This Smoked Salmon with Maple Orange Glaze is the most delectable, smoky, melt in your mouth salmon you will ever have. While this process requires a little bit of time and patience, it is totally worth it! Believe me when I say you’ve never had salmon quite like this before. It is one smoke that is well worth the wait.
Hot smoked salmon is a food experience you’re sure to love. It requires some extra love and attention, but believe me when I say it is definitely worth the work and wait. It makes for the perfect weekend smoke project, and I guarantee it’ll be hard to find leftovers once you put this out on the table.
When purchasing your salmon to smoke, purchase skin on if possible. I’ve smoked with both skin on and off, but skin on is better. Having the skin on helps the salmon hold together during the curing and smoking stages. I also recommend purchasing salmon that has less fat running through the muscles. Aim to buy wild caught Alaskan king or sockeye salmon. Farmed Atlantic salmon works just fine, but more fat can mean more albumin (that white build up on the outside of the salmon) while you’re cooking. Plus, commercially farmed salmon is often artificially colored.
In my opinion, wild caught salmon has the best flavor when smoking, but I understand that you have to cook what you like best (and what’s available and in your budget)! My kids always prefer the more mild flavor of Atlantic salmon.
Smoked Salmon Brine
Any time you are smoking salmon, you need to brine it first. This recipe is for hot smoked salmon, so the curing stage is different than a cold smoked salmon which often sits in a dry salt crust cure for 24 hours. The salt in this brine does this magical thing where it draws out the moisture from the salmon which helps intensify the flavor and season the meat all at the same time.
Important note! Make sure you use Kosher salt for this recipe, as table salt typically has iodide in it and that can cause some funky flavors. It will also later the concentration of salt in the brine.
This smoked salmon brine recipe is designed to infuse the salmon with a little bit of the sweetness from the maple syrup and some bright yummy zip from the orange. It is really pretty unbelievably tasty for how simple it is. Also, a lot of flavor comes from the maple orange glaze, so invest in good maple syrup and orange juice for the best results.
How to Smoke Salmon
Making smoked salmon requires quite a few steps, and each one is extremely important to ensure your salmon cooks well. Follow these 5 steps to get the best hot smoked salmon you’ve ever had!
- Cure the salmon. Combine all the ingredients for the cure in a glass container. Gently submerge your salmon into the liquid. Cover, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
- Develop a pellicle. Similar to making home cured bacon, this salmon needs to form a sticky layer on the outside, called a pellicle, to help the smoke cling to the fish. The pellicle develops once the salmon is removed from the brine and sits in the fridge overnight on a cooling rack, uncovered.
- Preheat your smoker and prep the glaze. Combine the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat your smoker to 165-170 degrees F. I use my Camp Chef pellet grill to get consistent temperatures and good smoke. The most important part to smoking this salmon is maintaining a low temperature (around 165 degrees) while smoking. If your smoker wants to run higher than that, you can place an aluminum tray with ice under the grates (not touching the salmon) and that should help keep the temperature down. I smoked this salmon with maple wood, but any mellow wood like pecan or alder works well.
- Smoke the salmon! This is a hot smoked salmon, so it is going to fully cook on the smoker. Place the salmon skin side down on the grill grates and smoke for 3-4 hours, or until the internal temp reaches 145 degrees F. Brush the salmon with the glaze every hour while it is smoking.
- Eat and enjoy. This smoked salmon can be eaten fresh off the grill, or served cold. Simply flake and eat.
How Long to Smoke Salmon
Getting your salmon up to the correct internal temperature of 145 degrees can take a few hours. Keep an eye on the progress by using a good internal thermometer. I always recommend cooking to temperature and not to time, so estimate anywhere from 3-4 hours to fully cook this salmon.
I have several thermometers, but my favorite for this is my Thermoworks Smoke so I can keep an eye on both the grill temperature and fish temperature while smoking.
More Salmon Recipes
Salmon is a favorite dinner in my family; everyone seems to love it, and we rarely have leftovers. If you’re looking for more delicious salmon recipes from Hey Grill Hey, check out some of my favorites below:
Smoked Salmon Recipe
Watch the video below the recipe card and I’ll show you step-by-step how I make smoked salmon at home. I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a backyard BBQ hero. You can check out more of my smoking and grilling recipe videos on YouTube, Instagram, or our Facebook Page.
Making dinner for your family should be a delicious experience, and Hey Grill Hey is here to help! Over at Patio Provisions, we have sauces, rubs, and more to save you time and energy when making something for an upcoming get together. Check it out today!
Smoked Salmon with Maple Orange Glaze
- 2-3 pound salmon fillet cut into individual portions
- 4 cups cool water
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- zest of 1 orange
Maple Orange Glaze
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- In a glass baking dish, combine all of the ingredients for the curing liquid and stir until the salt is dissolved. Gently submerge your salmon portions in the curing liquid, cover, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. If your salmon fillets are thin, 8 hours should be enough. Thicker fillets will take 12 hours.
- Remove the salmon from the curing liquid and transfer to a cooling rack positioned over a cookie sheet. Place the salmon in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle.
- In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and orange juice and set aside.
- Preheat your smoker to 165-170 degrees F. Place the salmon on the grates skin side down and smoke for 3-4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the salmon reaches 145 degrees. Brush your salmon with the maple/orange juice glaze every hour while smoking.
- Hot smoked salmon can be served warm or cold. Simply flake and eat.
**This post was originally published September 2017. It has since been updated with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.