Smoking is a great way to prepare and serve several types of saltwater and freshwater fish. The natural fish oils in some species help prevent drying during the smoking process. Smoked fish can be served as an appetizer or flaked and incorporated in salads, dips, chowders or other recipes.

Smoking fish is simple and a good way to increase the storage life of fish. Whole or portions of fish can be smoked. Fillets with their skin intact are best for smoking; however whole and portions are also good smoked.

Fish Smoking:


To clean whole fish before smoking, rinse the body and remove any blood from the belly cavity. Fillets and steaks should be rinsed and cut into manageable sizes.


A simple brine solution can be made using this recipe:

1/2 gallon water
6 ounces brown sugar
6 ounces kosher salt
2 ounces of soy sauce
2 tablespoons black pepper

Rinse and drain fish thoroughly dry then marinate in the brine solution for 45-60 minutes.

To dry, place fish on a rack and let dry in the refrigerator until the surface starts to glaze over.

To smoke, slowly heat fish over coals and wood. Try to maintain a low smoking temperature. If using a charcoal grill, use fewer briquettes than normally required for grilling.


Fish Smoking Recommendations

fillets or steaks(1/2 inch thick) 1 1/2 lbs 150o-175oF200oF


1hr.30 min.

20 min.

fillets or steaks(3/4 inch thick) 1 1/2 lbs 150o-175oF200oF


90 min.30-45 min.

30 min.

whole fish-(dressed) 2 1/2 pounds 150o-175oF



2 hours75 min.

45-50 min.


Best Woods for Smoking Fish:

Wood chips from apple, oak, hickory, and cherry provide excellent smoke flavor. Soak hardwood chips in water for at least an hour before using.

Lumber, processed wood, or timbers of any kind should not be used for smoking food because they may contain toxins.

Types of Fish Suitable for Smoking:

Salmon, Trout, and Char

Smoked salmon has the bright red appearance and succulent flavor that seafood lovers and professional cooks enjoy as one of the most popular smoked fish items. Several famous salmon recipes are based on smoked fillets. Members of the trout and char family are also good smoked. Like salmon, these fish have natural fish oils which inhibit excessive drying of the meat.


Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, longfin albacore, blackfin tuna, skipjack tuna, bonito, false albacore, and other pelagic fish can be excellent candidates for smoking. Tuna is firm, flaky, and has a flavor that is complimented by the smoking process.


Members of the mackerel family, including Atlantic mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and king mackerel are excellent candidates for smoking.


Traditional New England groundfish such as cod, haddock, and pollock are all suitable for smoking.

Related Information

Smoked Fish Dip

Fish, Shellfish, and other Seafood

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Seafood Recipes