here), light pellets for at least for 60 sec.
  • Let the pellets flame burn for at least 5-7 min. If it stops burning, just use the blow torch for another 15-30 sec and let it burn. If you will rush this part, most likely the tube will stop smoking in next 10-20 min.
  • When the tube starts to smoke, place it in the corner of the grill.
  • Place the salmon on the grates, close the grill and leave it to smoke for at least 4 hours. Tube lasts for at least 4 hours. Then you need to refill it. You can go up to 24 hours. If you are having a warm day, put the tray with some ice under the salmon. Do not smoke salmon if you have 90-100 F degrees outside. It will be too complicated to maintain the temperature. If the temperature is above 86 F, it’s not a cold smoking anymore. It will ruin the texture. It still will be edible, but it’s not cold smoked.
  • After you decide it’s enough smoking ( I smoke for 4-6 hours), wrap salmon in a plastic wrap or place in a plastic bag and close it tightly to absorb all the smoky flavors. Refrigerate before serving for at least 2 hours.
  • Slice very thinly on a little bit of diagonal and enjoy!

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