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Jan 16, 2011 08:29 PM

How to smoke salmon without a smoker?

Hello there,

I have developed a ridiculously expensive addiction to deliciously yummy smoked salmon. I can put it on everything. But my checkbook is beginning to rebel, and I want to make some on my own. Does anyone have a good recipe, and is it possible to make it without a smoker?


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    1. re: paulj

      Certainly need that little detail to advise.

    2. If I can recall correctly, Alton Brown dedicated an episode where he smoked salmon in a cardboard box.

      3 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Didn't Morimoto cold smoke fish in an ice sculpture?

        1. re: paulj

          Yes he did, in a flash of absolute genius!

          To the OP, if you don't know if you want cold vs hot smoked, post what brand/type/label of the version you have been buying at the store. One of us might know how it was smoked.

          1. re: smtucker

            Smtucker, I honestly don't know. I buy it from my local organic/local supermarket. The next time I go there (tomorrow), I'll ask them how they smoke it.

      2. any heavy lidded pot, like a dutch oven, can be used as a smoker.

        1 Reply
        1. re: thew

          Oh! I have a big Le Creuset pot ... one of their 12 qt versions.

        2. Yes small pieces in a wok. There is a video on this site You can use the oven also Before the internet I found real good recipes from old hunting /fishing cookbooks from the library I found this 31/2 qts water 8 tbsp water ,2 tsps sugar ( I LIKE BROWN ) ,spices bring to a boil cool cover fish with the brine over night rinse in cold water (do not soak ) Then smoke 5-6 hrs

          3 Replies
          1. re: scunge

            Anything you smoke @ home in a pot/pan/WHY has only a tangential resemblance to Salmon smoked in a proper smoker.

            The Good News is that it's always better eaten cold the next day.

            1. re: Sam Salmon

              Yep. You can add some smoky flavor using a wok or dutch oven, but the fish will cook faster and with much less exposure to smoke than if you use a proper smoker (store bought or DIY). It will be tasty, but not what you're hoping for. You can do a better job in a bbq grill if that's an option. Low, indirect heat is the key. And don't forget to brine the fish.

              1. re: Zeldog

                Unfortunately, not in my apartment building. No BBQs to go by :(

          2. Based on your responses, I will give you the instructions on how I smoke fish. I started with this website:

            I brine my fish until the flesh has become "just firm", and then take the fish out of the brine and dry it for at least an hour on the rack I will use for the smoking. For smoking salmon, I really like Alder wood, but this is one of the places that you can experiment and find woods that appeal to you.

            Now you can build your smoker. You will need a vessel [roasting pans work well] that is at least 2 inches deep, a rack that fits inside [the same one you dry the fish on, and either a cover or some heavy duty foil. [I have never done this on an electric stove, but it should work.] Place about a tablespoon of wood chips in your cooking vessel and cover [no rack yet.] Put over your heat source just until it starts to smell smokey. Carefully lift the cover/foil and insert your rack with the fish. Cover again.

            At this point, I generally turn down my heat source to as low as possible while still getting some smoke. Smoke for about 20 minutes. Check the fish. Keep smoking until you get the texture that you want.

            Once you have enjoyed some salmon this way, expand the fish you smoke. Haddock with apple wood, etc.

            4 Replies
            1. re: smtucker

              Would wet chips work ? Alder wood had been available in the outdoor shops (hunting /fishing) here in the N.E. I'm not sure if thats the case now.

              1. re: scunge

                Indoor smoking you want to use very fine wood chips. I found some from Camerons that were well priced and smoke indoors. When we use the outdoor smoker, then we use larger chunks of wood that has been soaked.

                I haven't tried soaking chips for fish since the smoke time is so short.

              2. re: smtucker

                Thank you — this sounds pretty easy! When you heat it until it just starts to smell smokey, what heat setting are you putting it on? I have a gas stove.

                1. re: SouthToTheLeft

                  I have a top for my vessel, so I keep it kitty-corner until the smoke starts. Until the smoke does get going, I have the heat just above medium. Once the fish goes in, I turn down the heat to low, close the top tightly and adjust the heat around until I can smell some smoke, but not too much.

                  The burner I use goes from 900BTU-18,000BTU, so not sure how this will translate. My first attempt, the fish cooked very quickly. It was delicious, but I wanted more smokiness so I use as little heat as possible while still maintaining smoke. TIP: You can do one piece of fish all alone to see what your stove produces for you, and then do the rest with your new-found knowledge.