This recipe is perhaps the best smoked salmon recipe we have discovered in over 40 years of making smoked salmon with our Big Chief and Little Chief Electric Smokers. It’s basic, it’s simple, and it consistently makes absolutely mouth-watering smoked salmon. With just two ingredients, salt and brown sugar, it couldn’t be any easier to produce the best smoked salmon recipe you’ve ever made. And with the optional step at the end, you can season a batch of smoked salmon with a variety of flavors all from the same dry brine mix. Whether you’ve been smoking salmon all your life, or it’s your first time, give this recipe a try, we’re sure you will love it!
A special thanks to salmon fishing legend Herb Good for sharing this Original Smoked Salmon Recipe!
10 lbs. of salmon fillet
1 cup plain, non-iodized salt
4 heaping cups of brown sugar
Melted honey (optional to taste)
Cracked pepper (optional to taste)
What else you need:
Big Chief or Little Chief Electric Smoker
One 1.75 lb. bag of Smokehouse Products Alder Wood Chips
1 bowl to mix ingredients
1 flat bottom glass or plastic container (or crock) with cover
1 electric fan
Add salt and brown sugar to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Cut the salmon fillet into strips for best brining and presentation (view video on right column of this page or click here for video), this will help make sure all pieces of salmon are a similar thickness. Line the flat bottom container with salmon fillet strips leaving space for the brine to cover all sides of each piece. Cover the first layer generously with the salt/brown sugar mixture. Continue to add additional layers on top and cover each layer generously with the salt/brown sugar mixture. Cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and mix the salmon pieces around in the brine. Recover and place container back in the refrigerator for a total brine time of at least 14 hours and up to 3 days.
Remove the salmon from the brine and wipe each piece removing any excess brine. Place salmon on grills of the Big Chief or Little Chief Electric Smoker. Use Smokehouse Products Drying Screens to help eliminate the fish sticking to the grills. Use the fan to dry the salmon until it has a shiny dry paper looking finish. Place salmon in the Big Chief or Little Chief smoker and add 2-3 pans of Smokehouse Products Alder Wood Chips (one immediately after the other). Each pan will last about 45 minutes in the smoker. Finish the salmon with heat only. Generally, leave the salmon in the smoker for 6-12 hours (varies widely based on ambient temperature, wind and other factors). This may even require up to 20 hours in cold temperatures. Allow the smoker to dry the salmon to your favorite level of dryness, then remove.
OPTIONAL: For added flavor, heat the honey in the microwave or on stovetop. Brush the honey on the salmon. Add cracked pepper to your taste on top of the honey. Place salmon back in the smoker for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the salmon when it is done to your taste. Cut a thick piece in half and ensure it is pink all the way through to double check doneness.