Smoked Maple Glazed Salmon

September 23, 2017

This Smoked Maple Glazed Salmon recipe is the most delectable, smoky, sweet, melt in your mouth salmon you will ever have. The secret is in the steps, this one requires a little bit of time and patience, but it is totally worth it! There really isn’t anything difficult about the process, except maybe waiting the 24 hours it takes to make it before you get to stuff your face.

Smoked Maple Glazed Salmon Recipe

Smoked Salmon Steps:

First step: pick your salmon! Definitely purchase skin on if possible. I’ve done both (heck, I’m using skinless in these pictures) and it works fine, but skin on is better. It seems to help the salmon hold together during the curing and smoking stages. Also, the type of salmon you use for hot smoked salmon is important. I recommend opting for salmon that has less fat running through the muscles- so that means wild caught Alaskan, sockeye, or steelhead salmon. Farmed Atlantic salmon works just fine, for sure, but more fat can mean more albumin (that white build up on the outside of the salmon) while you’re cooking and also the flavor of wild caught salmon is just so much better in my opinion. Of course, you gotta cook what you like best! My kids always prefer the more mild flavor of Atlantic salmon.

Smoked Salmon Brine

Smoked Salmon Brine:

Second step: the smoked salmon brine! Any time you are smoking salmon, you need to brine it first. This is a 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. It is important that you use Kosher salt for this recipe, table salt typically has iodide in it and that can cause some funky flavors in your salmon. 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.

How to Smoked Salmon

Third step: the 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 set in the fridge overnight on a cooling rack, uncovered. Another simple step, but completely changes the final product. If you ever get bored and have pounds of salmon just laying around (who doesn’t these days?!) try a little experiment where you skip the pellicle step. You’ll notice a pretty massive difference in smoked penetration and final texture.

Smoked Salmon Recipe

How to Smoke Salmon:

Final step: smoking! You made it! See, quite a few steps, but each one of them is really easy. Now we hit the final and most important step. Like I mentioned, this is a hot smoked salmon so it is actually going to fully cook on the smoker. I like to use my pellet grill to get consistent temperatures and good smoke, but you use whatever smoker set up you’ve got going on. The most important part is going to be maintaining a low temperature (around 165 degrees) while smoking. If your smoker wants to run higher than that, you can balance it out by placing an aluminum tray with ice under the grates (not touching the salmon) and that should help keep the temperature down a little. I like to smoke this particular salmon with maple wood, but any mellow wood like pecan or alder would work great too! Getting you salmon up to the correct internal temperature of 145 degrees can take a few hours, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on the progress by using a good internal thermometer. 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. Also, a lot of flavor comes from the maple orange glaze that is brushed on during the smoking process, so invest in good maple syrup and orange juice for the best results.

How to Smoked Salmon with a Maple Glaze


Definitely give this one a go. 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.


5 from 9 votes
smoked maple glazed salmon
Maple Orange Hot Smoked Salmon
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
23 hrs 5 mins
This Smoked Maple Glazed Salmon recipe is the most delectable, smoky, sweet, melt in your mouth salmon you will ever have.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Barbecue
Servings: 8 people
  • 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
  1. In a glass baking dish, combine all of the ingredients for the cure 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.
  2. 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.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup and orange juice and set aside.
  4. 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.
  5. Hot smoked salmon can be served warm or cold. Simply flake and eat.
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47 thoughts on “Smoked Maple Glazed Salmon

  1. Hi! I’m getting ready to make this Maple Orange Hot Smoked Salmon. I did have a question about the Pellicle process. Should it be covered in plastic wrap or just go in without any covering on the wire rack? Due to the size of the fish, I’ll be using my secondary refrigerator that’s not used as much so I’d preferred to cover the fish.

    1. Hi AJ- it’s supposed to be uncovered to allow the air to circulate around the fish and create a dry, semi-tacky surface. This helps the smoke cling better to the salmon. If you keep it wrapped, it will never dry quite enough to get tacky.

  2. I have done this salmon multiple times. Every time is the talk of the party. Great for vacuum seal and last at least a month in the fridge. Cold, hot or in a spread, just a fantastic salmon

  3. Rather than cut the Salmon into serving size pieces wouldn’t it work as well to smoke the entire Salmon?

  4. what exactly are the ingredients of the brine?

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

    full cup of syrup or are you only using 1/2 for the brine and saving 1/2 for the glaze?

    1. Hey Jeff- the ingredients are exactly as written. 1 cup in the brine, and then there is an additional 1/2 cup maple syrup in the glaze (the glaze ingredients are listed just below the brine ingredients). Hope that helps!

