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posted September 05, 2022

Smoked Salmon with Maple Orange Glaze

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 process that is well worth the wait.

Three smoked salmon filets on a white serving dish with text overlay - Smoked Salmon.

Smoked Salmon

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.

The glaze is a simple combo of maple syrup and orange juice. It seems simple, but a lot of flavor comes from the maple orange glaze, so invest in good maple syrup and orange juice for the best results.

Three salmon filets in a brine.

What to Buy for Smoked Salmon?

When purchasing your salmon to smoke, purchase fresh, skin-on salmon 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.

Salmon filets on the grill grates of a smoker.

Smoked Salmon Brine

Any time you are smoking salmon, you need to brine it first. This recipe is for hot smoking, so the curing stage is different than 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.

This brine 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. 

Here’s what you need to make this brine:

  • 4 cups cool water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • zest of 1 orange

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.

Orange maple glaze being brushed on a salmon filet on the smoker.

How to Smoke Salmon

Making this recipe requires quite a few steps, and each one is essential to ensure your salmon cooks well. Here’s how to smoke salmon in 5 simple steps.

  1. Brine the salmon. Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a glass container. Gently submerge your salmon into the liquid. Cover, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Smoke the salmon! This is a hot smoked salmon, so it is going to cook entire 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.
  5. Eat and enjoy. This salmon can be eaten fresh off the grill, or served cold. Simply flake and eat.

Salmon on the smoker reading a temperature of 145 degrees F.

How Long to Smoke Salmon

Getting your salmon up to the correct internal temperature of 145 degrees F 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.

Three smoked salmon filets on a white serving dish.

More Smoked 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 another delicious smoked salmon recipe 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 this smoked salmon recipe 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 YouTubeInstagram, or our Facebook Page.

This post was originally published September 2017. It has since been updated with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Two smoked salmon filets on a white serving dish.

Smoked Salmon with Maple Orange Glaze

Susie Bulloch
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.
5 from 29 votes
Prep Time : 5 mins
Cook Time : 3 hrs
Brining and Developing a Pellicle : 18 hrs
Total Time : 21 hrs 5 mins
Servings : 8 people
Calories : 219kcal



  • 2-3 pound salmon fillet (cut into individual portions)


  • 4 cups cool water
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • cup kosher salt
  • zest of 1 orange

Maple Orange Glaze

  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup orange juice


  • Brine the salmon. In a glass baking dish, combine all of the ingredients for the brine and stir until the salt is dissolved. Gently submerge your salmon portions in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 8-12 hours. If your salmon fillets are thin, 8 hours should be enough. Thicker fillets will take 12 hours.
  • Develop the pellicle. Remove the salmon from the brine and transfer it to a cooling rack positioned over a cookie sheet. Place the salmon in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight to develop a pellicle.
  • Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 165-170 degrees F using your favorite hardwood. I used maple for this recipe, but pecan or alder are also great options. You can also use orange wood if you can get your hands on some.
  • Make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and orange juice and set aside.
  • Smoke the salmon. 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 F. Brush your salmon with the maple orange glaze every hour while smoking.
  • Enjoy. Once your fish has reached 145 degrees F, remove the salmon from the smoker. Serve immediately if you want a hot dinner or chill and serve cold in a salad or sandwich the next day.


Calories: 219kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 616mg | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 61IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
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