Can You Smoke Salmon With The Skin? [On Or Off?]

Smoked salmon is a favorite food of many people, and smoking your own is relatively easy. However, if you haven’t smoked salmon before, you will have some questions, including whether you should keep the skin on or take it off. Well, let’s find out!

You can smoke your salmon with the skin on or off, depending on your preferences for the fish. Once smoked, the skin provides a crispy texture that goes well with the soft fish, but some people don’t like it. You will need to try both skin on and off to determine which one is for you.

can you smoke salmon with the skin

If you are new to smoking or it’s your first time smoking a salmon, there are a few things you need to know. This article will cover what you should know about smoking your salmon perfectly, whether it’s with the skin on or off. 

Should You Smoke Salmon With The Skin On Or Off?

Salmon is one of the most loved fish in the culinary world. Many people love salmon, especially smoked salmon, as the smoky flavors bring out the freshness and delicate flavors of the fish. Smoked salmon can be served at almost all family gatherings or as a Friday night dinner.

Salmon can also be flavored with various spices and sauces that bring out the fish’s flavor perfectly; this makes smoked salmon a versatile dish that everyone will enjoy around the table. 

If you haven’t smoked before or haven’t smoked salmon before, you might have a few questions. 

One question you may have is; should you keep the skin on the salmon when smoking it, or should you take it off? The answer to this is pretty simple and depends on your preference. 

You can smoke your salmon with the skin on or off, and the salmon can come out perfectly. Some people argue that the skin helps hold the salmon together and adds a lovely crispy texture to the soft smoked fish that can elevate the enjoyment of eating it. 

However, others prefer not having the skin on their smoked salmon, and they report that their smoked salmon holds together well without it. Therefore, you will need to try smoked salmon with the skin on and the skin off to decide your personal preference. 

How To Smoke The Perfect Salmon

If you are new to smoking or smoking your first salmon, you might be unsure of the best way to smoke your salmon and how long you should smoke the salmon for. 

The recipe for smoked salmon below is perfect for smoking your salmon to your liking and will help ensure the salmon is juicy and tasty but perfectly cooked. 

This recipe works well for salmon with the skin on and off, so no matter your preference, you can use the recipe to ensure your salmon is delicious. The recipe calls for you to brine your salmon before smoking it, but you can skip the brine if you don’t have the time to use it. 

However, the recipe is relatively easy, and you won’t be disappointed with the flavor of your smoked salmon when cooked. 

So, let’s go through the process of cooking your salmon.

What You Will Need

Before you get started, there are a few things you will need to gather before you begin the smoking process.

Here are the ingredients and equipment you will need to follow this smoked salmon recipe:

  • Wood chips: you can use apple, alder, cherry, maple, or oak wood chips to smoke your salmon.
  • About 1/3 cup Kosher salt: don’t use regular table salt as this contains anti-caking agents and iodide that can give your salmon an unpleasant taste when smoked. 
  • Maple syrup, birch syrup, or honey to add sweetness to the salmon.
  • A large food-safe plastic container that can fit your salmon inside it. 
  • A wire rack to place your salmon on when in the smoker. This will allow good air circulation around the salmon, ensuring an even smoke. 
  • A basting brush.
  • 1 cup brown sugar.
  • 1-quart cold water.
  • 5 pounds of salmon.
  • 3 tbsp of oil; vegetable or olive. 

How To Smoke The Salmon

When you are sure you have all the ingredients and equipment mentioned above, you can begin preparing your salmon for smoking. Below are the steps to follow to prepare your salmon and smoke it to perfection:

Step 1 – mix the kosher salt, water, and brown sugar in the food-safe container until the salt and sugar dissolve. 

Step 2 – Place the salmon in this brine mixture, cover it, and place it in the fridge. Leave the salmon to brine for at least 4 hours, but no more than 24 hours for this amount of salmon. 

Step 3 – Take the salmon out of the brine and rinse it under cool running water for a few seconds. Pat the brined salmon dry and lay it on the wire rack with the skin facing down. 

Step 4 – let the salmon dry on the wire rack for about 2 hours. The salt in the fish will keep it from spoiling. 

Step 5 – Coat the skin of the salmon with some oil to help it crisp up during smoking. Next, preheat your smoker to 150°F and place your salmon into the smoker. 

Step 6 – After one hour of cooking, baste the salmon with the syrup you have chosen or honey. Smoke your salmon for another hour, then baste again, and raise the smoker’s temperature to 175°F.

Step 7 – let the salmon smoke for three to four hours or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F, and baste the salmon every hour. 

Step 8 – once your salmon is smoked completely, you can take it out and leave it to rest for five minutes, slice, then serve. Your smoked salmon can last up to ten days in the fridge when stored in an air-tight container. 

Should You Cure Or Brine Salmon Before Smoking?

Is it necessary to cure or brine your salmon before you smoke it? It’s unnecessary to do this, no matter if your salmon has the skin on or not, as it is an optional preparation method. 

However, most people suggest that you brine or cure your salmon before smoking it as it will increase the fish’s flavor and shelf life once smoked, but this is entirely up to you. 

You can still have delicious smoked salmon with the skin on or off that has not been brined or cured before smoking.  

Final Word

Salmon is an excellent fish to smoke, but if you haven’t smoked it before, you are bound to have some questions. Thankfully, salmon is relatively easy to smoke, and you can smoke it with the skin on or off, depending on how you like your salmon. 

The recipe in this article is perfect for salmon with the skin on or off, so you can use it no matter your preference. Good luck smoking your salmon!

Related Articles


Skip to content