    1. There are several different types of smokers, not all of them use wood chips. The smoker I used in this recipe uses wood pellets. If you made this in an oven, it would just be baked salmon, instead of smoked salmon.

  5. Have made this twice already. The first time was for dinner….delicious but the cold leftovers the next day were even better!!!! Put in on a bagel with cream cheese and enjoyed it as much as cold smoked salmon (nova).

  6. Great recipe! Made it and vacuum sealed it for dinner on a river trip last week and it was a huge hit. About to make it again to eat over the next couple of weeks.

    1. You can still try and smoke it, but it’s been drying for 3 days and the pellicle may be too thick for the smoke to really penetrate the salmon, resulting in a less than ideal texture and flavor.

  7. My husband made 1 lb as a test on Saturday and it was the best salmon ever! 3 fillets brined and overnight in the fridge, smoking a larger batch tomorrow! Will make this a staple kind of like keeping home made bacon stocked at all times!!

  8. I made a two pound batch of this recipe about a week and a half ago. Awesome! I’ve used it in omelettes, as is for snacks, mixed with whipped cream cheese and on salads. I’ll be making a four pound batch starting tomorrow with a friend who wants to use my smoker for the process. I used Pacific wild caught and apple chips in an electric smoker. Might give it a go on my Traeger next.

  9. Sweet baby Jesus! This stuff is amazing.
    I made a pound of wild caught sockeye into pure gold with this recipe. You absolutely rock.
    Next time, 3 pounds.

  10. I only had a 1.2 lb salmon filet so cut the recipe accordingly. I used the Nordic Ware Kettle smoker and the salmon came out delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I had a bit while it was warm, then had a bit more after it cooled off. I actually prefer it cold. Thanks for a great recipe!

  11. Love this recipe! My smoker won’t hold below 200, so I smoke it at that temp for about 1 1/2 hours. Also, my wife is allergic to citrus, so I substitute fresh ginger in the brine. I use oak or hickory charcoal, but add some peach wood chips for great flavor.

  12. I made this over Memorial Day weekend and it was an absolute hit. My husband says it’s the best salmon that he ever had.
    It was delicious warm and just as good the next day cold. This will be the only way I do salmon from now on. Well, until Susie comes out with her next best salmon recipe.
    How would I convert to this to a cold smoke recipe?

  13. If making this, I see that many people like it cold the next day, but is there a way to warm up leftovers without getting soggy and weird textured??

  14. Hi there. This looks awesome. We catch lots of Kokanee here, smaller and oilier Salmon. I will try this recipe in my Bradley Smoker. The boys are out catching the fish right now. I am new to smoking and really appreciate your explanation of the different stages and the results. I have a better understanding now. Thanks again.

  15. We are doing about 25lbs coho salmon and steelhead. Only problem I see is the basting cause our smoker is touchy with keeping temp if we’re opening the doors to baste. We usually smoke it and then slap on the maple syrup till fillets stop soaking it in.
    Also, we cool ours off on table with fans and AC going for couple hrs. You think this is an alright technique?

  16. This recipe was great even when everything went wrong. I was making this my first attempt at smoking any fish on my pellet smoker.

    I began the brine yesterday but realized I didn’t have oranges or brown sugar. Not a great start. Went to the store, got brown sugar. Forgot the orange. Figured I’d use a splash of Cointreau that was in the cupboard. Forgot to put that in the marinade. Clearly all those things were my fault, yet this was only the beginning.

    The smoker wouldn’t start because of a fault that Google said was due to the smoker needing a software update. After an hour figuring that out the smoker wouldn’t start at all. An hour later I figured out it was the igniter (in case you didn’t notice, I was having a rough day.)

    At this point my wife got home and dinner hadn’t even started so we went out to eat. Came home and decided I’I would try grilling this wild.salmon that had been marinating in maple syrup and sugar water. I had been soaking cedar planks for the occasion but had taken them out of the water when I thought the smoker would work.

    I did two bastes on the fish when the grill was very hot. Then I thought I smelled burning. Turns out the planks and most of the grill were on fire. I killed the heat and hit the back of the grill with a hose to prevent my shared fence from catching fire. Chalked it all up to bad luck and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

    I opened the grill, trash bag in hand, to throw everything away and saw the salmon looked delicious. I grabbed my thermometer and it was 154. I brought it in and we both really liked it. It was a bit… cedar-y from the burning plank but I forsee an omelet tomorrow.

    I can’t wait to do this recipe the right way next time 🙂

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